When nine-year-old Jayden Kamradt plays a video game, he wants to know how it was made.
The Crawfordsville third-grader sat in the designer’s seat Saturday during the Montgomery County Robotics and Programming Exhibition at the Carnegie Museum. Students from an intro-level Wabash College computer science class demonstrated the basics of coding to a generation of children they admit are more adept to working on machines.
“Jayden has such an interest in the behind-the-scenes of how things work,” his mother, Tonya, said as they watched a robot scoot around a track.
The robot was driven by senior English and film major Nolan Callecod, who arranged a scramble of codes on a laptop to activate the device’s light sensors.
Using Lego technology and an online coding program called Scratch, Callecod and his classmates programmed robots and designed basic 8-bit video games that children huddled around tables throughout the museum to play. Members of Crawfordsville High School’s robotics teams also attended the event.
“No matter what you end up doing with your career … you need to understand the basic concepts of coding,” museum director Kat Burkhart said.
Eight-year-old Makinzie Highland is the kind of student that coders want to introduce to robotics programs offered in local schools and 4-H. Makinzie plays Minecraft games on her PlayStation 4 and, like Jayden, often wonders about the design.
“I want to know where they got the stuff to make the game,” she said.
Downstairs in the “WOW” gallery, Wabash senior Corey Leuters scrolled through a screen of codes he arranged to design a version of the mobile game Flappy Bird. A single block of computer language was required for each move the bird made through a series of pipes, similar to the objective of the Super Mario Bros. game.
“Think of it as the Legos of coding,” said Leuters, who worked with Java Script and took advanced computer science classes before college and plans to teach middle school English.
Associate mathematics and computer science professor Colin McKinney said the skills would help students adjust to an increasingly automated workforce.
“Computing and automation is becoming a very important part of any job, skill or workplace,” he said, “and having some of experience with it even in this particular language, it’s transferable.”