The Initial Spark

 

Submitted by: Mr. Bryan LaPlante – 2G Homeroom Teacher

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It has been a seriously electric few months in 2G! Back in October, my class and I were tinkering with the idea of writing Dr. Adams a ‘persuasive letter.’ The note politely suggested several ways our class and ASFM could benefit from acquiring our own “Asimo” – an interactive robot who welcomes visitors to the Honda Factory in Tokyo. The kids brainstormed lots of ideas, like having Asimo greet our visitors and help guard the gates, having Asimo deliver documents around the school, and even having him act as a ‘hall monitor’ that could distribute passes and ensure kids were behaving.

We wanted to validate the letter by actually sending it to Dr. Adams (and perhaps see if it was able to persuade). The kids were astonished when he reviewed our letter and sent a reply! Dr. Adams told us that we might not be able to get Asimo all the way here from Tokyo, but he knew about some other robots that could potentially help us meet the same goals: Dash and Dot from the Wonder Workshop!

What might the students be able to accomplish with these cutting edge new devices? Right away we began furiously researching the robots, and the students and I soon revised our letter to redeliver to Dr. Adams, complete with innovations on how we might use Dash and Dot to facilitate our classroom and school. We waited with baited breath for his response, checking out instructional Youtube videos and other coding training sites such as Hour of Code … (just in case).

Success! There were robots in the building very early in 2015, and after a few intense training sessions with tech integration specialists Doug Frankish and Diana Saldana, we were able to present our newest additions to the ASFM family to 2G on February 3. The kids were jumping out of their seats when they saw the pre-programmed demos Dash and Dot performed, and within a few minutes we were furiously coding the robots to move on simple trajectories around the room on our ipad using the “Blockly” and “Path” apps. This week we are experimenting with music composition using the “Xylo” app!

In my opinion, what makes these devices so special is the creative and cognitive potential they unlock. In order to reach goals, the students need to first plan a program idea, explore and experiment with what code is needed to perform tasks, then watch anxiously to see if they meet success. So far, Dash and Dot have been extremely fresh and fruitful learning tools my classroom, and we can’t wait to see how they can be integrated into further lessons and projects! Future posts coming soon!

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