Museum of Discovery

We spent the morning at Museum of Discovery in Little Rock with Michael’s side of the family.  It’s been recently updated and I LOVE what they’ve done with the place.  There’s so many cool science and engineering related activities for kids to play around with, which is right up my husband’s alley.  I told him he needs to schedule a field trip for his robotics students this year.  They would go insane.  (You can read about his upcoming Robotics class here)

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We each took a turn lying on the bed of nails.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t too bad.  I’m not saying I would take a nap on it, but it was fun for a few seconds.

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I think the grown ups had more fun than Bennett with some of the exhibits.

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The museum has a room for kids 6 and under which is adorable.  Lots of room for them to run around and lots of things to climb on.

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This thing was so cool!  You would put a piece of material in the pipe and air would blow it all around and then it would fly out and float to the bottom.  Do you see the pink one floating down?  Bennett had so much fun with this one.

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They couldn’t resist pretending to be newscasters.  Thank goodness it didn’t get too out of hand.  We were at a CHILDREN’S museum after all.

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I really appreciate the push in society toward science and engineering even though it’s nowhere near my neck of the woods as far as teaching goes.  I think it’s important to produce people who know how to think critically and problem solve.  It just makes for a smarter student in all subject areas, not just Science and Math.  And that makes for a smarter person in the world taking care of us when we’re old and dusty.

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Mr. Roboto, a post by Michael

Greetings to you all! My name is Michael, the husband to the wonderful woman who normally documents our lives on this blog, but I have taken to the keyboard this week.

As she said in her June 22nd post entitled Daddy’s Home, this summer I have been training for my new teaching position at Maumelle Middle School. I have taught a variety of things in the past 3 years: English, Creative Writing, and Math. Whew! Basically a different subject every year, but at the end of last school year I was given the opportunity to teach a class called Gateway to Technology. In this class, students learn how to design and draw 3D models on the computer as well as design and build robots to perform a variety of tasks. I was happy to accept this position because I feel that it really fits my skill set due to my previous career as an Interior Designer.

While I knew a little about my new subject, I had very little knowledge on how to actually teach it to 7th and 8th graders. Thankfully, my school district offered to pay for me to go to two training sessions to help me with that.

Last week, I was at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, MO for the robotics portion of my training. The training was conducted by Project Lead The Way. If you haven’t heard of this organization, please check them out and encourage your school to get a PLTW program. They are a leading provider of rigorous and innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education curricular programs used in middle and high schools across the U.S. In these programs, students create, design, build, discover, collaborate and solve problems while applying what they learn in math and science. They’re also exposed to STEM fields through professionals from local industries who supplement the real-world aspect of the curriculum through mentorships and workplace experiences.

Everything in the world today can be connected to math and science, so it’s important for students to put their best foot forward in order to succeed in today’s technological world.

We began the week by building simple mechanisms:

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Which progressed to more complex ones:

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For the mechanism below we were given a challenge to build a machine that would chop wood, pump water and grind grain all at once, which we did just that.

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Then we added motors:

The picture below shows a chair lift to help Grandma get up and down the stairs. Bless her heart.

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Below is an elevator that needed to travel to 3 different floors. Building it was easy, programming the computer to tell it when to go where was not.

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This was the final assignment. Everyone was given a section of an assembly line that needed to perform a certain task. My task was to cut a notch down the center of a wooden block, hence the giant buzz saw. The red LED light came on when the saw was in motion. Safety First!

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I was blessed to be in a class with such wonderful people that were very helpful and kind, despite being huge nerds.

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To say I am excited about this coming school year would be an understatement. I’m ecstatic! I look forward to seeing the creative problem solving that my students will use in my class and can only hope that they use the skills learned in my classroom to solve the challenges they face in life.