For three weeks in March, I was the guinea pig volunteer at York Elementary’s STEM Lab. Third, fourth and fifth grade classes attend the lab for one period once a week. The students have a defined project to accomplish in this short period of time. I visited three fourth grade classes that met on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, respectively. They were tasked with designing a maze on poster board and programming a robot (Dash) to follow the maze and greet it’s immobile partner robot (Dot) at the finish. The code is built using a tablet app; commands are snapped together in a UI similar to Scratch.
On a personal note: I learned I have no idea how to handle conflicts involving nine years olds. The solution I settled upon was to make eye contact with one of the real teachers and let them intervene. My shortcoming aside, it was a lot of fun helping the kids iterate over the code and letting them figure out problems using trial and error.
York is a year round school currently on Spring Break until April 23rd. Once they return, we’ll be sending even more volunteers to assist with the program on a regular basis.