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Unruly Splats Program Implemented at Short Line School For K-5th Graders

By Rick Loy - Staff Writer | Jun 9, 2021

Kids work on unruly Splats

Wetzel County Schools Combine PE and Coding with the Unruly Splats program for K-5th graders at Short Line School, the Stem learning tool is literally doing jumping jacks and running in the hallway all while learning to code.

While recently visiting Short Line School on May 27, 2021 and meeting Mrs. McSweeney, PE Teacher, Dr. Eric Emch, Wetzel County Schools Technolgy Intergrated Specialists, and PE Assistant Toni Shaver, I got to witness the Unruly Splats program in progress. The students (First Graders) were enjoying themselves and learning at the same time. They all had huge smiles while having fun. Mrs. McSweeney said that she thought she would incorporate the Unruly Splats into learning. She said Dr. Emch introduced her to the idea and she felt it would be a great teaching tool with the students having fun with it. She added It has been a huge success with the students and she wanted to thank Dr. Emch on introducing her to the program.

When Short Line Elementary School transitioned back to in-person learning this spring, PE teacher Mrs. McSweeney had a new activity planned that combined active play with learning to code. Her students are the first in the Wetzel County School District to use Unruly Splats, programmable floor buttons that students code to light up, make sounds, and collect points when stomped on to create their own active games.

“Unruly Splats has been a great way to get kids active and learning coding concepts without even realizing it,” said Mrs. McSweeney. “As a PE teacher who has never coded before, I was amazed at how easy it was for me to learn how to use the Splats and teach the students how to manipulate them to create and modify their own games.”

Wetzel County Schools plan to roll out Unruly Splats to more schools and teachers across a variety of subjects in the fall to promote two major learning priorities in the district, physical education and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). The pandemic has heightened attention to student mental and physical health in West Virginia, where childhood obesity rates are some of the highest in the country.

“Unruly Splats show kids that learning how to code doesn’t have to be an isolated, sedentary experience in front of a dark computer screen,” said Dr. Eric S. Emch, a Technology Integration Specialist for Wetzel County who introduced Unruly Splats to the district. “We’re especially excited about how teachers can use the Splats to bring play and STEAM into any subject.”

Unruly Splats are designed to help schools fulfill a wide range of high priority learning objectives including:

Cross-curricular coding: A Gallup study found that 9 in 10 parents want their kids to learn computer science in school. Unruly Splats allow teachers to incorporate coding into any subject, including PE, general education, science, and even music!

Recess-like play combined with STEAM: The games kids play with Unruly Splats encourage physical movement, helping to combat a decades long drop in active-play for children exacerbated by the pandemic.

Collaborative games that connect students virtually and in-person: A cloud-based app allows kids and teachers to code and play games with Unruly Splats, no matter the setting: in-school, virtual, or hybrid.

“Kids start to form identities around STEAM at a very early age, so it’s critical that we introduce it to them in school in a way that’s engaging,” said Bryanne Leeming, CEO and founder of Unruly Studios, the creator of Unruly Splats. “We’re excited to partner with Wetzel County Schools to break down stereotypes around coding and encourage more kids to feel comfortable using technology to be creative and have fun.”

To learn more about Unruly Splats, visit www.unrulysplats.com.