Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Picademy USA Part 3 - Day 2


This is  Part 3 of a blog post series from the first #Picademy USA in MountainView this past weekend - including this Video Summary.

You can also check out Part 1 and Part 2 





#Picademy USA Day 2

Several  of us managed to get a drive by glimpse of GooglePlex before we started Day 2 of #Picademy USA.  Upon arriving at the Computer History Museum,  we were once again greeted with warm smiles, coffee, fruit, pastries, and a packed agenda.   First on the agenda — INSPIRATION  from PI Innovators and brainstorming about how to use the resources provided by the Computer History Museum. 


I’m not sure how to describe the intense emotions I felt listening to high school senior,  Sonia,  describe the impact she has already had on the world using a Raspberry Pi in  her global reach project -- Pia La Code.  Her face to face and virtual approach to  teach coding to children in India won my heart.  I was so so proud of her as a young student,  as a young woman, as a young innovator.  It touched the part of me that is so hopeful about our future because it is in good hands if we fill it with with people like Sonia at the helm.  I wanted every high school student to listen to her share her story and to be challenged the way she was to change the world!  



Sonia’s story reinforces the formula  I have learned during the past 15 years through TechSavvyGirls for getting girls involved with tech (Combine high tech (like coding) with design and social justice (and mentoring) and you have a winning formulas for increasing the number of girls who engage with technology. 
  



Next we heard advice from   David Saunders about how to take what we learned this weekend and create a change in our schools.  The systems that are entrenched in our schools often feel like un unpenetrable barriers for innovative and creative teachers who want to make changes.  @DesignSaunders’s story of turning his library into a LABRARY  not only provided us with one way to bring more innovation into our schools, but inspired us to  find OUR way to penetrate the barriers and create the change we envision.  He inspired us to look for the points of entry that will lead to one small break in the system, and then keep on chipping away making more and more changes. 



Last but not least,  Mark from Piper took the stage and shared their journey for building PIPER.  The concept of using physical computing to build in Minecraft had so intrigued me when I learned about  Piper that I threw enough money at their Kickstarter to have a new unbuilt Piper kit in my possession.   Even though the description of the Piper was not new to me, the concept that Piper had been conceived and designed by these two young  college students majoring in biology  was not only new, but fascinating. I would have guessed that Piper would have been invented by a student of Seymour Papert.  Papert would have been been proud and certainly cheering  them on.



A predecssor to the iPad as a kitchen computer, only a bit larger.
I would have loved to talk to Mark about a few issues with my Piper, but we were whizzed off to the Computer History Museum to take part  in brainstormingconversation about using the Computer History Museum resources in our teaching.  At first I thought it would be another tour,  but this time we were invited to consider how specific exhibits might lead to  curriculum opportunities and conversations in many different curricular areas.  This prompt along with the stories that were shared had me looking at the exhibits from a different vantage point.  This time I was walking around with my teacher hat on and two different themes jumped out for me. 

How many lines of code did Margaret write?
1)  The opportunity to engage women in tech.
I pride myself in knowing quite a bit about  women and technology, but I had no idea that the Apollo Space Mission might have been derailed had it not been for Margaret Hamilton's contribution and the foresight to keep playing the code in her mind… playing out the landing and spotting an error that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.  Every student needs to hear this story— male or female!  Not only does the storyline have the power to draw in young women, but it also drives home the point of “No… you’re not done— yet”!.  Yes, some innovation evolves from solving a problem that arouses suddenly— but equally important is for us to keep looking forward and to implement systems thinking in our approaches. 

2)  The other theme that emerged for me from listening to the stories with my teacher hat on was the power of the technology  to be the storyline for Next Generation Science Standards implementation.   I recently did a workshop that helped teachers understand the potential of using technology to support Next Generation Science Standards around these 4 approaches:

  • How can technology help drive the conversation to support 3D Learning? 
  • How can technology support making connections with Cross Cutting Concepts?
  • How can technology support the Science Practices?
  • Why use technology as a storyline in 3D Learning? 


