Jan 29, 2016

Arduinos with the MESA Teachers and Students

Last Saturday, our dedicated MESA teachers (Richard Timpson and Pedro Garcia) invited me to join them at their Arduino training for students and teachers. We have a set of MakeyMakeys at all of our middle schools, and so far we have just been using the front side with the arrow keys. It was fascinating to learn about all of the advanced functions that we can now use on the back of the MakeyMakey!

We started out by learning how to program an LED light to blink on and off, how to create a light dimming switch, how to create a motion sensored light, and how to make a motor turn forwards and backwards. The Arduino Software is free to download here: https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Software
This was one of my first times attending a training with students, and it was amazing to see how quickly the students picked up on the coding concepts. I was even more impressed that they remembered a lot of it when we returned to school the next day and were able to teach others about it.

A few notable Arduino commands that I remembered were:
// - “comments” for human eyes only, computers can’t see it
= equal to
=! not equal to
<= less than or equal to
>= greater than or equal to
I also appreciated the teaching tips of our presenters, as they shared their favorite free Arduino presentation tool: http://fritzing.org/download/

Jan 15, 2016

MakeyMakeys in 5th Grade

All of the 5th graders at Rolling Hills Middle School loved making MakeyMakey game controllers and pianos last week! After programming 2 - 3 of their own video games on scratch.mit.edu using the Google CS First program, the students were ready to start bringing their games to life! As an extension to their electricity science lessons, Anna Rutledge had her students bring in items from home that would conduct electricity. It was fascinating watching them test out if their items in fact conducted electricity and were able to complete the circuit! 
Students then used http://makeymakey.com/piano/ to create their own original compositions on their newly created pianos. It was such a great learning experience to see students problem solve and collaborate how to have multiple students play at the same time and stay "grounded" to the circuit board!