Port of Halifax – Building Pathways with Digital Skills in Robotics

“Building Pathways with Digital Skills – Robotics Learning” introduces digital learning and literacy to elementary-aged students at Sipekne’katik First Nation, a Mi’kmaq community in Nova Scotia. The program was developed through The PIER (Port Innovation, Engagement and Research), a living lab for the transportation and supply chain sectors, by the Halifax Port Authority. The program offers a hands-on approach to learning technological problem-solving concepts in a fun and supportive environment. It includes three different levels of learning and advances UN SDGs 4, 8, 9 and 10.

At the first level, grade 2 students work with “Doddlebots” which are simple robots that involve basic circuitry, motors, weights and balances, and purposeful design. The teacher, with support from the Director of Workforce Development from The PIER, works with students to teach them to build the Doodlebots and use them to create simple shapes and designs. This introduces basic concepts of robotics and demystifies and equalizes the process, so students gain confidence and start to participate in this environment.

The second level is for grade 2 to 6 students. It involves basic circuitry and programming as students program their robots to perform tasks with increasing complexity, such as navigating mazes. Students consider the application of robotics in industries around them, including the transportation industry, and how this can contribute to digitization and decarbonization of traditional jobs.

The third level, introduced later this year, will focus on grade 7 to 12 students and will be led by a skilled instructor. It will involve Remote Operated Vehicles and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles. Students will develop technical and digital engineering skills including soldering a circuit board and operating the vehicle with a joystick. Once the vehicle has been designed and tested, students will identify purpose-designed applications for use in a marine transportation setting and start to see career pathways.