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A new modern science lab teaching some Ventura County students coding and robotics

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Caroline Feraday
A new dedicated Innovation and Discovery room at Somis School gives students a chance to learn modern technology

Somis Union School has opened a new Innovation and Discovery Room.

These first graders are learning to code - although they probably don’t realize that yet.

It’s an energetic and hands-on experience involving colored tiles and robotic cars, in the new Innovation and Discovery Room at Somis school.

"Teaching kids how to code isn't easy when they're this young but this makes it fun," Allison Brinkman, who teaches first grade at Somis Union School, told KCLU.

She explained the students use colored tiles which give the robotic cars different instructions, through trial and error.

"They're able to get it wind around a maze - they're building their own code," said Brinkman.

Student Ryder has been using the tiles to create a path for the robotic car.

"The blue one makes it turn. The purple one makes it spin and the red one makes it stop," she said.

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Caroline Feraday
Teacher Allison Brinkman is on hand for these first grade students

"I didn't have it when I was a kid!" said Brinkman. "I find myself starting to play with it! It's fun and nice to see them enjoy something that's teaching them to trial and error."

From Kindergarten through 8th grade, the new dedicated facility gives students the opportunity to develop their coding and problem-solving skills.

"It's the social part of the school day," explained Dr. Jesus Vaca, Superintendent and Principal of Somis school.

"If we think back a year and a half ago, kids were six feet apart, they were wearing masks, they weren't interacting with each other," said Vaca. "So it was very difficult to go back to our normal routines of working in pairs and interacting with adults and children."

Vaca said, "What this has done is really encourage students to be themselves and come to where we were pre-COVID."

He says the new science labs helps build an important foundation for students and were possible because of funding to recapture education that was lost during COVID.

"What better way to initiate self-learning? They're either building, they're coding or they are creating on their own. So it all ties down to the lessons they're going to in the classrooms with teacher-led lessons," said Vaca.

For a school that’s been in operation for over 125 years, it’s a valuable opportunity to access ever changing modern technology.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award this year, and also won two further first place awards, for Lifestyle Feature and Personality Profile/Interview. Last year, Caroline won first place for Use Of Sound. She also won two Golden Mike Awards this year, for Best News Reporting and Best Entertainment Reporting, as well as a National Arts & Entertainment Award from LA Press Club for One-on-One interview. Caroline started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and she was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007. She moved to Los Angeles in 2013 and is both an American and British citizen. Caroline lives in Agoura Hills with her daughter - her proudest production.