Tuesday, January 10, 2017

NCSS 2017 - Day 8

Tonight will be the last night of sleep for a number of our intrepid campers.

Today was the kick-off for the projects for the embedded stream! We had lecture (with optional extension) this morning and then Labs where the students brain stormed ideas for the project and then the remainder of the day is working out proof of concept and testing and researching to head toward the MVP (Minimum Viable Product). The students are making somethign that takes environmental inputs to target the health of the users and each project will be showcased in a Robot Olympics at about 10PM on the "All Nighter". 

Morning Lecture
This morning's lecture covered signal conditioning, calibration and a high level view of what the CPU does. There was then some extra lecture that was recommended for those who were handling the pace and were interested in how gates are represented in the circuitry and how a CPU works in detail. I have notes for the first, mandatory part. 

Morning Labs
The students spent this time brain storming and then reported back to the larger group as to what they'd decided. It was a little confused because we had some students but most stayed for the second part of the morning lecture so we weren't able to progress all that far. It sorted itself out pretty quickly though. The teams within out lab group were very different in their choice of project which is really good to hear. I think the micro:bit makes them feel more confident so they felt able to think outside the box.

Lunch - Teacher Talks
We met again as teachers to talk about next steps and what we'd do with our students. Bruce and I had a bit of a talk about how we've succeeded and struggled to bring parts of the NCSS program back to our classrooms. Hopefully it was helpful for others to hear how things could be scaled back. It's great to hear that most teachers in the embedded stream agree that there is so much they can do with the micro:bits because the depth of the electronics we cover at NCSS in unnecessary for jumping in and getting started. As a dabbler in Arduino myself I concur that this is very true. No doodle notes on this session because I was talking quite a bit of the time. 

Project work
Challenges to solve: 
How do we split up the resources among the sub-teams?
How do we map accelerometer readings to discover when a particular movement has been achieved?
How do we display the success or failure of a challenge to the user... these discussions are really interesting - screens are for wimps!

The simulation
The simulation is a short game (remember the all nighter is tomorrow) where students are expected to come up with a 1 minute skit to represent NCSS in a given genre. In order to maximise their planning time they also have to show that they can run two sort algorithms using humans in their group to the satisfaction of their tutor. (If you do a good job of the sorts quickly you can have more time to plan than your fellow teams - unfortunately, this is not always a benefit to the quality of the skit). The fun comes when you then have to re-perform (or continue it) your skit with much less time -- 20 seconds and then 5 seconds (HINT: If all your characters die in the first skit, the sequel is not going to be very interesting.) It was fun and funny.

My family came to hang out for a bit and we took my boy up to get teeth achingly sweet cookie and icecream sandwich at a place called "Cloud 9" - parental guilt can be profitable.

Early night in prep for the "All Nighter"

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