Robotics Camp

Jun 10 2011

I just spent the week splitting my time between middle school students in robotics camp and teachers in our iPod touch Academy. I wanted to be in both places all the time, there was so much excitement and learning going on. Students were introduced to the Lego Mindstorm NXT robots and NXT software through a great program called Terraformers. The campers were extremely engaged in programming their robots to move around other planets accomplishing various life sustaining missions. It was a pleasure to see them testing, measuring, programming, adjusting physical features and program sequences. We had three testing boards, allowing plenty of space for them to test their programs after each minor change. This was our first time to offer a robotics camp, but I definitely want to offer one again next year. We will have to find or develop a new curriculum so that the students will have new challenges.

One day at camp, I was talking to a student and mentioned that while they were learning robots, there were teachers in another building attending an iPod touch Academy. He looked at me so funny and said, "Why would anyone attend an academy to learn how to use an iPod? You just use it!" I briefly tried to explain that while an iPod is easy to use, it is a different story when you are trying to manage a classroom set of them. The teachers at the iPod touch Academy were also engaged and excited about learning how to use the iPod touch in the classroom. They took them on a morning outing for a scavenger hunt, studied Gifted and Talented teaching strategies, explored the app store and created lesson plans to be ready to use them. Each lesson plan was peer reviewed and edited. Now we have a number of lessons ready to share with other teachers. We have started a resource for teachers.

At this time, we have one cart of iPod touch to check out to teachers one week at a time. The teachers at the Academy get first choice on checking them out. A few schools are also beginning to purchase their own. The use of the iPod touch and the iPad seems very promising for education.

This was a week I got to do what I love most about my job and that is learning along with teachers and students as we explore ways to learn with technology.

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Sandra Hines
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