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Archive for the ‘robotics’ Category

Dear Karee and Cerro Coso Staff:

I want to personally thank you for all the hard work you put into making our visit worth while, enjoyable, and educational. Every one of my students as well as myself, was personally inspired to be better and walked away from this experience having learned something new. I can honestly say that what you have given us was a priceless experience.

The tour guides were informative and engaging. It was a great experience to see the campus and to get familiar with not only its physical layout, but to also experience and learn some of Cerro Coso’s history. The instructors… Wow I cannot say enough about them. They are awesome educators that know how to teach; which is a rarity at the college and university level. Their lessons were well planned and executed and very engaging. Their examples were easy to follow and they made it a comfortable to ask questions. As an educator myself I know and appreciate the time and commitment that went into the lessons and demos. I am very appreciative for Karee and her level of professionalism and organization of such a fine and successful tour.

Most importantly I am impressed with the overall experience that my students richly received. My students are English Language Development (ELD) students, and for many they would be the first in their family to continue their education past high school. This experience opened new doors and career opportunities that my students might have never realized were even available. My students were impacted deeply by the staff and I know they now are thinking differently about who they are and who they want to become.

Once again I am very thankful for all the hard work that was put forth. We really enjoyed our field trip!

Sincerely:

Sharon E. Canfield
ELD, Creative Communications, and Spanish Teacher
James Monroe Middle School

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Today was a busy day. It actually started last night. We got home from robo class around 10:45pm and finally settled down for bed around 12:30am.

Phase 1: Steve’s alarm went off at 3:45am or so because he had to catch an 8am flight out of Burbank. I drifted in and out from then until 6:15, when my alarm went off.

Phase 2: Woke up 6 kids, snuggled in bed with the little one and a couple of the medium ones, made sure they all dressed, ate, and did their chores, and then got them all in the car by 7:25am for the bus route. Stop 1 dropped off 4 Inyokern kids. Stop 2 delivered the toddler to his babysitter. Stop 3 picked up a robohelper. Stop 4 dropped off preteen @ her school. Stop 5 at the grocery store for soda and snacks. Stop 6 at the college, finally, around 8:25.

Phase 3: Respond to emails, student assignment, prep for afternoon class, prep for demonstration. Around 9:40 I step out of my office and get intercepted by a student ambassador giving a tour to the middle school kids. She asked me it I would open the iTV room and talk to them for a minute about how that all worked. The kids got a kick out of seeing themselves up on the big screen 🙂 At 10am we headed over to the other building with legos and robots in tow. The first group of 10 kids showed up about 5 minutes early. I had them sit in a circle around a pile of legos, counted them off into groups, and gave them their task: Create a simple bot that can drive forward. They had about 15 minutes for that and we raced them all to see which ones did best. That was a blast. We then sat around in a circle again and talked about what a robot was, how did it sense things, how it was programmed, etc. Group 1 left and a few minutes group 2 showed up so we repeated the activity. There wasn’t much time, but it went very well. I liked that the kids could actually build something and see it run in a short period of time. That was very cool.

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Phase 4: Had about 2 hours to put stuff away, get lunch, and prep for class. The chapter was about web and email so I started off talking about how email was like the post office crossed with Star Trek (Beam Me Up Scotty!). We segued into the next topic by talking about the differences between asynchronous and synchronous communication, after which I broke the class into two groups and had them each go into a different chat room on the class website. I went into both and projected the chats up on the big screen. They weren’t allowed to talk out loud while they discussed the “serious” topic I gave them. After a few minutes, I led a virtual snowball attack with the students in one room on the students in another room. That was fun! Our final topic was learning about what is behind a web page by getting some hands on experience creating a basic HTML page. It gives them a basic understanding of how coding works and they get to create their own web page. The class went very well!

Phase 5: Mom Taxi Route 2 in play. Preteen and College Girl get in Suburban and we pick up dance girls at the studio. Next stop is the toddler, then finally the boys @ their afterschool program. Once at home around 6:00, we unloaded chicken food and kids did their chores. I sorted laundry to try and get a start on that before making dinner. I decided to make cheesy chicken enchiladas and mexican rice, but got off to a late start so dinner wasn’t ready until 7:30. That went over really well for the most part. The next hour was filled with minor (and some major) child drama while everyone got ready for bed. Finally, everyone settled down… finally.

