A last minute on-call

It was one of those moments you hate as a teacher.  You’re enjoying a break and getting caught up when someone comes up and says “We need you to substitute”.  In this case, one of the proctors was unable to cover a workshop about using Snap! to program the Finch robot.  “Could you do it, Doug?”  Sure, why not.  I’m on the conference committee.  If they can’t count on me, who could they count on?
 
So, I was off – did the introduction and was heading to the back row and sat by a lady who needed a programming partner.  I was in!
 
We had a heck of a time, working on her computer, programming the Finch that was connected to it and learned so much.  She was from Minnesota and used the Finch with elementary school students.  I just love to program things.  We worked well.
 
After an overview of the workshop, we dug in.  Like all the other groups in the room, there was a great deal of productive conversation, estimation, guessing, and determining what curriculum could be covered with the activities that we work on.  It was educational learning at its finest.  Our leader(s) took us on a tour of the Finch and Snap! taking us through three activities and challenges.
 
Here’s what we did – quick notes taken in Evernote during the workshop and pasted in place below.
 
Using Snap! To program – block based language
 
Challenge 1:Lights and Sound
 
  • Create a pattern using colour and sound in Snap! Level 1
  • Drag and drop interface.  If you’ve done any block programming, there’s little to learn
  • Simple. sequence and the loop to repeat
  • Boards to run over the carpeting – buy them at Home Depot
  • Coloured pens and sheets to plan before programming.  I was impressed that the coloured pens matched exactly the basic colours of the robot.

 
Challenge 2:  Motion
  • Move Finch in multiple directions
  • Butcher paper to draw patterns
  • Velcro to attach marker to the Finch
  • Move to Snap! Level 2
  • Movement steps are now programmable
  • Colours are programmable by intensity
  • Buzzer has music integration A-G
 
 
Challenge 3: Maze
  • Given a maze, program the Finch to move from one to two
  • Move to Snap1 Level 3 – adds even more  commands
  • Snap.berkeley.edu
  • Tape on bathroom tile
 
Challenge 4: Sensors
  • Check to see if there’s something in the road and adjust your path to miss it.  Basically, design two paths around the board and determine which to follow
  • Use IF/ELSE block, left obstacle block – had a great conversation with the university student as to exactly how the sensors worked.
  • Embedded IF/ELSE block
That was a terrific workshop of learning.  And, I made a new friend!
 
Best. On-call.  Ever.

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