Class 1: February 29, 2008
We held our first class today for 1.5hrs, from 12:30-2. There were 14 home-schooled students aged 7-12 years, out of which only 2 were girls.
The class started with introductions of ourselves, Bryn Mawr College, and our project. They filled out our pre-survey before we talked about computing so that their opinions wouldn't be influenced.
When asked what computing is, these are a few of the responses:
- computing is fun - computing is about computers - computing is something you can have a job with - computing is programming
When asked about robots many had the impression that they had are made out of metal with circuits inside and seemed to relate it to computer chips. Some of their responses were:
- something that can be programmed - an arm - something that moves - metal body with wheels - something that can have wheels, feet, or can float - something metal with circuits that can be programmed
When asked if a car is a robot, they all seemed to agree. However, they did not seem to think that a refrigerator is a robot until we mentioned the automatic light fitted inside.
This class was an introduction to Myro and the Scribbler. The students learned to connect wirelessly to the Scribbler, name their robot and then had fun controlling their robot with a gamepad. Unfortunately 3 of the robots/gamepads malfunctioned, despite us testing them in advance. This was very disappointing for the students, but they were able to work with others. We had set up a closing activity for them which involved finding Mars in a solar system (please see Chapter 1 for details). However, due to time constraints, this activity was not carried out today. We hope to find time for it in the future.
The students seemed to be really interested and were very excited to know the next step. They wanted to know the function of each part of the robot, which way it goes forward, and were excited to name it. They were quite disappointed when the class came to an end. At the end, some were wondering whether the robots can be controlled without the gamepad - which is exactly what we will be doing next week! Apart from being somewhat chaotic and tiring, we had a great time and we think they did too.
- we forgot to explicitly tell them to press enter after every command - the three lines after myro is imported are in red - making it seem like it's an error. should be color coded so that only errors show up in red - should have some sort of feedback after a command has been entered, something as simple as an "okay"
what we need to do for next time:
- pre-install myro on all computers - fix the 3 robots that weren't working - add more pics to the chapters - give students worksheets to do at home