LEARNING BY MAKING CONSTRUCTIONISM – POWERED BY PI-TOP ISSUE 1 JANUARY/MARCH 2018
Education and the Fourth Industrial Revolution
pi-top Innovation Challenge
Interview with Mitch Resnick MIT Lifelong Kindergarten UK £5 USD $9
WE M AKE T H E FUTURE www.pi-top.com pi-top TEAM www.pi-top.com pi-tops are used in over 2,000 schools introducing a world of physical computing and project-based learning to Computer pi-top TEAM @GetPiTop Science and STEAM classrooms. www.pi-top.com
>> Foreword I’d like to invite you to join us on our journey to help bring the power of physical computing to the world of education. We believe students embracing STEAM learning, by making, is vital to their future success – and the success of the global economy – and our mission is to provide powerful, inspiring platforms that bring science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics to life. The pi-top platform is an award-winning ecosystem used around the world in more than 2,000 schools in nearly 70 countries – including more than 1,000 schools in the US – blending physical computing and project-based learning with Computer Science and STEAM education. As one of the industry’s fastest growing education technology companies, we are passionate about empowering educators to achieve their goals and we hope you will join us along the way. JESSE LOZANO, CEO and co-founder, pi-top
17 pi-top Unlimited Warranty
Q & A with Sam Page, Westminster School
Can Constructionism prevent
Education and the Fourth
Industrial Revolution Case Study with Kevin Chung, House Schools Group
LEARNING BY MAKING
our children turning into Stormtroopers?
10 The pi-top Ecosystem for Learning
12 Kennedy High School, California case
14 The pi-top Innovation Challenge
St Raymond School, California case
20 Interview with Mitchel Resnick 22 Screen Time? How about Creativity Time?
With Sam Page, Head of Computer Science, Westminster School
I am the Head of Computer Science at Westminster Schoolare inspired by the Maker Movement and encourage our pupils to try practical computing both inside and outside the curriculum. All our pupils in Year 9 follow a compulsory Python course, and we follow an iGCSE specification in years 10 and 11. We try to make sure that there are opportunities outside the classroom to try robotics, cryptography and offer support for a range of computing competitions.
In Year 9 we regularly use the pi-topCEED with the SenseHat. In Years 10 and 11 they are a useful tool to demonstrate practical implementations of theory topics. We often use them for students who are completing differentiation tasks.
Hi Sam, tell us about your position at Westminster Schoolare inspired
What have you learnt or taught with pi-top?
We have been keen enthusiasts of the Raspberry Pi since it was first launched, but found that time constraints meant we were not able to use them as often as we would like within the classroom. pi-top has allowed us greater freedom to explore practical computing with larger groups simply by being quicker and more convenient to set up. It has also introduced the pupils to implementing their programming skills in a different way, using the SenseHat and other physical components.
How have you used pi-top in the classroom?
What has been your favourite project you’ve seen produced on a pi-top?
This year we have issued all our GCSE students with a Raspberry Pi and asked them to build physical computing projects on a particular theme. Having the pi-tops means that pupils can bring in their SD cards or their own computers and set them up and work on them both at home and within the We have used the pi-topPROTO boards with classroom. Amongst our favourites are a our Sixth Form students during their EPQ project that tweets pet hygiene alerts by lessons to prototype stepper motor controllers, weighing their litter tray with a load cell; for example – the removable acrylic panel a ‘magic mirror’ which lets the user know easily facilitates this. the arrival time of the next bus to school, and an infra-red Hamster Cam for the pet They are used as easily portable stand-alone who is never awake when you are. demonstrators, sometimes simply running YouTube videos on a loop. This year we used What advice would you have for anyone one in the staffroom to randomly choose our using or teaching with pi-top? Secret Santas!
Have you found any benefits in your practice using pi-top?
The pi-tops have given us the opportunity to implement practical computing lessons without worrying about the time constraints of rearranging the computer lab. They are easy to set up and put away, and this lets us focus on the learning rather than plugging and unplugging monitors. This is important where most CS departments do not have technician support on hand to help.
There are lots of good resources and forums to support those who want to try practical projects. Set a few examples up yourself, and then leave them out in the classroom and pupils will be curious about them. Use the resources from pi-top and the Raspberry Pi Foundation and let your pupils experiment and have fun!
LEARNING BY MAKING
Education and the Fourth Industrial Revolution >> Graham Brown-Martin We are on the precipice of what the World Economic Forum calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Artificial intelligence. Automation. Ubiquitous, mobile supercomputing. Intelligent robots. Self-driving cars. Neuro-technological brain enhancements. Genetic editing. The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and itâ€™s happening at exponential speed.
that drives downward pressure on income security and social agency while society adapts to the new normal. Combined with climate change and rapid global population growth, this century is the most challenging that our species has ever faced. Governments, educators and parents alike must ask the question about how they can prepare present and future generations to thrive in this transforming world.
