Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Transforming young minds!

There was a lot of wonder and excitement as Room 1 students entered ‘The Mind Lab’. Straight away they noticed all the tech equipment and digital devices and were immediately in awe of the place. There were three workshops each classroom attended and they were robotics programing, computer coding and animation.

Robotics programming with Carl (Oldie)
Whizz! The robotic cars zoomed through legs and around feet as the Room 1 children controlled them with the remote. The objective of the learning with Oldie was to create a program that would allow the robotic car to function and move from left to right and back and forward. This task proved challenging for some but all the children got there in the end. It took a lot of patience, trial and error especially when programming the car to turn right and left. In order for the car to turn right, the right motor had to be switched off to let the left motor do the work, and for the car to turn left they had to shut down the left motor and let the right motor power the turn. Once the programming had been worked out, the children then uploaded it to the robotic car’s memory allowing it to move. Room 1 worked collaboratively in pairs and had a blast with the robotic cars.

Computer Coding with Andy
The children were creating their own 2D Games using an online software program called ‘Scratch’. They accessed ‘Scratch’ via Google Chrome and were able to choose their own characters for their game, use blocks to create codes that would allow their characters to move left, right, up, down and many other ways you can think of. The children could also add in their own backgrounds, draw in mazes, traps, bridges and other fun and wacky ideas they had for their game.  I know the children will definitely look more into the 'Scratch programme at home.

Animation with Tim
Animation, what is it you say? Animation starts with still images/pictures and puts them together to form the illusion of continuous motion. A cartoon is an example of animation (Note the difference with a video. A video takes continuous motion and breaks it up into discrete frames).
Room 1 were ecstatic with animation, creating a story using equipment like wrestling toys, animals, cars, and playdough, and capturing the movements with a webcam. Working in four groups they started at an animation station (each station had a different theme) then rotated around to the next, adding onto the previous recorded animation from the group before. They had 10 minutes to discuss as a group what their story line was and went for it. What I enjoyed seeing was not only the final video but also the children working together, each sharing their ideas and doing their part to help create funny and interesting videos.
Room 1 tamariki learnt that in order for the video to play out smoothly, movement of the characters/equipment in their stories had to be very minimal in each shot, otherwise it looked like the character/equipment was teleporting everywhere in the video. They also learnt that it takes 24 photos (still images) to make one second of footage, which was an eye opener for some. Just imagine how many still shots are needed for a two-hour cartoon! It took a lot of practice and focus on moving the characters a tiny fraction at a time and capturing the moment. The children created some wonderful short videos and had a lot of fun with animation!

Our trip to ‘The Mind Lab’ was an experience the children will never forget and it also got them excited for our inquiry learning this term, ‘How does the big wide world work?’ A huge thank you to all staff at ‘The Mind Lab’ who stimulated the young minds of our tamariki with all the fun activities that were prepared. Also thank you to our parent helpers that joined us on our educational trip and learnt alongside our tamariki. What an amazing way to spend the first day of Term 2!!