Mittwoch, 25. Juli 2012

Squeakfest Uruguay 2012 Day 3 - Workshop DrTechniko

This was a very fun workshop! Steve presented it virtually with me and Randy on site in the lab. The idea is from DrTechniko - How to train your robot. Steve had the handout translated into Spanish. Randy and me worked as "robots" for the participants.
It was a great experience, even our lack of the spanish language was not to our disadvantage, since we robots understood only a very restrictive vocabulary. After being trained to walk in a square the task was for the participants to come up with a more complex script for walking to a table, grab a bottle and bring it back. That resulted in different kinds of scripts and, as expected, participants started to make up more complex commands for the robots.
That was fun, but not the last of it. Steve had an Etoys project prepared where everyone now could create scripts for an Etoys robot, based on the experience with the human robots. This is a very motivating activity for the classroom!

Robot Randy walking in a square.

Dienstag, 24. Juli 2012

Squeakfest Uruguay 2012 Day 2 - Diner with Plan Ceibal

I accompanied Mariana Herrera to the Plan Ceibal offices the day before. There I met Lidia Barboza, the coordinator of research and evaluation in educational technology. She introduced me to her colleagues and explained the ideas and ongoing projects at Plan Ceiabl in the area of primary education. Then she invited me and Randy for diner the next day.
We had an inspiring and deep conversation during diner, where we also met Lidias colleagues from Plan Ceibal and Carlos and Nanny Rabassa, who support and volunteer for Etoys since the Squeakfest in Brazil in 2009.
I'm especially happy about Lidias view of Etoys and how it could be used for deeper learning in schools. She has an understanding for constructionist learning, knows that the way of teaching needs to change and has ides on how to accomplish that. I hope we can go on working together and make a difference for primary education in Uruguay!

It was a very interesting diner, which unfortunately took longer than we had planned, so I arrived late for my own workshop.

Montag, 23. Juli 2012

Squeakfest Uruguay 2012 Day 2 - Presentation from Novo Hamburgo

The next presentation I saw on the first full day of Squeakfest was a real special one. A whole class from Novo Hamburgo in Brazil came to Montevideo to present the projects they did with Etoys.
It was Bruno Sperb, who got them started with Etoys during a workshop at their school. After that, the students and teachers started a project where older students created learning projects for younger students of their school. At Squeakfest, the students presented the projects they created. It was wonderful to see the variety of projects and ideas. The students did a great job talking about their work in front of a whole room of visitors!
To come gto Squeakfest, they did a great job to find sponsors, rent a bus and drove the 12 hours down to from Novo Hamburgo.

Dienstag, 17. Juli 2012

Squeakfest Uruguay 2012 - Day 2, Randy's workshop

On the second day, we had several highlights, so I'll have more than one post for Day 2. The day started with Randy's workshop. Randy had the text of his projects translated into Spanish by Carlos Rabassa, he had learned some spanish phrases himself and he had Ricarco Moran to translate him on the first day and Sebastian Blanco on the second. That way, every teacher in the room could follow the workshop and there was a very interesting discussion. That is the best thing in a workshop, when participants get really involved in a topic.
Randy's projects are created in a certain way, derived from conclusions of the book "How people learn". There is an introductory text about the subject and then students are confronted by common preconceptions regarding it. A teacher needs to be able to lead a discussion about these preconceptions in the classroom, and give students ideas on how to prove what they think.
In this workshop, Randy presented a variety of projects about several topics. You can find his projects here: Squeak Courseware: Science

A picture from the second workshop.

Freitag, 13. Juli 2012

Squeakfest Uruguay 2012 - Day 1

José Miguel García: Robotics and education


In his talk, Miguel explained how robots are being used in the schools in Uruguay. There are robotics kits in every school in Uruguay and teachers are starting to adapt to robotics programming. What he did and talked about were really great robotics courses with amazing results. 
We attended his workshop later at Squeakfest Buenos Aires, where we were supposed to build robots from materials like cardboard, woodenstrips, yarn and a NXT motor within two hours. At first, we were imagining what we would like to automate (without knowing about the materials). Then we learnde what materials we had available, so we had to refine our idea to something that could actually being done in the given time. And then came the tinkering and programming. We used TurtleArt to control the motor, we could easily have used PhysicalEtoys as well. It was about doing the whole design process from the idea to the finished project thinking like an engineer. 
This is how they do workshops with kids at schools!