This revolution brings with it exciting possibilities, new solutions to global challenges, and employment opportunities for jobs that have yet to be invented. At the same time it comes with the potential for technological unemployment
Policy briefings from across the global political spectrum as well as organisations including OECD, McKinsey, Bank of England and MIT have been able to identify the breadth of jobs that are likely to be threatened by technological advance
There are three key areas where humans beat machines that are key to future job creation: • creative endeavours, everything from scientific discovery to creative writing and entrepreneurship • social interaction, robots just don’t have the kind of emotional intelligence that humans do • physical dexterity and mobility, millennia of hiking mountains, swimming lakes and dancing practice gives humans extraordinary agility and physical dexterity It’s beyond doubt that education is at the heart of preparing present and future generations to thrive. As a result it’s vital that we have an education that develops human potential rather than pits it against machines. An education system designed for an industrial economy that is now being automated requires transformation, from a system based on facts and procedures to one that actively applies that knowledge to collaborative problem solving. This won’t be easy given the perverse financial incentives of an education model rooted in the late 19th century, driven by an antiquated text book and measurement industry that regards teaching as delivery rather than design. For decades this industry imagined that teaching as delivery, in the form of instruction, would mean that human teachers could eventually be replaced by computers. But this has misunderstood the nature of teaching and learning which is a uniquely personal and social activity between people that caters to every learners changing needs, unique talents, passions, and interests. In fact the very things that set them aside from the machines that are now emerging as part of this next industrial revolution. Alvin Toffler in his book Future Shock (1970) posited that “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”.
noting, for example, that “rapid progress in AI indicates a much broader range of jobs than previously thought could be carried out by machines” (OECD, Future of Work, 2013). Whilst economists, futurists and other experts have been good at predicting the demise of jobs they haven’t been great at pointing to the new jobs that will emerge, whether people will be equipped to do them and whether they’ll produce adequate income. But things don’t need to be so bleak or dystopian. The reality is that the jobs of the future will be the ones that machines can’t do and it’s fair to say anything that can be measured or is based on rules will be automated. This is great news because it means we can automate the work and humanise the jobs.
Toffler wasn’t suggesting that reading and writing would become unimportant, he was emphasising that in times of rapid change in an uncertain future the most valuable skill would be learning how to learn rather than simply reciting a set of facts and procedures. De-siloing the curriculum and designing learning experiences that encourage learners to make things by collaboratively solving interesting real-world challenges will be the key to thriving in this century. We will succeed by working alongside our machines rather than competing with them, by programming them rather than being programmed by them.
Kevin Chung >>
House Schools Group, London
House Schools Group joined the pi-top community when each school purchased a dozen pi-tops for its pupils. The group is accustomed to being ahead of the curve in terms of technology integration and so pi-top was an obvious choice to fill the demands of the computing curriculum and the growing number of code clubs. From the initial contact, the staff at pi-top have been super friendly and approachable. They seem genuinely interested in how the children are getting on with the pi-tops and there is a constant feedback loop, which we know are going to help them develop more. When the pi-tops arrived, both the teachers and children were very excited to see the clever packaging and couldnâ€™t wait to build them. The step-by-step instructions were easy to follow and kids were totally engrossed into building them - and so were the big kids - the teachers! The notion that the children can say theyâ€™ve built their own laptop computer is what makes pi-top so special and pi-top seems to be the only thing the children have been talking about since they got their hands on building them.
speed increase and built in wireless. pi-top also threw in a few pi-topPROTO boards too, which allowed the children to gain experience prototyping electronics. As well as the usual Raspberry Pi software, the pi-top came bundled with CEEDuniverse, a very cleverly designed game that teaches coding to children in a form of an adventure game with elements of the science curriculum thrown in! Overall, the group is very pleased with our pi-tops as they fulfil the needs of the computing curriculum and engage in our code clubs.
