Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hour of Code at Tompkins Elementary School


So this week, we continued our invasion of the elementary schools and visited Tompkins again, but this time, to host the Hour of Code for all of their students.  We are such big fans of the Hour of Code. It has different "games" that students play which teaches them basic programming skills. Students start off learning how to use basic commands and each level gradually gets harder. Our team members love being able to visit students in elementary school and begin to expose them to coding at such a young age. We spent an hour with every first through fifth grade class at Tompkins reaching roughly 600 students. For each grade there is a different program to match their skill level.

First Grade did Monster Coding, where they designed their own monster using programming. They learned to use "if/then" statements to take their monster on an adventure in which they decoded a map to an island and found a solution for their monster to escape the island.

Second Grade did Wayfinding with Moana, where they guided Moana and Maui on the ocean to find fish and dodge rocks as they approached a barge. They also programmed a character of their choice to dodge and strike down Kakamora in which they learned to use the repeat, repeat until, and  if/then functions.

Third Grade did Myra's Dream, where they helped Myra defeat monsters and get to a castle so she could get her stolen dream back. They used when run, if/then and other simple statements to defeat all the monsters and finish their quest.

Fourth Grade did Code Combat, where they went through a dungeon, using programming to command their adventurer as they searched for treasure and defeated goblins and trolls.  The default language was Python, but they were able to switch over to Java, if they wanted to.

Fifth Grade did Robot Repair, where they began their training to be a cybernetics specialist in which they found solutions to fix faulty robots. Boolean expressions were used to help them determine which wires go where and also used true or false statements.

-Rocky

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hour of Code at Golden Hills Elementary School

As I said, we double dipped today!  The other half of our Outreach Team went to Golden Hills Elementary to help facilitate the Hour of Code, in celebration of Computer Science Week!  We have been doing these visits for four years now, and we love to see the excitement of the elementary kids when we get in their and start working with them.  Code.org has a great bunch of contributors to the Hour of Code program, so there are always cool and up-to-date activities for us to use with the kids, tailored to every grade level.

For this day, we went to visit the 1st through 3rd grade classrooms at Golden Hills (we will get fourth and fifth in the spring). We used the following programs:

First Grade did Monster Coding, where they designed their own monster using programming. They learned to use "if/then" statements to take their monster on an adventure in which they decoded a map to an island and found a solution for their monster to escape the island.

Second Grade did Wayfinding with Moana, where they guided Moana and Maui on the ocean to find fish and dodge rocks as they approached a barge. They also programmed a character of their choice to dodge and strike down Kakamora in which they learned to use the repeat, repeat until, and  if/then functions.

Third Grade did Myra's Dream, where they helped Myra defeat monsters and get to a castle so she could get her stolen dream back. They used when run, if/then and other simple statements to defeat all the monsters and finish their quest.

We cannot wait to spend time with the fourth and fifth graders next semester and see how creative they can be with their code.

-Rocky

Dash and Dot at Tompkins Elementary School


Well, this week has been a little crazy!  We double dipped today to finish our Dash and Dot adventure with the third grade at Tompkins Elementary School and to also started our Hour of Code program at Golden Hills.  First, let me tell you about the Dash and Dot events!

We visited all five third grade classrooms at Tompkins to teach the students about programming, algorithms and sequential logic.  The students were broken up into small groups (about 6 to a Dash) to attempt to "rescue" Dot from a "cage" made of opaque plastic cups.  Some of the classes had experience with Dash and some didn't, so we varied the complexity by either having them use sensors to find the opening in the cage or we focused on learning about measurement and units and had them use hard programmed distances.

We really enjoy getting out to the schools to help with programs like these because it gets students engaged in STEM. These programs serve as stepping stones that lead up to pursuing a career in STEM by getting students interested and having different challenges for them as they grow in their education.

Thank you to all the team members who were at the schools this week! You guys are awesome!

-Rocky

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Junior Robotics at the Ridgeview Raptors Rumble Qualifying Tournament

Wow, was it another busy day for Junior Robotics!  We took nine of our eleven FLL teams to Ridgeview Middle School for the Ridgeview Raptors FLL Qualifying Tournament.  The kids were awesome!  They had robots and projects and awesome team spirit with a solid dose of core values sprinkled throughout.  Every team did their best and worked together to make a solid showing at the competition.  The venue was great, too!  The Ridgeview ASB put on a mini-carnival for the day to give kids an outlet for pent up energy, including games, prizes, and a bounce house!

