Wednesday, November 1, 2023

STEM Lab 23_24 Round 2

I have been so busy being amazed by the incredible work the students are doing this round, I just realized that I had yet to write the blog post about it!

Kindergarten & First Grade

This round is one of my personal favorites, Math Stories. In this unit, each day starts with a picture book that centers on some kind of math concept. Some of the books tell stories, while others are more like counting books or math puzzles. Each grade level's books feature a variety of math topics including number sense, geometry, measurement, multiplication, and general problem solving. After the day's reading, students complete a hands-on activity related to the math concept covered in the book. Sometimes the activity is a bit like an art project, other times it is practice employing a particular tools or strategy. What I love about this unit is the chance to pair two subjects (math and literature) that students too often think of as related. 

Second Grade

This past summer I was fortunate to be able to travel with Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic as a Grosvenor Teacher Fellow to the high arctic archipelago of Svalbard. (You can read more about the particulars of that experience here and here.) This is the first project inspired and informed by my fellowship experience. I have done other iterations of this project before, but this time it was fully centered on the arctic. We started with a photo highlights tour of my time in the arctic. Then students chose one of the arctic animals from a list and researched it using the National Geographic Kids website. Part of the note taking process included drawing the animal and its habitat. Those drawings served as practice for the elements that were included in a Scratch Jr project about the selected animal. Students drew their animal's habitat and several versions of the animal. These drawings were photographed into a Scratch Jr project and coded to share information that students gathered from their research. This is one of the first projects students in the STEM lab complete that combines physical and digital elements and the results were amazing.

Third Grade

A perennial favorite in the lab is cardboard arcade, and this round saw 3rd grade get their chance with this project. Many of the current 3rd graders remember getting to visit the lab in 1st or 2nd grade to play cardboard arcade games and there were cheers from several students in each class when I announced the project for the week. We start by watching the short film Caine's Arcade for inspiration and discussion. Then students begin brainstorming and planning their games in their STEM lab journals. The middle of the week is spent building, testing, and making necessary adjustments to the design. At the end of the week finished products are presented to a visiting group of students from 1st grade along with administrators. These presentations are an important part of the design process in the lab. Sharing their work with an authentic audience gives the students a chance to practice talking about what they have created and what they have learned from the building process. The presentations also serve to inspire the younger students when they see the kinds of projects they will get to do as they progress through the STEM lab curriculum.

Fourth Grade

For the 4th graders, this round was the first half of a 2 part project. The end result will be an interactive biography programmed in Scratch and controlled with a physical display. Part 1 involves researching the life and important contributions of a well known artist or scientist. They had their choice of 11 different people as well as the choice of whether to work alone or with a partner. Once they had completed their research, students moved on to the Scratch project. The programs are run with key press events which will allow them to be controlled in part 2 with the Makey Makey and the physical display. Students had to find 3 relevant images and at least one map to include with their program. We had some great discussions about using images to illustrate the information being shared in the program. In round 2 the students will share their completed projects with a visiting class and administrators. 

The Scratch biographies can be found in this studio. (Some are still works in progress.)

Fifth Grade

Like 4th grade, the 5th graders started work on a two part project. This one is called Tiny Museum. The students conduct research on a chosen topic and use Scratch to create a virtual museum room with artifacts and images that share what they have learned. The project includes a narrator that serves as a digital tour guide to the exhibit they have put together. The topic choices I gave them were inspired by my aforementioned National Geographic fellowship. I wanted them to focus not just on the basic information about the topic, but also the impacts human activities are having on the arctic ecosystem. The second part of their project will have them building a physical model of their museum room and wiring a switch to the door that triggers the tour guide to start start speaking upon the door opening. 

Here is the studio of virtual museum rooms. (The projects at the top of the studio are very much works in progress because our 5th graders went to camp the last week of the round, so they only had 2 days to work on their programs.)

Saturday, September 23, 2023

STEM Lab 23_24 Round 1

The new year is off to a terrific start in the Sinclair STEM Lab! It has been wonderful to reconnect with all the returning students and to get to know those who are new to Sinclair. The first round each year is largely focused on computer programming. This is to refresh the memories of the returning students and to introduce coding to students who have not previously had the opportunity. I teach programming in order to give the students another tool that they can use to express their ideas and share their learning. 

Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades

The primary grades begin the year in courses. They learn to use Blockly, a programming language in which the commands are represented as blocks that the students arrange to create programs. The programs they write are to solve a variety of puzzles, many of them like mazes, by giving directions to an on screen character. Throughout the course the students are introduced to several programming concepts including loops, events, and algorithmic thinking. The puzzles increase in complexity as the students progress through the lessons. Some of the lessons let students practice coding skills without a computer and we call these "unplugged" activities. I have been using courses since the founding of the STEM lab 9 years ago and have found the structured programming tasks give students an excellent foundation for the creative, open ended projects they will create in Scratch and Scratch Jr.

On Fridays the classes participated in a building challenge meant to give them a chance to stretch their creativity. First we read the book What Do You Do With an Idea which I really like for its focus on creative confidence and wonderful illustrations. The challenge this round was, "Build something that helps people", and the material to be used was Legos. I encouraged the students to think as creatively as they wanted about what it meant to help people and then gave them about 20 minutes to work. As always, I was deeply impressed by the solutions they built.

3rd, 4th, and 5th grades

The upper grade classes returned to the Scratch programming language this round. For 3rd grade, this was also their introduction to the online Scratch platform where they are able to share projects, turn them in to the class studios, and give and receive feedback from me and their peers. Each grade created projects focused on a different programming concept. Third grade worked on parallelism, multiple outputs occurring at the same time. Fourth grade learned to use the broadcast commands to control their programs, while 5th grade created projects with lists that store multiple pieces of information for use in the program. Each group started by exploring projects related to the theme in an inspiration studio to gain an understanding of how the programming concept works and to spark ideas for their own projects. We discussed the importance of commenting one's code and reviewed good digital citizenship practices. The fantastic final projects can be found in the grade level studios linked below.

3rd Parallelism

4th Broadcasts

5th Lists

The implementation of my National Geographic Fellowship to the Arctic is a work in progress, but you can read my post journey reflections here.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

STEM Lab Round 6

This was the last full round of the year in the lab as there are only a few weeks of school left. Some classes returned to their courses and others created their first true Scratch projects. We also got our hands on the Makey Makeys again and also rolled out the Raspberry Pi computers for some physical computing.

Kindergarten & 1st Grade

When it comes to teaching computer programming, I try to strike a good balance between giving the students set tasks to complete and giving them the creative freedom to explore the possibilities of what they are able to create with code. is a great tool for giving students practice with specific coding concepts like using loops or particular events. This kind of practice prepares them for the upper grades when they will work on projects with more open ended prompts.  

2nd Grade

In round 5 the second graders were introduced to the full version of the Scratch programming language. They completed several short, guided projects designed to familiarize them with the most useful commands and concepts. Round 6 had the students create their first multiday project with Scratch. The task was to plan and create an "about me" project. They planned their project on paper first determining what facts they would share about themselves. In Scratch the students spelled their names with sprites and then gave each letter a new costume that represented one of their personal facts. Clicking a letter causes it to change costumes and say something about the student before changing back into the letter. I was quite impressed with the projects the students created. Even though they all work the same way, each one reflects the personality and interests of the student that created it.

3rd Grade

Third grade spent round 6 learning to build a new kind of switch for the Makey Makey. Previously they created interactive posters that required the user to place one finger on a metal fastener serving as a  "ground" point and then touch the other metal fasteners connected to the key presses on the Makey Makey. We mostly referred to this week's creation as a keyboard. It had one long strip of copper tape acting as the ground for the cardboard keys. The underside of each key had copper tape that ran to the edge of the board where the Makey Makey's clips were attached. Pressing the key down brings the copper tape in contact with the ground wire, completing the circuit and triggering the key press. Students tested their boards with pre-made apps on the Makey Makey site as well as on Scratch projects they created.

4th and 5th Grades

Our 4th and fifth graders both worked on physical computing using the Raspberry Pi single board computer. The Pi functions like pretty much any other computer. It is about the size of a credit card and uses a micro SD card as its memory. The best thing about the Raspberry Pi is that is is designed for digital making projects. It has 40 general purpose input output (GPIO) pins that can be used of power and program physical components like LEDs, buttons, and motors. The Pi is a logical next step in physical computing after working with the micro:bit as the students did earlier in the year. 

Fourth grade started the unit by learning to build circuits on a breadboard using AA batteries to power the LEDs. Next the students moved to the Raspberry Pi and built circuits connected to the GPIO pins and programmed various blinky light effects using Scratch. They learned to use a tactile button to trigger actions with both the LEDs on the breadboard and on the computer screen. I was super proud of how well they did building their different circuits and then programming a variety of sequences. Several even discovered more efficient wirings so they had space on the breadboard for more LEDs, and more LEDs is always better!