Our children are no strangers to coding and robotics as they have been using Raspberry Pis as part of the computing curriculum and code clubs, but the pi-tops added another dimension of excitement to the curriculum. The pi-tops came with Raspberry Pi3 boards, which the children were grateful for the
LEARNING BY MAKING
Can Constructionism prevent our children turning into Stormtroopers? >>
Reclaiming 21st Century EdTech from 19th Century Practice
The British writer, George Monbiot, in his column in The Guardian newspaper recently wrote “In the future, if you want a job, you must be as unlike a machine as possible: creative, critical and socially skilled. So why are children being taught to behave like machines?” If, at first glance, you regard this as a controversial swipe against the teaching community you’d have missed the point. Much like Sir Ken Robinson’s famous TED talk about schools killing creativity this is about as far from a critical statement about the teaching profession as it is possible to get. After all, many of today’s educators understand and value creative, hands-on, student-centred learning. What both of these positions have in common is that they question whether an educational system, driven by an industry of text book manufacturers and examination bodies, has lost sight of its purpose. The purpose of education and why we send our children to school is a conversation that needs to be held in the public domain. Parents will often say that they want their children to get good grades and that is how they measure the performance of a school but is it possible that these are just the proxies for them wanting their child to live well in the world? Others may say that they want their child to get into a good university but if all we believe is that school is just the conveyer belt into a university or a job then we are in all sorts of trouble. Because a degree from even the best university no longer guarantees a job for life and the future of work is rapidly changing. Somewhere at the end of the 19th century the purpose of school became the preparation of young people to become compliant and productive office or factory workers preloaded with a set of facts and procedures that would allow them to navigate the industrial society of their time.
This traditional or standard model of education was largely successful and was scaled to much of the westernised world. It allowed an industrial economy to flourish as workers all over the world could perform mental arithmetic, transcribe and send messages, and remember enough information without referring to library books. It gave birth to a text book and measurement industry that set the purpose of education and gauge the performance of its participants. Regardless of technological progress this education system has proven resistant to change, becoming increasingly unable to respond to the society it is supposed to reflect. Indeed as new technological platforms emerged they were used to merely improve instruction rather than catalyse new approaches to education. When computers first entered the education sector in the 1970s, we saw a fork in the road emerge where many were used for computer-aided instruction, to deliver instruction, where others used computers to allow children to express themselves. In 1980 Prof. Seymour Papert, an early pioneer of artificial intelligence and educational technology from MIT, wrote and published his seminal book on children, learning and computers; “Mindstorms”. Mindstorms has two central themes: that children can learn to use computers in a masterful way and that learning to use computers can change the way they learn everything else. Even outside the classroom, Papert had a vision that the computer could be used just as casually and as personally for a diversity of purposes throughout a person’s entire life. Papert makes the point that in classrooms saturated with technology there is actually more socialisation and that the technology often contributes to greater interaction among students and among students and instructors.
TIONISM Papert had developed a learning theory
he called “Constructionism”. Papert had been a protege of Jean Piaget, a developmental psychologist, who was a peer of Lev Vygotsky who between them had developed philosophies about the nature of knowledge called Constructivism and Social Constructivism respectively. Constructivism is primarily focused on how humans make meaning in relation to the interaction between their experiences and their ideas. That is, their learning is as a result of their experiences. Such experiential learning, rather than the abstract learning of content by rote, inspired Papert to develop his own Constructionist learning theory. Papert saw how, at the dawn of the micro-computer, learning could be a reconstruction of knowledge rather than simply a transmission. That learning could be personal, experiential and situated where,
CONSTRUCT aided by digital systems, learners would effectively construct their own meaning as a discovery of knowledge. This, Papert believed, was the true liberating power that computers would bring to future learners and teachers as creators of learning experiences. But alas since 1985 the optimistic vision that Papert shared for the future of learning dwindled as technology was co-opted not to liberate but to reinforce standardisation and automation of schools ways. In 1993 in his book,”The Children’s Machine”, Papert lamented: “Little by little the subversive features of the computer were eroded away: Instead of cutting across and so challenging the very idea of subject boundaries, the computer now defined a new subject; instead of changing the emphasis from impersonal curriculum to excited live exploration by students, the computer was now used to reinforce School’s ways. What had started as a subversive instrument of change was neutralised by the system and converted into an instrument of consolidation.” Visit many commercial EdTech events today and it’s hard not to be struck by how exceptionally bland so much of it has become. Despite the incredible financial bets
being made on EdTech, with more money than ever being injected into start-ups, some have turned EdTech into the equivalent of “satellite navigation” for learning which means you never get lost and you always end up at the same destination passing through the town of Boredom. Enslaved to the tyranny of testing and measurement, the affordances of today’s technology in EdTech form are being used to develop ever more efficient ways of delivering a 19th century curriculum. Perhaps we have lost sight of what education is for and why we send our kids to school? Essentially we are using today’s digital platforms to go into reverse. We’re talking about content, and teacher at the front distribution while measuring the effectiveness of our tech by improvement in measured learning outcomes for which read, passing tests. But what about “personalised learning”? In corporate EdTech circles this has simply become a euphemism for computer adaptive instruction. Real personalised learning requires a human practiced in the craft of teaching to design, after all there’s a clue in the word. Personalised learning is focused on the child rather than the instruction. The individuated or differentiated learning that software is capable of is all about instruction and the same end point destination. This is what is known as “Instructionism” or the explicit teaching of facts or showing students how to solve problems and then having the students practice them. Instructionists believe that learning is the direct result of having been taught. But all is not lost. The case studies found in this publication, for example, demonstrate how qualified and experienced practitioners are designing learning experiences for their students to equip them with both the skills and knowledge to thrive in the years ahead.
