2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 Teacher Primary Schools Science Project
Project in partnership with the Institute of Education, DCU, Drumcondra and The Irish American Partnership (IAP)
In October 2016, a number of Primary schools came together in the Centre for a short information evening on the proposed Project for 2016-17. This was the first meeting of the school year for teachers involved in the Project. Teachers discussed the Project thus far, reflecting on the previous year and shared ideas with each other regarding certain curriculum areas. Following on from an electricity workshop teachers had attended the previous year, teachers looked at designing and making simple electric robots - Drawbots. This proved to be a hugely popular STEAM project with participating teachers. The teachers left with a robot kit to take back and implement in the classroom. Project facilitator, Michelle Maher, provided support for building robots in the classroom, both through school visits and email support to schools. The class teacher and Michelle discussed some learning outcomes arising from this activity; critical thinking and problem solving skills were particularly challenged.
The second workshop of the year took place in November 2016. Michelle continued with the STEAM theme with a focus on electrical circuits. On this occasion, the participating teachers looked at designing and making light up Christmas cards with LEDs and a paper circuit using copper tape. The schools left with a kit to implement this in the classroom.
The third workshop took place in March 2017 focusing on electromagnetism. Simple electromagnets were built by passing a current through copper coil. Some everyday applications of electromagnets were explored, from speakers to wind turbines. This workshop also explored building simple homopolar magnets. Again, Michelle provided support to participating schools through school visits and email support.
The final workshop reviewed the year's work, discussed the difficulties encountered and how to overcome them in the future. Energy and forces and how to implement in the Junior classes was explored.
The first workshop of the year examined living things; more specifically life under the microscope. Teachers were supplied with a digital USB microscope for use in the classroom. The image appears on the Interactive Whiteboard, also with a picture capture function so that images can be saved for later use. Teachers looked at a variety of different leaves and fibres. It was particularly interesting to see the difference between living and non-living things under the microscope.
Students in Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Classes in Ballyragget N.S. using the digital USB microsope.
The second and third workshops of the year focused on coding with Crumble. The second workshop in February 2018 involved becoming familiar with Crumble and downloading software to get started. Participating teachers looked at some introductory code including coloured sparkles and colour-coded lighthouses. Crumble is an easy to use electronics controller. A few 'croc' leads and a USB cable are all that are needed to connect motors, LEDs and sensors and begin experimenting. No programming experience is required as the free software is a graphical, drag-and-drop system inspired by MIT Scratch. It plugs into a PC/laptop via USB and, once programmed, the USB no longer needs to be connected. Motors, buzzers and sparkles are powered by a battery pack connected to the board.
Students in Lisnafunchin N.S. using Crumble technology.
Lighthouses constructed by students in Johnswell N.S. using Crumble technology.
In the third workshop of the year, in March 2018, participating teachers continued with the recently introduced Coding project by looking at the Crumble BoxBot. The Crumble BoxBot is essentially a buggy or robot that has utilised motor functions and is easily coded using Crumble software. It is easy to construct without too much prior experience in either coding or robotics. It provides a ready-built platform to experiment safely and easily with analog and digital inputs and outputs. It moves, shines lights and reacts to its environment - but only if the coding tells it to!
The Crumble BoxBot can also be easily constructed using Lego as the building blocks or scaffolding. Here is an example of mixing Lego bricks and Crumble to build a coded Easter Egg decorating machine. The possibility of STEAM projects with the Crumble board are countless, sparking creativity and encouraging critical thinking and problem solving.