Children’s Blog

Spinners in Space!

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At Wednesday’s LEGO WeDo Robotics workshop, our fourth- and fifth-graders made tops and machines to make them spin using gears. We began the class by learning a little about how gears work. As the kids were experimenting with their spinners, they explored how the size of the gears in their machines changed the speed of the spinning top.

 

After we made our spinners and tops, we watched a video of an astronaut working with the very same spinner on the International Space Station. We discussed how our tops are affected by gravity and friction, so they behaved differently here on earth than hers did in microgravity.

 

You can check out the video yourself on YouTube. It’s pretty long, so we only watched from about 1:45 to 5:00.

 It's a pretty crowded room, but we managed to fit everyone on tables this week.

 

Getting started building the spinner.

 

Our first completed spinner and top of the day!

 

Testing out a programming idea.

 

Discussing programming ideas with friends.

 

Spinning the top in the air! (It didn't work the same here as it did in space.)

 

How long will this top spin?

Family Cooking Club

Everyone had fun with festive goodies!!

 

 

 

Our last LEGO Workshops of 2016

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Yesterday was the first session of our final LEGO WeDo robotics workshop of the year. Fourth- and fifth-graders learned about pulleys and belt-drive systems. They made dancing birds and programmed them to move and tweet. They also experimented with various arrangements and sizes of their belt-drive systems and to see how the speed and direction was affected.

 

There are still two more weeks left for this group of kids, and then we’ll close for the year. But keep an eye out! We’ll do more workshops in 2017!

 

And now, of course, some photos!

We decided to try setting up the laptops on the floor instead of on tables. Also, the kids were responsible for powering up their own laptops.

 

Getting down to business.

 

Here's one interpretation to program the dancing birds! This student wrote 4 separate lines of code to make the birds do a variety of actions.

 

This student made a different code to get the birds to dance. It's always amazing how many different ways there are to write code.

Wrapping Up Another Workshop

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Yesterday was the final session of this LEGO workshop for grades 2 & 3. We discussed how levers work to lift heavy weights, and the kids had the opportunity to make a bird machine utilizing levers and a tilt sensor.

 

The best part of the session, though, was that we left lots of time for kids to experiment on their own. Some decided to try other LEGO-provided ideas, and we had all sorts of great ideas for kid-invented machines.

 

In 2017 we’ll do more LEGO WeDo workshops for kids in grades 2 & 3, so keep an eye on our calendar! We didn’t have anyone on the waitlist for this session, so kids who’ve already done a workshop in 2016 can sign up to do another one in 2017!

 

And now, some photos and a couple videos to enjoy!

 

Just diving in for the day

 

Getting started

 

One of our bird creations

 

This group made their own invention using both the motor and a sensor.

 

Teamwork! They're developing a "deadly" machine. Our LEGO figurines may be feeling a little nervous.

 

Close up of the action

 

Kicking legs kicked a duct tape "soccer ball" and our poor friend Max the LEGO figurine.

 

After finishing the bird, this group has…

Chomp Chomp!

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We’re knee-deep into our second LEGO WeDo workshop for 2nd and 3rd graders. Last week we made lions and programmed them to sit up and roar. This week we made alligators whose mouths opened and shut utilizing a pulley system. The kids did a great job coming up with their own computer programs to control the movement of their gators. We also added motion sensors so the jaws could be programmed to close when something entered the alligator’s mouth. The kids did a great job working together in their pairs and coming up with solutions to problems they encountered along the way.

 

Next week we’ll create bird machines, and the kids will have time to come up with their own inventions if they want to. Now, enjoy some photos!

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One pair made their own idea - a windmill - after they finished their alligator!

Creativity, Ingenuity, and a Little Bit of Microgravity

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We just completed our final session of this month’s LEGO WeDo Robotics workshop with kids in grades 4-5. This was a jam-packed session!

Remember the spinning tops that some of us made last week? This week, we watched a video of an astronaut using the exact same LEGO machine on the International Space Station. We discussed how gravity and friction affected our spinning tops, and we saw how those factors affected it (or didn’t!) in microgravity.

If you’re interested, the video’s available to view on YouTube. It’s a little long, so we only watched the beginning of it together.

Then we talked about levers, how the placement of the fulcrum affects effort and resistance, and how cams work to move things. Kids created a drumming monkey that utilized levers and cams. We also made sure to leave time for the kids to try other projects or their own ideas if they wanted.

Check out some photos!

This monkey is playing the drums! We explored how the placement of the cams and the fulcrum of the levers affected the rhythm of the drumbeat.

It turns out that the monkey head is just decoration and doesn’t make a difference in the machine’s function. When pressed for time, one student came up with a quicker solution.

Watch out! This alligator chomps when it detects motion in its mouth!

One student came up with his own idea for a machine and created his own program to make it move. No instructions needed, just creativity and ingenuity! We even got a video of this one!