Things are happening fast now. Today I wrote my last final exam, the logistics is getting lined up for the convocation on June 11, all the paperwork is in (ITC, TQS, EPSB, etc.), the FRC season is winding down and the FLL season is about to start (those last two are robotics programs for those that are not familiar with the lingo, see more here).
The registration for this years FIRST LEGO League (FLL) challenge opens on May 4 and the challenge is released on August 26. This year I will be coaching FLL rookie teams, the exact number of teams is still TBD, but one of the teams is already is already emerging out of the woodwork. Meet The STEAMpunks, a small competitive rookie FLL team bringing together the best of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art (yes art) and Mathematics (hence the STEAM) with playful irreverence (hence the punks) to build tomorrow's robots today (hence the STEAMpunks). The project page for The STEAMpunks went live this morning and in the next few weeks we will start fundraising and recruiting team members.
I am particularly stoked about this year's FLL challenge as it focuses on 21st century learning, or in the words of FIRST itself:
What is the future of learning? FIRST LEGO League teams will find the answers. In the 2014 FLL WORLD CLASS Challenge, over 230000 children ages 9 to 16 from over 70 countries will redesign how we gather knowledge and skills in the 21st century. Teams will teach adults about the ways that kids need and want to learn.
The theme of this year's FLL challenge is super-exciting as I believe that 21st Century Learning is the learning strategy that an authentic and effective curriculum needs to be build on in order to provide today's students with the 21st Century Skills required for a careers in tomorrow's increasingly quantitative society. The 21st Century Learning theme is also particularly timely in light of the current debate here in Alberta about the merits of contextualized problem solving using 21st Century teaching strategies vs. the traditional old-school approach of rote memorization. Addressing 21st Century Learning through the vehicle of a FLL challenge and from the perspective of young students (as opposed to old students like yours truly) is going to be a breath of fresh air in a tiresome debate where attempts are made by some to reintroduce stale and outdated teaching strategies into Alberta's public schools.
I am looking forward to mentoring The STEAMpunks (+ any other FLL team I may be involved with) and exploring new and innovative learning strategies that will make the students better prepared to take on the real world. The various FIRST programs already have a remarkable track record in this respect and the dovetailing of FIRST programs with a 21st Century Learning challenge is simply a stroke of genius. Kudos to FIRST for having this foresight and insight.
Science classrooms are unique learning environments unlike any other classrooms. As a matter of fact, some things only happen in science classrooms. Here is a collection of event that happened in my own science classroom over the last school year. It's a growing list, so check back for updates.
Report from yours truly live-tweeting and navigating the melee at GETCA 2015 (Annual Greater Edmonton Teachers' Conference).
Can a pencil be more than just your average run of the mill pencil? The legendary Palomino Blackwing Pearl can take a student or teacher's writing to new heights. We have taken a batch of the Pearls for a spin and are blown away by how much writing and sketching can be transformed by this unassuming pencil.
Dr. Pineda's Classroom is going YouTube with the release of its first screencast on the exciting topic of calculating percents. Only time will tell if this is the start of something big and shiny or just a passing fad.
After several weeks working on setting up habitats for new classroom animals the big day finally arrived. The newest addition to our classroom include aquatic denizens in our new aquarium and a teenage bearded dragon with lots of attitude and no table manners.