Friday, April 4, 2014

Emmett is in our classroom!

Dear families,

I'm guessing you've already heard, but in case you haven't, we've been lucky enough to participate in a project funded by the Yarmouth Education Foundation and run here at YES by Cathy Wolinsky to use Lego robotics kits and the Lego program Wedo to tell our creations how to move.  Needless to say, enthusiasm for this project has been HIGH in the class.  But what you may not have heard from your kiddo are some of the things I've noticed while watching them work.

Cooperation.  Each kit has a team of two students working together on it.  I've watched them problem-solve, help each other, explain, convince, cajole, encourage, and create some amazing things.  Once the project is complete, they then work together even more to figure out ways to modify it.  If they were working on either the goalie or the kicker they also then had to work together with another team to make the two kits interact.

Problem solving.  While the directions are very clear and concise, it is also very easy to make tiny mistakes, especially if the engineers are not familiar with Legos.  This means going back, step by step, to find where things went wrong.  Some of our builders have also had to find extra pieces to add to their creations (a ball to kick, a drum to hit, something for an alligator to eat!) to make them work and maintain authenticity.

Creativity.  I never thought of a bird making a frog noise.  Or of the various ways a lego person could be placed into the mouth of a chomping alligator.  Or the strange sounds coming out of a lions mouth when it raises itself up.  The connections and inspirations have been enlightening.

Programming.  Even though the original program steps are all listed, we have had to adapt to not having certain sensors, and what that means for a program that runs straight through or runs on repeat.  Some of our engineers and builders have even gone so far as to start changing some of the parameters of their programs, making creations do new and unplanned things.  It has been quite interesting.

All told, it has been a joy to watch.  Here is a video made by Cathy Wolinksy (very nice and finished) of some of what has been happening in the robotics lab.  I will follow up with a barebones post straight from the iPad (not very nice and finished!) of some of the videos I've taken of our class exploring and learning.


Thanks for your encouragement,
Todd (and class)

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