At the outer fringes of the galaxy are new start-ups where the action and excitement is. These young organisations are all about providing the tools and the opportunities for experiential learning that is centred on the learner rather than the instruction. pi-top is one of the new breed who are challenging the status quo and they are growing fast. It could be argued that it is organisations like these who, rather than those seeking to automate and standardise education, are like a “Rebel Alliance” liberating learners and teachers alike to create their own, powerful learning experiences. Learning how to learn, collaboratively solve problems and create new knowledge must surely be some of the most vital competences that a child can leave school with. It’s hard to see how another interactive white board or learning management system, with or without AI, will provide access to these skills. Yet these nascent enterprises give me hope that EdTech has yet to have its soul completely crushed, swallowed and spat out as another uberfication of education where the learner is simply a passenger and the destination is a set of certificates from a bygone age. In the argument between instructionism vs constructivism it’s worth noting, as Dr Ken Rowe suggests in the book Standards in Education (2007), that, “The relative utility of direct instruction and constructivist approaches to teaching and learning are neither mutually exclusive nor independent”. As in Star Wars, from which the title of this article takes its influence, it’s all about bringing “balance to the Force”. By tapping into the force of Constructionism can we design our education systems to inspire and unleash the potential of learners as Jedi’s rather than settle for Stormtroopers?
by Graham Brown-Martin
pi-top ecosystem for learning pi-top modular laptop with sliding keyboard powered by the Raspberry Pi.
INVENTOR’S KIT INCLUDED
projects to explore
A canvas redesigned for your biggest ideas. Innovate and create with your own inventor’s kit. It includes several components such as a pi-topPROTO+ (pi-topPROTO plus). There are 3 inventor’s journeys to get you started – Smart Robot, Music Maker and Space Race. The booklet details 20+ projects to complete with the step-by-step guide in the pi-topCODER app! Discover the exciting world of coding and building electronics.
Your pi-top now includes a free inventor’s kit. Slide back the keyboard to reveal an exciting new world of electronics, coding and science, you can enjoy, regardless of your age or computing ability. The new pi-top modular laptop makes experimenting, coding and building electronics, simple and fun.
pi-topCEED pi-topCEED is a modular desktop kit with magnetic rails. The pi-topCEED is an engaging way to explore computer science and STEAM subjects. It’s a modular desktop powered by the Raspberry Pi that is simple to setup and use. You only need to add a keyboard and mouse! Designed for all ages and abilities, pi-topCEED provides anyone with an invaluable resource for teaching and learning programming, computing and electronics.
Modular Accessories These accessories allow you to enhance your pi-top or pi-topCEED to do more physical computing projects, experiment with LED arrays and giving your device sound. Most pi-top accessories (excl pi-topPULSE) can be daisy-chained together. They are all fitted onto the magnetic Modular Rail.
pi-topSPEAKER A speaker which slides into the modular rail of the pi-top and pi-topCEED. You can play sounds, watch videos, code up music and create your own musical projects!
pi-topPULSE pi-topPULSE brings the arts into STEAM, integrating a speaker, 7x7 RGB LED matrix and microphone. You’ll be able to code your own games, create music and light-shows. With full Amazon Alexa compatibility.
pi-topPROTO A great prototyping board for physical computing projects. Build and connect projects with the pi-topCODER app. Slides into modular rail and is Raspberry Pi HAT compatible.
pi-topOS pi-topOS Polaris – The Intuitive Operating System
Based on Raspbian, the OCR* endorsed pi-topOS platform comes preinstalled and ready to go on an SD card shipped with every pi-top computer. The pi-topOS software suite lets you do everything that you would expect from a modern laptop or desktop computer: browse the web, stream media, check emails, create and edit Microsoft Office compatible files It also comes with custom-designed software applications.
CUSTOM SOFTWARE APPLICATIONS pi-topCODER is a pi-top exclusive app that allows you to access dozens of resources and projects. It has step-by-step guides for computer science and physical electronics projects. It is a customized code editor with dynamically draggable-views for text input, application output and learning instructions in a single screen. pi-topCLASSROOM is the teacher’s classroom management suite for the pi-top curriculum. Link your pi-topCLASSROOM account to each student in your class in order to share worksheets and track student progress. Create your own new pi-topCODER worksheets or use your own existing content for your class. CEEDuniverse is a revolutionary educational game. You are a space explorer. You have just crash landed on a mysterious new planet. Exploring the planet you first encounter visual coding puzzles to train your computational thinking skills then progressing to editing text-based code.
