- By: Ken Gracey Published: 22 May, 2017 2 comments
I recently came across two stories from educators who are using the Parallax S3 robot and Blockly with middle school students. Both teachers contributing their time and expertise warrant our highest recognition. Ask any engineer if there was a teacher or class that they really enjoyed when they were younger. For my generation it favorite subjects were woodshop, metalwork, or maybe computer programming. Today, though, we’re starting to see careers that were inspired by a robotics class.
John Kauffman - HB Woodlawn Middle School of Arlington, Virginia
Mr. Kauffman’s middle school students programmed the S3 to create a number of robotic art “traces”. The region’s main library provided a display area for his students to show their robotic art. Mr. Kauffman notes “the students produced some traces that were very pleasing to the eye” and “we included the BlocklyProp identifier so visitors could look up the code for themselves”. These exhibits are shown in the pictures above.
With his message, Mr. Kauffman gave us a few suggestions around the S3. First, we need to improve the download code dialog box so students don’t pull the cord too early. Next, he’s asked for volume control in the “factory restore” code base so it runs more quietly. We track suggestions like these in our Blockly GitHub for implementation by developers.
Thank you Mr. Kauffman for sharing with the students and facilitating the library showcase!
Rich Levergood - Northwood School in New Hampshire
Northwood School students are learning to program the S3 robot too. Rich Levergood, who also teaches physics in Londonderry, is helping with the class. Students are charged with using the Scribbler 3 robot to write their names. Early results have the letters too big, mushed together, or not aligned properly. These challenges are exactly the experience that Mr. Levergood hoped they’d receive. Not surprisingly, the students report back “this is what makes it interesting” and that they develop “confidence and encouragement to keep going”.
Mr. Levergood’s style of teaching encourages this kind of experiential learning. He begins each class with a few minutes of lecture and identifies the goal. After that the students are set loose. They take their computers and robots with them and start programming. Mr. Levergood reports that the course is a success and that Blockly has been an instrumental part of learning to code.
Read Robots on a Roll at Northwood School for the full student perspective.
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Parallax thanks Mr. Kauffman and Mr. Levergood for providing these experiences to students. You’re creating interest and inspiring future career choices for of many students. They’ll look back and remember that you shared the robots with them.
Ken Gracey, CEO, Parallax Inc.