Course Curriculum: Computer Applications:CAD

After my quick reflections on the Tea Box project and my computer science course, I’d like to take a spin over to my most successful, challenging and rewarding class(es) this semester.  I had the opportunity to teach 2 CAD courses with a great, energetic group of young men (and one woman).  As the year progressed my classes split into three distinct groups – a developmentally young (think elementary-school-age brains) group, a progressing (middle-school-age brains) and a developmentally-ready (high school or middle school) group.

My CAD course description:

In this course, students will create and build physical and digital representations of the world around them. Piaget’s four stages of cognitive development will frame the instruction to the appropriate cognitive developmental level for each student. Computer Assisted Design is the use of computers and specialized software to create digital objects; be they animations, skyscrapers or the interiors of engines. Students will use Google Sketch Up 8 to re-create and re-imagine the world around them, beginning with a floor-plan of their bedroom and ending with a self-directed project.

What made this course successful?  My answer after the jump.

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This Week in the Classroom: Computer Science & Electronics

The Fall 2011 semester came to an end last week.   I’m taking stock of what-used-to-be (my previous semesters classes) and re-tooling, re-gearing and re-searching my way into new course-load.

I’d like to start with my Computer Science & Electronics course.  I described this course as:

This course introduces computer programming to students with little or no prior programming or technology experience. Students will use Alice, 3D graphical computer language, to introduce basic computer science theory. Topics to be covered include program design and problem solving, Boolean operators, logic statements, loops and flowcharts. Unlike other languages, Alice lends itself to an exploration of thought, rather than an exercise in coding or mathematical ability. If time allows, the Python language will also be explored.  In the electronics portion, students will explore basic electronic concepts of resistance, current and voltage.  Students will learn to build, manipulate and understand basic circuits & operate the tools necessary to create these circuits.  Students will identify basic parts, such as resistors, switches, wires and capacitors.

So, let’s go over the class and see how I did and what I will do better in the future.

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Funny Moments in the Classroom…

Half of the students in my 3rd period crew found themselves taking the PSATs today.  Which meant I had eleven students in my classroom rockin’ and rollin’ in the CAD courses.  It doesn’t seem like much, I know, but when you have a 45 min “plan” and you end up with twice the time and twice the students…it gets a little hectic. As a soak activity (a project you have in your back pocket) I hooked up an Arduino microchip board and asked two students to get the LED to light.  The boys wrote the code, but didn’t have time … Continue reading Funny Moments in the Classroom…

Weather Stations, Web 2.0 Tools and John Merrow

This week, my colleague shanghaied one of my chalkboards for a weather station.  While the chalkboard & wind unit may not seem like much,

The hand-held reader really catches a teacher’s eye.

This type of scientific information begs to be utilized in the classroom.  Daily, nay, hourly temperatures can be recorded and used to find the mean temp, daily temp, range…mode, slope, points on a graph, equations for the daily rise in the temperature, regression lines, etc.  Science classes can study weather patterns, climate change or stasis, the water cycle.  A physics classroom can turn wind speed readings into kilowatt-hours.  Those figures can be amended into proposals for the installation of a wind turbine.

Wait…that’s my collegue put that device up there.

An English teacher can illuminate the difference between lab reports, short stories and literary analysis.  The data gathered in science class, analyzed in Math, interpreted and presented in English, can finally be acted upon in Social Studies.  In fact, this little weather station can become the technological center-point of a curriculum which could, theoretically be scaled between schools all over right?  A revolution? Continue reading “Weather Stations, Web 2.0 Tools and John Merrow”

Teacher Resources: TEDTalks on Education

The TED Talks started in the 1980’s as a Silicon-Valley conference focused on software, technology and design.  Now, it’s the destination for smart hipsters and brilliant researchers, visionaries and experimenters to express their passions and become the circus attraction.  I’ve been watching a few of these talks on and off for a year or so.  I don’t have a TV, and these guys are the closest I get to PBS.  While I’ll send you over to their site, http://www.ted.com, know they are on hulu too. On the off-chance the conference is still around when I become a famous and confident … Continue reading Teacher Resources: TEDTalks on Education

This Week In the Classroom: Computers Ain’t Everything

Took over our conference room to work through some design challenges today.  My students used Google SketchUp to start creating jewelry boxes, art car vehicles and bookshelves. During the Art Car class, I led the group building a 3D model on the big (like 50-60″ screen) TV.  Computers+big screen TV+3d modeling software+we are building a car =  interested, motivated students.  Or so I thought.  I turn around, two students are asleep. I have only three kids on the dang project.   Terrible numbers.  Mendoza line terrible. I quickly got out the sketchbooks and pencils.  More success, more interaction. So, what I … Continue reading This Week In the Classroom: Computers Ain’t Everything