LEARNING BY MAKING
Kennedy High School >>
“Let them try the technology and see what they can do with it” says Dr. LaRue Moore of the IT Academy at Kennedy High School in Richmond, California, “because they need to feel like they can succeed in today’s world.” Many of the students at Kennedy High School have more than their fair share of challenges to overcome – from living in high crime areas in the shadow of Silicon Valley, to learning to speak and read English while simultaneously learning their core subjects. Dr. Moore sees technology and STEAM education as a source of inspiration for his students, and a path to a brighter future. The first step in Dr. Moore’s students’ journey with the pi-top computers is to “go play” and get to know the technology first-hand, overcoming any fears or uncertainty. The next step is to learn to code using Python, understand the concepts involved with careers with connected devices and the Internet of Things, participate in “hackathons”, begin exploring robotics, digital arts, networking and design. He gives his students two years of experience across many technology platforms so they can decide on a direction for their future careers. The students complete final projects that give them college credit and a path forward to the career of their choice. “pi-top systems are perfect for what I do in the classroom,” says Dr. Moore. “They are durable, self-contained and very convenient. I need to quickly bring out the pi-top computers and prepare for 40 students, then I need to quickly put them away again. The
design saves me a great deal of time and effort.” They also give students experience with the Linux operating system which runs many servers in the cloud. Once the pi-top systems are in the classroom, Dr. Moore’s students use them in a variety of exciting ways. For example, they worked on a service learning project called “Resilient by Design” with the University of California’s Center for Cities + Schools (Y-PLAN) to study techniques for improving the world around them. Students proposed the use of sensors connected wirelessly to their pi-top computers to measure air quality, flood waters, groundwater supplies and more. “One student even decided that he could measure a tsunami warning system by connecting to oceanic data from buoys, feeding the information back to his pi-top,” he explained. Dr. Moore’s hope is that by opening their eyes to what’s possible, students will see they can get “serious jobs” that lead to future career success. As Dr. Moore puts it, “My job is to get them to believe that they can be successful in whatever career they choose.”
There are 3 inventor’s journeys – Smart Robot, Music Maker and Space Race – that take you through 20+ hands-on projects.
“My job is to get them to believe that they can be successful in whatever career they choose.” Dr. LaRue Moore, Kennedy High School
Colors Raspberry Pi 3 optional pi-topCEED is the plug & play modular desktop. It's the easiest way to use your Raspberry Pi. We’ve put what you love about our flagship laptop in a slimmer form factor. Join hundreds of code clubs and classrooms using pi-topCEED as their solution to Computer Science and STEAM based learning.
pi-top Innovation Challenge >>
Making Kids Future-Proof This year, we are launching the pi-top Innovation Challenge (pi-topIC), an international project-based learning program and competition. The pi-topIC is an inspiring, experiential, hands-on learning program where students learn vital skills, while collaborating on a Capstone project that could have a positive impact on society. The program combines the software development training of a code club with the hands-on engineering skills of a robotics program, along with the real-world challenges of managing a technology company. The goal of the program is to provide students with the practical skills they’ll need to be successful in the future. pi-topIC is an interdisciplinary, 24-week program divided over three terms, helping students learn, develop and implement important STEAM concepts like coding, design, physical computing and computational thinking. Schools around the world are eligible to participate in the program. The content will be delivered in 2- to 3-hour learner-centred sessions. The first 16 weeks of the program combine a custom-designed pi-top computer science curriculum with real-world project management and leadership opportunities, giving students essential future skills. The program utilises pi-top’s modular hardware, dedicated software, an Inventor’s Kit and specially designed content to unleash the inner inventor in every student. The third and final term is dedicated to a Capstone Challenge competition aimed at solving one of today’s many societal or environmental challenges – from rainwater management for food supplies to new techniques for recycling, to product advances leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT). Winning schools will receive national recognition for their project. “We believe all students need access to real-world, applied learning experiences that empower them to gain the skills they need to thrive in life,” said Jesse Lozano, pi-top CEO. “The pi-top Innovation Challenge will provide an exciting, engaging entrance into the world of hands-on computer science, coding, engineering and design – as well as business management – that will inspire students to reach their full potential.” For more information or to sign up, email PIC@pi-top.com or go to www.pi-top.com/PIC.
