Smart Buddies™ is a unique coding tool accompanied by curriculum that focuses on increasing diversity awareness for students in Grades 3-5. 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 all-inclusive eight-pack is intended to serve eight to 16 students and offers one of each buddy available in the Smart Buddies assortment along with eight Siggys. This enables students to get to know all the characters in the Smart Buddies universe and explore their unique strengths, challenges, and backgrounds. Additional buddies can be purchased separately.