2017 Registration form

Session 5 – February 28 – March 24

Session 6 – March 28 – April 29
(April 10-14 Spring Break – No School)

Session 7 – May 2 – May 25 (May 26 Memorial Day Break – No School)

Chris Huryn has been volunteering almost daily. He works as a programmer and has been teaching the students to modify Minecraft using the programming language Python. They work at the 6 stations of Raspberry Pi’s that were donated by the Placer Hills Education Foundation (PHEF) and Colfax High School. Yes, the students are playing Minecraft! This is an important part of the programming experience. They make a “mod” and then play the game against each other to see how it worked over the network. Chris and his sons, Sylas and Rylan, have been advising the students throughout. Some students who are catching on quickly have also been asked to advise newcomers. Some students do more programming than others. Some are using the laptops to do Scratch. The opportunity to use Java Script to change the robot remote control app is also still available.

For the rest of the year, we will be encouraging the students to do more programming. We have been working on other sites and opportunities besides minecraft. Even when the students are playing more than programming, they are experiencing programming that encourages more learning. Working in a group like this encourages the students to up their game. My philosophy has been (with Robotics Club also) that exposing students in a fun and less-structured way to complex subjects like engineering and programming encourages internal motivation to keep at it.

Many children lack “think time” and “tinker time” in their busy lives. This one hour, twice a week, is a time for them to explore their interests and motivations and experience success on their own time. There have been times when students in Robotics have done little to no building for weeks, then come up with a brilliant new idea that everyone in Club embraces. Working in engineering and programming requires a lot of think time and ideas percolate over time.

My goal in Robotics and Programming is not to have students soldier through as many designs as possible (there are students who like this and that’s great!) or create as many games as possible. It is to end a session or year with students who have a very favorable attitude toward these areas. Children who are not afraid or put off by creative thinking and problem solving. Some students are an important piece of a brilliant design. Working together is what the children like the most about Club. It is a safe place for them to chat with their friends while creating something fun. Some children are just learning to ask for what they need. This may be the one area at school where they succeed and make friendships or acquaintances.

What’s in the future for these children? Well, Colfax High School has recently purchased some Raspberry Pi’s and are still formulating what exactly to use them for. They are aware that we have a Club using them and I will be articulating with the high school so we have a nice pathway for our students. The students currently in Club will be an important part of determining that pathway. I encourage the students to mold the Club as they would like it (that was Minecraft for now) and encourage them to come up with ideas. My idea that might be “Pi” in the sky! 😊 A “Hackathon”!!!! Google it. Not for days, but maybe hours?

Also, Mr. Huryn has set up a new Pi with a sensor thing (I’m still learning) and also a Brick Pi to make a car. This has added 2 more stations for a total of 8. But once a student finally gets over the overwhelming number of pieces and problem solving needed to build the car, that station won’t be open for Gaming. (Ideas and courage are percolating!)

A few requests: We could use monitors, usb keyboards and mouses. If your workplace is e-wasting any, please intercept and bring them to me. I appreciate tips about these things, but can’t always follow up on them, so if you could navigate a donation, feel free to just bring the stuff in! Please no large bulky monitors and only USB keyboards and mouses. The more of these we get, the more we can expand club since the Pi itself is pretty cheap at about $70 (includes vga to hdmi converter and SD cards).

Don’t forget to support PHEF and thank your fellow parents for volunteering and donating to this extremely generous organization. And thanking the very modest Mr. Huryn (Chris) for volunteering SO much time is encouraged as well. If you would like to donate your time, please come in! Volunteers and observers are always welcome and you don’t have to notify me or stick to a schedule.

Last tidbit: Some of you have heard this already. A few years ago I asked Jonothan Schwartz about building in Robotics Club. He is the brilliant AP Calculus and engineering teacher at Colfax High School (among other things – inventor, speaker, etc). I expressed concern to him that some Robotics Clubbers were not building electronic robots and instead were building little animals or random things with the Legos. His emphatic answer – Let them build. Just let them build anything they want. Sitting and watching another child build is fine. We want students who don’t hate math and engineering. Or physics.

Thank you for your support!

Molly Wolfe