Community + Hands-On Innovation = Project-Based Learning
Project-based learning begins with a question. Thanks to a brilliant idea from Joe Sanderson (a friend of Mrs. White/ third grade) for the annual Hackathon event at Kepware, the question was: “Would Saint Brigid School like to be the lucky recipient of eight Raspberry Pi/Kano computer kits generously donated and assembled by Kepware employees?” The answer, of course, was an enthusiastic “yes!”.
Even better, over two days last week, the students and Kepwareans built the computers *together*. Our third graders experienced working 1:1 or 1:2 with professional software developers and programmers! How amazing is that?!? Moreover, these children can say they have built a computer — so instead of simply being computer consumers, staring at or swiping at screens, now they are the creators — designing games and hacking programs.
An article I read on iste.org put it this way: “(Coding) opens up a new domain of knowledge. Elementary school is a special time in a child’s life that’s ripe for introducing a new domain of knowledge that will be important to their futures. Whether they become computer scientists or not, the skills they learn from computer science and coding will apply to the rest of their lives.” (6 Reasons for Coding in the K-5 classroom, iste.org)
The next question is, “Now what?” Mrs. White has munificently (look it up!) offered these microcomputers to be housed in the library where we will use them for Maker Space projects but there are also myriad ways to incorporate these cute little buggers into your curriculum.
Mrs. White and I will be spending February vacation playing with Kanos so we can wrap our heads around the possibilities these computers present. I will probably reach understanding at a glacial pace but will share the journey with you.