The second open lab of Young Engineers of Today has wrapped up. In case you don’t remember we run an open lab every two weeks for two hours to help students learn how to build, make, solder, program the project we are working on. Two times a week students login for a webinar where we are teaching coding skills that will go along with what we are making.
Since the last open lab we have moved from HTML coding for their project pages to Scratch programming. We feel that it is important for students to visually see how things work and how we can make certain items do certain things. Many of the students have not programmed before so this step is very important in helping them to visually see how programming operates. We spend a few webinars introducing Scratch and then moving through a few projects to get their brains moving in the right direction.
Students will build and create two games(you can see webinars here)
2. Space Invaders
While students are working through Scratch and visual coding our open lab will be finishing up a soldering project. Students had just started the their adjustable power supply kit at the end of the first lab and the goal with this lab is to finish these up. The style of the lab is different. The first lab was very lock step where we focused on the skill of how to solder and use solder to create quality projects in the future. This lab students worked at their own pace. Each student was given a binder with instructions. I had the instructions in three chunks so they had to show me their project at key stages to earn the next set of instructions to keep going. This ensured that I could help them and narrow down the area of focus to problem solve.
At the end of the lab most students either had it completed or were very close. We had students focus in different capacities and their solder skills were not all the same.
We used our desolder gun for the entire two hours fixing solder issues. It was a fast paced two hours. In the end not every kid had it completed. Some were not working. I really needed almost another hour, but I don’t think the kids could work for another hour because it was late at night.
The kids are making some great progress. The beauty of this is that students make it what they want to make it.
One of my sixth graders in the class was the first done AND it worked perfect! Others did not pay attention to detail and they now have to learn the hard way about focus if they burned the boards or broke something. Each kit costs money so they are not easily replaceable.
As an educator this class is exciting. We are pushing boundaries. We are placing a lot of trust and expectation on the students. They have to focus and work. It is a great environment. I have never had two hours go by so fast in my life.
I additionally believe that beauty of the labs and YEOT is that we must problem solve when things don’t work. We need time to teach kids about all the pieces and components of this particular kit, but once done the kids need to find answers. They are still in “school” mode where they expect the “teacher” to have the answer. The true learning is to guide them to develop skills to solve problems.
I was very impressed with their work and focus. We will have to think through about how to make sure they have the help and resources they need to feel successful. I need to get them all up and running before we move into our next project which is going to be awesome – Copper Trees.
We are ambitious with our goals, but having students who are ambitious make it all worthwhile. I would like to stress that we are most interested the kids learning how to troubleshoot so in the future they can work on their own projects and ideas outside of class. It is very empowering to learn how to solder and read electrical diagrams. And with the addition of the webinars this allows us to add the math and science so it becomes engineering and not just a project.
To close, I am still pumped from the lab and working through my own dilemma to help them all up and running with their power supply. We need those power supplies working so they can power their copper trees!
As we move forward we start moving our webinars to programming with Sparkfun Inventor Kit and teach coding. We will be using these skills in future lab projects.
How awesome is that?