How do you get 100 students engaged, creating and problem-solving around a central theme? Why a make-a-thon of course!
On Friday, November 9th, 2018, the Future Ready team hosted the first ever BSD make-a-thon at Beaverton High School. Ninety-six 4th and 7th grade students from around the district chose to spend their day off learning how to code with the micro:bit and designing and creating a robotic pet. Volunteers from Nike and the BSD IT department pitched in to provide support to student groups. Derek Runberg from SparkFun Electronics guided students along their journey and started the day letting students in on a little secret, they probably knew more than the adults!
The first half of the day was focused on coding, beginning with an intro to MakeCode for micro:bit. Activities included scrolling words across the micro:bit LEDs, sending a radio signal between micro:bits, and a slightly uproarious showdown of Rock-Paper-Scissors. Moving breaks were taken to get the blood flowing, one in which students were led on a gallery walk to see what other groups had programmed into their micro:bit.
Pizza was provided by the Beaverton Education Foundation for our hungry makers, after which the making got started! Students were given the challenge to create a robotic pet that had one input (light or motion sensor) and one output (a light or a movement with a servo).
This make-a-thon is part of a project to introduce coding and physical computing to every elementary and middle school student. To deepen the learning for both students and teachers, Dawn Guildner and Katie White of Beaverton’s Future Ready team are helping teachers design micro:bit curriculum that encourages kids to be both users and (more importantly) creators of technology. As educators, we know student engagement goes up when they are provided choice, are exposed to real world problems, and are given the chance to create solutions. Combining coding with the construction of a physical device that runs the code adds a layer of learning and engagement.
Save the date for the next make-a-thon! Nike will be hosting us on Friday April 5, 2019. Students will be challenged to design and build solutions for sport themed problems.
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