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Topic: Teaching 5th graders - IDE, graphical, possibly robots? (Read 17 times) previous topic - next topic


Hello World!

I have my first Arduino boards for two weeks or so now, and as suspected, it is a great platform. I am familiar with programming and building circuits, so the basic Arduino examples and modifying them has been easy and is a blast to far.

I bought several boards and kits as I volunteer at a school, and a lot of students asked me to learn about electronics and robotics. So I am currently trying to put together part kits and an introduction to programming as well as electronics.

One class I work with is 5-6th grade, the other 7-8th grade. 
I have found several blog posts and school websites about teaching kids to work with arduino. Some use the IDE, some use s4a, Ardublock, Eduwear/Amici (which I like),  Minibloq and others.
I have posted part of this elsewhere, and I hope it is okey to post it again here.
I would really appreciate any feedback from teachers, parents and hobbyists, so that I can plan my course without running out of time or running into typical pit-falls that could occur.

I did find little information on how people tackle teaching programming to a bunch of kids.
In my experience even with the older students, the attention span and abilities vary greatly.

From my previous experience with teaching 3D printing and animation there are basically two types of students:
- Some are eager but have a difficult time learning, probably expecting to push two buttons and, voila, they have made a walking & talking robot. They will be tired after half an hour of work.
- Other students seem to love to tinker,  grasping the logic concept much easier and they will work on projects for hours, up to the point I have to throw them out of the computer lab :-)

So right now I am torn.
Graphical programming is easy to grasp, but complex programs can be messy and even more difficult then directly starting in "real" coding. Anyone here that has experience with teaching 6-12 Kids, especially 5th graders?

Also, I just have 8  x  90 minutes with them. I probably would reduce the electronics 101 to one or two breadboard experiments with LED, resistors and so on. Just so they know the very basics.
Also a bit of discussion about robots, sensors, and what they could build.
Perhaps creating ten or so example projects which they can examine.

I had the opportunity to buy the Ardublock kits very cheaply, around $15. They include an UNO compatible, Extension shields, a bucket of plugs/cables, and plug&play modules (4xLED, Ultrasonic, joystick, switch, LDR, Poti, Piezo, Mic, thermometer, servo). All in a neat box so they can store their projects for the next lesson.

I also ordered six $10 Robot chassis with two motors, encoder discs an battery case, plus H-Bridge modules, fork opto barriers, DC Boosters, TCRT5000 IR distance sensors, IR-Receiver-Modules, Nunchucks and breakout boards, NRF24l01 transcievers, Pan/Tilt mounts and more servos, Nokia LCDs, breadboards, resistors, transistors, capacitors, thousands/hundreds of 3mm, 5050 and ws2812 LEDs. Enough to make the whole school look like a christmas tree ;-)   

The school has been supportive but can't help much, so I bought it pretty much from my own sparse savings. I would rather have good resources then just making a few LED blink.

For starters I thought about making a traffic light blink, then quickly moving on to the 2 wheel drive robot chassis. It was easier to build then I thought, and basically, in pseudo-

If distance sensor value < somevalue
stop motor 2
delay 2 seconds
start motor again

will create a robot that avoids obstacles, or would work for very basic wiggling line followers as well. 
I think the 5th graders would be able grasp  that.

Anyone teaching kids; Do you use handouts, pre-made sketches they can modify, or do you let them learn it bit by bit, until they are able to develop the program themselves?

Thank you in advance for any feedback.
I would love to here
-links to resources
-or cool projects ideas.

I also apologize for the length of this post and my mediocre english skills, I am trying to improve it.

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