The fifth grade classes learned to use the Python language to build graphical user interfaces (GUIs) in this unit. Those who were at Sinclair last year got a taste of Python in 4th grade, so most of the students had that familiarity with a text-based programming language. First they created a simple GUI that included a text box, a button, and a slider, each programmed to execute a certain function. As always, they were encouraged to tinker with the code to personalize their GUI. The week's final task was to create a GUI that could be used to control the behavior of bread boarded circuits (which they had worked with last year). Once again, their tinkering and customizations produced some wonderful results. 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

STEM Lab Round 5

It has been another fantastic round in the lab. From origami and two-frame animations to moving masterpieces programmed with Micro:bit, the students have created some truly wonderful things.

Kindergarten & 1st Grade 

This round I introduced the Kindergarten students to the craft of origami. It is such a wonderful way to practice fine motor coordination. Even though they all fold the same model, the creative ways they decorate their work makes each piece unique. Most of the first grade students had the introductory origami unit last year, so for this year they learned to fold models of increased complexity. It was a fairly big step up, and there was some frustration, but every student was eventually successful. It is not an origami thing, but most classes also got to try their hand at 2 frame animations. This is something along the lines of a flip book, but with just two images switched rapidly back and forth. See below for some hightlights.

2nd Grade

A few years ago I started introducing the second graders to the full version of Scratch at the end of the year. The hope was that they would be able to begin 3rd grade ready to use Scratch to make real projects rather than learning the particulars of the new platform. The jump in complexity from Scratch Jr to Scratch is quite large. Not only are there hundreds more command blocks and a far greater range of project possibilities, but there is also the distraction of learning to navigate the online version of Scratch where students turn in their work, share projects, and try projects made by others. In second grade we use the offline version of Scratch and students complete a set of tutorials that I have chosen first because they teach particular programming skills, and second because they allow for a great deal of student creativity within the guided practice. My favorite part of this unit is listening to the excitement as students make a discovery and call out to their frineds, "Look what I made!". Someone then asks, "How did you do that?", and before long they are all sharing their learning with each other. 

3rd Grade

As students move up through the grade levels in the STEM Lab, the projects increasingly rely on both digital as well as physical elements. The 3rd graders got their first taste of that with the interactive science posters they created in round 4 using the Makey Makey. Another tool we use rather often in the lab is the BBC Micro:bit. This microcontroller differs from the Makey Makey in that it is programable and has a number of input and output possibilities built in. In addition to a couple of buttons, it also contains an accelerometer (tilt sensor), light and sound sensors, a thermometer, and capacitive touch capabilities. For outputs, it has a 5 x 5 LED "screen" and a small speaker. It also has i/o pins that can be used to control external components (see below in the 5th grade section). We spent the first few days of the week creating animations and sound effects programs using the buttons and the tilt sensor. The culminating project had students use construction paper and craft materials to build a model animal, a "micro:pet" if you will. Then they wrote a program for the Micro:bit and attached the device to their model animal to make it interactive and animated.

4th Grade

Last round, 4th grade researched one of the Texas state parks and began work on a Scratch project to act as a digital tour guide for that park. This time the students completed their Scratch projects and created a poster-sized park make to accompany their program. Some groups took the added step of making the map interactive using the Makey Makey, though not every group had time for that due to a number of short weeks during round 4 that cut into the amount of work they were able to complete. I was really impressed with the variety in the finished projects. The completed Scratch projects can be see in this studio and a few highlights in the video below.

5th Grade

This round had 5th graders creating moving masterpieces with programmed LEDs and servo motors. This project was the resurrection of one I did years ago. Back then we used the Raspberry Pi computers and had 2 week magnet rotation blocks. The shift to one week blocks forced me to reimagine how to do this with a single week. In the end it was the Micro:bit to the rescue. The first day of the week we went over how to build the circuits connecting the Micro:bit to the motor and the LEDs. Students programmed these components to blink and move in various ways. Next they created a picture and mounted it to a file folder. I cut the openings for the lights and motor and the students did the wiring and programming. I was so impressed by the creative ways they made their pictures come to life!

