Children’s Blog

Full STEAM Ahead This April!

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We’ve got a whole calendar full of awesome programs this month, and tons of them focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math!

  • Saturday, April 8, 10:30am: STEAM Storytime for preschoolers all about the five senses! We’ll share some stories, then we’ll do a bunch of hands-on activities that are perfect for ages 3-5.
  • Wednesday, April 19, 5-7pm: Family Movie Night! Come check out a movie on our big screen! For families with kids of all ages.
  • Thursday, April 20, 4-5pm AND Saturday, April 29, 10:30-11:30am: Legopalooza! Open Lego construction for ages 5-12.
  • Friday, April 21, 10:30am-12pm: STEAM Crafts for ages 3 and up with a grown-up.
  • Saturday, April 22, 10:30am-12pm: #selfie Smart Art! Kids ages 5 and up can create self-portraits using different art and sculpture techniques at this hands-on STEAM program. *Registration is required for this program.
  • Wednesday, April 26, 3:30-4:30pm: Science of Slime! At this STEAM Club activity for grades 2-5 we’ll learn a little about polymers, and we’ll make a couple types of ooey…

LEGOS, LEGOS Everywhere!

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In the past two weeks we’ve been incredibly busy with our LEGO programs.

 

In our LEGO Mindstorms workshops - for kids in grades 4 and 5 - kids have been learning all about the intricacies of how computer programming works with various motors and sensors. We focused pretty intensely on how the computer programming aspects actually work, and we made a lot of progress using a very simple robot called the EXPLOR3R.

 

This week, we decided to move on from the EXPLOR3R and let the kids choose more complicated robots with designs provided with the LEGO software. Each team chose which robot they wanted to build and started working in it, and they’ll finish next week.

 

We just finished up our LEGO WeDo Robotics workshops for kids in grades 2 and 3. We learned about simple machines, gravity, friction, and other elements of physics. We also learned how to utilize the LEGO software to write simple computer programs to control our LEGO robots. The kids then worked in teams to create robots, and some teams created their very own machines!


For photos from the last two weeks, check out the LEGO Workshops album on our Facebook page!

Lego WeDo Robotics, Week 1

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This week was a busy one in the world of LEGO Robotics! On Thursday, we began a 3-week workshop using LEGO WeDo Robotics with second and third graders.

 

We began the day by discussion six types of simple machines. Then, after a brief introduction to how the LEGO software works, kids worked together to create and program robots with their LEGOs! They looked for simple machines within the designs of their robots, and they explored how to break instructions down for computer programming.


Check out some photos of the fun!

After discussing six types of simple machines and learning a little about the LEGO software, we began building robots!

 

These friends asked if they could work as a group of 3. Here they're starting to build an alligator robot.

 

This group's starting work on an airplane.

 

This group chose to work on a giant who gets pulled to a standing position with a crane mechanism.

 

Here we have legs that can be programmed to kick a soccer ball (or, in our case, a ball of aluminum foil).

 

Working together to build that alligator

 

Programming the motors to make the legs kick

We'll see you all next week as we continue building and programming!

Dancing Robots

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In last week's Mindstorms workshop we put together robots and ran a simple demo computer program to get them to move. This week, we learned about creating our own computer programs and got to practice some ideas.

 

The LEGO Mindstorms software uses block programming techniques (similar to Scratch, if you’ve ever tried that out). Kids drag and drop various programming “blocks,” then adjust the settings of each block to direct their robots’ actions.

 

We began by learning about “Move Steering” blocks. These blocks allow you to control a robot’s motors to drive at various speeds and in different directions. At this step, the kids also learned how to download and run programs on their EV3 computer brick.

 

After kids were comfortable with getting their robots to move, we learned about sound blocks and display blocks. This allowed their robots to make a wide variety of sounds, from saying words to playing musical notes. They were also able to program their robots to display images on the screen. The most popular display option with this group were eyes.

 

Next week we’ll learn about using and programming sensors. Look out!


And now, some photos and an awesome video!

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Mindstorms' First Completed Robots

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This week we really dove into using our LEGO Mindstorms equipment. The kids worked in two teams to create EXPLOR3R robots. The process of building these robots involved a lot of detailed exploration of building instructions, and they had to be very specific in where they placed their LEGO pieces.

 

After each team had completed building their robot, we used very basic programming elements that are already built into the EV3 brick, the small computer that controls the robot. The kids learned how to run a demo program to see an example for how the robot can move around a space.

 

Next week we will plug in our robots and begin computer programming. We will design a program to direct the robot to move in certain ways and, if we have time, we’ll learn how to write code that will utilize the robot’s computer screen and speakers.


Here are some pictures of our work, and videos of each of the robots running on the demo program!

One student brought one of his Mindstorms creations from home to show everybody. It was pretty awesome!

 

Getting started on the EXPLOR3R robot

 

Looking at the building instructions together

 

Making careful adjustments together

 

Some steps in the instructions have sub-steps.

 

A finished EXPLOR3R robot!

 

Turning the robot on

 

LEGO Mindstorms: Tons of Fun and Still Space!

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Our first LEGO Mindstorms workshop began yesterday for kids in 4th and 5th grade!

 

This workshop will run for 6 weeks, going until Wednesday, April 5. We began with an Hour of Code, where we did some block programming to develop a Minecraft game. This gave the kids an opportunity to learn some basics about more advanced computer programming than we did in the LEGO WeDo workshops. Now we're prepared to tackle the computer programming for Mindstorms robots!

 

After we did a bunch of coding, we pulled out a Mindstorms kit and worked as a team to start putting together a simple machine. We will dive much more into this next week at our second session.

 

We had a great group, but there are still a few open spaces in this workshop. If your 4th or 5th grade child is interested, you can still register! Sessions run on Wednesday afternoons from 3:30-5:00pm, now through April 5. Register online here, or call or stop in to the library if you want more information.

 

Also, we only had time to do one Hour of Code computer programming activity. There are tons more that kids can do! Kids who participated yesterday may be interested in trying some more, or kids who are interested in signing up for the rest of the workshops can try what we did yesterday from home. Check it out at https://studio.code.org/ (psst: we did the Minecraft activity!).


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