Coding has caught on like wildfire here at Wedgwood, and our students are doing amazing things with computer programming! Wedgwood parents and students alike are saying that coding has become a fun hobby, a fascination, and a household word!
Well, when there's that much excitement about something, I believe that it's best to help it along! In addition to the constantly growing list of coding sites on my webpage and on my draggo, we now have the district's first and only CODING CLUB! I started with a small group of 2nd and 3rd graders this year, and hope to continue this club as the years go on.
Another great way for students to play with code is for them to get involved with robotics. There are great tools that we can use at an elementary level to get students thinking, creating, and problem solving using code plus robots. We are so VERY fortunate to have acquired an amazing pair of codeable robots named Dash and Dot! These robots were graciously funded through the generosity of Wedgwood families, other donors, and one anonymous person who matched contributions by 100% via the website DonorsChoose.org.
I also just purchased another very intriguing pair of tiny robots called Ozobots. These little cuties work by following a unique code that is based on color patterns. The Ozobots have a lot of potential to get our students creating patterns, races, and problem-solving challenges by designing thoughtful code. Check out the embedded video here on my site, or visit their website at this link: OZOBOT. (I'm definitely planning to get more of these as soon as I can...these are really great!)
Update 1: I actually thought up and designed an interactive programming game using Ozobots and printable cubes that I created. I sent the game and materials to the Ozobot company, and they loved it! They kindly donated an extra Ozobot to our school!
Update 2: A friend of mine at another school just tried these with her KINDERGARTEN students....check out her awesome blog post about the experience: http://techforteachers.com/?p=1516
Lastly, if you haven't heard, I have a project underway to try to get an actual 3d printer for our elementary students! This is some incredibly amazing stuff, and our kids would be EXTREMELY fortunate to learn about this cutting-edge technology at such a young age! To acquire this printer, I'm trying a powerful tool called 'crowdfunding' through a site called DonorsChoose.org. For the first 7 days that our project is posted, we actually have an anonymous donor that is matching all contributions by 100%! That is basically free money for Wedgwood, and I just had to try it for our school! If you're interested in viewing this site and our project, or perhaps contributing, here's the link for you: 3d Printing Is Our Primary Dream I'm willing to learn this technology right along with our students, and I've done some research to find one of the best, user-friendly, well-supported 3d printers commonly used in education. It's the MakerBot Replicator 2, and there's a time-lapse video of it in action right here on my site. If you'd like to see a very simple slideshow of some ways we might use this tool at the elementary level, here's a link to a few of my ideas: Elementary 3d Printing
Update: We made remarkable progress on our Donors Choose project! Through the tremendous generosity of Wedgwood families, friends, relatives, and a few random donors, we were able to raise almost $2400 in just two weeks! I want to personally thank every single person who gave to this cause or helped to spread the word about it....you are VERY much appreciated! Out of the blue, I was contacted by Burlington (formerly Burlington Coat Factory) and asked to attend their grand opening in Deptford. They were having a special teacher surprise and got my name through Donors Choose. Last Thursday, 3/19, I attended this event and it was completely unexpected and absolutely remarkable that Burlington flash-funded the entire remaining balance of this project!!! Our 3d printer has been ordered and is on the way!!! (Please stop by & shop at the beautiful new Burlington store in Deptford behind Olive Garden & Red Lobster!)
Update 2: The 3d printer is here, up, and running! As I learn to use it, I'm sharing what I learn with students, and they are SOOOO excited to see what's happening and to learn about 3d printing! Hopefully I'll be able to have some of my Coding Club students working on creating CAD designs and printing some original creations soon! Here are a few photos of some of the things that have come out of our Wedgwood MakerBot so far...
MORE Awesome 3d Printing News!
There is an absolutely MAGNIFICENT 3d printer called the Polar 3d that I've been admiring and following on social media since June! The company makes a truly excellent product that has many great features that even our Makerbot doesn't have. It can print with various (very cool) types of filament, has an internal camera so printing can be monitored remotely, and the whole printer can be operated from "the cloud". Anyone in this Polar "cloud" community can actually print remotely to our printer...all they have to do is ask! The Polar Community is encouraged to collaborate and share files, and there are even exciting things called Polar Challenges! I have a few friends who own these printers, and everyone I know is just blown away by how phenomenal they are.
Sooooo.....when the Polar 3d company posted that they would be accepting applications for teachers interested in becoming Polar Ambassadors, I filled it out - eagerly! I am so excited and proud to announce that on the first day of school, I was selected to be one of these Polar Ambassadors, and as a result Wedgwood is getting a free 3d printer! I can't wait until the students get to see this beautiful, amazing machine! I really, REALLY can't wait to see what creative and inventive things students create!
Click here to see their great video called "Printing the Future", and please check out their website at www.polar3d.com