Longwood University’s Institute for Teaching through Technology and Innovative Practices (ITTIP) recently offered a two-day professional development workshop, Flying with Finch for STEM. On June 22-23, fifteen middle and high school teachers came to campus to learn how to use the Finch Robot in their STEM classrooms. The participating teachers were from Amelia, Buckingham, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Pittsylvania, and Prince Edward school divisions. The funding for this professional development was made possible through a grant from the Verizon Foundation.
The Finch Robot was developed at Carnegie Mellon’s CREATE lab for computer science education and has compatibility with over 20 different programming languages, including several that are appropriate for learners as young as 5. It has on-board features including sensors, motors, LED beak, pen mount, buzzer and an accelerometer that users can manipulate by programming the Finch. During ITTIP’s workshop, the participants learned the Scratch programming language to program their Finch Robot and get acquainted with its features. In order to gain hands-on experiences with programming and connecting to subjects across the curriculum, teachers were given several challenges to complete during the workshop. The following is a link to a short video that highlights some of the activities conducted during the two days: https://youtu.be/eAIpwb9v_dw
The teachers will have access to classroom sets of Finch Robots for integration into their classrooms. ITTIP staff looks forward to visiting the participants’ classrooms throughout the upcoming 2015-16 school year and hopes to share the successes and challenges of classroom integrations with the Finch Robot through pictures, videos, and teacher lesson plans on the ITTIP website (www.ittip.org). As an extension of this project, ITTIP will be offering a Saturday workshop in Fall 2015 at Longwood University for middle school students to learn about the Finch Robot.
As many of you know, Dr. Manorama Talaiver, Longwood University’s Institute for Teaching through Technology and Innovative Practices Director, will be retiring at the end of June. She has dedicated many waking hours (and some of our sleeping hours) to the success of Longwood’s ITTIP in her ten years as director. The Institute will surely miss many things about her and her leadership, but look forward to hearing about her new chapter which is sure to include spending time with her children and grandchildren, traveling, educational outreach, and mission work in the developing world.
With Dr. Talaiver’s retirement quickly approaching, ITTIP will be starting a new chapter with Dr. Paula Klonowski Leach as the Director of ITTIP. Dr. Leach has been with ITTIP since 2011 as a STEM Learning Specialist and has worked closely with Dr. Talaiver in securing grant funds and providing professional development opportunities for teachers. We are sad to see Dr. Talaiver retiring, but know that ITTIP will continue to flourish under the expertise and leadership of Dr. Leach.