I am passionate about teaching children how to be producers and not just consumers of technology. I am driven about teaching transliteracy and using ICT (Information and Communications Technology) tools to help foster 21st century college and career readiness skills. My organization takes pride in making sure we are always pursuing professional development opportunities. If a training is offered to help us stay relevant: WE MAKE IT HAPPEN! An awesome opportunity was presented in furthering our pursuit of transliteracy and computer instruction when we hosted a Code workshop.
What is CODE? CODE is an organization seeking to train the next generation of computer science programmers. I trained at an all-day professional development workshop by CODE. I would highly encourage any educators to take this workshop and gain skills and knowledge centered around computer programming. I could not wait to bring this into my own urban environment and I thought what a PERFECT opportunity to create a STEAM lab. I did some heavy modifying and all these stations described below are adaptable. If you go to a workshop, you will leave with supplies, lesson plans, workbook and CODE "Swag" (freebies), which helps make lesson planning a bit easier. Here is the start (to hopefully) many more STEAM themes around Computer Science.
Station #1 Handout
Real Life Algorithms: Plant A Seed [Modified from this lesson plan]
Once our handout is made, I will upload it. The handout talks about the meaning of the word algorithm and gives a sample activity to do. Handout Example: How did you get ready to come to the library this morning?
- Put numbers next to each response
- Put these numbered responses in some kind of logical order
Put on shoes
1, 3, 4, 2---Which order do you do them in?
You can create algorithms for ALL KINDS of things that you do everyday!
Plant a Seed Station Instructions
Talk to your child about creating a simple algorithm of what they do in the morning. When finished, take a ziplock bag and put the pieces in order of how you would plant a seed. Once you are done, follow the instructions your child made to plant your very own seed!
The instructions will be pre-cut and put in ziplock bags. We will have paper and stick glue placed on the table for parent and children to put in order the steps. From there I have the following materials (courtesy of CODE):
- Plastic cups
- Plotting Soil
Station #2 Handout
Building a Foundation: Persistence [Modified from this lesson plan]
This next station focuses on the meaning of the word persistence. Our workshop instructor discussed how students in college changed majored due to finding computer science challenging. He encouraged fostering this character trait early! How would we demonstrate persistence?
Persistence Station Instructions
Hard tasks can make us want to give up, but if we stick to our goal and keep trying, then we just might make something better than we’ve ever made before! In this challenge, we’ll work to construct towers that are strong enough to hold a textbook for at least 10 seconds, using everyday materials.
1) Use only the supplies provided in each bag to build a tower.
2) The tower can be any shape, but it has to be at least as tall as the paper cup.
3) The tower must support the weight of a book for a full 10 seconds.
The supplies that will be provided in each bag: gumdrops & toothpicks.
Again, all the materials for this workshop were courtesy of CODE.
Station #3 Handout
How Computers Talk: Binary Code Bracelets [Modified from this lesson plan]
This station is all about how computers talk. The handout will tell very simplistically about how computers talk in code in a language of 0's and 1's. Children will be creating actual bracelets in binary code. Everyone will receive a binary decoder.
Binary Code Bracelets Station Instructions
Create the first letter of your name in binary code! Use the Binary coder to string black and white beads on your bracelet.
We will have pre-cut string and a bunch of black and white beads. If parents want to explore doing their child's initial: YAY!!! I'm not going to stop ANYONE!
Station #4 Handout
Move it, Move it!: Create a Computer Program [Modified from this lesson plan]
Talk about the algorithm you created in the first station. Talk about the set of instructions in order to help you plant the seed. Let them know that when you give multiple instructions = algorithm and the language is in code than a machine can run what is called a program.
Create a Computer Program Station Instructions
This game helps teach your child how to think ahead in multiple steps, as they plan a short route from their friend's start location to the hidden smiley face, up to three steps away. There will be a simple Move it level and a harder Move it level.
There are a set of rules located in the lesson plan. We will also be putting the rules on the handout and will be walking through parent/child groups in hopes that they learn it quickly. We are making two simple levels and will see how the "game" plays out. CODE's lesson gives great printable templates when you're doing this game. We're going to print these out the floor stop/start game tiles on legal size paper (along with blank tiles) and on the floor. We will also have sheets of the arm motions to help illustrate unplugged programming. I'm excited to see if kids and parents will learn how to move correctly in the allotted time.
Take Home Activities
Three of the lessons include take-home activity sheets. We will be supplying those for attendees to take home if they want more unplugged computer activities to do with their child. You can find those activities sheets on Code.org's curriculum page.
I will definitely repeat this lab again in the spring. I was told by a grandmother with a big family that her daughters had such fun learning. The toddler pictured above was nailing the stations with her mom. The best was watching everyone trying to build a structure that would hold a book up. The cube featured was our best one that held a book up for ten seconds. I am going to revisit the explanation of the first station because some parents understood how it worked and others seemed to struggle with making connections even with the handouts.