ENGINEERING & SOFTWARE
Once a week grades 4 through 8 meet to explore engineering problem solving and software skills. This course is hands-on and the problems presented require a software solution. The students are learning and practicing the engineering design process while simultaneously learning the basic mechanics of software design.
We begin in 4th and 5th grade by keeping class light and fun by solving software puzzles and utilizing the playful robots named Dash and Dot, from Wonder Workshop. They are programmed using a drag and drop block-based coding language called Scratch, initially developed at MIT. This programming style has been shown to reduce the technical frustration normally found in text-based software programming, allowing the students to focus on process and plan.
Grades 6-8 are stepping into the Maker Movement utilizing the Arduino Development Environment, WiFi enabled hardware and the SeeedStudio Grove Sensor System. The students write standard software in C++ that interfaces with embedded hardware. The long term classroom goal is to function as an engineering development team. Together we create an overall design, and break it into smaller subsystems. Each team then tackles one subsystem and keeps synchronized with the team by using a version control system that allows branching and merging. This methodology allows us to tackle larger projects than would be possible working as an individual and the students practice problem solving and teamwork in a real world engineering environment.
Technology is an ever-expanding field which is creeping into every discipline on the planet. Our program lays a solid foundation so that students, no matter where they find themselves in the future, feel confident that they have the ability to understand and solve the problems before them.