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.


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. 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.


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!


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!


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.


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

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Junior Robotics planning for 10/16

Hello team!

We had an outstanding day today!  All of the Inspire kits for FLL Jr. arrived and Morgan, Toby, Justin, and Julian worked with me to make sure that all of our Junior Robotics teams had their bins loaded appropriately.  Your bins now have their official team numbers on the sides and the "temporary" numbers that we had given you at the start of the program (so you don't wonder where on Earth your bin has gone).

All of your kiddos now have their official Engineering Notebook (Yay! No more photocopies!), so make sure you get your kids names on their books, first thing.  We also printed and distributed the instructions for building the pump and for attaching a motor.  Now, the instructions show using a WeDo 2.0 motor for driving the pump, but remember, each of your totes contains the simple battery box and gray motor that we have used with LEGOs for years.  Use that "unsmart" motor and battery box to control the pump so that you can use the WeDo 2.0 to find a way to convey the "water" from the pump to a reservoir of some sort that is located at least 6" away.

After today's session, we will have only two meetings left until the Expo at Super Science Saturday.  Remember, you have a LEGO model to build and a tri-fold display about your team's learning process.  Make sure you are talking about these two deliverables so the kids are ready to work on them for the last two meetings.

Can't wait to see all the cool stuff you guys build!  Check out the tote video from our Snapchat feed today! Snapchat Video of FLL Jr. totes.

-- Mrs. E

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Junior Robotics Week 2

Hi everyone! We are heading into our second week of Junior Robotics and I couldn't be more excited! Our meeting is tomorrow from 5 to 8 and we will feed you beforehand. We have our hands full this year with 14 FLL Jr. teams, 6  FLL teams and 1 FTC team so we need all the help we can get.

For all FLL Jr. mentors, here is the lesson plan for tomorrow's meeting and here is a YouTube video of me explaining the lesson plan.

This year our FLL Jr. teams finish at 7:30 which is a half an hour earlier than the FLL teams. Some of the students on the FLL Jr teams have siblings on the FLL team so they have to wait for their siblings to finish. It would be nice to have something to entertain them while they wait. I need someone to volunteer to keep the remaining FLL Jr. students busy. I will have something planned for them to do. Please contact me if you are interested.

I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow.

- Rocky

Thursday, September 21, 2017

HP Sprout Training Coming Up!!!

This weekend I will be attending a training hosted by HP who has partnered with FIRST to provide this opportunity to learn how to use the HP Sprout Computer. I'm very excited for this since we secured a grant with the Air Force Research Lab to bring HP Sprout computers to all the elementary schools in our district. Now we will be able to work hand-in-hand with teachers and students teaching them all the creative new ways to use this AWESOME computer.

Through the ENSPIRE grant, we received two HP Sprout Computers, two 3D printers, 12 WeDo 2.0s, and 6 Dash Dot robots for each of our local elementary schools. This opens many doors for us in promoting STEM throughout our community, enabling us to bring these resources directly to the youth. This compliments our existing Hour of Code program by providing us with hands-on technology and resources to use during our school visits.  I am SO VERY EXCITED to be able to learn more about this awesome technology so that I can train our Outreach team to infiltrate the elementary schools with the knowledge and skills that we gain!

Fall Robotics is in Full Swing!

Open registration for Junior Robotics closed on Monday, September 18th, with our Monday Night Meetings hosting 80 students in FLL Jr., 36 in FLL, and about 12 in FTC.  Golden Hills has continued their three FLL teams and will compete in the Central Valley Region with us this year. Cummings Valley has also launched their own teams, started two FLL Jr. and two FLL teams.  All of these teams are run and mentored by our team members, led by Rocky for FLL Jr., Chloe for FLL, and Adam for FTC.

It takes a lot of time and commitment to run these teams and we are so proud of all our team members who can dedicate their time and effort towards shepherding the next generation of Cyber Penguins!  

Along those lines, it's not too late to volunteer to help out.  We can definitely use more student volunteers to help lead the teams.  Additionally, adult mentors are appreciated and valued!  Just contact us through the team email for more information!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Getting Ready for Our First Day of Junior Robotics

Hello everyone!

The time has come, registration ends tonight and we will launch our third year of Junior Robotics!  Just as a recap, we started this in 2015 with 15 kids making up three FLL  Jr. teams that met at our high school.  In 2016, that ballooned to over 140 kids in 12 FLL Jr. teams, 7 FLL teams, and 1 FTC team meeting at our high school and one of our feeder elementary schools!  We don't expect another huge amount of growth, but that still requires a lot of teamwork and dedication, so I am so glad that you are with us to make the 2017 Junior Robotics program our best yet!

Monday will be a little crazy while we get the kids into their teams and collect their paperwork.  Our overall plan is to get to know our kids, come up with a team name and start learning about the challenges before us.  We will get into the meat of playing with LEGOs and designing robots at next week's meeting.  Chloe and I will both be there on Monday to give you more details and help you get ready for running your teams.  See you then, and thanks again for being a part of this awesome program!

- Rocky