Yesterday was our first day of Michigan Makers at Mitchell Elementary. We couldn’t wait to meet our new participants and welcome back some familiar faces. Our menu for the day was’s Hour of Code with Anna and Elsa, which uses Google’s drag-and-drop programming language, Blockly. We also brought the junk box, LEGO, and K’nex in case anyone finished early, but no one had enough time for those!

Two girls help each other with a difficult puzzle.Some of the kids had experience with Blockly, but we decided to have everyone start with this activity so that everyone could get grounded in the same basic skills. We also wanted kids to get some experience with Blockly now, since we will be bringing in the iPads and Dash & Dot robots soon, and want the kids to feel comfortable using the Blockly programming app which lets you pre-program noises, movement, lights, and more! Since some kids had experience with Blockly or Scratch, we were a little bit surprised that only two students completed all 20 puzzles.

We noticed that initially, some of the students skipped the video tutorials which give some really important information. They quickly realized that they needed to watch the videos to be able to complete the puzzles, so as time went on we had to answer less questions. It was awesome to see the students move from saying, “This is too hard!” about the first level, to confidently using loops. Part of this came from watching the instructions in the videos, and part from peer or mentor guidance, trial-and-error, and other problem-solving strategies. A student demonstrates to another how to solve a puzzle. Before the day was over, the kids reflected on these strategies. One of the most challenging aspects of this activity turned out to be figuring out what degree of angle to use when making your snowflake, and how many loops you needed. Finally, we talked some more about some of the exciting activities we will be doing next week and throughout the rest of the semester. Not everyone was able to finish today – so we are going to be bringing back this activity so we can make sure everyone is prepared for Dash & Dot in the coming weeks!  

Three boys concentrate on their next puzzle.