Learning about Arduino on Digital Learning Day

DonWilde_tnToday Don Wilde, former Intel engineer, and FLL robotics coach/judge, was here to show our students a different side of programming – the Arduino board.

Don talked about how programming has been invading almost every part of our lives, from cars (which house dozens of computers), and houses to businesses, and libraries. (This session was fittingly held in the library – and I mentioned how students today self-check in and check out their books with a scanner and software).

He also stressed the point of how engineers are needed to design robots, and for online stores, casinos and satellites to function. “Highly-paid work today, whether it is in entertainment or communication needs engineers and programmers, and you could be one of them,” he said.

Don then demonstrated one of the devices he had put together for this, using a off-the-shelf Arduino Uno board. He connected a series of light, touch and sound sensors to show how this plug-and-play device worked.

Board_DLDay2016

By way of comparison, he talked about the Lego NXT robot, itself a micro-controller, with which many students in both 5th and 6th grades are familiar. We have had a robotics program in the school for the past 6 years. Thanks to Don, I have become interested in introducing Arduino to my class. Perhaps someday, we will have programming as a regular class, rather than an add-on to the curriculum!

Micro-controllers_DLDay2016

NASA’s one-year space experiment opens rich possibilities for teachers

This morning was the launch of the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft, carrying 3 astronauts. There are two Russian cosmonauts, Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka, and US astronaut Scott Kelly.

They will spend one year on the International Space Station! This will be the longest stay in space. NASA 'Star Wars' Expedition 45 Poster

To mark this momentous step – a step toward a human mission to Mars –NASA released this poster.

Scott Kelly’s twin brother, Mark will be part of a long-term study by NASA. Mark is a veteran astronaut, and the husband of former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona.

Given NASA’s sense of humor, I could see a lot of possibilities down the line, making science seem a lot more fun, and accessible. I am already planning a Photoshop class around this. Stay tuned!

There are plenty of Ed-Tech & STEM lessons we could build around this experiment. Such as:

Data collection. A class could monitor and collect data generated by NASA on this experiment, and generate hypotheses, charts, reports. They have already begun posting some ideas here.

 

Math/International Space Station report. The ‘habitable volume’ on the ISS is 13,696 cubic feet. How does that translate into cubic meters? Or in dimensions, what is its approximate size in terms of square feet?

 

Digital Storytelling/Video Editing. NASA has released B-roll of the ISS. I would love to get students to create a story using this footage, and some video they shoot. Perhaps do a fictional story of what they might do when (not “if”) they work for NASA!

ISS Orbit path

 

Plotting the orbit of ISS. I subscribe to ‘station tracker’ that send me a text message as to when the ISS passes over my city in Arizona. They could do so here, and get updates via email. Using this kind of data, students could learn not just about space, but also about compass directions, and use protractors and related math skills.

Focus on Word Clouds, QR Codes, and Smart Watches for Digital Learning Day

Today is Digital Learning Day. This is the third year we have participated.

Planning on introducing a new unit to my 5th and 6th grades today – a bit of a challenge!

5th grade: Students will scan a web site (to be announced), and pick up 10 key words that could provide a good snapshot of the topic.

Then they would create a list on a Word document, and be sent to a Word Cloud generator to ceate their own Word Cloud. Topics I will choose form are from this week’s news:
(a) Apple Watch

(b) Will Ferrell ‘plays’ Cactus League – visiting Mesa, Arizona this week!

 

6th Grade: Students will learn the differences (and relationship) between URLs and QR Codes. The challenge is to use 3 web sites and 4 steps to produce customized and usable information. They will:

(a) Visit a web site provided,  and copy the link

(b) Go to Kaywa, the QR Code generator where they will create and download the Code.

(c) Open the image file, which could be a PPG of TIFF, in Pixlr.com (the Photoshop Clone)

(d) Create a poster using Pixlr, with QR Code image and text

Once done, they will save it to a shared folder, and print it out.

See last year’s activity here in my class.

 

Salt River Elementary featured in Dept. Of Interior News

I covered the visit of US Secretary of interior, Sally Jewell to my school, here on the school website.

It was exciting that she also visited my class, and had a talk about robotics and science. At that time, little did we know how it would figure in the grander scheme of things…as a Listening Tour, of Native youth.

The department’s video below included several pictures of her engaging with our students. Two of the students you see in this are potential podcasters in my class on audio. Three are in robotics.

More from the Department of the Interior’s communication channel called ‘This Week at Interior.’

Local NPR Station, KJZZ covered the visit here.

Here she talks  to two of my students, and watches a demo in my class.

 

 

And this from Cronkite News at ASU.

 

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:

Mars Day 2014 – Video

Thanks to the support from SRPMIV-TV, we had coverage from Mars Day 2014 that took place on October 29th at Salt River Elementary School.

This is the third year we have had this event, which has become a fixture on our school calendar. (Check out last year’s event!)

Once again, thank you to:

  • Mars Space Flight Facility
  • ASU: Professor Jack Farmer, Sheri Klug-Boonstra, Anthony Zippay, Leon Manfredi
  • Conrad Storad
  • HI-SEAS Mission 3 Crew: Martha Lenio, Allen Mirkadyrov, Sophie MilamNeil Scheibelhut, Jocelyn DunnZak Wilson
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • School of Earth and Space Exploration, ASU