After learning about computational thinking, participants will apply the framework to determine where students engage in computational thinking within the activity. Participants will engage in activities where students engineer as part of the investigations.
Participants will be able to use a pre-programmed microcontroller (loaned by the presenters) to experience 3 different short investigations each tied to a different phenomenon.
1) Does angle matter? How does the angle of the collector affect how warm it is? Using the microcontroller and lamps participants will collect data to build a model that explains why the tilt of the Earth creates different seasons.
2) Transparent, Translucent, and Opaque. When working in a greenhouse, different materials can be used to cover the greenhouse. Which is the best material for your area? Using the light level sensor on the microcontroller, participants test different materials to recommend their uses when designing a greenhouse.
3) Making an alarm - using the microcontroller accelerometer sensor, participants arm an alarm and see how the accelerometer works in three dimensions.
Participants will be provided printed copies of the lesson plans and how to engage students with using the microcontrollers. Note that no knowledge of coding or any equipment brought is necessary to participate in this workshop.
Attendees will learn
(1) Microcontrollers are small computers that come with several integrated sensors. Their functionality makes them useful for both investigations and engineering projects. Some of the basic functionality of different microcontrollers
(2) One definition of computation thinking is how to use computers to solve problems. Computational thinking activities that connect students to everyday phenomena. The development of algorithms or the decomposition of problems into simple steps are just two examples of processes associated with computation thinking. It is a powerful problem-solving technique that is used in the modern world
(3) How engineering tasks provide opportunities for student sensemaking
Susan German (Hallsville Middle School: Hallsville, MO), G. Michael Bowen (Mount Saint Vincent University: Halifax, NS)