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Lesley makerspace launch ignites hearts & minds

The buzz was palpable as Lesley faculty, staff, community members and friends wove their way through the newly launched makerspace. Housed on the second floor of University Hall at Lesley, the makerspace features a wide variety of teaching and learning tools rooted in the maker mentality.
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Cambridge Teachers Attend "Robot School"

Last Monday, one of Amy Moylan’s first grade parents came into her classroom to share her daughter’s excitement that “her teacher is going to robot school” and that the little girl couldn’t wait to use the robots in her classroom. Ms. Moylan, who teaches at the Amigos School, was one of 20 Cambridge Public School District (CPSD) teachers and specialists taking the “Make It Take It” robotics course facilitated by the Lesley team and CPSD Instructional Technology Specialist guru Ingrid Gustafson. The idea behind the class is that each Cambridge school was offered robotics kits with the intent of bringing robotics and programming into the classrooms. The workshop was taught in the Kennedy-Longfellow School (K-Lo) makerspace over the course of several days.

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KLO Rocks Hour of Code


Above: The 4th grade students became programming mentors, helping to guide Kindergarteners through exploring Scratch Jr.

Students at the Kennedy-Longfellow School didn’t just spent one hour coding for the National Hour of Code Week: they spent 31 hours of collective coding! All grade levels, including preschool and Special Start students up through 5th grade, were invited into the school makerspace during the week to participate in hands-on coding activities. Following our model of student-centered learning, we set up various centers, depending on the age range, and let the students free to explore!

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KIBO Brings Robotics Alive for JK-2nd Grades

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This fall, K-Lo launched robotics in the primary grades in partnership with Tufts University’s Eliot Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development. The school piloted the KIBO, a robot designed with support from the National Science Foundation, with one kindergarten, first, and second grade class. During the seven week project, students learned about programming, sensors, and the engineering design process with ties to readers theatre in the kindergarten, and earth science in the first and second grades.  

The Lesley team will continue to support the other primary classrooms in learning about the KIBO and how it can be used to deepen understanding and engagement in other curricular activities. To see more about the KIBO, you can see the company discussion of this innovation, and stay tuned to hear more from K-Lo students about their own experiences with robotics!

Check out a couple videos of students presenting their final projects:

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Everyone Code Now

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The junior kindergarten through fifth grade classes at Kennedy-Longfellow School (KLO) joined over 15 million students worldwide in participating in the Hour of Code week (December 2013). Sponsored by Computer Science Education Week, the idea behind Hour of Code is to demystify what it means to code by encouraging children and adults alike to jump in and try their hand at computer programming. Coding can take many forms. If you’re new to the concept, coding is simply teaching a computer to do something using keyboard commands. It can be as basic as writing a program that turns your computer on or off automatically and as complicated, as well, the new government health care system website!

Jessica McKellar, Director for the Python Software Foundation and local entrepreneur, kicked off the day by speaking to the 5th grade students about the various career paths rooted in programming. Her speech inspired the students to continue to explore coding no matter what their career aspirations, as coding skills provide a strong foundation from the medical field to video game development.

Junior kindergarten – 2nd grade students at KLO jumped into everything from moving monsters through elaborate mazes using the Kodable iPad app to programming BeeBot robots to move around a large game mat, learning math and ELA concepts along the way. Other activities included sequencing a jelly sandwich, drawing and exploring shapes with the Kinderlogo software, and programming character actions with the Daisy the Dinosaur iPad app.

3rd – 5th grade students, meanwhile, dove into Python programming through Minecraft, made Lego WeDo robots spin, rotate and talk via Scratch, and sequenced LittleBits electronic circuit components to create a “tickle machine.” Students eagerly took turns wearing a Raspberry Pi helmet-mounted webcam, beaming live streaming video of the event to all of the classrooms. Parent volunteers and the KLO math and literacy coaches were an essential part of the two days, helping to run different activities and providing guidance for students as needed.

The Hour of Code event coincided with the launch of the new KLO “Makerspace” – a completely revised and revamped creative workspace that supports student-centered, collaborative engagement with Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) projects. The open concept, flexible space is equipped with iPads, Chromebooks, a video green screen and sound booths, and allows for large and small group work.

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WBZ-TV (CBS) News was on hand on December 13th to capture some of the Hour of Code excitement as part of news anchor Paula Ebben’s “Eye on Education” program. You can watch the segment here: http://boston.cbslocal.com/2013/12/16/eye-on-education-ipads-being-used-in-cambridge-first-grade-class/. You can also read about it in a segment reported by Erin Balassari from the Cambridge Chronicle, “Lesley, Kennedy-Longfellow partner to reimagine S.T.E.M. learning” http://www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/features/x1039480562/Lesley-Kennedy-Longfellow-partner-to-reimagine-S-T-E-M-learning. The event served as just the beginning of integrating a host of coding activities into the JK-5 KLO curricula. Stay tuned for future news from all of the KLO coders!

Wondering where to begin? Check out these online resources:

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Lesley, Kennedy-Longfellow partner to reimagine S.T.E.M. learning

Forget rows of students seated behind desktops; in the computer labs of the future, students will be building robots and writing code. Cambridge Chronicle’s Erin Baldassari covers the integration of STEM into the Kennedy-Longfellow School. View article at: http://www.wickedlocal.com/x1039480562/Lesley-Kennedy-Longfellow-partner-to-reimagine-S-T-E-M-learning.