Teacher Training at Tufts

This past week I traveled to Tufts University Center for Engineering Education Outreach to attend a teacher training workshop on LEGO MIndstorms. It was so valuable to learn how others were using their technology in the classrooms. Although I’m not really a classroom teacher, I picked up some great ideas for how to organize, manage and run different exercises.  I really admire those teachers on the “front lines” of teaching in the schools. Many had come after receiving Mindstorms kits at the end of last school year and being told that’s what they were going to teach next fall. Just like that they had to learn a whole new system and they were happy to do it.

We basically played with LEGOs all week and got a chance to see the new EV3 machine and software. I admit I was so busy picking up on the old stuff: Mindstorms NXT-G, WeDo, Scratch and Labview that I didn’t have any time to really play with the EV3. The facilitator was excited about the new stuff, so I’m sure it will be in my future.
Here’s what I learned:
  1. How to run more exercises that would appeal to girls by a)  Avoiding direct winner take all contest b)  De-emphasizing cars c) Competing against a standard instead of each other d) Holding exhibitions instead of contests
  2. Having more open ended play time will allow the kids to design and discover their own creations.
  3. Washing LEGOs in the washing machine is possible if you put them in a mesh bag. 
  4. Have a battery charging station. Wow! You have to see it to believe it how quickly we all go through batteries. With the station, students can take care of changing batteries without having to ask you.
  5. Working with WeDo and Scratch together is easy to do. You can teach more programming techniques and Scratch is free. Currently the only version that works with WeDo is Scratch 1.4. The 2.0 version should be ready for WeDo by the end of this summer.
  6.  I picked up some great exercises from our teacher, Barbara Bratzel and her book Physics by Design is a terrific resource. She’s working on the next version for EV3 too!
Teachers hard at work and play. Lining up for our slow robot race.

Teachers hard at work and play. Lining up for our slow robot race.

Our exercise in gearing down. This was the snail race so we decorated appropriately.

Our exercise in gearing down. This was the snail race so we decorated appropriately.

I'm trying to sweep all the LEGOs off the mat in 30 seconds.

I’m trying to sweep all the LEGOs off the mat in 30 seconds.

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By | 2017-01-16T16:04:56+00:00 August 4th, 2013|Education, LEGO|0 Comments

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