Saturday, September 8, 2018

Great Advice from a LEGO Education Master Educator

A pleasure to have known, and interviewed, and picked the brain of this colleague over many years. CONGRATULATIONS on this very nice piece, Ian Chow-Miller!!!


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Dean Kamen’s FIRST Robotics Competition (Full Segment) | Real Sports w/ Bryant Gumbel | HBO

Girl Powered’ Robotics at Google

"Girl powered’ robotics workshop at Google builds skills, confidence

Outside Google’s MP7 building at its Sunnyvale campus, it was a pretty quiet weekend.
But inside, upbeat music was pumping, and the building was bustling with hundreds of teenage girls clad in purple shirts and name tags who all spent the weekend building and testing robots.

Dozens of teams huddled around their plastic toolboxes, which were filled with small screws, sprockets, springs, and plastic and metal components. They worked to perfect their own claw robot on wheels.
This is the second year the Google Girl’s Robotics Workshop has run at the campus. The tech giant sponsors the event and collaborates with the Girl Powered initiative, comprised of members from the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation and VEX Robotics.

The goal of the initiative is to get more girls involved in robotics and science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM fields, at an earlier age.

“Girls, by and large, are underrepresented in robotics,” said Vicki Grisanti, the director of marketing for the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation.
Grisanti said hosting these kinds of workshops can help girls build confidence in a challenging environment.

You’re building communication skills, teamwork skills, problem-solving skills,” she said. “These are all things you can develop at a young age doing these competitions, and you take those skills on into your future career...”

Read the full article at its source:

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Great List of Robot Themed Books for Students

In my 'In Box' from Birdbrain Technologies this morning... this is a very nice list of titles (organized by grade level) to align reading and understanding robotics. Kids will love these books, learn about robotics, and improve literacy skills, as well:
There’s still time to get some more summer reading in! Choose one of these hand selected books about robotics & programming from our K-12 reading list.

BirdBrain Tech’s 11-year-old book reviewer highly suggests the Wild Robot and Secret Coder series! Tweet us your favorites @birdbraintech.

Student Robotics and SEL (Social and Emotional Learning)

Great article from SmartBrief

"Grow SEL skills through robotics"

"In the heart of Silicon Valley, the tech Mecca of the world, is John Gill Elementary School, a STEAM-focused Title 1 school where more than half the students are English language learners (ELLs) and most are on the free and reduced lunch program. Our school is piloting a new computer science initiative where, starting in kindergarten, students move through a progression of tools that help them learn computer-programing skills.

The goal is to provide these students with a plethora of STEM resources to give them a strong foundation in computer science and keep them within the Silicon Valley community. Although we’re early in our pilot, we also want our students to learn a lot more than computer skills. They’re learning to collaborate and are developing strong social-emotional learning and problem-solving skills, too.

‘It’s Not Just About the Robot’ We don't know what jobs today’s children are going to have when they become adults, and we don't know what the workforce of the future is going to look like. However, we do know that technology is going to have a huge impact, and it's only going to develop more over time. According to research conducted by Marina Umaschi Bers at Tufts University, the more exposure children have to how computers, coding, and robotics work, the more prepared they will be in the future.

When parents express concerns about their child spending a lot of time with technology, we tell them, “It's not about the robot” or any device. It's about what they’re doing with the device to show their understanding. For example, can a student recognize patterns? Are they working together and communicating with others to solve problems? These are the skills that help students develop a strong foundation of computational thinking.

Machines that Make Kids More Human
While children are developing these computational thinking skills, simultaneously they are working on their social-emotional development. I remember a specific example of a student who significantly grew socially through the use of robotics. We were introducing a wooden robot to a class of kindergarten students, and a boy and a girl were working together. The boy pulled the robot away from the girl and said, “This is mine!” He then started a game of tug-of-war with his partner.

Flash-forward two months: I went back and visited the classroom, and the same boy was working with another group of children, a mix of boys and girls. At one point, he stopped, held the robot out, and said, “It's your turn now.” I thought, “There we go. That's what we're hoping to see.” Not only are students learning about computer programming, but they're also learning social skills—like sharing and working with others—that will serve them just as importantly in the future.

Hokey-Pokey and SEL

When working with robotics, I also see students develop basic problem-solving skills, which contribute to building their social-emotional intelligence. Do they hit a place in the task where they feel frustrated or they feel like it's not working the way they want it to? Are they showing the perseverance and the grit to try to overcome that obstacle on their own? Those are the things we're curious to watch for.
For example, our kindergarten teachers did a hokey-pokey lesson using robotics; it introduced students to the basics of robotics and coding. In the lesson sequence, we danced the hokey-pokey as a class, singing the song together. Then, we split students up into pairs, and asked them to code the robot to dance to their own version of the hokey-pokey.

What we noticed was that, as pairs struggled to code the movement they wanted to see, they had to communicate with one another and collaborate on different ideas. We often found students showing each other how to adjust the robot’s barcode reader to scan in the correct block, or to redo a scan if the robot didn't perform the dance correctly. While some students struggled with sharing during the lesson, we also saw that their collaboration and working together improved over time.

I never tire of seeing a child discover something new about his or her world. The screams of excitement I hear after students successfully code a robot to carry out a command will never get old. As we continue our pilot process, we've been seeing glimpses of SEL development, which shows that our students can develop soft skills alongside computer science skills and become active and engaged residents of 21st-century Silicon Valley..."

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Click on book cover for information

Click on book cover for information
Getting Started with LEGO Robotics. Anyone who works with kids can do LEGO Robotics, a rich and highly motivating platform for important STEM Learning! (surprisingly affordable, too) This books explains it all!