Smart Buddies™ is a unique coding tool accompanied by curriculum that focuses on increasing diversity awareness for third- to fifth-grade students. The first generation of Smart Buddies has been created with a diverse set of eight relatable characters, or buddies, on self-balancing, programmable scooters called Siggys to enable more learners, regardless of their socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender, or race, to better relate and envision themselves working in STEM and coding.
With a focus on storytelling, the coding solution leverages the Smart Buddies app, where students are first introduced to their buddies – different role models who have interests in science, engineering, and the arts. Each of the eight buddies has a STEM specialty, which can be read about in their digital book. They also each address different systemic and personal issues such as diversity, race, gender differences, and conflict resolution. Students are then exposed to the basics of block-based coding by controlling the movements of their characters on their Siggys.
Smart Buddies enables teachers to implement lesson plans that provide opportunities for discussion, debate, and reflection on important topics such as diversity, race, gender differences, and conflict resolution where they can tailor it for their specific students. Smart Buddies not only offer the opportunity to create space within the classroom for students of all backgrounds to learn basic coding and STEM concepts, but they also enable the students to have fun, hands-on experiences and lessons in which they feel a sense of belonging and can identify with a STEM job.
The Smart Buddies coding solution introduces the basics of computer science by covering sequences, functions, subroutines, and loops. Its focus on storytelling combined with engaging coding challenges immerse students in the day and life of their buddy’s backstory, and students also learn language arts, science, and mathematics while practicing critical social-emotional learning skills.
Each 4-pack is intended to serve four to eight students. All 4-packs are customizable, meaning educators will select which four buddies they would like to receive as part of their purchase. This enables teachers to customize their buddies based on the demographics of their classroom. Additional buddies can be purchased separately.