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Spacesuits – Designed by kids

It always surprises us teachers when students do something outside the guidelines. It’s easy to preach the outside-the-box cliche, but what happens when they color outside the lines – defy the rubric, so to speak?

I asked one of our presenters to help judge the entries from students. The contest challenge was to ‘design a spacesuit of the future.‘ No other limitations except nothing could be bought from a store. The scientist who designs satellites for a living, had a hard time picking 3 entries. So did my Specials team.

Some students interpreted the ‘rules’ and used recycled material. One took the whole astronaut approach, with a  diorama. Some focused on the breathing apparatus – after,all they do hear that the air on Mars is not exactly fit for consumption! So here’s what we got. The 1st place went to an entry made entirely of water bottles and tin foil – to the right of the spacesuit (which was the prize.)

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Posted by on October 27, 2017 in Education, Events

 

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Space Day at Salt River Elementary

So today is Space Day! Our 6th year, Space Day is turning out to be quite an event!

This year we have two keynote addresses from NASA scientists:

Dr. Jim Rice,  Co-Investigator on the Mars Exploration Rover Project. His work has involved mission experience working on the Mars Odyssey Orbiter and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Projects, the Mars landing site selection for every NASA Mars Mission since Mars Pathfinder in 1995. he is currently involved in manned missions back to the Moon and Mars.

Dr. Ashwin Vasavada, is the Deputy Project Scientist working on the mission of the Mars Curiosity rover. He helps lead an international team of over 400 scientists. His work has involved geologic studies of Mars with regard to surface properties, volatility, and climate history.

Other sessions will be specific to grade levels:

  • Robots in space
  • Planets & Liquid Nitrogen
  • Food in Space
  • Moon rocks
  • Rockets and launches
  • Satellites Communication in Space
  • Small-scale satellites

We could not have done this without the support of:

  • Challenger Space Center
  • NASA
  • Orbital ATK
  • ASU – School of Earth and Space exploration
  • ASU – Collective Systems Laboratory
  • SpaceTrex

 

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2017 in Ed-Tech, Education, STEM, Technology

 

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Starry, starry, nights worth watching!

No, not Vincent’s. This is courtesy of the heavens. Particularly the meteor shower from Orion, and debris from Halley’s comet.

Of course one must stay up past midnight until dawn on Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately one needs less light pollution to experience the shower.

I’m interested in this because, by some coincidence, around the week of my annual SPACE DAY event in school, we always seem to have a gift from above. It puts things in perspective.

For best places to watch,you could check this ‘Dark site finder.‘  Unfortunately Phoenix area, and Colombo, seem not dark enough.

 

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2017 in Social Media

 

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Kids take to design as Digital Learning Month kicks off

sculptDon’t you wish you could have learned in elementary school what kids have access to now?

That was one of the comments of a designer from TimeFire VR, speaking of how excited she was to see 6th graders quickly learn how to use SculptGL. It is a powerful open source CAD program for 3D sculpting. (I created this in just 2 minutes, having no experience!)

Of course there is much  more work to be done and TimeFire showed us how we could to get there, with Blender, another open source application. This being Digital Learning Month, we will dlday1have time to get deeper into CAD and 3D sculpting. I’m planning to ask TimeFire to come back for an encore session soon.

I like to thank John Vise for making this happen. Specially to Jessica, Rainy, and Ariana for showing us the exciting software, and future career possibilities.

 

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2017 in Ed-Tech, Education, STEM, Technology

 

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Yes, we can be tracked! What students learned at Digital Learning Month kickoff event

Thank you, Fred von Graf for conducting a highly interactive session for our 5th grade students last afternoon. It was the kickoff to our Digital Learning Month in February.

dlday-tnTo a packed room of students and teachers, Fred asked them what social media platforms they use, and provided some cautionary stories of how to protect themselves from hackers, trolls and anyone with rudimentary search skills. He spoke of the dangerous side of oversharing, using same gamer handles and aliases across multiple platforms.

What I liked most about Fred’s presentation was that he avoided the geeky terms (no mention of Phishing or spoofing or doxxing), while explaining quite simply, how someone could find out sensitive and private information about you.

“Some people think of social media as a popularity contest,” said one student, commenting on a case of a someone grabbing information off people and posting it to his YouTube channel. Some spoke about how tagging children could reveal too much information about the family. Teachers shared their safe practices, such as not providing the location of when a picture was taken, or doing it after one leaves the location.

Overall, the room was brimming with insightful thoughts and suggestions, sparked by Fred’s topic, and style of presentation. He summed up, by bringing up oversharing, about seeking ‘Likes’ and the ‘addiction’ that could results from these self-gratifying practices. “You want that attention, and it becomes so easy to say ‘my privacy isn’t that important, let me put this out there’ ,” he said.

 

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Robotics team researches Dakota Access Pipeline for FLL project

When our robotics team picked the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (‘DAPL’) for their research this year, they never imagined a solution to the standoff would come days before they presented it.

It did.

Yet the insight they bring is even more powerful. But how does an oil pipeline relate to this year’s theme, Animal Allies?

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A quick thumbnailThe controversy began over a 1,170-mile  underground oil pipeline crossing 4 states (N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Iowa and Illinois). It had been approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but as Native American opposition gathered momentum (with activists from several tribes, including a group from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation) president Obama stepped in, and the pipeline was stopped.

As for the robotics project: It is on the impact of the ‘dirty pipeline’ on animal life. They will present a case for how water and the land are sacred to the Native American people. And how it could adversely impact animal life.

The ‘problem’ may have a political solution. But their project board looks at deeper issues than that, as you could see in their brainstorming session earlier in October.

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Posted by on December 7, 2016 in Arizona, Ed-Tech, Education, Robotics

 

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Planning for Star Wars class for ‘Hour of Code’ next week

I wish I had had the opportunity to learn JavaScript. But it’s never too late, since I can learn it while teaching some programming next week. You know, ‘He who teaches, learns twice‘ and all that!

hour-of-code-star-wars

I’m doing this because it is Computer Science Education Week from Dec 5 – 11 with a focus on the ‘Hour of Code‘. (It is also the week when I have to take my ‘Lab’ to the classrooms, while the computer lab is being used for NWEA evaluations.)

The ‘Hour of Code’ folk have added new tutorials featuring, Star Wars. Something my students are focusing on for an Image Manipulation class this week. It helps to have Kathleen Kennedy (seen in the video below), producer of The Force Awakens explain how programming is very much a part of movie production today.

Students will specifically learn to program a game in which BB8 must be sent on missions to recover objects and deliver messages.

In case you are interested, Hour of Code has several social media outlets, including

Twitter https://twitter.com/codeorg
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Code.org
Instagram https://instagram.com/codeorg
Tumblr https://blog.code.org

 

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