On September 22, 2006 I began my work at Culloden Elementary School. I had the students there working with the black Cities and Transportation Sets. After discussing times with teachers and the principal there we all came to a conclusion that on Fridays I could go in and work with one fourth grade class and one fifth grade class in the early afternoon. Rather than work with the entire class at one time, we opted to have the teachers, starting with the fourth graders, send over about four children at a time into an unused room so the kids get the benefit of having someone there to help and guide them constantly rather than getting the attention they need for five minutes out of forty.
I discovered once I arrived that none of the RCX bricks had batteries. The custodians were generous enough to go and find the batteries the RCX bricks needed. Unfortunately the only batteries they had were old and did not have enough power left in them power the brick. Despite this downfall I went ahead as planned. I told the kids that we didn't have the batteries for that day and, of course, they were disappointed. I told them that even though we didn't have batteries, they were still going to get to put together some of the projects.
I began by working with the fourth graders as this fits the schedule of the two teachers best. I got four fourth grade students and sat them down and explained the proper etiquette for dealing with the LEGO sets and they were all very excited. For some of them this was their first time working with LEGO blocks of any kind and for a couple they had even worked with the RCX bot before. I had brought four sets with me so there would be enough for all the students to work on something but surprisingly the kids paired up and began working together. Watching the kids instantly decide they wanted to pair up rather than work together was fantastic. Another snag we ran into was that we didn't have enough time for the kids to complete their projects. I told them next time I would have the bricks complete with batteries as well as something for them to program so they don't get left out.
When the fifth grade class came over the teacher had picked six of her students to participate that day. I quickly realized that six is too many for one person to handle at a time with a project such as this. The kids did not get out of control but I felt as though I was not able to help them all as best I could with a smaller group. All of the fifth graders, save a few, had some experience working with either regular LEGO sets or the LEGO robotics sets in the past. They were all quite excited to be out of class and working with LEGO sets and definitely can not wait to get to program the sets next time.
For a first trip to a school, my trip to Culloden was a bit disorganized,
but I feel that things will greatly improve in the planned eight weeks
I will be working with the kids. I plan for all the students to get
at least one turn in building and programming a robot and I expect that
they will thoroughly enjoy the entire process as well as learn a good deal
about problem solving and programming in the process.
