This post is in preparation for a session I’m running at this year’s National Education Summit in Brisbane, 15 & 16 May. It is a free seminar so please come along and catch up!
Creating an environment and providing opportunities for young students to engage and create with technology from an early age ‘hooks’ them in! Integrating technology across the curriculum and offering spaces like a Makerspace, clubs and events like ‘Coding & Robotics’, Inter-house Robotics Competition, STEMies and ‘TechMate’, inspires students to create with technology.
Junior Library Makerspace
Makerspaces encourage students to think creatively and communicate their knowledge through ‘experimental play’ as they explore what they can do, and all the while, learning new knowledge and skills. The tools and resources available to students in a library makerspace enables young students to design, create, build and have fun on projects of their choice. Motivating and inspiring by creating short videos of ideas can be helpful!
Learning how to use new technology to solve problems or explore new ideas is encouraged in a Makerspace and can be on a one-to-one basis with teachers, facilitators or from peers!
Coding and Robotics Club provides students the opportunity to have fun learning to code, whilst challenging themselves to manipulate and control robots. Students can work with a variety of robots including; Bee Bots, Blue Bots, Pro Bots, Spheros, LEGO EV3s, Parrot Mambo drones and Alpha (a humanoid robot). Club members use iPads, which have many different apps on, to promote fun and engaging ways to learn to code.
Students in Coding and Robotics Club are developing their programming skills with different coding languages, problem-solving through building and designing robots for completing challenges, and co-operating and collaborating to succeed with tasks. Students select different robots or apps to challenge themselves with activities set out each week.
Blog post about entering First Lego League
Inter-house Robotics Competition celebrates ‘The Hour of Code’ as an annual event in our Junior School. The event is introduced using videos from Code.org. Each house group sits around a competition area where the challenge takes place and has a table with equipment for the event in their house colour. An example of each year level: Preps program a Bee Bot to travel from start to finish counting the insects in order. Year 1’s code a Blue Bot to pass over the alphabet which was in pictures of animals. Year 2’s burst a balloon by programming a Blue Bot to pass over each shape. Year 3’s program a Pro Bot into a maze and draw a square of at least 30cm. Year 4’s control a Sphero, through a maze travelling under a tunnel and over a ramp. Year 5’s program a LEGO EV3 to avoid rocks and a swamp to retrieve a crate. The challenges from Prep to Year 5 are carried out in a set time with a large online Robot Stopwatch doing the count down, this is always very popular with students. Year 6’s, navigate Mambo Drones through a course flipping 360 degrees on the way to deliver a question to a partner who has to answer it and then fly the drone back. This is carried out under race conditions.
STEMies Club invites students to define themselves as makers, inventors, and creators. Projects such as responding to a guest speaker by designing and creating different games and artefacts relating to the topic spoken about using LittleBits, which are easy-to-use electronic building blocks or a project might be film making. Students write scripts, make props and select a platform to create a video. Many use the green screen with Do Ink App while others might use iMovie or Clips.
STEMies Club provides a safe place for students to give ideas ‘a go’ and to learn that it’s OK for things to not work first time. By iterating and making changes to improve designs, students also develop a growth mindset, realising that by persevering and working hard many things can be achieved. Students are able to compete in Young ICT Explorers with projects they create to solve community problems or inventions they create!
TechMate Evenings are for girls from Years 4 – Years 6 once a term to spend time with a significant male in their lives to discover the wonders of technology. This could also work for boys and a significant female in their lives! Some of the activities include enthusiastically coding and navigating Spheros in a Sumo wrestling match, bursting balloons with Blue Bots, coding EV3’s to stop at a pedestrian crossing and reverse park, receiving ‘L’ plates with Pro Bots, programming Alpha (a humanoid robot) to dance and do push-ups! The evening can end with team challenges of designing a carriage to carry a girl/boy around a set course being powered and coded by Sphero.
Another evening, the girls and their ‘mates’ were introduced to the life and times of Reuben Garrett Lucius Goldberg, best known as Rube and for creating the Rube Goldberg Machines. TechMates thought of a simple task to complete and then designed a fun and crazy way of completing the task.
TechMate provides a time to spend with dad, granddad, brother, uncle or close friend to play, build, create, invent and discover, sometimes with technology and sometimes without.
Tech Girls are SuperHeroes is a fabulous event/competition for girls to build a mobile app to solve a problem in their community. The mission of Tech Girls Movement is: “We exist to give girls access to technology and programs to build their skills and confidence. We present real life female role models – women working in STEM, as mentors and superheroes featured in our Tech Girls Are Superheroes books. We inspire young women to solve important community problems with technology skills and business acumen through our annual online Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero competition”. This can lead to the amazing opportunity our students had in 2019…..Visit to Silicon Valley, USA
Providing young students with opportunities to experience new technologies can inspire students, with their natural curiosity and creativity, to design and build incredible projects.
Anything is possible when you ignite the inquisitiveness of a ‘young mind’!