Phase 6: Kicking back, chatted with Kym for a while, getting frustrated with exceptionally slow internet connection, laundry, laundry, laundry. It’s been a busy day. Steve should be home soon. {{yawn}} Everyday is a busy day, but overall, this was a good one also.

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I just got done meeting with the director of the Boys & Girls club here in town. She came up to my office to talk about the robotics program they are doing in three of the schools. She’s interested in expanding it and wanted to get my ideas on the subject. We talked for about an hour and a half and she made a cool comment…

“I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone who enjoys their job more than you do!”

Yes. That is true. I need to get back to what gets me excited and inspired and away from what detracts me from all of that. I am… working toward that goal…

Stuff like this helps me remember why I love doing what I do 🙂

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There’s been lots to write about in the past few weeks, and not enough time to write about it all. I’ll have to play catch up next week sometime when things will be quiet around here. I’ve been super busy this week teaching a “Robotics for Middle Schoolers” class at the local high school. It’s a college class that they earn a unit of credit for. I wanted to take 15 kids, the VP said we had to up the max to 20 kids, and I ended up with 26 because I couldn’t say no to kids at the door with their moms in tow, paperwork in hand. It’s been an insane pace keeping up with them and keeping them challenged, with ages ranging from 10-13. I’ve noticed quite a difference in attention span and analytical ability between the 10-11 year olds and the 12-13 year olds. I’ve also had to deal with a number of social issues that don’t usually crop up in my college classes, such as learning to play nice together and learning to share. There are a couple of kids in particular that have really challenged me to find a way to get them involved because I don’t want to be another one of those teachers that writes them off as a “problem” child. I’ve had to deal with a variety of parents on a variety of issues, all resolved well, I think.

Aside from the social concerns, the class itself is going quite well. I’ll have to write up in more detail exactly what we’ve been doing, because we’re doing it again in July, but for now, suffice to say, it’s been quite a success. I promised the kids a pizza party and movie (Transformers, of course!) on Friday if they complete their journals satisfactorily tomorrow. It’s been a good experience to work with this age group and it has really pushed my boundaries as a teacher. I’m totally exhausted, physically and mentally, but in a great way!

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We had lots of tech problems yesterday but finally got started. I asked the kids if they remembered me from their trip to the college a few weeks ago and they said “yeah, you are Mrs. Emilee, Rachel, and Matt’s Mom!”

Stuff like this is AWESOME! This is why I teach 🙂

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(20 mins/session * 77 5th graders/session * 3 sessions in a row) + (legos + robots) + candy = [you do the math!]

It happened again. Over 200 5th graders invaded the college. With a little help, I tossed legos all over a classroom, showed a few robots, talked about sensors, and told them to go to college. My favorite quote of the day happened when I was trying out an object lesson on sensors. I bumped into a desk, trying to get them to figure out what I have that should have stopped me from doing that (sense of touch, of course). The idea was to extend that idea to the fact that robots use sensors to gather data about their environment and make decisions based on that. They seemed to be having a hard time coming up with the answer, but finally, when I said something like “what sense was I NOT using” one kid said “COMMON SENSE!” LOL. awesome 🙂

Kids need to know early on that college is something they can do. I love helping them see that it is a possibility and that it can be fun.

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Saturday (March 15th) I had an opportunity to lead a workshop for the local Expanding Your Horizons conference sponsored by the Ridgecrest Women of Math and Science. This amazing conference is open to middle school girls and is designed to encourage girls to pursue non-traditional careers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) areas. It is held at Michelson Lab on base, which is a very interesting location in itself. This year they had 158 kids from schools all over our local service area. I even saw a school bus from Lone Pine in the parking lot!

Our workshop was titled “Mission to Mars” and was a collaborative effort of several people. Cerro Coso students Rachel Schlick and Michelle Montemayor helped brainstorm the scenario. Astronauts were landing on Mars and had to race the Aliens to the home base. Rachel led the way with robot design and programming while Michelle took the lead in the artistic arena to transform a plain white box into the red planet, steaming volcano and all. We worked into the wee hours of the night on Friday to get everything ready and loaded into my Suburban, and met up at 7:45am Saturday to go to the conference.

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