Friday, February 27, 2015

Hardware Friday: LEGO Robotics

Today, we used our LEGO robots from previous workshops and experimented with the different sensors in the kits.  One student shot a whole bunch of video which we need to edit before posting, but I still got a couple of good stills I can share today.  Special thanks once again to MechSE for loaning us the LEGO kits!

This robot is equipped with a microphone for sound detection (on its left side), a
laser for ground detection (at front center), and an ultrasonic sensor for sonar vision.
Some of the students started a "Battle Bots" club and outfitted
their robots with various weapon and armor attachments.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Girls Lead Thursday: Fixing a Flat

Today, Liz, Jake, and Dan from The Bike Project of Urbana-Champaign brought a bunch of bikes and gear so that we could all learn how to repair flat bicycle tires.  We had a great turnout and many requests for a repeat, so stay tuned in the fourth quarter when the weather gets nicer!  I got a bunch of great photos and some really good video while Ms. Larson ran the show and some new volunteers helped out.  The video needs some editing, but the photos are ready to go.  Plenty more below the cut.  Many thanks once again to James and The Bike Project for all their support!

 Students broke into groups to repair flat tires.
 A couple students brought in their own
bikes.  These sisters work on one of them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Scratch Tuesday: Passion Projects

Today, we began working on our projects for April's Family Night.  There's only a week and a half in March before intersession, then we're back and it's April.  My, how the time flies!

One student actually finished working on a project he had been polishing for some time.  Take a look:

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hardware Friday: LEGO Robotics

Today we started doing the robotics part of the LEGO Mindstorms/NXT kits.  We built the basic chassis on which other designs will be based in future workshops.  A few students took turns shooting video.  We've got a lot of material to sort through, but here's a quick clip:

Girls Lead Thursday: Open Textile Lab

Today we had an open textile workshop, with friendship bracelets and crochet being the main activities.  Here are some photos (more below the cut):

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Scratch Tuesday: Design

Today we did bottom-up design for our Scratch workshops, doing much the same work as we did last Thursday.  Lots of great design today, and we finished our bottom-up design document for our production cycle board (more on that later!).  Stay tuned as we keep working on these projects for our upcoming Family Night!

These students are hard at work turning their designs into (virtual) reality.

This student shows his dad what he's been working on.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Hardware Friday: LEGO Building

We kicked off our month of LEGO workshops with an afternoon of free building.  We had twenty kits, one for each student - stacked up on the cart, they barely fit through the door!  Special thanks to Joe Muskin at MechSE for letting us borrow them!

I got a bit wrapped up in all the activity and didn't have time to take pictures.  However, I did manage to get a couple shots of one student's work while we were cleaning up:

Check it out in motion, below the cut:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Girls Lead Thursday: Design

Today we started designing our projects for the April Family Night (date coming soon!).  Rather than take the usual top-down approach (where you decide what your project will be first, and then decompose it into manageable chunks from there), we decided to take the bottom-up approach (where you start with what you know how to do, and think of cool projects you can make with those building blocks).  The students seemed to have a much better time taking it from this direction!  Here is a stellar example of a third grade student's ability to plan ahead when working bottom-up instead of top-down:

Click through the cut for some photos of students hard at work on their projects!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Scratch Tuesday: Brainstorms

January's Scratch Tuesdays were spent refamiliarizing ourselves with the basics of socializing, researching, and debugging on Scratch.  Today, we discussed the "Theatre Metaphor," the central idea around which Scratch is designed:

In Scratch, actors called "sprites" wear costumes
and perform their scripts on the stage.  Source

We then brainstormed ideas together for what we could put on a stage, with a mind to our upcoming Family Night in April.  Here are some of the results!  (More below the cut!)

One student designed an animated Valentine's Day card, and saw it through to completion
right there in the workshop.  Here is his project (make sure your sound is on):

Click the green flag to begin!

Monday, February 2, 2015

K/1 Monday: Scratch, Jr.

After working on for the month of January, our K/1 students tackled Scratch, Jr. today (click those links to find out more).  Special thanks to the International Preparatory Academy for letting us use their iPads for the workshop!  Here are some photos from today's Tech Time:
One student shows her mom what she's been learning.
More below the cut!