What do we create?

It Starts with EXPOSURE. It doesn’t matter if you use a 3D printer, a laser cutter, or glue sticks and cardboard. Learning ignites when kids see their idea made into a real thing. It works whether they make a model robot, a video game, or their first feature film. When kids make real things, with […]

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Opening the Floodgates

c4uzeobuoaagtsaOn a recent trip to Fir Grove Elementary School, we had the opportunity to do some deeper dives into Lego robotics. After a brief exploration and research session about the current flooding situation in California, upper elementary students learned how to build and program a working floodgate. We then displayed current weather data from the Oroville, California region, which was grappling with the prospect of a catastrophic failure of the Oroville Dam. For a number of students, it was this information that seemed to kick them into high gear. They were making plans to release some of the water behind the Dam before the next wave of rains hit. Questions and questions we overheard from students were:

“How much water do we need to keep for the farms? What about the fish?”
“What if we add a motion sensor, and let that trigger the gate?”
“How do we make our program to go by the hour? Maybe we can just make a second mean one hour?”
“What if the dam erodes?”

Students were more than just engaged, they were moving with intention and showed empathy in their decision making processes.  We overheard many discussions about the people who had been evacuated, and how scary that must be to wonder if the dam would fail.

We were simulating real solutions to real problems, and beyond that, we were encouraging empathy as the first part of the design-thinking process.  Who is this solution for? What are the trade-offs? What happens if we don’t act? How would we feel if we were there? Who decides what to do and when?

This build was more open-ended than the first robot builds, as students were able to adjust the programming to respond to weather data, or other inputs. However, the floodgate itself was a scripted process that looked basically the same for all students.   This was a necessary step toward a much more open-ended design project to come.  Now that the students have had the opportunity to learn how to use the lego robotics tools, they are ready to design every aspect of an original solution to a design challenge.   Their solution with their unique voice.  Open the floodgates!

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Before we all got iced out, we got more chances to engage in hands-on making, robotics and programming around the district.  The first step was exposing teachers to different options and ideas that were available.  After conferring with grade level and building teams we made a plan to provide the opportunity for students to engage in these activities. The outcome we are hoping for is to see teachers and students continue to use these techniques and technologies to support learning!

Here is a snapshot of what we were up to:

Barnes Elementary

Students and teachers engaged in hands on “Hour of Code ” activities. Kindergarteners programmed the Code-a-Pillar and used Ozmo blocks to solve programming and math challenges. Second graders took their Ozobot skills to the next level by drawing color coded programming instructions to solve maze problems. Fifth graders test flew our brand new LEGO WEDO 2.0 kits, successfully building and programming some basic robots. We plan to return to Barnes for a larger school wide event in the Spring.

McKinley Elementary

All fifth grade students at McKinley rocked hands-on making and programming robots using LEGO WEDO 2.0 kits.  We were psyched to see so much collaboration and perseverance.  The bus will return right after the break to continue into some more complex builds and programming challenges.

Meadow Park Middle School

Meadow park MYP Design Class teachers wanted to expose kids to 3d design and printing. Students worked together in groups to go through the engineering/design process to make working bookends for the library.   They translated these designs to a 3d file in TinkerCad to print.  To make this process more efficient, we worked with a small group of “Tech Sherpas” from each class before the project started.  The Sherpas learned how to load and unload filament, troubleshoot the printers, and print files from various design and slicing tools.  They became the printing experts in the room, helping other students realize their designs.  We were thrilled with the quality and detail of the final projects, and it was cool to really road test the MakerBots and Dremels.  The bus will follow up with these design classes to plan future collaborations.

The calendar is filling up for 2017, we are going to put some serious miles on this bus!  We are excited to continue to learn and grow together, see you in the new year!


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Ozobots and Math @ Meadow Park

“I feel smart!” -Quote from an 8th grader after writing his first programming function. About 200 8th grade AGS 1 students from Meadow Park programmed Ozobots to solve challenges.  Using visual coding and quite a bit of math, they persevered to get their tiny robot to run laps, knock down bowling pins, and escape from a […]

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