Math, Code and the Southern Sky!
It began with…’I am a teacher in remote and rural schools attempting to create STEM curriculum with a focus on robotics and coding…’ as she reached out via email to Brilliant Labs from rural Australia.
As we chatted about how we could support students half a world away – she added this to the mix… ‘I have a telescope which can collect real time images and can be remotely operated. If you can see any use of the Southern Hemisphere sky, I am more than happy to connect it to you!’…and from here, as they say, ‘the sky was the limit’.
First step was to chat about robotics and coding and how to integrate these into their curriculum. A bit of discussion led us to recommend the mBot. The mBot is a fun robot to build; easy to follow instructions, and it includes sensors, motors, lights and sound.
The mBot combines the excitement of robotics with an easy to use software drag and drop programming software. The software program Mblock is very similar to the popular Scratch program.
It is easy to get started with the mBot and they have an Arduino based board so they lend themselves to advanced Arduino programming. This makes the mBot a great stepping stone from drag and drop to written code.
So, here’s where it gets interesting! We’ve decided to mirror projects – in Nova Scotia we have a group of students and their teacher learning to build and program the mBot; in Australia we have a group of students and their teacher learning to build and program the mBot…and then, they’re going to program the robots to using routes based on the constellations visible in the other hemisphere and asking questions: Are the views different? Why?
What? Yes, our students in Nova Scotia will be looking through the telescope set up in Australia. They will be researching the constellations of the southern sky – and then they’ll do the math – measuring distances and angles – and they’ll use this info to map out the route the robot will follow.
And how will we test? Why we will tape a marker to our mBot of course! Yes, on giant sheets of paper a half a world away our robots will draw the night sky visible on a clear April night in Australia.
And as with all great Maker Projects, we'll be sharing our images and data in upcoming blogs!
We’ll be doing math and coding and science and geography and art in one project! Students will be crossing curricular boundaries as easily as we’ll be crossing geographic boundaries because that’s what technology education does … opens minds and hearts and connects us to the world!
Stay tuned as we blog about our coding/robotic/sky journey. In part 2 we’ll be looking at adding a plotter to the mix!