It’s day three and we are right where we promised to be: hands-on, critical thinking, engaged in making robots while at the same time while learning some history. For instance, the word robot didn’t come into our lexicon by scientists but by a dramatist in Prague who wrote the play RUR Robots. The themes of this play were about creative destruction. Now that is a theme adolescents can sink their brains into! This is but one of the ideas our students are considering as they design and manipulate parts to create glasses, birds and other 3 dimensional moving objects.
There is so much to learn. One thing that is clear on day three is that we can learn so much more, in such greater depth when are working on a project. Here is an example:
Today students are learning the first steps in building robots. They have touched on the history of the word, the play I mentioned and its themes; discussion of the first person who invented a “robot”, Leonardo DiVinci; they have solved a complex problem of putting together a kit and creating glasses and a bird that moves; they have discussed the difference between function and form, utility and fashion; they are watching one another and applying their own creativity; they are solving problems and identifying what robots are made of, what they are used for and why they matter.
Did you know that NASA consulted with science fiction writer Isaac Asimov when building their space program? It’s 10:10AM and the room is silent, but breathing rapidly with the energy of total concentration. Busy students are sponges.
“If you gave me just five more minutes, I could add a really cool feature to this.” remarked one student at the close of the first activity. 21st Century Schools must be flexible enough to give them five more minutes. The marching from unconnected subject matter to the next in 50 or even 90 minutes blocks is perhaps the death of ingenuity. Today, we are making robots, but at the same time we adding information on top of information, spiraling upward to greater understanding. We do this rather than compartmentalize and interrupt. Schools today need to give students 5, 10, 15 more minutes. We are showing the world how to do this. It’s not really that difficult.