First, I went to Bolich MS to see Alex Oris ( @mrORIStech ) and his robotics club. They meet after school once a month. (he would love to meet more, but he has other buildings to work with and a family). This time they were working with Sphero (SPRK+ & mini) or Edison. They have enough of these three so that everyone could have their own to work with. Their challenge was to create code to have the “robot” trace various polygons, starting with a square. There were about three dozen excited and enthusiastic kids scattered around the library and hallway. If a student didn’t have their own device (tablet, phone, chromebook), Mr. Oris has some devices that he got from a GAR Foundation grant for VR/AR. Besides watching them work, I brought Marty the Robot, from Robotical, a company in Scotland. Marty v1 is a humanoid robot that you can make walk, slide, dance… and is pretty nice, but I am hoping for better things in their v2 kickstarter . I want to be able to make different things out of my robotics, like cars and elevators and … They seem to be working towards a bit of expandability and customizability. Check them out.
Later in the week I went to visit David Hall (email) the Tech & Maker Teacher at Immaculate Heart of Mary (k-8). I graduated from IHM in 1979 and had not been back in a long time. His room is one of my former 8th grade home rooms (they have shifted rooms around as needed, even the library isn’t where it used to be). He sees all kids at some time and there is a great mix of “tool time” and projects. We forget that many kids have never held a tool, let alone used one. Sometimes classes are just “pounding nails” or “drill a hole” or “put in a screw”. Yes, they use hammers and screwdrivers, cordless and corded drills, palm sanders, pop riveter, chop saw, band saw, and other hand tools. He has a “flight” elective course and they make all variety of flying things from wood and cardboard and foam. There were the beginnings of boomerangs on a shelf. His room has some excellent examples of flying things hanging from the ceiling. IHM participates in The American Rocketry Challenge and this year has two teams (they have had up to 5 in the past). They 3D design & print some parts, 2D design and laser cut others. The school has recently purchased Dash and Dot and some Cubelets, so he is anxious to get those going with teachers.