In the end, we had one team, The Cream Cookie Builders, qualify to advance to the Central Valley Championships in Clovis on February 24th, and we had another team, the Juicy Oranges, walk away with the second place trophy for their project - repurposing shower water for other uses in the home.  We are very proud of all our teams!  Thanks for a great season and we can't wait to see what you accomplish next year!

If you want to see their projects and pictures from the teams and the competition, visit our Junior Robotics landing page and click on the individual teams for the 2017 FLL HydroDynamics season.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Super Science Saturday Recap

Hello everyone!

We had a great turnout today at our Super Science Saturday event! There were about 400 participants today which is a significant increase compared to our previous years of hosting this event. The make your our slime, fidget spinner, and bath bomb booths were the most popular booths this year. We had so many people at these booths that we had to send our wonderful robotics parents to the store to buy more supplies to keep these booths up and running.

A big thanks to NASA, the Gem and Minerals Society, and the Astronomy Club for having a booth today. We deeply appreciate it.

Earlier this week we went to Jacobsen Middle School and taught Mrs. Bowman's classes how to program their own google logo on Hour of Code. The students had a wonderful time and we were all very excited to finally be able to bring hour of code to the middle school.

Overall it was a very busy week. Nice work everyone! You all did awesome, and I hope you all had fun!

--Rocky

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Designing a Google Logo with Jacobsen Middle School students

We had a great time helping teachers at Jacobsen Middle School today!  Google is featuring a programming activity, where kids from 4th through 8th grade can design their own version of the Google logo and submit it for consideration to be used during Computer Science Week in December. A few teachers at JMS allowed us to come into their classrooms and help their students participate in this activity. We worked with the students and started them off with the basics of picking different characters that they wanted for each letter then taught them how to set a themed background. They could then animate their letters. For example, one student who really likes soccer programmed a soccer ball "o" to move across the screen in which it made it look like a goal was being scored.

We were very excited to be at the middle school teaching the students programming. We go to all the elementary schools to teach the younger students programming but this is the first year we've done it at the middle school level. I can't wait to see what other programs and how many more students we can reach at the middle school.

-Rocky

Friday, October 27, 2017

Upcoming Outreach Events

Hi Guys!

We need to figure out some plans for our upcoming signature programs:

1. Hour of Code - we typically do this during lunch and sixth period, going to each elementary site to facilitate the hour of code for all students in K through 5th grade.  We were thinking of going during the two weeks right after Thanksgiving break, as this would be closest to the nationwide push for Hour of Code. Can you all think about your availability for these two weeks and let's talk about it on Monday to see if that will work for this year?

2. Super Science Saturday (November 11) - it's coming in TWO WEEKS!  We need all hands on deck for this, our signature program!  If there is a work-station that you really enjoy running, please comment here with a quick description of what it is so others know what you're taking and so we can see what we've got covered and what needs to be done still.

3. Dash and Dot plus more (tbd) - we need to figure out when you guys are available to visit individual classrooms to help teachers use and become comfortable with Dash and Dot.  These won't be whole school visits, but more like the 1 hour at a time in a small class setting like we did in the spring.  Because of the smaller target audience, we can be a little more flexible with our time for visiting. When we meet on Monday, please have in mind if you can participate (transportation and school work load-wise) and what days and times would be best for your schedules.

4. Engineers Week (February 19-23) - still a ways away, but keep in mind, we like to do an assembly at each school site, and with Tompkins, we did an evening program.  We are going to be working with the sites this month to make sure we are on their schedules for E-Week in February.

5. Mentoring to other teams - we have a few rookie or really new teams that we are trying to support this year.  I'd like to have a student liaison for each team to help us keep in touch and be the point of contact for those teams. If you are interested in being the "face" of FIRST Team 585 for another team, please let us know so we can get those connections made and relationships started.

You guys are awesome! It's so great to work with an enthusiastic and committed group like all of you Cyber Penguins!  Keep up the good work and I will see you tomorrow (at the Quarter Auction) or on Monday at Junior Robotics!

-- Mrs. E