October Educator of the Month: Coding Plant and Animal Cells for Science

Earlier this month, we talked about how family ancestry, DNA, and genetic code can tie creativity and coding together with a Día de los Muertos activity. Today, we learn about another form of code in our bodies’ systems: cells! Cells are so small, it can prove difficult to conceptualize what goes on at the cellular level to create life as we know it. This sounds like the perfect job for Evo and Bit to help bring cells to life with visual coding!

Allow us to proudly introduce our newest Creator of the Month, Estela Gonzales! Check out her work in her school’s computer lab below, where she is a powerhouse of STEAM learning.

Tell us about yourself! Where do you work and what inspired you to choose your career?  

My name is Estela Gonzales and I am the Computer Lab Tech at Villacorta Elementary in the Rowland Unified School District. I have worked for the district for 28 years. In 2017-2018 I was awarded the Classified Employee of the Year. I am passionate about teaching, supporting teachers, and technology. I have always had a deep passion and love for technology, robots, and coding. That is what inspired me to do what I do today.

How did you think of creating the project?

A colleague and I were discussing how to incorporate technology, robots and coding into a Science lesson. While collaborating together, we decided to not do what is typically done. Instead of having students draw out a picture of a cell and label it we wanted to push them to do something more innovative. We came up with the idea of having them draw the cells on large poster boards. From there, they used OzoBlockly to code the Ozobot to go around the cells. Once the coding is done, they are going to be screencasting their knowledge on the different parts of the cell as the Ozobot travels around.


What was the most challenging part about making it, and how did you overcome the obstacle?

The biggest challenge was having the students learn to use OzoBlockly. At the time, they were only familiar with using the markers to code. After giving them time to practice with OzoBlockly, they became more comfortable and were able to succeed in completing the coding project using OzoBlockly.  

Can you share with us an example of how your project combined creativity and coding?

My project combined both creativity and coding because it showcased each child’s thinking. Each group was given the freedom to draw the cells as they knew it. Because every cell was different, the coding for each child was different. There was not a cookie-cutter way of doing this project. The biggest highlight of my project was that they were able to record their thinking and reasoning using Screencasting which gave each child a voice.

How else do you use STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) in everyday life?

I use STEAM every day, especially with my kids. Because I am the Computer Lab tech I use technology everyday. As you can see with my current project, I have been able to integrate technology and science. When my students come in, I make sure that all of their lessons are engaging and they integrate multiple modalities. For example, my students have used their math skills in Minecraft. They were given challenges to make buildings using area & perimeter. They have incorporated art by designing vision boards on Google Drawings. I am part of our district’s Makerspace Lab cohort and we come up with great lessons for our students to engage in the engineering process.

One of my biggest passions at my school site is that I am the LegoRobotics Coach. With that, my students are engaged in technology, science, and math. One of the benefits of working with every single kid at my school site is that I also get the opportunity to work with every teacher. When they come into my lab, I encourage and support them to try the lessons I am doing in their own classroom. My goal is to encourage them to try to integrate technology and robotics into their lessons.


What is your favorite way to code – Color Codes or OzoBlockly?

I prefer to code in OzoBlockly. The reason I like it more is because it introduces my students to coding online. When they master coding in OzoBlockly, it becomes easier for them to code other robots and programs through block coding. I do love using Color Codes when I first introduce my students to the Ozobot and I also use it for my younger students.  

In addition to having a blast with Ozobots, what do you want kids who may recreate your project to take away from it?

I want them to learn that they can do it. I want them to feel confident in coding, creating, and learning. My biggest take away from it is that I want my students to know that it is possible for them to have careers in STEAM.

How do you see your project being used in the future in different ways?

I want other students to take my project and apply it to any subject. I think it is a great way for them to reinforce their learning. This project can be used with any subject matter as long as they draw a picture, code their Ozobot with OzoBlockly, and record their thinking.


How did you first hear about Ozobot and start learning to code?  

The first time I heard about Ozobot was in 2015 when I attended CUE. I have attended CUE for about 20 years and took many workshops on my own time to further my knowledge about coding. After learning about how amazing Ozobot is and how much kids can do with it, I set up a meeting with my principal. After showing him the benefits of Ozobot, we requested to allocate the funds to buy two class sets.

Besides creating with code, what is your favorite hobby or interest to geek out about in your free time?

I am a huge nerd and a fan of Minecraft. I love to build and create lessons for the students. I also love to ride my bike. I go on many rides during the week with Montebello Bicycle Coalition.  During the week I ride about 60 miles a week. I enjoy doing this activity with my husband and have made lifelong friends from our biking adventures. I also spend a lot of my time with my grandchildren and use them as my “guinea pigs” when it comes to coding and using robotics with children. They love learning and using technology with their grandma and I get to show them all that I know with coding.


Have you told any other stories with your bots? Any other creations we should check out?

I work with all grade levels so I have had the opportunity to modify and create different stories per grade level. I found a few pictures from family learning night, where students taught family members how to code Ozobot (above). Also here’s a video of last year’s 5th grade class (below). I taught them to use Ozobot and they then taught a kinder class how to use Ozobots.


Thank you to Estela, for inspiring creativity & coding in her computer lab! Follow Estela on Twitter to see more of her Ozobot creations. And don’t forget…

Coding is Creative!

Tech skills alone don’t spur big ideas—creative visions do. That’s why education at home and in the classroom should span science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (think STEAM, not STEM). Whether you see yourself as a future artist, astronaut, or entrepreneur, our goal at Ozobot is to kick start your creativity and coding skills with playtime that strengthens your whole mind.

To learn more, explore Ozobot’s two ways to code:

OzoBlockly >
Color Codes >

For Educators and Students:

OzoBlockly Basic Training >
Color Codes Basic Training >
150+ STEAM Lessons >

Creator of the Month – Official Rules


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