Star Dome – Completed

I have been working with several schools this term on my Star Dome project for Matariki. The first project was completed today. The students have been highly engaged and motivated by this project and the results speak for themselves.

Hopefully another Star Dome will be completed tomorrow and an accompanying video should be published with that post too. In the meantime take a look at this first project. The teacher, Devon Hiley has posted the photos to the Primary Teachers group on Facebook too.

Screen shot of Devon’s post to Facebook
Students inside the dome

AIMS principals DT/HM conference

This week we delivered a day long DT/HM PD workshop to a group of Auckland AIMS principals. The day consisted of us unpacking the revised Digital Technologies Curriculum document, including how schools can apply for DT/HM PLD. As the day progressed it became clear that not many schools were fully aware that there is PLD funding to help schools implement the revised curriculum and so they were very pleased with the information we were able to share with them. Already four schools from the day have sought additional support from us to guide them through the application process.

During the day we got the principals to do some practical work too. We showed them the learning potential that can be gained from “unplugged” as well as computer based computational thinking activities. In the images below you can see the principals working their way through one of the two “unpugged” activities we provided for them. In the afternoon we had the princpals, flying drones, creating remote controlled cars as well as programming robots.


AIMS principals at the DT/HM PLD day at the Remuera Club
Working through the CT cycle on an “unplugged” activity
Being stuck was part of the process!

Marching Ants

I do “brain gym” warm up activities with the students I work with. This week I had the children doing one of my “unplugged” CT PO2 activities, Marching Ants. It is an algorithmic thinking challenge, and as an added twist this week I got the students to solve the problem with furniture. The video below is the result.

Auckland and Waikato STEAM workshops

I am for the first time running a workshop in Hamilton in the term 2 school holidays on 19 July. I am running it at the stunning new school Te Ao Mārama School in Flagstaff. Jacqui Sharp and I are also running workshops in Auckland in the term 2 holidays, so if you are in need of some inspiration for integrating coding, computational thinking and STEAM into your classroom, these workshops are for you. You can book your place on either the Auckland or Waikato workshops by clicking on the links below. We hope to see you there.

Building the Star Dome

I posted a new resource a couple of weeks ago, the Star Dome project. Since then I have been introducing it into several schools that I have been working in both at Intermediate level and at Primary too. This week we are starting to get down to the nitty gritty of building the full size dome.

So far the students have learned how to create and test solderless circuits with copper tape and the necessary components required to make their chosen constellation. In addition they have all built a scale model of the eventual dome, so that they know how it all fits together, when they finally get to make the full size thing. Finally they have been researching southern hemisphere constellations as named and used by Māori. It will be these constellations, their significance and purpose that will adorn the insides of the completed Star Domes, later this term. I will post video of the completed domes here, in the meantime take a look at the kind of work the students have been doing so far.

Student created series circuit
Parallel circuit with paper switch

Glamorgan School – DT/HM ToD

I had a great day on Friday working with the team from Glamorgan School at the start of a new DT/HM PLD contract. We spent the day unpacking the Revised Digital Technologies curriculum document and working through lots of “unplugged” computational thinking problems. The end of the day was spent working with Makey Makey’s, which for many was their first opportunity to have a go with them. We made a “cardboard band” using Scratch, copper tape, cardboard and ofcourse Makey Makeys. I think the team really appreciated how simple, yet how powerful the computational thinking can be with the addition of a few well chosen challenges, pitched well and resources with a range of simple and cheap peripherals.

Integrating Makey Makey into Science

I have been fiddling around with paper switches and copper tape over the last few days and have come up with a load of new ideas. Paper switches open up a world of possibilities for students. They are simple to make and add a control or measurable element to any project that the students are working on.

I have recently written a project in Scratch that works out how far something has traveled in a period of time, the basic speed formula. As I wrote this, it occurred to me that this would be a great Makey Makey project for a standard science investigation, but instead of stop watches and inbuilt inaccuracies, paper switches and my Scratch code would give more accurate results.

I have now built this Scratch, Makey Makey and paper switch rig and tested it, it works really well, so armed with this, students can now accurately measure slope angle, slope length and even slope material variables and get fast accurate results.

Now that this has been completed, I am now thinking about how paper switches and Makey Makey or even Micro:bits could be used on projects such as marble runs. The more I investigate, the more ideas I get…

Ball Bearing Maze

It has been a productive few days. More computational thinking and 3DO ideas have come to the fore. The latest is an adaptation of an Arduino project to make a ball bearing maze and control it with a joystick and two servos. I have taken this idea and adapted to work with a BBC Micro:bit, making the entry level for this kind of project much lower and offers the technology opportunity to a wider breadth of students and ages.

One of the slides from the learning resource for this project

Make My Money

It has been a productive few days for me. I have just uploaded another computational thinking resource, this time a PO4 resource, called Make My Money! This is a Makey Makey based activity, linked to Scratch. The aim of the activity is for older students to create a learning resource for younger students to help them learn about making different monetary values from coins. So the maths required in order to do the task is easy for the students doing the coding, but the coding required to make the resource is far from straight forward, indeed it is a PO4 activity, because the successful outcome requires the use of outputs, iteration, variables and comparative operators, several of them. I am looking forward to trialing this one too. In the pipeline is a Te Reo vocabulary coding activity, I am just waiting on having my Te Reo checked before I go live with this one, watch this space for more on that.

Number Bonds / Basic Facts

I have been working with several groups of students in a couple of schools on separate PLD Numeracy contracts recently, on the same problem, the students have very weak understanding of their basic facts of number and how they are inter-related, their bonds. As a result of this, I decided that a way that the students could build their capacity and their understanding would be to create a game that tested a user on the concept I wanted the students themselves to learn. After all the best way to learn is to teach. So I have created this number bonds resource, that leads into creating a game in Scratch. I have yet to trial it, but it was fun to make.

A slide from learning resource created for this activity.