Today, I had the privilege to observe 4th and 5th graders in the midst of a five-week STEM unit. They are using LEGO MINDSTORMS and the Carnegie Mellon curriculum. The students were incredibly engaged, everyone student I asked said this was their favorite unit of the year. This program is currently offered to all 4th and 5th graders at two of our elementary schools with plans to grow it over the coming years; hopefully, to all schools. I was there to observe, offer some suggestions, and discuss how we can connect this amazing program in elementary to middle school and high school classes and activities. I suggested Seymour Paperts book Mindstorms as a resource for everyone involved. I was thrilled when one of the leaders of this program had already read it! We plan to return in a few weeks with Huskie Robotics and have the seniors see the creations of the 4th and 5th graders and then demonstrate our FIRST Robotics Competition Robot, Annie, to all 3rd through 5th graders. We hope that this helps students project themselves into these future STEM opportunities.
This pair was working on an energy transfer experiment. They were using the crank to generate energy and store it. They then used the stored energy to power their robot. They captured their predictions, data, graphs, and reflection in their lab notebook on the iPad which, in itself, was impressive.
The unit is focused on various challenges that each pair works to complete. The challenges are engaging but not competitive. This should make the unit more interesting to girls. We discussed how the unit could be improved by creating a narrative that connects the various activities and challenges to authentic human impact examples of robotics and technology. You can see a how a few of the girls personalized their robots.
I’ll be honest. I’m not a fan of 2048 since it distracts students from what I feel would be better use of their times. Like reviewing for the AP Physics exam. That said, I was impressed when one of my students showed me 2048 on his TI calculator. He programmed it yesterday after thinking of the idea when he was suppose to be reviewing for the AP physics exam.
Since students finished the AP Computer Science exam, they have started brainstorming the developing their capstones. Due to school closing due to weather, I postponed capstones until after the AP exam this year. I was surprised at how in demand the whiteboards were. One student worked through quite the design class diagram.
Each year, our school district holds a dinner to recognize the top academicians of the graduating class. In addition to their parents, they are able to invite their “most influential educator.” I was honored this year to attend as the guest of some of my students.
Tonight, Huskie Robotics held our end-of-season celebration at Navistar. Navistar CEO, Troy Clarke, shared an inspiring message. We thanked our sponsors, mentors, teachers, and parents. We recognized our graduating seniors, all of whom are pursuing STEM-related majors. We also premiered our 2014 Season Highlights Video embedded here.
Huskie Robotics, Team 3061, 2014 Season from Naperville North High School on Vimeo.
Art students had an assignment to incorporate materials from another class into an art piece. One of my AP Physics B students incorporated a geometric optics free response question into his piece. He gave me the artwork to display in the classroom. Awesome!
Instructure, creators of the Canvas LMS, visited our district and my classroom recently; it was great to host them. They sent a thank you package to us. We have a couple neat shirts to wear and great notebooks for each student. Very cool!