Coding in the Classroom | Junior Science and Technology

Coding in junior science and technology
By: Steven Floyd and Lisa Anne Floyd

In this article, we’ll look at some of the key components related to coding in the grades 4-6 expectations in the new Ontario Science and Technology Curriculum released in 2022.

Grades 1-8 include one overall and two specific expectations related to coding for each grade. In order to provide educators of grades 4-6 with potential insight and direction for implementation in their classroom, we’ve broken down these expectations here.

Overall expectation for grades 4-6
A2. Coding and Emerging Technologies – use coding in investigations and to model concepts, and assess the impact of coding and of emerging technologies on everyday life and in STEM-related fields

Grade 4 specific expectations:

A2.1 write and execute code in investigations and when modelling concepts, with a focus on producing different types of output for a variety of purposes

A2.2 identify and describe impacts of coding and of emerging technologies on everyday life, including skilled trades
Grade 5 specific expectations:

A2.1 write and execute code in investigations and when modelling concepts, with a focus on using different methods to store and process data for a variety of purposes

A2.2 identify and describe impacts of coding and of emerging technologies on everyday life, including skilled trades
Grade 6 specific expectations:

A2.1 write and execute code in investigations and when modelling concepts, with a focus on obtaining input in different ways for a variety of purposes

A2.2 identify and describe impacts of coding and of emerging technologies on everyday life, including skilled trades

WhatWhat will students be doing?

All expectations related to coding can be found in Strand A -STEM Skills and Connections of The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Science and Technology curriculum. Components of this strand are meant to be integrated within the learning of concepts from the other four strands, meaning that coding can be used to enhance, support, or demonstrate the learning within the other strands.

The terms used in expectations A2.2 show that students will be learning about the impact of coding, as well as other technologies. This can be a fascinating area of focus, where students can consider all of the devices and applications in their lives, that are controlled or run with computer programming code.

The terms used in the expectations A2.1 reveal that students will be writing code. This means that students will go beyond defining terms, or learning about code, and will engage in active learning through computing activities.

Expectation A2.1 indicates that students write and execute code in investigations and when modelling concepts, which is consistent with the approach described above for strand A, as it is being integrated into the learning within the other strands. Students can therefore use coding to investigate concepts related to Life Systems, Matter and Energy, Structures and Mechanisms, or Earth and Space Systems.

HowHow will students be doing it?

The curriculum expectations include slightly different coding concepts for each grade, indicating that students will be focusing on a slightly different area of coding, as they complete their projects. This is similar to the grades 1-8 Mathematics curriculum, where students are coding in order to support their learning of mathematics, and where each grade has a slightly different area of focus for coding skills or concepts.

The areas of focus for each grade in the Science and Technology curriculum are listed below:

Grade 4: focus on producing different types of output for a variety of purposes
Students can use Scratch, a micro:bit, or an alternative programming environment or device, to create an art project that uses a program to control lights, sounds, and colours. This incorporates the coding expectation with learning from Strand C – Matter and Energy related to the properties of light and sound.
Students can explain to the teacher how the various output from the program, including the physical lights or those on the screen, as well as colours or sounds that are changed, are controlled and programmed.

Grade 5: focus on using different methods to store and process data for a variety of purposes 
Students can use Lynx, Scratch, or an alternative programming environment to store and calculate the average of their own health indicators, such as heart rate, ventilation rate, or temperature. This incorporates the coding expectation with learning from Strand B, Life Systems, related to organs and systems within the body.
Students can explain how the program uses variables or lists to store the data, how the data is processed to calculate an average, and even how the program outputs a message indicating whether or not the averages are within a healthy range.

Grade 6: focus on obtaining input in different ways for a variety of purposes
Students can program input sensors, using LEGO, micro:bit, or other physical components, to obtain the temperature of the air or the moisture level of soil. This incorporates the coding expectation with learning from Strand C – Matter and Energy, related to electrical circuits.
Students can explain to the teacher how the computer program can obtain input from the environment, through these sensors

The table below summarizes these activities and includes how the coding expectations connect to other learning, from the the other strands in the grades.

GradeProgramming TaskCoding Focus (A2.1)Learning from other Strands (B-E)
4use Scratch, a micro:bit, or an alternative programming environment or device to create an art project that uses a program to control lights, sounds, and coloursproducing different types of output for a variety of purposesproperties of light and sound (D2.3, D2.4)
5use Lynx, Scratch, or an alternative programming environment to store and calculate the average of students’ health indicators, such as heart rate, ventilation rate, or temperatureusing different methods to store and process data for a variety of purposes organs and systems (B2.1, B2.2)
6program input sensors, using LEGO, micro:bit, or other physical components to obtain the temperature of the air or the moisture level of soilobtaining input in different ways for a variety of purposeselectrical energy and circuits (D2.4, D2.5, D2.6, D2.7)

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