Last Friday Bob and I went on an OLLI tour of A.J. Whittenberg elementary school of engineering. That’s right, engineering for pre kindergarten 4 to fifth grade 11 year olds. It is a new (2010) school in a not so good part of town. No requirements or tests to get into the school, students get in with a lottery. There are about 500 students and this year they graduate their first 5th grade class, 70 students.
The Greenville plan is that when these 5th graders graduate there will be an engineering middle school that some can go to so that school opens this fall and 35 of the 70 students will get to go. When those middle school students are ready for high school there is supposed to be an engineering high school for them to go to.
To say we were impressed is a huge understatement. They are teaching power point to first graders. Every class room has a display of the of the engineering process.
It is hard to explain. All the stem topics (science, technology, engineering, math) along with art and music are integrated together. So for example, when they study music they are really learning fractions (quarter notes, half notes, etc). They have leggo robots, every grade has an environmental task at the school. They had a group of 8 students who went to Germany this year for a leggo robot contest.
They are going to plant cotton next year so they can teach students about how hard it is to grow cotton, link it to history lessons and actually harvest the cotton and make it into thread.
Really fantastic. We are still talking about it.
Then on Sunday we went to Furman to the first:
T2PI: PROGRAMMING & PHYSICAL COMPUTING WITH ANNUAL PROGRAMMING INVENTORS’ EXPO. WEBINARS AND WORKSHOPS FOR ALL AGES AND EXPERIENCE LEVELS! featuring the Raspberry Pi micro computer and Arduino micro controller. These are not college students. These are 6-16 year old kids.
This is for kids and teenagers but Bob is really interested too and maybe eventually he might be a mentor to them. A couple weeks ago we didn’t even know what a Raspberry Pi micro computer was. It is a very inexpensive ($40) computer that is the size of a credit card. It is programmed for single use types of applications. These inventors who are using the card computers are 14 years old!
Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of Raspberry Pi. It is only a year old and comes from the UK.http://www.raspberrypi.org/ The inventor thought they might sell a thousand at the most. They posted a video on youtube and it got 600,000 hits. They now sell 10,000 a week and there have been 700,000 sold in less than a year, mainly in North America and Europe.
This is Owen, 17 years old, with the 3D printer he built.
They have quite a few workshops this summer on 3D printing and raspberry pi so Bob is hoping he can attend along with the teenagers. He is so excited to be back into the electronics world. This group has been meeting for less than a year and has about 20 kids who participate. The teenagers teach the littler ones. Exciting stuff!
You haven’t seen Sabrina and Smoky lately so I will end with a couple photos of the rest of our family. We have had this kitty mansion several years and Sabrina sits on the top perches every day but this is the first time she crawled in the little hole. I think Smoky was chasing her and she went to hide. It was really cute. She sat in there for quite awhile.
Both cats like sitting on the perch on the porch. Here is Smoky enjoying the day.