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

STEM Lab Round 4

Round 4 in the STEM lab has been truly wonderful! The students have done some amazing work and leanred so much. From programming robots to interactive posters to hacked works of art, I could hardly be more proud. Read on for a look at what we have been up to in the lab.

Kindergarten & 1st grade

Robo-Mouse returns! This is always a fun unit to teach in large part because of the excitement of the students. At this point in the year they have had a great deal of experience watching their programs run on a screen. The year started with coursework and was followed later with Scratch Jr. However, there is a special thrill to seeing one's code run in the physical world as the Robo-mouse moves through the mazes students constructed. 

In Kindergarten we start with a general introduction to handling the robot to keep it safe, and then we do a couple short programming exercises together so we can discuss the differences between this and our screen-based programming tools. Then students work in groups to create a maze for their robot and take turns coding it to the cheese. After this initial exploration time, students are given task cards with mazes to build and then program the mouse to navigate. The task cards describe long mazes requiring more complex programs to complete.

Most of the 1st graders remember using Robo-mouse last year, so we begin with a brief review and some exploration time in order for them to get reacquainted with the device. The rest of the week they work on a series of increasingly challenging task cards. They build the maze and, before getting their hands on a robot, they use the algorithm cards to plan their programs. This gives them the chance to develop their algorithmic thinking and to practice debugging as they identify the place in the program where things went wrong. Each day after they complete the task cards, students are allowed to design their own mazes and they delight in challenging themselves with the most difficult ones they can imagine. 

2nd grade

I have wanted to do a math stories unti with second grade for a while, but was not able to get a hold of the books I wanted to use. Thanks to the support of our awesome PTO, I was finally able to gather the desired books to bring math stories to second grade. Most of the books have a focus on building number sense and on operations like addition and multiplication, but we also touch on geometry. After reading and discussing each day's story, students work together on an activity related to the math found in the book. The activities are generally in the form of a number puzzle or problem solving activity. Students have to share their reasoning both with me and their classmates. I was so impressed by the rich discussions I heard students having with each other as I walked around the room. Our geomtry book, Perfect Square, lent itself to a more artistic project. Students decorated and dismantled a plain white square of paper to create a picture inspired by the story. The primary goal of the unit's activities is showing students that there are a variety of strategies, all equally valid that can result in solutions. 

3rd grade

In round 3 our third graders selected a science topic to research and then created Scratch project to share what they had learned. Round 4 started with an introduction to the Makey Makey I/O board. The name is an amalgam of "make" and "key" and stands for "make a key". It allows us to  use any conductive material to build switches and keys that can communicate with and control our programs. Students practiced setting up the Makey Makey and explored its capabilities with a set of plug and play apps including a piano, audio sampler, and etch-a-sketch drawing program.

Next, students created a poster that complemented their Scratch project. They added metal fasteners and copper foil tape to create touch points for the user to control the program. These were connected to the computer via Makey Makey, here acting as a USB keyboard. The Scratch programs they created use the space and arrow keys as events to run different parts of the code. The Makey Makey is precoded to those keys. Touching the "earth" point and one of the others at the same time closes a circuit that the board reads as a press of that key. The corresponding part ot the Scratch program runs as each point is touched. We wrapped up each week by sharing our work with a visiting first or second grade class. Everyone did a great job presenting! All of the Scratch projects are in this studio.

4th grade

This round was the beginning of a two part project centered on the state parks of Texas. The theme of the fourth grade curriculum is the history and geography of Texas, so this project is a natural tie in. Students explored different sites on the Texas Parks and Wildlife site. They were allowed to select any park that caught their interest to be the subject of their research. I gave them a series of guiding questions to help their notetaking that included identifyinig the region of Texas the their chosen park is in, the history of the park, and the plants and animals that can be found there. After gathering information, the students planned and began programming a digital tour guide for the park using Scratch. The most of the projects are in this studio, but many are works in progress because of the week's other activity. 

The fourth graders also participated in a Skype-a-Scientist meeting during this unit. Skype-a-Scientist has been part of many STEM lab units over the years. They partner classroom teachers with scientists working in a variety of fields. Students have tthe chance to have a conversation about a scientific topic with an expert and to learn about what it is like to work as a scientist. I requested ecologists for this particular round of meetings because one of the things I want to students to investigate about their park is the ecosystem it is a part of. Skype-a-Scientist took 2 days of the unit, one to learn background on ecology and our scientist's particular focus, and one day for the meeting. Each meeting is a bit different, but they are always interesting.

