BrushArtBot Presentation Reflection

Today I traveled to Johnston Middle School in Johnston, Iowa to present as a Master Teacher for Iowa Public Television. This was a small conference as this is something new for IPTV.

I decided to challenge myself by presenting in a new way. I did not use any slides and I did not use my computer or any tech. What I wanted to do was create more of a hands on workshop. I have sat through enough sessions and keynotes and PD where we sat, listened and walked away with intention but not IMPLEMENTATION.

I had 40 minutes to present my project BrushArtBot which is a page here on the site(see top menu)

This was a bit tough because I was not sure how many people were going to show up. In the end I had probably around 20 of the 30+ people here at the conference. What I wanted them to do was play, tinker, and experiment. In order for that to happen I had to talk less and let them do more.

I briefly talked about who I was and what I do. I then explained the materials in their baggies. Very quickly I explained how to assemble the brushbot.

Keep in mind they all had access to my lesson plans as well as the page on my website to see everything if they wanted.

What I found interesting was that like our students in the classroom the audience was quiet and bit hesitant to experiment. However, as soon as one guy had his bot moving everyone decided to move. They all wanted their bots to move as well.

Cheaply, I set up some board to create a short little racetrack so they could race their bots. They loved this. During this time I talked about the various extensions and connections about how we could connect these to any subject, any grade, and any learning from circuits, electricity, art, design, wiring, science, math, etc. I told them how they could create challenges about fastest by moving the motor, the battery, weight, etc. This really got their gears turning a bit.

Next, we had about 18 minutes left so I challenged them to the true design of converting their brushbot to an artbot. I had everything laid out for them to play. It was great to watch them try and make it happen. We had some success of bots painting some patterns. It was so fun to watch them go.

One thing that I was bummed about was having enough time to share with them how to connect the dots to true learning and standards. This is more than just a “fun” activity. True learning could occur with adding elements of a design notebook and the specific content you teach. This is something I will have to do a follow up video on to help with those that continue to use this project.

Additionally, I need to create a database of bots created. Some really wonderful designs were created. Also, I need to add more layers of challenges and post those videos online as well. I have several videos to add and finish editing.

In the end I was satisfied more than what I thought I would be. It was a great test run for this idea with many things for me to think about, fix, enhance, and improve upon.

I present at a conference next week and was not thinking about using this project, but I might change things to add this as part of my Tink Tank because the interest of the audience was high. To prepare is not cheap, but if I can excite teachers to add new ways of teaching, then it is worth the cost.


Created with flickr slideshow.


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