Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Are You Up to the Challenge?

It is June. There are two days left of school. You have a classroom full of 12 and 13 year olds. Can you get them to beg for more time in science class?

Joselyn Todd can.

Students arrive, get their assignment from the class blog and go to work on their tablet PCs. Each of the five team has a Lego NXT robot to program. The students quickly assign themselves tasks - wiki documenter, programmer, photographer, robot assembler. The classroom buzzes with excited chat about 45 degree turns, touch sensors, and measurements. "Do you want some music?" Ms. Todd asks. The majority of the students raise their hands so Ms. Todd launches a playlist in iTunes on her tablet.

As the class period ticks away students dash from their tables to the obstacle course for each new trial with their robots, 80's music beating in the background. The din quiets for one group to create video documentation of their programming efforts, then quickly restarts. Ms. Todd oversees the whole scene encouraging one reluctant student to be more involved with her group, cheering on successful attempts and offering advice when robots wander off the course.

When she announces that it is time to pack away the robots one team begs, "Please can we try just one more time." "Okay," replies Ms. Todd "but I am not giving out late passes."

What a way to end the year!

You can visit their wiki and see the student work first hand. Team 4B has a video interview from the obstacle course challenge.

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