Here is a link to the PowerPoint slide set used for our presentation to the Summer 2016 Washington ACTE conference.

Problem: We need teachers who can teach programming, and we don't have enough

The premise of this website is we can connect students to careers in computer science and in engineering. Further, that we can extend these to hands-on learners, a group that is sometimes left behind.

But to teach these materials, or any similar class, we must have teachers who can teach programming.

And we don't have enough.

Possible solution: Train our own

I do not believe a teacher with no background in programming can be turned into a highly skilled instructor for AP Computer Science in the short period of a semester college-level class. But we can prepare them with enough programming and class skills to facilitate student learning. Click here to see the syllabus we have poposed for such a class. Further, we can do it in about 10 hours of intense instruction, if we choose the material with care. Here, step by step, is how:

Lesson 11 has been updated to be about standard servos instead of continuous rotation servos.

When the lessons for this website were first written we used continuous rotation servos to power a rolling robot. This robot is the integrating activity for the first semester of the class we teach.

So, Standard Servo Top Viewnaturally Lesson 11, Servos and Helper Methods was written to teach how continuous rotation servos work, and how to control them through an Arduino sketch.

Later, to improve the performance of the robot and to expand the class content these servos were replaced by brushed motors. With this came the opportunity to add content about the H-bridge and the management of electro-magnetic noise.

This year in our class we have added aircraft in the form of a simple airplane based on the design favored by Brookyn Standard ServoAerodrome. and the quadcopter. The airplane is controlled by a pair of standard servos, each connected to an aileron. Moved together they control the craft's pitch while independent movement controls roll.

The problem is, the programming of standard servos is similar to that of continuous rotation servos, but not identical. For this reason we have re-written Lesson 11. In it we have kept the content about helper methods but changed just about everything else.

The old Lesson 11 will reappear soon as "retired".

 
 
 

COMPUTERS, A CHALLENGE FOR SOME KINESTHETIC LEARNERS

CTE Logo Washington

It's no secret that a major goal for us with this website and the class we teach is to connect studentsto Career Pathways, as defined by the STEM Career Clusters. Here in Washington State information about Career Clusters and associated Pathways may be found on the website of our Superintendent of Public Instruction.

 

Of particular interest is how we connect kinesthetic learners and concrete thinkers to these careers. This is important because job opportunities for these students has been shrinking for many years. Systems such as automotive ignitions, hydraulics in aircraft, home heating and air conditioning, metal working, and manufacturing now all have at their centers small computers.

 

A kinesthetic learner can be given a mechanical part, such as a car distributer, and he or she can figure out how it works just by inspection and some thinking. But a computer cannot be understood this way. It's just a box with wires going to it. What is connected may be visible but what it does is totally opaque.

 

This past June and July we offered an intensive, 3-week version of our basic class, lessons 1 through 18. This was through the Washington Network for Innovative Careers (WaNIC). Attending were about 60 high school students, earning at their choice either science or career credit. As is usual the final assessment was the requirement to significantly enhance their rolling robots to make it excel at robot soccer, robot sumo, or robot rally. An enhancement must be both something tangible and accompanied by enabling Arduino code. Students had access to a laser cutter and a 3D printer. For the first time we also awarded points for aesthetic enhancement. To our surprise and pleasure the students rose to the challenge. Here are a few of the final robot bodies. We care about this because we are considering adding aesthetic design to an engineering pathway for our school. This is still a long way from product design but it is an encouraging start.

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Ice Cream Truck

Starfighter