Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Makerspace: Chugging along!

Sorry for the dearth of posts! It's been a rough couple of weeks here, what with school, theatre, and even a coding competition (2nd place!), and the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Affiliate Award Ceremony!

But mostly, I've been slowly pushing forward with my Gold Award project.
I've held 4 meetings so far this semester. I try to start each one with some kind of a question. For example, a the first meeting I asked what each student thought technology was, and what it was used for. ( I keep the questions open ended, so I sometimes get some... interesting answers.) Then I introduce an activity, and the rest of the meeting is devoted to that activity.

 The first one focused on the engineering design process. I built a ramp at home out of old K'Nex kits, and had students divide into groups to try and design a Lego car that could jump off the ramp from one desk to another. The group work turned out well - it's definitely something I'll continue. The kids really enjoyed the chance to talk more while they worked. Later meetings have been about programming, and more recently, robotics and game design.

The club is also making use of a Google Classroom to keep in touch outside of class. I like the Google Classroom setup, although I find myself wishing it was a little less of a bare-bones framework. I'd appreciate an easier calendar application, intersectionality with google hangouts, etc.

Finally, I was pointed by my sponsor to an assistant principle at my school who was interested in creating a Girls Who Code club at the school. This kind of thing requires a higher-up approval where I live, so it probably won't get started until next year, but it's a step toward getting a wider recognition of what I'm trying to do, and I'm excited to help.

Anyway, this is what the space looks like right now:

The new boxes and ramps are from some of the previous projects.

Slowly but surely, we're getting there!

Coming soon: I PROMISE I will finish my post on my Tic Tac Toe program soon - every time I start writing about it, I end up working on improving it again. Then I've got another book review from the opposite end of the AI spectrum - Ray Kurzweil's "How to Create a Mind." So stay tuned!