At the time,  my workshop offered just a few examples of each of these  —but during our second tour I suddenly saw the  Computer History Museum as filled with opportunity to create story lines to support NGSS standards and for teachers to use the museum resources.  Unfortunately  I don’t think that most teachers are aware of the stories they might use and how they might connect to the NGSS,  so it might take further collaboration  between the museum and a few science teachers who are also intrigued with computer history to create some topics aligned to the stories and specific exhibits. … but that’s a conversation for another time.


After the museum tour/conversation, came the moment some of us were both excited and anxious about — PROJECT TIME!  



Our host had done a brilliant job grouping our previous day’s brainstorming session ideas into some possible project themes and assigning themes  and mentors to each room.  Then they did something remarkable… they provided a few instructions and  LET GO --trusting that we would self-organize into project teams that worked for us.  It felt so organic and the results were magnificent — leaving us with a powerful pedagogical message — Create a purposeful instructional design and trust it to play out! 

I imagine this played out differently for each of us.. but here is how it played out for me. 

I had come to Pi Academy with several questions, one of which was — how could I use the Pi to support my advocacy for getting more girls involved with tech. I knew  from my Girls Make IT days and TechSavvy Girls camps that wearables provided entry points for some girls to learn to code. And even though I really don’t LIKE to wear hats  — I discovered that hats could be used to provide  micro-messages about girls and tech or to start conversations about the topic.  I’ll leave the conversation about micro-messages for another day, but I was definitely asking myself if the Raspberry Pi could play a role in my equity work.    At one point on Day 1, Alex and I discovered that we both had interest in wearables and had started sharing our projects and  discussing ways we could  explore our mutual interest on project day.


When we were released for project time,  I somehow stumbled across Julie, Amy, and Dan who were discussing wearables;  I let them know that Alex and I were also interested in wearables and we quickly became a group of 5.  


We found ourselves starting to follow the principles of design thinking… First with a general sharing of interest and ideas.  Julie and Amy had become intrigued with the concept of a friendship bracelet.  I had latched on with one of the sticky notes on wearables suggesting their use with autistic children.   Being the grandma of an  autistic toddler  who came up missing from daycare because of the predisposition of autistic children to quietly wander away to explore, I could see the bracelet having multiple purposes.


We then went into brainstorming modes for many different uses and features of a wearable bracelet.

 Eventually we took stock of the ways the raspberry pi tools that we had access to might be used to create some of the features we had brainstormed. 







We grouped like features together and went into an ideation phase.










We narrowed down our ideas, took inventory of our skills and resources,  and moved forward ready to prototype our  sensor bracelet.   While in the early phases of our prototype, we decided  to create a proof of concept on a badge instead of a bracelet (so that we could use the tools available to us - the raspberry pi and the sensor hat).




One of the resources that influenced the project design was the skill level of  one of our members (David)  with creating web servers in Linux.  As much as I would have loved to learn how to install Apache and PHP on a Raspberry Pi, I realized that 4 of us watching David was not going to be very efficient, nor would it meet my need to contribute ‘something’  to this project.  So I suggested that some of us might want to  figure out how to get the Sense Hat to display text and how to read data sent from the joystick to send message responses.




Alex and I broke away to work on this part together, while Juli, Amy, and David worked on the the webserver and sending data via a form.










As our allotted project time came near the end,  we quickly pieced together what we had into a  proof of concept prototype, whipped up a physical artifact, and diagrammed the flow of communication. I love watching the part of a project where everyone grabs a part to get the whole team over the finish line.


Presenting the Silent Student Messenger Necklace



Physical prototype of a student messenger necklace


 diagram of our project communication workflow





After breaking out of our state of flow,  we now had a chance to see the  amazing result of unleashing 40 educators to create, make, and code using a #RaspberryPI.  








The ideas and projects varied from weather stations to Pi-ddington bear who could tweet your picture to theme based photo booths and more.  Here are just a few.
















Before you knew it.. .it was time to embark on our next voyage... the journey home!



The #picademy team sent us off with new stripes-- our Raspberry Pi Certified Educator badge!









THANK YOU to our host for this marvelous two days -- The Computer History Museum and the Raspberry Pi Foundation.  You are sending us home with new skills,  new friends, and  new visions of what learning can/should be like!



I totally encourage anyone to  apply for the next Raspberry Picademy USA -
Applications are open now! 












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