LEARNING BY MAKING
A complete hardware solution encompassing
Professional development and training in
Unlimited warranty and unlimited customer
pi-top modular laptops, Inventorâ€™s Kits and
a variety of formats, including short-form
support for the life of the agreement and
Nova boards, as well as a charging trolley
video content, live and recorded webinars
the ability to fund the pi-topIC through local
and all necessary components to take part in
and bespoke face-to-face training (subject
PTAs, education foundations, parent support
the Innovation Challenge.
to requirements) to ensure teachers are
or other funding sources
successful in leading their students through the program
A software suite that includes
A powerful educational program run by
By joining the pi-top community youâ€™ll be
pi-topCLASSROOM and pi-topCODER to
teachers and experts that will prepare
able to participate in the Innovation Challenge
manage the classroom and assign work
students to take on the challenges of the
capstone project, competing with other
to students, CEED Universe, our online
future. This includes the pi-topIC program,
schools from around the world, with winning
game to help teach computer science, as
as well as ever-growing content, teacher
schools enjoying enhanced media visibility
well as Google Suite, a complete MS
resources, and formal lesson plans mapped
and community recognition
Office-compatible productivity suite.
to the curriculum
WE MA KE T H E FUTURE
+ Unlimited warranty >> Cost. Downtime. Lost productivity. Frustration. These are just some of the issues associated with “limited” product warranties. It can be difficult getting customer support and, often, companies will try to pass the blame back to the customer. And when you finally get someone on the customer service line, you often have to pay for technical support to find out what’s wrong. We get it. And we don’t like it either. That’s why we’ve developed what we call our “Unlimited Warranty” for everyone that joins the pi-top Innovation Challenge community. What does unlimited mean? It means unlimited. If your product breaks, we’ll fix it or replace it. Right away. No extra costs. No hassle. For the life of the program. We can even work with you to have backup units and peripherals on-hand and available to ensure zero downtime so you can get back to teaching. What about technical support? Our unlimited warranty also means unlimited technical support, too, with support personnel from your region, there to help. We have dedicated customer service team members ready to handle your request, diagnose the problem and make things right. As a member of the pi-top community, you’re covered throughout the life of the program. Unlimited.
St Raymond School >>
Menlo Park, California
>> Kenneth Hawthorn Kenneth Hawthorn is a Mechanical Engineer turned teacher. He currently heads the Mechatronics program at St. Raymond school www.straymond.club (blog). The program is cross-curricular and blends the domains of hardware, software and chassis design within the context of Design Thinking. His students become familiar with a wide variety of tools within each of the domains in order to explore the idea of Technology Generalist. Mr. Hawthorn in on the national Teacher Advisory Council for Autodesk and is one of ten 2016/2017 Dremel Idea Builder Ambassadors.
At the St. Raymond school in Menlo Park, California, Ken Hawthorne has one goal: ensure that his school is a model for STEAM learning. Ken is a mechanical engineer turned teacher. As a consulting engineer he worked on a wide range of designs – from electric motorcycles to Large Scale Processor Reference (LSPR) machines and he holds US Patent 7,713,154 for a Fixed Pitch Continuously Variable Transmission. Today, he applies his passion for engineering to his students at the St. Raymond school and his fellow teachers around the country. Ken recently chose pi-top systems for his classroom and his professional development work. St. Raymond school is a small, tight-knit community with high-achieving students. Ken integrates STEAM learning into all of his classroom work where students learn about computer hardware, design, coding in multiple languages, 3-D printing and are given challenging tasks to complete individually and in teams. Ken gives his students the following analogy: if you are launching a satellite into orbit, you have a fixed space for the payload, that might be 10cm cubed. With that same idea of mechanical constraints on an electronics system, he asks his students to design a module of their own for the pi-top that will fit in a limited space and serve a new function - like a microbit rover or analog input device. “What would you want it to do?” he asks. “What would it be used for? OK, now let’s design it.”
And they do, using pi-top systems. Ken’s students learn how to code, design modules, simulate their function, and, often, construct devices using a 3-D printer. “The pi-top systems allow my students to learn the inner workings of a computer, to create, design and explore. pi-top provides a classroom-friendly physical chassis for students to design modules and provides structure when learning code with pi-topOS: Polaris. The pi-top design enables amazingly easy connections to external hardware and prototyping components and gives students and teachers the confidence to explore a computer from the inside out.” To integrate the pi-top systems into the classroom, Ken first introduces the students to their pi-top system so they can “get to know them,” as he describes it. “Step two is: what’s your dream? Now let’s build it.” The result: 300 modules designed by students from 1st grade through 8th grade, and a school filled with inspired students. But Ken’s – and his school’s – vision goes well beyond inspiring students at St. Raymond’s school. It’s a vision of empowering all teachers to use STEAM learning in their classrooms. Ken leads a number of professional development programs on campus and at industry events, helping give teachers knowledge and confidence about using technology in creative, innovative ways. He brings pi-top systems along to demonstrate new ideas for classroom learning.
There are 3 inventor’s journeys – Smart Robot,
Music Maker and Space Race – that take you through 20+ hands-on projects.
