Science and Tech – main topic when students met Energy Secretary

SaltRiver_Robotics_ASUAs much as I prepped my robotics students for that a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet someone in government, there was the stuff you couldn’t anticipate.

Such as yesterday’s meeting with Energy Sec. Ernest Moniz, who was supposed to stop by their poster for about a 30 seconds. He continued to prod them on details for about 10 minutes. “Who’s next?” he kept asking. We had lined up three speakers. Two 4th graders, and a 6th grader.

The line of questioning was about their communication with a crew on Mars (the simulated community known as the HI-SEAS project) going on. Their project, for the just concluded FLL robotics tournament had extensive detail about how to use indigenous tools and material when, say, 3D printing (something used by the current Mission crew) isn’t enough.

After that high-profile moment, the students went on to check out the science packed into the 3-storey interdisciplinary science building or ‘ISTB4′ at Arizona State University.

This included an underwater robot, a weather station, and of course the impossible-to-resist full-scale replica of the Mars Curiosity rover.

If you’ve never been to ISTB4 at Arizona State University, the newest of the Engineering faculty buildings, it’s definitely worth a visit. It also houses a meteorite gallery, bio-tech labs and other interesting models of rockets, drones etc.

It’s one of the labs we visit when I take a group of winners of the Mars Day competition.

Hour of Code – 60 Minutes Isn’t Enough!

This week, I began introducing some of the basics building blocks of coding via Code.Org to my students.

They wish they had more than the half hour they get in a class.

Even 60-minutes seems inadequate, so I tell them to go home and pick up where they left off. Many of them say they did.

 

 

No one thinks they would ever dabble in this:

But given a chance, they sure want to build pages like this:

Hour of Code begins this week

It’s here! A week dedicate to getting students to appreciate and –frankly fall in love with– code!

I began with a 5th and 6th grade class, who wished we had more than 35 minutes of class time, as they got elbow-deep in coding.

Also, a relevant sidebar to this is the push by Mark Zuckerberg, who was featured in TIME, last week. If, as the Zuckerberg’s and the Gates’ of this world get the rest of the world online, imagine all those tens of thousands of coding jobs that will come available, as our students graduate!

FLL Robotics Tournament Today

Poster_robotics_SaltRiverElementary“Learn from the past. Plan for the future.”

This was the title of our team’s poster with research around “How could we better communicate and learn from each other across different countries and…planets”

They have been communicating with Sophie Milam and Zak Wilson, two of the six crew members  spending eight months on a simulated Mars environment.

Here is a first look at their project poster with four members of XTreme Sharkbots.

Adding Maker-space component for Mars Day 2014

Exciting plans are underway for Mars Day 2014. It will be on October 29th. Much of it is hands-on.

We have a full day of events, starting a morning assembly.

  • Video-conference with space scientist – all classes will interact with speaker via smart boards
  • Grades 2-6 will take part in a brand new concept called ‘Maker Mars’ – a NASA-designed STEM project for students to design, and come up with scenarios for what it might take to build a community on Mars
  • Pre K, Kindergarten and 1st grade will be involved in a hands-on science-writing workshop, with award-winning author, Conrad J. Storad
  • We will also launch a poster competition in two weeks, so that the winners of the competition will be picked on Mars Day

Carl Hayden Robotics Team – What Big Ideas are Made Of

The documentary “Underwater Dreams” which has been making the rounds, is a great story of how a young robotics team pushed the boundaries.

The Carl Hayden High School team has been building underwater robots since 2004, the year the entered the Marine Advanced education challenge.  They beat a team from MIT, and this documentary is about that story.

Here is a trailer of the movie

Underwater Dreams Trailer (Edited) from 50EGGS on Vimeo.

Robotics students build, plan missions

A time to build, a time to play..

Until now, since many of this year’s students are new to the FLL program, robotics was something they visualized as a Mars rover, or even… Robonaut

The pace quickly changed once they broke open the plastic bags, and spread out the competition field mat.

The missions this year, based on the 2014 theme, ‘World Class’ is all about knowledge, and sharing information across physical and virtual spaces. The Missions are called:

  • Cloud Access
  • Skills and Knowledge
  • Community Tree
  • Communication
  • Outside-The-Box Thinking
  • Door (to knowledge)
  • Changing Conditions
  • Engagement
  • Project-Based Learning
  • Homework
  • Search Engines
  • Senses & Learning Style
  • Robotics

Before they get to light and ultra-sonic sensors, they find out the need to measure, revise, re-think, reverse-engineer, and most importantly work in teams.

Connecting the Dots for ‘Dot Day’

Encouraging to see such a large outpouring of ‘dot’ art from all the grades, to commemorate International Dot Day last week – Sept 15th.

Our students were part of the 1,853,749 people who took part, altogether representing 82 countries!

We decided to do something more than just put up the dots. We displayed them in a long string, across the hallways, randomly connecting each student’s self-expression. Basically we connected the dots, to create one large distributed artwork.

 

There’s no User Manual for the Internet? Seriously?

What is the Internet died?

Before introducing 6th graders to e-mail and blogs, I like to throw a few scenarios at them, one of which is to imagine what it might be to get onto a computer and not have access to anything online.

Last week, soon after that freak flood in the Phoenix metro area, I showed them a ‘story’ how the Internet died, and may never come back.

The keyword here is ‘scenario.’ As in a what-if.

I think it’s important to get young people to think of the ‘plumbing’ of this thing we call the Internet. It could start an interesting discussion of things most of us take for granted: hyperlinks, networks, the cloud, and now more than ever, Wi-Fi.

Unlike for many other technologies they use here in the Lab, and in their homes, there is no user-manual for the Internet.

Well, there is one – sort of. It is a cross between a set of best practices and a code of conduct that we need to pass down to young people who assume the Internet will be always on.

Pretending the Internet Died

What is the Internet died?

Before introducing 6th graders to e-mail and blogs, I like to throw a few scenarios at them, one of which is to imagine what it might be to get onto a computer and not have access to anything online.

Last week, soon after that freak flood in the Phoenix metro area, I showed them a ‘story’ how the Internet died, and may never come back.The keyword here is ‘scenario.’ As in a what-if.

I think it’s important to get young people to think of the ‘plumbing’ of this thing we call the Internet. It could start an interesting discussion of things most of us take for granted: hyperlinks, networks, the cloud, and now more than ever, Wi-Fi.

Unlike for many other technologies they use here in the Lab, and in their homes, there is no user-manual for the Internet.

Well, there is one – sort of. It is a cross between a set of best practices and a code of conduct that we need to pass down to young people who assume the Internet will be always on.

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