Over the weekend 212 STEAM Labs had two great opportunities to spread some STEAM love to the local area.
Saturday morning we had a chance to share a room with Victory VR at the Bettendorf STEM Expo. This is an amazing event held every year at Bettendorf Middle School where hundreds of families come out to learn and explore all things STEM. There are over 50 displays and activities for families to enjoy.
Of course I had to have a LEGO table setup for kids to build! But that was not all we had.
We had a room where we showcased the work we are doing down in the non-profit. Of course we had to bring something awesome so I brought my beta project of Micro:bit controlled Minecraft Steve head that takes your picture and imports your selfie into a Minecraft world by converting pixels into Minecraft blocks. I wanted to showcase that students are learning Python and will be able to write programs just like this!
By the end of the day we had a ton of Minecraft worlds full of selfies!
It was great to show students the power of code. It was powerful watch their eyes light up when the picture came into view. There was a ton of great questions and conversations that took place over the three hours we were on display.
When this event ended we packed up quickly and head back to 212 as we had 2nd grade Girl Scouts waiting for their own learning to take place.
We had part of a troop who came to visit the space where we learned about batteries and electricity. The girls made some binder bling and toothbrush robots.
Before we started the girls were locked into the LEGO wall. They were constructing a video game, a maze, and some other contraptions. I think they could have worked on the wall the entire session if we let them. It was wonderful to watch their imagination go wild.
We started off with making some binder bling to help them understand how batteries and LED works together. From there they dove right into adding all sorts of decorations to make their ring/bracelet/nightlight/backpack decoration come alive. These girls were full of energy and excited to learn. It reminded how important it is to ensure that kids do not lose this passion for life and learning. They just could not contain all their ideas and thoughts and concepts for what they wanted to do.
After they had time to get their designs just right we moved into making the toothbrush robots. Many of the girls had seen something like this before whether in the version of a Hexbug or some other device. This project is one of my favorites with young kids because success happens quick, but just as soon as they have success they have to endure problem solving as the robot falls over or falls apart. Maybe the battery dies or what happens if I put too much weight on the bot? What happens if the weight is lopsided? They constantly run through a problem solving process to get the robot just right. This really pushes their thinking and confidence in themselves to try new ideas and not give up.
For this group we tried a new challenge of the Bridge. Could they get their robot across the bridge without falling over?
We had a blast! This was one full day of learning and sharing. I am glad I get to this work for a living as both part of my nonprofit as well as working with schools through the AEA.
I cannot wait to continue to do more work by sharing and learning with others.