3-D Printing: Here at ODU’s Learning Resource Center, the Library Science department has this 3D printer, the MakerBot Replicator. Alongside the previous graduate assistant, I’ve learned the basics on how to create, modify, and print designs. I’m not an expert at all and I’m still learning, but from my experience, Chad Sansing (2015) is correct about its maintenance stating that “a 3-D printer takes a lot of work and troubleshooting.” Depending on the intricate designs (size, shape, and details) on a particular project, it can take an hour or more to complete. With this 3-D printer, add-ons are required to update it periodically, which increases the time to complete a project. This week, our assignment is to create an original 3D design, and as of now, it’s taking me some time to decide on what I want to make. In the meantime, I posted a short video on 3-D prints and in case you missed it, click here. Among schools and school libraries, 3-D printing can be used with the library’s maker space, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) projects, and other content areas. Examples include printing landforms and the Earth’s crust in earth science, replicas of artifacts in social studies, and math manipulatives.
Coding: In regards to coding, I feel like we’ve come a long way to get young children interested in the beginning steps of programming. Prior to the synonymous use of coding and programming today, programming was known as “the formal act of writing code” (Prottsman, 2015). Now, coding “has resurfaced as a much more playful and non-intimidating description of programming for beginners” (Prottsman, 2015). Back in the early 90s, when I was in the sixth grade, I loved playing computer games and I was really interested in how they were made. That interest never went away and by my sophomore year in high school, I took a computer programming course. Writing code didn’t come easy to me back then, so I frequently partnered with the only other girl in class and a couple of guys that weren’t too busy playing Final Doom. Twenty years later, I’ve retained a basic understanding of basic programming, and although I rarely use it now, I have been able to do simple things like tweak the html code for this blog when something wasn’t working the way I wanted. Within the schools and school libraries, I am yet to witness firsthand the implementation of coding. I’ve heard about the Hour of Code and think it’s a wonderful idea where children of all ages can experience how computer science can be fun and a platform for creativity. Through learning the language of devices such as the robots, Dash and Dot and Bee-Bot, and apps like Kodable and Scratch Jr., students can manipulate characters and create their own stories and games. They also learn how to think critically, solve problems, communicate their ideas, and gain understanding from their mistakes.
Robots: While robots from Vex, Lego Mindstorm, and the humanoid NAO are commonly used in schools to teach STEM concepts, it’s also possible to use robots to teach literacy. For example, Gretchen Robinson from Northwoods Elementary School of Technology has programmed their NAO robot to read stories aloud to the Kindergartners. Her second graders were learning economic terminology and ABBI (Awesome Bot Bringing Innovation) was able to describe the term and use visual recognition to let the students know if they found the correct term on the flashcards. Using robots in schools and school libraries captures students’ attention and engages them right away. Many students are more willing to participate in lessons with a robot because they find it fun and less intimidating to answer than with a teacher and not know or have the right answer. Robinson says that students want “to collaborate and to work on a lesson for as long as it takes to understand the concept” (Schwartz, 2014). They don’t want their time with the robot to end.
As educators and students become more familiar and active participants with 3-D printing, coding, and programming robots, students’ interests will be piqued into learning more about computer science, coding/programming, and robotics, as they get older.
Prottsman, K. (2015). Coding vs. programming — Battle of the terms! Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kiki-prottsman/coding-vs-programming-bat_b_7042816.html
Sansing, C. (2015). 3-D printing: Worth the hype? Retrieved from http://www.slj.com/2015/05/technology/3-d-printing-worth-the-hype-the-maker-issue/#_
Schwartx, K. (2014). Robots in the classroom: What are they good for? Retrieved from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/05/27/robots-in-the-classroom-what-are-they-good-for/