Sunday, February 14, 2016
A few weeks ago, I tried a project with second graders that I've been wanting to try for awhile now. I started by introducing students to Build with Chrome, a website and collaboration between Google and LEGO that allows you to play with LEGOs on the computer. It's awesome. Students started by engaging in the "Build Academy," which taught them how to do almost everything in the program, including picking up an dropping pieces, deleting pieces, changing colors, and adjusting camera angles and zoom. After that, I gave students some time to build some things on their own, and saw some pretty impressive results, including the beginnings of a hotel/rollercoaster ride, which really, why has nobody thought of this before?
When we had our fill of free-building, I then introduced them to Google Earth, a program where you can access satellite imagery, street views, and user-generated content from around the world. Students learned how to zoom in and out, pan, and most importantly, search. Students searched for Maine, Searsport, Stockton Springs, and where they lived. I then had students choose a building that they could find within the district to make a model of in Build with Chrome. Some students chose public buildings and businesses like Tozier's Market or the Masonic Hall, while others chose their house. Students learned how to multitask and switch between windows on their computer using the Command + Tab keyboard shortcut, so they could look at their building first, then switch windows and build in the other. While we didn't get to the stage of publishing buildings and making them available for viewing in the Google Maps integrating in Build with Chrome, I learned a lot about what is needed to make this project work in the future, and I'm looking forward to doing it again!
Posted by Mr. Cyr at 7:45 PM
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
|A drawing a fifth grade student made using the Osmo|
Masterpiece app on the iPad.
A special thanks to Hilary Graebert, one of our kindergarten parents, who helped add to our collection by purchasing three Osmo Numbers accessory kits for the school. We now have three Osmo kits complete with the Numbers, Tangram, and Letters sets. Thank you so much for your support!
Posted by Mr. Cyr at 7:33 PM
Sunday, February 7, 2016
|Combined, the teams that make up Searsport-Area FLL.|
|Teamwork Award, earned by|
Team 17380 at the Old Town
The last few weeks of the season were hectic. Both teams decided to rebuild their robots after the qualifier, and making the programming adjustments for new equipment and new routes went down to the very last second. The teams also did some last-second research to shore up their presentations, and we added some elements to our practices to help us assess our Core Values. The hope was to focus on the things we needed to improve on to boost our scores.
|Mechanical Design Runner-Up Award, earned by Team 2956|
at the Maine FLL Championship (and which they promptly
made a robot out of!)
|Team 2956 presenting their research project at the Maine FLL|
I'm already very excited about next season. The only thing we know at the moment is that next year's theme is Animal Allies, and knowing how much children love animals, and seeing that one of our teams chose to focus on a Trash Trek project involving animals, I think that this is a wonderful theme that will get students engaged in the research project.
Going forward, we're going to need more help to ensure that our success continues to grow. I am projecting a need for at least a third team next year, and maybe even a fourth. I know that I was not the only one among our coaches and mentors that felt overwhelmed with how much was needed to make this season what it is, so please email me if you are interested in being a part of the team next season. We need you!
Searsport-Area FLL will stay quiet for the next few months. Preparation for next season will begin sometime in April. Stay tuned for updates on spring practices, informational nights, team registrations, and upcoming fundraisers!
Posted by Mr. Cyr at 12:23 PM
Friday, February 5, 2016
But then there's the programming. And that's where things get a little messy.
Getting ready for this club, I wrestled with a number of things that I wanted to try that were different from previous clubs. I wanted to provide students more choices for what they could do in robotics clubs, while also ensuring a learning sequence where students are still picking up on all of the foundational stepping stones of building and programming. I also wanted to provide more supports for students to work at their own pace, to make sure that students who are struggling get the most attention while students who are flying through are not held back. Finally, I wanted to include more exciting challenges and projects for students to see how robotics apply in the real-world. All of these combine to result in some pretty significant changes to how robotics club works from before. I'll outline some of them below.
Because students have more choices than they have before in Robotics Club, I will be doing a lot less teaching or guiding in whole groups that I have in the past. Students will reach different stages, challenges, and badges at different time. At the end of the day, however, there is still only one me, and I have needed to find new ways of supporting students without physically being there beside them. So, I have developed (and am still developing) a new Guide system with video tutorials to help students at various points in robotics club. For instance, students who finish building their first robot can access the Beginner Programming guide to see how to make their robot work. I hope to add more guides along the way, but the end goal here is to help students access support and help on their terms (and to reduce the workload on me).
On to week 2!