Colors Raspberry Pi 3 optional pi-topCEED is the plug & play modular desktop. It's the easiest way to use your Raspberry Pi. We’ve put what you love about our flagship laptop in a slimmer form factor. Join hundreds of code clubs and classrooms using pi-topCEED as their solution to Computer Science and STEAM based learning.
Recently, St. Raymond’s school hosted technology and STEM/STEAM teachers from around the San Francisco area for a day of connecting software programs written in pi-topPULSE Python to the physical world. They explored code that changed the physical world, writing Python to turn on LED lights on a breadboard, for example. The teachers gained valuable knowledge and skills to share with their students.
LEARNING BY MAKING
Modular Accessories “The goal is to change the teacher culture so they are comfortable with technology and employing STEAM.”
“The goal is to change the teacher culture so they are comfortable with technology and employing STEAM,” Ken says. “If I can get each teacher to take back just one tool to their classroom, the day has been a success.”
MITCHEL RESNICK Lifelong Kindergarten MIT Media Lab
Mitchel Resnick, is the Director of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab. Amongst his groupâ€™s many achievements is the programming language, called Scratch, that makes it easier for kids to create their own animated stories, video games, and interactive art. His book, Lifelong Kindergarten â€“ Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers and Play, was recently published by MIT Press and is available at all good book stores. We caught up with Mitchel to talk about how to design an education system to equip children to thrive. pi-top: For more than 100 years society has experienced change and yet our education systems have remained constant. What is different now and why should they change?
It’s important to have a project-based approach, where people aren’t just responding to a particular question and giving an answer and moving on to the next question, but when I say project-based, it means coming up with an idea, playing out the idea, creating an example, trying it out, seeing what happens, revising it, iterating based on what happens. That’s what a project is about. It’s not just a matter of having children work on projects, but giving them opportunities to work on projects they’re passionate about, that they care about. Of course, this should not just be an individual endeavour. The most creative thinking comes when we work in collaboration with others, with peers. So, we want to help children work on projects based on their passion in collaboration with peers. I think if we want them to be creative in these projects, then they need to be constantly experimenting and trying new things and testing the boundaries. That’s what I mean by a playful approach. We want to make sure they have an approach, which is where they’re constantly experimenting in a playful way. So, giving children the opportunity to work on projects based on their passions in collaboration with peers in a playful spirit is what I think is the key to helping them develop as creative thinkers. MR: One thing that I think everyone could agree upon, is that the world is changing more rapidly now than ever before. That’s one thing that is a characteristic of today’s society. If we live in a fast-changing world, it means that children growing up will face a never-ending stream of new unknown and unpredictable situations. I think, too much in today’s educational system, it’s trying to guess exactly what children will need and give them a particular set of skills to prepare for a particular future that is imagined. When we know that things will be changing, the most important thing for us to do is to help children learn to think creatively, adapt to change, and come up with innovative approaches to new and changing situations. We need to think about how we can support children growing up as creative thinkers, so they’re prepared to be able to deal with the world that they will be living in. I don’t think the current educational system was designed for that, or does a very good job of that. We need to make new changes. pi-top: How do we move from an education system that is based around direct instruction to one that is based on making and constructionism? MR: If we agree that it’s important for children to grow up learning to think creatively, the root of creative is create. We need to give children the opportunity to create. If we give them the opportunity to create, they will develop as creative thinkers. Giving them opportunity to create is part of what constructionism is about, the ability to give them opportunities to make things as part of meaningful projects. I do think it’s more needed now than ever to provide children with opportunities to design, make, create, and invent. I tend to characterise this approach in terms of four words that begin with the letter P, projects, passion, peers, and play.
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I’m not saying that that’s easy to do. In fact, there’s a quote that I’ve always liked from John Dewey, the father of progressive education, who was arguing for many of these same ideas 100 years ago. When John Dewey was talking about the progressive education approach, he said, “It’s simple but not easy.” What I think he meant by that is, you can easily describe it. I describe it in the four words of projects, passion, peers, and play. So, it’s simple, but not easy. It doesn’t mean it’s easy to implement. I’m not saying it’s easy to assess, but it’s important to assess the things that we value. Too often in today’s schools, we end up valuing the things that we can assess. Instead, I think we have to figure out ways of assessing the things that we value.
Screen Time? How about Creativity Time? Resnick >> Mitchel Professor of Learning Research, MIT Media Lab In today’s fast-changing society, nothing is more important than the ability to think and act creatively.
deal with the challenge of rapid change, by helping children to develop as creative thinkers.
less time on screens. I get frustrated by both sides. Let me explain why—and explore how we might think about things differently.
