Gadgeteer Robotics for 8th Graders

Last night I met with the administrators and teachers for a local middle school who want to use NETMF and Gadgeteer to create an after school club in preparation for introducing NETMF and Gadgeteer into the curriculum for next year.

So now, I just have to figure out the best to teach a bunch 13 - 14 year olds. However, after spending a few years on the forum working with @ Devhammer, @ Brett, @ Dave McLaughlin, @ Gus, @ Architect, @ Mike, @ ianlee74, just to name a few, I think I am well prepared to work with that age group! :smiley:


Oh, we are a bunch of 13-14 year olds? :smiley:

@ Mike - Technically, you said that, not me. :whistle:

Engineers never grow up. Just look at some blinking leds and you will see what I am talking about.

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@ Gary - I see…guess this is part of they payback for all the teasing on your image posting “skills”. :wink:

Sounds like you’ll have lots of fun. Keep us posted. And I’m sure Ian has lots of curriculum ideas he’d be glad to share.

Hey! I resemble that remark! ::slight_smile:

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@ Gary - That is a great opportunity and the area where Gadgeteer can really thrive. Let us know if you need any help.

This is fantastic! All of the workshops I’ve done have been limited to 1-2 hrs in length. This sounds like a good opportunity for us to build a longer curriculum around Gadgeteer. I’d definitely be interested in helping out. This is something we’ve talked about on the phone.

One thing that Parallax does very well and something that has been missing from Gadgeteer, is an organized educational program. I was recruited this year to tutor a college student in his microcontroller class. It was based on BASIC Stamp! I couldn’t figure out why a university would be using it until I figured out that there are freely available educational materials and a curriculum that Parallax has built that is quite nice. Check out their “What is a Microcontroller” book. This is what the college is using.

As a Scout leader, I also appreciate the fact that they have built a curriculum for teaching the Robotics merit badge.

@ Architect - Once they saw it in action and how easy it was to switch out modules, they were all for it being part of the curriculum. Of course, now we have to talk to the school board and free up some funds, hopefully there will be a nerd or two on the board who will just get it.

@ ianlee74 - I will let everyone know how the club goes, after that comes the hard work with setting up the curriculum, get the school board’s approval and required funds in the budget, I got a feeling it will be busy summer for me. But once it is in this school and proven for a year, it should be pretty easy to implement into other school programs.

@ Gary - I wish you luck!

Probably the hardest hurdle I keep running into when trying to get a classroom in an environment like this is the computers. Some don’t run Windows and those that do have rules where only one guy in the county is allowed to install/update software on it and they only have a budget for him to do that once a year… This is why I’d really love to see an mBed type online IDE for Gadgeteer. Maybe once the new compiler-as-a-service stuff for Visual Studio is released this will become reality soon after.

Regarding expenses… I think you’ll not find it very hard to get a majority of the families to purchase their own kits. However, I think this would be a good opportunity for GHI to invest in marketing by sponsoring the course as a way to help develop a curriculum for future opportunities. Of course, if they’re having to pay you then they’re going to have to get a 2nd mortgage… :smiley:

That’s actually the best part, they showed me a mobile cabinet with 30 brand new laptops courtesy of a STEM grant.

This corner office over looking the golf course doesn’t come cheap! :whistle:

I am excited about the challenge, in my career I have had to make presentations and such but never anything based around a set curriculum let alone creating the curriculum.

Wasn’t there some Gadgeteer educational activity in the UK that was thrown around the forums last year (or maybe farther back)? I think MS Research sponsored it. They might be willing to share any curriculum resources generated from that.

Also, there are open source curriculum websites for teachers that have a vast amount of topics already covered. I’m sure you could find something similar and tweak it.

@ ransomhall - Yeah they created a book for using VB based on the FEZ Cerberus Tinker Kit. I have a copy of the original book and a PDF of the final version. The only issue I think we are going to have is that the final modules will be different than the book but it does give us a good start, I reread it last night.

@ Gary - Please don’t do a disservice to the kiddos and make them learn VB.NET :wink:

(Flame war starting in 3…2…1…)

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@ ianlee74 - lol…I already told the administrators that we would be using C#.

As much as I’d like to argue, and while I still hold affection for VB as the place where I got started, the truth is that C# makes more sense to teach in most cases.

VB might make sense if you had students who were already familiar with BASIC, and didn’t have any experience with C-like languages, but given the prevalence of C# over VB, and the fact that JavaScript (as another C-like syntax language) is as ubiquitous as it is, I’d probably go with C#, too.

VB had it’s day, and I wouldn’t criticize anyone who wants to keep using it. But for me the time to let it go came and went a while back.

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@ Gary - what school system? If it isn’t Royal Oak, I suggest calling them… at least 20 years ago the robotics clubs started at the elementary level with 8 year olds using LEGO mindstorm (the 8 year olds had robots following lines and such). Funding was always a big issue.

@ Jeff - Dearborn Heights, I picked the middle school my son goes to because I already know some of the staff. I reached out to 3 of the middle schools in Madison Heights and haven’t heard back. Depending on how busy DH keeps me, I will reach out to Royal Oak.

@ devhammer - You put more thought into than I did, I just didn’t want to have to get my fat a@ @ up to go get the VB book of the bookshelf. :open_mouth: