Anybody who follows my online persona knows that a good deal of my offline time is spent playing with Legos. True enough, and even more so recently because I was asked to coach two teams from Auke Bay Elementary School in the upcoming First Lego League (FLL) competition.
Auke Bay is where Sheryl works, and she is friends with Amy Jo Meiner, the extended learning teacher who is in charge of the FLL teams, although it was probably my web postings of Lego models and robots that probably got Amy Jo to ask for my assistance. At any rate, I was asked, and accepted, and was then told that if I submitted my paperwork for being a substitute teacher I could get paid for a few of my otherwise volunteered days. And why not?
I began coaching the kids a couple of weeks ago. Good kids, bright kids, young kids. Actually, the tasks involved in the FLL robotic challenge are rather steep for grade school and would be better tackled at the middle school level, after a few more mathematical concepts get introduced in their curriculum. It puts the elementary kids at something of a disadvantage, but I'm a firm believer in scaffolding.
So every day I come to school I bring a different robot, or a variation on one, assembled and/or programmed to show some engineering function or demonstrate the usefulness of various sensors. I haven't actually programmed my robots to do any of the tasks expected in the competition, but I am showing them the mechanics of how machine and program work together to provide a result. Will they catch on and apply what I'm showing them to their own efforts? In time? It will be fun to watch.
And for the next two days, I'll get paid for it as the school district's newest substitute teacher!