5th grade

This round's fifth grade project is one I have done in a few different iterations in recent years, and I look forward to it. I alternately refer to it as "Interactive Art" or "Hacked Art". Students select a painting from a famous artist from a collection I have put in a Google folder. Students are allowed to suggest a painting that is not one of the ones provided, but I do insist on approving it. The painting gets loaded into Scratch as a background first, and then as a sprite. Using the image tools, students erase all of the painting added as a sprite except for an element that they want to be interactive. They place this element against the background where it blends in. This sprite is coded to react to being clicked. This process is repeated several time until most of the painting has been made interactive. I always love seeing the creative outputs the students imagine into the paintings. Below are two standout projects (it was really hard to choose just 2). Click the green flag and then click the elements of the painting. Sound on to get the full effect. The complete hacked art studio is here. (Until 2/17/2023 the projects at the top of the studio are works in progress.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

STEM Lab Round 3

It has been another great rotation in the STEM Lab! We have done a lot of programming, some building, and also gotten into some physical computing. Read a bit about what each grade level has been up to the last few weeks.

Kindergarten & 1st Grade

You may recall that Kindergarten and first grade started the year working on computer science and programming courses in These puzzle based lessons are great for teaching concepts and helping students practice skills, but there is not much scope for student creativity. That is where Scratch Jr comes in. 

Scratch Jr is new to most of the Kindergarten students so we start with a refresher on what it looks like to write a program in (which they used at the start of the year) and compare that to the Scratch Jr environment. Each day I show them what they will be programming and talk about the command blocks they will be using. Then the students go to their seats and we code together. They are allowed to choose their own characters and backgrounds, but they copy my code at this point. When we finish coding together the students have what we call "creative time" when they are allowed to change their program and project by adding or deleting characters, choosing new backgrounds, and writing new code. 

The first graders who attended Sinclair last year are familiar with Scratch Jr, though there are always a few new faces, so we start with just a brief review the programming environment. The daily lesson outline is fairly similar however. I talk them through the day's program as I show how it is built. That is followed by the code-a-long and then creative time. In first grade I teach the students how to change scenes and use the message events to coordinate the actions of the characters so that they do not all run their code at the same time.

Throughout this round I was quite impressed with the creative projects the students in both Kindergarten and 1st grade created. They did a wonderful job of creating personally meaningful scenes and stories while quickly grasping the programming concepts necessary.

2nd Grade

The work Kindergarten and 1st grade did in Scratch Jr lays the groundwork for the digital diorama project 2nd grade completed in round 3. On their previous rotation through the STEM Lab, 2nd grade conducted research into an animal and took notes about it in their journals. The next step had them use those notes and the Nat Geo Kids website to guide them as they drew pictures of their animals and their animals' habitats. We talked about the elements of scientific drawings (big, colorful, and accurate) as well as being comfortable with one's best effort (it doesn't have to look like a photograph). These elements were photographed into a Scratch Jr project, the habitat as a background and the animals as characters, to create the dioirama. Students then programmed their characters to move around and to talk sharing facts about the chosen animal. 

I do some variation of this project most years. It serves as the first STEM lab project students complete that involves research along with both digital and physical elements. Most of the projects students work on in 3rd through 5th grades are patterned on those pieces, so I like to get the 2nd graders ready with projects like this one.

3rd Grade

This round 3rd grade embarked on the first of a 2 part project. Part one has the students creating a Scratch project that teaches the user about a topic. The project must use key presses to activate the various parts of the program because in part 2 they will design and build an intereactive poster that will connect to the Scratch project using the Makey Makey. I presented them with a list of topics from the 3rd grade science curriculum. Students chose either to work alone or with a partner and then used resources like Brain Pop and Britannica to research the topic selected from the list. Once their notes were complete I showed the students how to plan their projects. The basic formula is key press plus picture plus facts. That is, each key press should display a picture related to the topic and share facts relevant to the image. I had the students begin working on their projects before teaching them how to find and add pictures.

The studio of projects can be found here. (Disruptions caused by baseball, boil water notices, and fundraiser rewards mean that some of the projects are more of a work in progress than others.)

