Kayoe on the Go: <food alarm> creating circuits.
During this week's challenge, we built a food alarm to keep those pesky squirrels away from our camping supplies. We learned a great deal during this innovation challenge, especially Gracie, who showed understanding and the ability to apply these concepts in this real world challenge --- it was very impactful.
Students don't often learn about circuits until they're in grade six. Today, Gracie
who is nine years old, worked through the engineering design and innovation process to learn and apply circuitry concepts that she wouldn't have learned for another couple of years in the classroom.
As an educator this project offers several cross-curricular opportunities. For example, the re-enactment video we created as part of the project was fun and we were telling a story. This offers an opportunity to reinforce many curricular outcomes in language arts. You can extend this further by having students develop diagrams, publicities, and more. We also integrated technology, fine arts, concepts of design, science, math, theatre, and music. Even when applying the code we were creating a song for the alarm that would go off in the tent.
This project strongly supported the 21 century skills of Critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity.
Collaboration: Gracie was involved in every step of this project. She especially learned about collaboration as she was involved in the brainstorming process. We worked on supporting our idea while trying to take into account the input of others in order to work through the engineering design process effectively, which is a valuable concept and skill for someone as young as Gracie to learn and to apply.
Critical Thinking & Communication:
We were faced with unforeseen limitations to the approach we originally were planning and had to re-think what we were going to do to make the alarm work properly.
Gracie planned to display a message to the squirrel when it opened the container. She initially thought the micro:bit could display the message “Busted” on the screen, however, we later discovered there were limitations with that idea because the word busted took too much time to scroll across the screen. Together we decided this was a limitation that needed to be changed. Her solution was to display a shorter message that said: “HA!” it was a much quicker message that allowed the signal to be sent quickly to the receiver in the tent.
The value of being flexible, creative problem solving, and persevering to overcome obstacles:
Re-thinking our message was an important piece of the engineering design process process. It helped Gracie understand that limitations pop up, but that doesn't mean we quit; rather, they’re all a part of the process. To be innovators, you are constantly reassessing and revisiting how to overcome obstacles. Sometimes, it means giving up on an idea you thought would work and going back to the drawing board to consider alternate solutions.
Failure as an opportunity:
Throughout the entire process it was important for us to understand that we will always be faced with failure. The key here is considering how we will approach that failure.
When it comes to the engineering design process, failure is always seen as an opportunity to learn more about the system we are trying to manipulate and understand that it's not necessarily the end of the road. Instead, we see failure as an opportunity to make things better. This is especially important for students to understand - when you are faced with limitations or roadblocks, it’s not a time to give up - it’s a time to go back and to re-evaluate and approach that challenge in a different way to consider solutions that will account for the limitation that you have uncovered.
Coding & troubleshooting:
We experienced failure in this project. For example in our code, we had 2 different code sets: (1) the container code which had 16 different versions; and (2) the receiver code with 22 variations. It may sound like a lot, but it wasn't really - it's normal, it’s what you expect… you’d expect to go through that troubleshooting and problem solving process and work through those limitations you didn't foresee to get that desired end result.
Engineering and Innovation projects inspire versatility and encourage iteration:
What I find really cool about these projects are how versatile they truly are. What I mean is that someone can take that original concept of the project and apply it to something completely different. This is a great way to challenge learners to turn the original concept of the food alarm and into something more meaningful or practical for their lives. For example, someone who sees the food alarm may be inspired to create an alarm for a locker, pencil case or book bag.
Food alarm re-designed for a data project?!
They could even create a data project and track how many times the classroom door is opened or how many times a pesky cat at home knocks things off the shelves. There are many different ways of taking the original concept and turning it into your own innovation that will be worthwhile for learners. The alarm could easily be repurposed to collect data.
Challenge to be creative:
These projects offer personalization and opportunities for customization. Students not only learn 21 century skills, but they get to turn a food alarm into something new.
Challenge your students to use their own innovation skills to take the same technology used in the food alarm in new way to solve different problems for them.
We had a lot of fun doing this project. Stay tuned, we have lots of camping trips and activities to share before school starts again.
...and now onto this week's challenge!
Food Alarm 1: Intro
Food Alarm 2: Building the container
Food Alarm 3: Building the receiver
Food Alarm 4: Coding the container's micro:bit
Food Alarm 5: Coding the receiver's micro:bit
Food Alarm 6: Testing the Food Alarm