I had only been there for 5 days when I turned to Holly, my friend and fellow MISTI-Brazil and +D Studio intern, and said, “Our time here is going to go by so fast” and surely, it did. In what seemed like a blink of an eye, 5 weeks were over. It goes without saying that I will have to come back to Brazil soon… perhaps with a bit more Portuguese under my belt!
My main project with +D was to develop curriculum for a Programming and Robotics Workshop geared toward kids 8-10 years old kids in Vidigal. At +D Studio, we see coding as a form of literacy. In Vidigal especially, an understanding of basic concepts in programming and robotics, with knowledge of the boundless opportunities one has with a thorough understanding of those ideas, can be the difference in a child’s life. The first step to gaining programming literacy in kids is to excite interest in coding and its applications. My goal for the 3-part Programming& Robotics Workshop, was to expose kids to cutting edge robotics projects, and give them a problem solving toolkit that they can use in their everyday lives. Whether it is a leaking faucet, a broken car, or a difficult math problem, knowing how to approach problems gives people the confidence to stand up to any challenge, no matter how unfamiliar. The Programming & Robotics Workshop gives kids the space and time to wonder how they might design, engineer, and code a better world, thinking within and beyond the steep slopes of Vidigal.
Over the course of three workshops, the kids “program” a human robot to make a ham and cheese sandwich, and retrieve a “crystal on Mars”. They explore how coding and robotics are bettering our world. They prototype their own robots, paying attention to the functionality of their design. During the final workshop, the kids bring together concepts of both coding and robotics to assemble a four-legged robot made of every day objects such as screws and CDs, which moves with the help of an Arduino
Being with +D Studio and Sitiê has been amazing. Not only have I enjoyed working on my project, but being in Vidigal and Rio de Janeiro has been an incredible adventure! Despite my limited knowledge of Portuguese, the +D Studio, Sitiê, and Vidigal communities warmly welcomed me, and I am thankful for their support. It has been a while since I’ve felt like I was part of a team, and I am so honored to have been part of this one, even if it was only for 5 weeks.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so a video must be worth at least a million! I hope this video illustrates the curiosity the kids brought to the workshops, and how much I’ve enjoyed being part of their journey.