Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Breakfast Inventors Club Experiment

I had this idea recently.  On the days I’m in the Cattaraugus Little Valley School District I would start a club.  The club would be called the Breakfast Inventors Club.  The club’s goal would be to help students learn by playing, experimenting and programing, while having fun before school starts.
This morning, at 7:30 am, May 30th, 2012, I brought a box of Legos and a project I was working on.  I believe that if you build it they will come.  I also believe that if you build and what you work on is cool enough, students will come because of curiosity and help you build.  It worked this morning.  Basically all I did was sort Lego pieces into gallon bags.  One student came over and asked me what I was working on.  He was so interested that he started programming in MicroWorlds.  Also, I gave him a copy of the software so that he could download it to his computer and work on it.  We are both in the process of thinking up projects.  I want to make a car that follows black electrical tape using a light sensor.  I’m not sure what the student will come up with.  I will keep you posted.   

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Breakfast Inventor's Club

Today I have decided to do something new.  I plan on having a breakfast Inventors Club with students.  I will be starting little technology based projects in the morning in the cafeteria.  My plan is to start small.  I will start building a project and hope that students will be interested in what I’m doing.  We have a bunch of Lego Mindstorm kits at one of your office buildings.  We also have PicoCrickets and a bunch of materials that could be recycled and used as projects.  I am sure I could probably round up a few computers to run scratch or logo to do programing. Below is a brainstormed list of projects that either the students or I could do.  Students could use both Legos and PicoCrickets, one or the other or none.

1) bike wheel windmill
2) a bike shirt with turn signals
3) a bubble machine
4) a pop can solar heater
5) a robot that follows a piece of tape  
6) Archimedes screw as a solar battery
7) Make a robot that pops a balloon 10 ft away
8) A robot that draws a picture of a house
9) A noise maker that follows light
10) robotic arm that picks up an egg
11) a zip line crane
12) A random number generator
13) A mobile carbon dioxide detector
14) a robotic food grinder
15) a lego cider press
16) mobile rocket launcher
17) Take a picture from a kite that is off the ground
18) a robotic computer keyboard cleaner
19) a Lego Record Player
20) a lego tape cassette player
21) a lego operated rock tumbler
22) a submarine
23) a remote control operated mobile camera with light
24) a programable air freshener
25) a remote controlled black mark remover (from school floors)

My plan is to start this Breakfast Inventor’s Club on the morning of May 30th, 2012.  I will report on how it goes.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I Changed My Mind: Google Lit Trips

image from this website
Have you ever written something that you regret writing?  I remember writing a blog post many years ago that had to do with Google Lit Trips and why I thought they were really not great for education.  My feels on Google Lit Trips have changed.  So, now I feel that in some circumstances having students create Google Lit Trips might be an activity that engages students with literature in a way that brings it to life for them and brings in a bit of geography.

Do you ever have students read books that take place in multiple locations or the main characters travel around?  Have you ever considered having students create their own Google Lit Trip.  

So What exactly are Google Lit Trips? 

Below is a description of Google Lit Trips from the website
The short version is simple. Google Lit Trips are free downloadable files that mark the journeys of characters from famous literature on the surface of Google Earth. At each location along the journey there are placemarks with pop-up windows containing a variety of resources including relevant media, thought provoking discussion starters, and links to supplementary information about “real world” references made in that particular portion of the story.

The focus is on creating engaging and relevant literary experiences for students. I like to say Google Lit Trips “3-dimensionalize” the reading experience by placing readers “inside the story” traveling alongside the characters; looking through the windshield of that old jalopy in The Grapes of Wrath or waddling alongside Mr. and Mrs. Mallard’’’s duckling family in Make Way for Ducklings.”

There are two great videos created by a teacher on how to create your own Google Lit Trip.  Here are the links to part one and part two.

The teacher in the video does a short example of a Google Lit Trip for Johnny Appleseed.  The teacher in the video also talked about how she used the Google Lit Trip as one of her center stations.  I feel that the real power of Google Lit Trips is when the students create them.  What better way to meet the common core standard of having students describe characters in a story and explain how their actions contributed to the sequence of events than a Google Lit Trip.