4th Grade

The Micro:bit has been an important piece of technology in the STEM Lab for some time. Fourth grade returned to this small but mighty microcontroller for round 3. Last year when they were introduced to the Micro:bit, students worked on making use of the basic inputs and outputs of the device and on becoming comfortable with the block-based programming environment MakeCode. MakeCode feels familiar because it akin to Scratch. However, the structures are different and can take some getting used to. We started the unit with a review session meant to refresh the memories of the students who used Micro:bit last year and to initiate those students new to Sinclair this year. Over course of the week students learned to used the Micro:bit's input/output pins to light LEDs. They used the environmental sensors (light level, temperature, sound level) and conditional statements to generate outputs that vary depending on the sensor input. The accelerometer (tilt sensor) was used to sound different notes based on different tilt gestures. The challenge was then to use the Micro:bit to play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. 

5th Grade

Fifth grade completed and presented their mini museum projects this rotation. In the prior round they used Scratch to build and program a digital museum room, complete with virtual docent to narrate, about a self selected and research topic. This time out they built a physical version of their room and the objects within. They used copper foil tape to built a circuit on the room's door which was connected to their Scratch projects with a Makey Makey. Openning the door to the physical room closed the circuit and triggered the virtual narrator to begin describing the objects in the room. Most classes got the opportunity to present their projects to visiting 2nd grade classes and administrators. The Echo magnet group also had the opportunity to share their work with Houston ISD Chief Academic Officer Dr. Bird and members of the Instructional Technology Department.

The Mini Museum Room Scratch projects can be found in this studio and a sample video of presentation day is below.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

STEM Lab Round 2

We just wrapped up round 2 in the STEM Lab and it was all around amazing! Here is a recap highlighting the incredible project our Superstars created.

Kindergarten & 1st grade

One of my favorite units to teach is Math Stories. Each day begins with a book that I read aloud to the class. The books incorporate a variety of math concepts including number sense, measurement, geometry, and problem solving. After reading and discussing the day's story,  The stories for Kindergarten and first grade are different of course. Thanks to our generous PTO, I was able to add several new math stories to the rotation this year. 2

2nd grade

Second grade completed the first half of a two part project this round. They were introduced to the practice of keeping a STEM lab journal. Using the Nat Geo Kids website, they researched an animal of their choice and took notes about it in their journals. The notes also included drawings of the animal and its habitat. They will use this information to complete the next part of the project when they return in round 3. 

The highlight of this round, though was participating in Skype-a-Scientist.  This program connects teachers with professional scientists working in a variety of fields. Students then have the opportunity to meet virtually with that scientist and ask questions about their field and the experience of being a scientist. I was matched with 2 different marine biologists, one who studies fish and another who works with marine mammals like seals and sea lions. The students asked some really excellent questions and both scientists remarked to me how impressed they were.

3rd grade

It was cardboard arcade time for 3rd grade. Students were challenged to make an arcade style game with cardboard, craft supplies, and other upcycled materials. We watched Caine's Arcade for inspiration, then students planned their projects and began building. This is the first big engineering project in the STEM lab curriculum and there was some definite trial and error as students worked out the best materials and construction methods for their games. I was impressed by the perseverance the students displayed, working through their frustration and reasching their goal. At the end of the week students presented their work to a visiting class of 1st graders and administrators. I love how excited they get to share their work with an authentic audience.

4th grade

Many of the learning experiences I design for students in the lab are meant to emphasize the natural connections between disciplines like computer science and engineering and other subjects like social studies, ELA, and fine arts. This round had students writing programs in Scratch that used key press inputs to play notes and drum beats. They used the Scratch Makey Makey extension which features a "cheat code" block that allows a sequence of key presses (e.g. left, up, and right arrow keys pressed in that order) to act as another input event. With that finished, students constructed an instrument used to control the program and play music. Students used copper tape and aluminum foil to create the keys/ strings/ drum heads for their instrument. Finally the cardboard instruments were connected to the Scratch programs with the Makey Makey i/o board and made beautiful music. The week ended with the classes sharing their work with Sinclair administrators and a visiting 2nd grade class. 

5th grade
Our 5th graders completed the first half of a 2 part project this round as well, the mini museum room. First, they researched a self selected topic. I had a list of suggestions they could choose from, but I also allowed them to pick a topic of personal interest. With their research coomplete, they determined which objects would be included in their virtual museum room. The room includes a narrator that describes the importance of the objects to the room's topic. The narration was required to display text that is read by the the text to speech extension as an accessibility feature for the 2nd grade students they will present to in the next round. The full studio of virtual museum rooms can be seen here and one is embedded below (click the green flag, then press space).