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Coding innovation in the classroom

EMMANUEL Christian School teacher Drew Roberts has won a national award at the ASG National Excellence in Teaching Awards (NEiTA) for his innovative approach to using technology in the classroom.

Selected from more than 1,100 nominations, Mr Roberts joined the 11 national award recipients – including two other Tasmanians – at a special awards ceremony in Melbourne in March.

Nominated by a parent, he received an Innovation Award for his after-school robotics club, the “Code Club”, which he recently expanded to include primary school students.

Run throughout the school year, Code Club activities include dealing with programming language, robotics, webpage design and writing and running code in the video game, Minecraft.

Mr Roberts said the idea to start the Code Club came to him after attending a summer camp in Sydney.

“I was already running a robotics club at the time, but after talking to a number of teachers I thought it would be a great idea to expand into coding,” he said.

“The Code Club teaches students valuable problem-solving skills, getting them to break down problems and work through them sequentially.

“The world is changing and we need to equip children with the skills they’re going to need in the future.

“They don’t need to be experts, but a solid understanding of robotics, coding and programming will make life much easier.”

Mr Roberts is also leading the charge for all his colleagues to become Google certified teachers.

Emmanuel principal Scott Winkler said the school community was delighted to see Mr Roberts gaining national recognition for his dedication to teaching students how to think for themselves and to think outside the square.

“Drew is a passionate educator who believes that humans are lifelong learners,” he said.

“He is dedicated to helping his students grow, both within the school and outside of it.”

Mr Roberts said he was humbled to learn he had won the award.

“I never would have thought that my Bachelor of Teaching would have brought me to where I am 12 years on,” he said.

“… No two students are the same and I believe we need to foster a learning environment that caters to all student needs.”

Mr Roberts has been teaching at Emmanuel for seven years, during which time he has achieved several coups for the school.

“For the past four years I have run robotic classes that have culminated in teams of students competing at local and state competitions,” he said.

“Students have been invited to Parliament House twice to explain to parliamentarians what they’ve learnt and the challenges they’ve experienced, which also led to several federal members of parliament coming down to Tasmania to visit our school.”

ASG NEiTA chairman Allen Blewitt said he applauded Mr Roberts’ initiative and passion.

“Mr Roberts is really having a huge impact, making sure that all the students are engaged and tailoring their learning experiences so they can reach their full potential and ultimately be prepared for life,” he said.

As part of his prize, Mr Roberts will also accompany two ASG students to an International Space Camp in July, spending one week at the U.S. Space and Rocket Centre in Alabama.

Caption: ASG National Excellence in Teaching Awards winner Drew Roberts with Emmanuel Christian School grade six students, Oliver Nillsen, left, and Lucy King.