As today’s children grow up, they will confront a never-ending stream of unknown, uncertain, and unpredictable situations. They will need to learn to deal flexibly and creatively with this ever-changing world. New technologies play an important and complex role in these trends. On one hand, new technologies have undoubtedly contributed to the rapid pace of change in society. At the same time, if we design and use new technologies in the right ways, they can help
Unfortunately, discussions about new technologies have become increasingly polarized. On one side are people who might be called techno-enthusiasts; they tend to get excited about the possibilities of almost all new technologies—the newer, the better. On the other side are people who might be called techno-skeptics; they worry about the negative impacts of new technologies. They prefer that children spend more time with traditional toys and outdoor play and
Let’s start with the techno-enthusiasts. With digital technologies playing an increasingly important role in all parts of the culture and economy, it’s hardly surprising that people are enthusiastic about using new technologies to enhance learning and education. And with children spending more and more time playing games on their phones, tablets, and computers, it’s hardly surprising that educators are trying to integrate gaming into classroom
+ activities, hoping to leverage the high level of motivation and engagement that children exhibit when playing games. There is a certain logic to all of this—but there’s a problem. Too often, designers of educational materials and activities simply add a thin layer of technology and gaming over antiquated curriculum and pedagogy. In one classroom I visited, there was a large display at the front of the room, and each student had a network-connected laptop. The teacher asked questions, and the students entered responses on their laptops. On the large display, for all to see, was a listing of which students had answered the question correctly, and how quickly each student had responded. Students were awarded points based on their speed and accuracy, and the display showed a running tally of their scores. The software was well-designed, and the teacher was happy to have easy access to well-organized data on student performance. I have no doubt that some of the students found this game-like approach very motivating. But I’m also sure that some students found it very discouraging
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and disempowering. And the activity put an emphasis on questions that can be answered quickly with right and wrong answers— certainly not the type of questions that I would prioritize in a classroom. The activity reminded me of my own experiences in fourth grade, when the teacher rearranged the order of our desks each Monday based on our scores on the previous Friday’s spelling test. I believe that this highly visible weekly ranking was bad for all students—those in the first row as well as those in the last. It is painful for me to see the same pedagogical approach repeated decades later, with greater efficiency, thanks to new technologies. As frustrated as I get with technoenthusiasts, I get equally frustrated with
for expression, not unlike crayons and watercolors. As children design and share interactive stories, games, and animations with Scratch, they learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively – essential skills for everyone in today’s society. But when techno-skeptics look at new technologies, they tend to see only the challenges, not the possibilities. Today, concerns about the role of new technologies in children’s lives are often expressed in terms of screen time. Parents and teachers are trying to decide if they should set limits on how much time their children spend interacting with screens. I think this debate misses the point. Of course there’s a problem if children spend all their time interacting with screens—just as there would be a problem if they spent all their time playing the violin or reading books or playing sports. Spending all your time on any one thing is problematic. But the most important issue with screen time is not quantity but quality. There are many ways of interacting with screens; it doesn’t make sense to treat them all the same. Time spent playing a violent video game is different from time spent texting with friends, which is different from time spent researching a report for school, which is different from time spent creating a Scratch project.
techno- skeptics. In many cases, the skeptics apply very different standards to new technologies than to “old” technologies. They worry about the antisocial impact of a child spending hours working on a computer, while they don’t have any concerns about a child spending the same time reading a book. They worry that children interacting with computers don’t spend enough time outside, but they don’t voice similar concerns about children playing musical instruments. I’m not suggesting that there are no reasons for concern. I’m just asking for more consistency. Techno-skeptics often argue that children should spend more time with crayons and watercolors, rather than tablets and laptops. But they tend to forget that crayons and watercolors were viewed as “advanced technologies” at some point in the past. We see them differently now because they’ve become integrated into the culture. Computer
pioneer Alan Kay likes to say that technology is anything that was invented after you were born. For kids growing up today, laptops and mobile phones aren’t high-tech tools— they’re everyday tools, just like crayons and watercolors. I think I become particularly aggravated with techno-skeptics not because I disagree with them on so many things, but rather because I agree with them on so many things. Most techno-skeptics have goals and values very similar to my own. We all agree on the importance of providing children with opportunities to develop their imagination and creativity. In developing the Scratch programming language and online community (scratch. mit.edu), my research group at MIT Media Lab is aiming to expand opportunities for children’s creative thinking and creative expression. We see Scratch as a medium
Rather than trying to minimize screen time, I think parents and teachers should try to maximize creative time. The focus shouldn’t be on which technologies children are using, but rather what children are doing with them. Some uses of new technologies foster creative thinking; others restrict it. The same is true for older technologies. Rather than trying to choose between high-tech, low-tech, and no-tech, parents and teachers should be searching for activities that will engage children in creative thinking and creative expression.
(Adapted from the book Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play, MIT Press, 2017.)
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