On Wednesday I decided to introduce Scratch to a class of second graders. Wednesday’s schedule in the lab is such that there is an overlap of about 10 minutes with 4th grade alternative recess. With the growing interest in coding among 4th graders, sometimes there are 4th graders waiting around for a free computer at the start of their recess. I decided to put this fact to use rather than let it aggravate me. (They can be noisy while waiting). I figured they could help me introduce Scratch to these 2nd graders.
My goal was for the 2nd graders to add a background and a Sprite and make the Sprite do something when clicked. I sort of sprung the project on both groups but it worked out well. The 4th graders, as a whole, were very helpful and the 2nd graders were pretty excited with all the choices. It amazed them that a couple blocks of code could make their Sprites interactive. I was proud of my 4th graders for their enthusiasm and their ability to share their expertise in Scratch with the younger students. More 2nd graders were able to get support while trying something new. I’m pleased.
On other fronts, there are eighteen 4th graders signed up for Code Club. Sadly, I’m competing with another after school program – Drama Club – so I have only 2 girls on my roster.
Code Club is on a break until the end of February. Meanwhile 4th grade students have been coding during alternative recess opportunities when the lab is available.
I have seen a growing interest in coding in BeetleBlocks now that we have a 3d printer available to print artifacts and I am quite thrilled. Most 4th graders have had an introduction BeetleBlocks when we used it to print their names (I have one more 4th grade class to schedule), but printing names of their friends or teachers still interests them.
Some 3d printed names
Some are just curious to print a single shape – cube, cuboid or sphere. Spheres are the hardest to print – even with a small cuboid base, they don’t print very well. Students seem to love the prints that “blow up” as well as the successes.
I asked the snowman creator to add a cuboid below so the print would be successful, and it was.
Recently I printed a cannon that a student had made in BeetleBlocks for a social studies report on the Middle Ages. I asked him to break the code into 2 parts – the barrel and the base thinking that would help the print be successful. It printed out well enough. We glued it together with a 3d pen.
Cannon printed in 2 parts, glued together with a 3D pen
What surprises the students the most is the size of the print compared to what they see on the screen. Even though we went over the the numbers translate into millimeters. I try not to scale anything but instead make them go back to the code and change it there.
Recently I printed a pair of rings. There have been some other rings coded but this was the first project that reached the export to print stage. The 4th grader had started on Monday and measured her finger (with the mm calipers) to code a tube of that diameter. Then we added a sphere on the top. That was all we had time for on Monday. On Wednesday she came in with a list of code she had written down. She had worked on the project at home and didn’t know how to save it so she wrote down the code and brought it to school. She also measured her friend’s finger to print one customized for her.
A pair of printed rings
It only took a few minutes to print. The size will need some tweaking, but I suspect I will be printing more rings in the future. We’ve shared the project for others to see or use.
In September I wasn’t sure what 4th graders could do with BeetleBlocks and every week they surprise me with their creativity. I hope to report more on their explorations in the coming months.