Sunday, January 29, 2017

BB8 is coming to DBS!

I'm so excited that we will get to play with a BB8 robot next month!

The students at DBS have had exposure to coding through Hour of Code,, Scratch, and enrichment groups.  Some students have also experimented with the Lego WeDo and Lego Mindstorms kits we have in the library.  I signed up to participate in the Vermont Robot Rodeo this year with the goal of expanding on this coding experience in a fun new way. 

I don't have a fully thought out plan just yet, as I only found out a few days ago that we were getting BB8, but my goal is to let all classes and all students get a turn to program and control the robot.  I may also bring out a prebuilt WeDo robot and a prebuilt Mindstorm robot to add to the mix.  Maybe my kiddos will let me borrow their Ozobots as well.  :) 

By the time we send BB8 on to it's new host in early March, I hope that all students at DBS will have written a program, controlled a robot, and had a little fun.  :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What is a robot?

In Enrichment group this month we are talking about robots. What is a robot?  What makes something a robot?  (and when get we get our hands on the robots?!?!)  The two groups looked through non-fiction books about robotics and tried to come up with a definition of a robot, then they thought of lots of different things they have experienced or heard of and as a group we sorted them into Yes/Maybe/No categories based on whether or not the group thought it met the qualifications for a robot.

They all agreed that a robot is something that runs on electricity and is programmed by humans (or other robots!)  They all agreed that the robot had to do some sort of job or task, though there was some debate about what that meant.  Does toasting bread count as a task?  Answering questions?  Turning on the power (like a switch or button)??  They also thought, initially, that a robot has to be able to move, but when the discussion got deeper they started to question that assumption.  Does Siri or Amazon's Echo count as a robot? says a robot is "a machine that resembles a human and does mechanical, routine tasks on command."  Does it have to resemble a human?  The robots in the Tesla factory don't look human.

Google says a robot is "a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer." Programmable by a person first?  Or are they considering the "brains" inn a robot to be the computer programming and the physical part, the part that completes the actions, to be the robot?

NASA says a robot is "a machine that is built to do a certain job again and again, or to do work that might be dangerous for humans."  They should know, right?

I challenged the students to think about specific items and decide if it is a robot or not.  They had to think about a toaster, a copy machine, a smart phone, and a Mars rover.  They found it interesting that there isn't exactly a right or wrong answer since there isn't an exact definition of "robot."

What Is A Robot?, an article on, quotes Andy Rubin, father of Android, as saying, a robot must sense, it must compute, and it must acute.  By that definition a stop light isn't much different from a Roomba vacuum cleaner.  Scott Dadich, the articles author, goes to on to say that as robots because more social perhaps we need to add a fourth criteria: to relate.  He says,"Maybe that’s a fourth step that Rubin didn’t think he had to articulate: sense, compute, actuate … and then relate to us. When that starts to happen, we’re going to want to rethink our definition of robot yet again."

Finally, FINALLY, I let them do what they really wanted to do: make a robot!!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New year, new fish

My daughter and I cleaned the fish tank over vacation, and unfortunately several of the cichlids didn't survive the stress of my lack of fish knowledge.  We were able to save one, but the other four were belly up too fast! 😞

I called my friend for advice and she and her family so generously donated an afternoon to helping me get that tank back in order and ready for some new fish.  Yesterday we picked out five Molly fish and one Alge eater, hoping they would all play nicely with the remaining cichlid, nicknamed "baby fish."

So far everyone is settling in and seems happy, or so we think, it's hard to tell with fish!

The kids were all happy to find the pretty new tank and shiny new fish to welcome them back to the library.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year

Dothan Brook students have big wishes for 2017!
My Wish For 2017 Is...

I put up this bulletin board last month with the hopes that students would write their (kind and considerate) wishes upon the stars.  I hung a small bucket of markers off to the side and walked away.  

To have my cats back, no school, more social studies, live with freedom and pride, do a back handspring, and have an awesome year. 
I was surprised and oh-so-pleased when the stars filled up fast and students started drawing their own stars with wishes on them.  I quickly hung up more stars and the students just as quickly filled them.

To say hi to everyone, to be a better person, to have more books, and, of course, a little puppy dog!
The kids were so excited about the board and I was excited to see so many positive messages.  One child wished her sister could do better in math, another wished for a baby sibling, another wished for her parents to still love her even though they are divorcing.  Lots of kids wished for more school or no school, more math or no math, books, puppies, and iPhones. 

I hope their wishes come true and that all of your wishes for 2017 come true as well!