Last week, students at the summer boot camp I conducted here at Li’l Sprouts Montessori got to work with different technologies. From building robots and circuits, to using cameras and a solar oven. They also used one of the oldest ‘technologies’ that tend to be overlooked – pencil and paper.
But besides motors, and learning the software (to program the robot below) students also learned about engineering design, using toothpicks to build a bridge and a tower.
They did a fair amount of writing, maintaining their journals each day. They worked on essay writing, a news story, and poetry.
On the final day I introduced them to the solar oven, and Tanu helped them bake cookies. One batch got done in just over 30 minutes!
Here’s a batch of pictures taken by my students yesterday. Cameras may seem ‘old school’ but there’s always an interest in the basics of aperture, lighting, and perspective. In my Ed-Tech class, 5th and 6th graders can’t seem to have enough of this, as the results show.
An accidental homage to Silicon Valley?
Two very different perspectives of a robotic arm
There are much more! Who knows what ideas they will come back with after Spring Break?
Today, being Digital Learning Day, I plan to get students to rethink cameras. How could camera create digital ‘stories’?
- How would a background give your subject context and proportion?
- What could you filter or manipulate a picture before you take the shot?
- How could you change the ISO settings to get a different result with the same subject?
Who knows? Some of my students may turn out to be journalists, or take to photography in some shape or form. Despite the fact that most pictures today are taken on phones, understanding lighting and perspective will always be an asset. My 5th grade class was divided into three groups. One with a Digital SLR, and two with regular digital cameras and two tripods if needed.
Here is how one group shot a Lego device. Interesting how one chose the robotics table, and another chose the Moon landing poster as a backdrop.
Or take how they approached this subject. Long shot with an outdoor context vs a close-up shot, adding the human element.
I love cameras. I hate cameras. Are you like me?
I take a lot of pictures, and often avoid being in them (a photo-catcher’s prerogative!). But sometimes we can’t avoid being in them. (photo-radar, group shots…)
This week, I have to be part of a series of STEM videos that I am putting together. I was looking for ways to not be on camera 90 percent of the time. Ergo, the table-top presentation.
In the TV news business, it’s called ‘Continuity and Cutaways.‘ A well-practiced art we are oblivious to. It works like this:
- Anchor introduces story, and station ‘cuts away’ to reporter.
- Reporter on camera takes over for a few seconds.
- Video cuts away to scene of story – the so-called B-roll footage. The reporters voice (arguably on ‘A-roll’) runs over the video and maintains continuity
- Studio cuts back to reporter, who wraps up story in a few seconds.
In total the reporter is on camera for a fraction of the time. Our brains fill in the gaps, and make us believe we were being addressed face-to-face. I hope to really shrink that fraction. Let’s see.
Note: For a good understanding of the cutaway and B-roll, read Steve Johnson’s explanation here.
As we get to know different parts of the puzzle about the Boston Marathon bombers, one thing has become clear. The biggest leads came from cameras that were in the hands of private citizens.
To this end, read this by someone who predicted citizens’ potential:
If the day comes when millions of people go about their lives while wearing sensor-equipped wearable computers, the population could become a collective surveillant: Big everybody.
That was Howard Rheingold, in Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution.
How will citizen participation take shape when everyone is a reporter, a photo-journalist? It’s easy to be cynical, but I have talked to many people about this, in my book, Chat Republic, and have to admit that you win some, you lose some: freedom / security.
Crowd-sourcing, whether it is investigating health issues or knowledge is always a good thing.