Remarks to the WV Board of Education

Last year we attended the West Virginia Board of Education meeting to introduce them to the Satellite Network...this year we returned to to update them on the Network's activities in West Virginia over the last year

The people in the group photo, from left to right, are:
Karen Savitz, ASSET STEM Education
Jeffrey Carver, West Virginia University
Jessica Meyers, ASSET STEM Education
Rachel Hite, CREATE Lab
Lou Karas, West Liberty University
Dror Yaron, CREATE Lab
Carrie Beth Dean, Marshall University
Stan Maynard, Marshall University

I’m Lou Karas, Director of the Center for Arts & Education at West Liberty University. I’m here today with my colleagues from the CREATE Lab Satellite Network. With me are Dror Yaron and Rachel Hite from the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University; Stan Maynard and Carrie Beth Dean from the Harless Center at Marshall University; Jeffrey Carver from the College of Education and Human Services at West Virginia University and Jessica Meyers and Karen Savitz from ASSET STEM Education.

Last fall, professor Illah Nourbakhsh the Director of CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute shared with the you the story and vision of the CREATE Lab and its Satellite Network.

We’re here today to give you a brief update on the work of the CREATE Satellite Network in West Virginia.

Over the past three years the CREATE Lab Satellite Network has grown from a partnership between the CREATE Lab and the school of education at Marshall University, to a network including Marshall, West Liberty, West Virginia University, and Carlow University as well as ASSET STEM Education. Each Satellite team adapts and uses the CREATE Lab innovations in a locally meaningful way with the educators and future educators they support. Similarly, working closely with the CREATE Lab, the Satellites bring their communities’ needs to bear on the technology innovation process.

As the Satellite Network model of outreach is gaining traction and in light of its rapid growth, we recognize now is an appropriate time to invite more perspectives and stakeholders to the table, as we consider how to meaningfully direct and leverage the momentum and resources at hand. This has resulted in the formation of an advisory board that will meet for the first time later this fall at West Liberty.

Over the past year, the satellite partners have worked, throughout the state, with over 1,200 children, Pre-K through 12th grade and more than 700 educators, both teachers in the field and pre-service students at the three universities.

We are empowering a technologically fluent generation through experiential learning opportunities in and outside of school. The technology is the raw material, a tool for a child to use to explore and address real world issues, to learn - and communicate - about their own environment and perspective.

We’ve been able to take new technology tools from the desk of an engineer at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute to the hands of a child in rural West Virginia, making them among the first to gain access to these innovations. Each of the Satellites not only provides training on the use of these technology tools but also, in many instances, is also able to lend the tools to teachers throughout the state.

Our work with children has focused on using four of the CREATE Lab technologies.

Message from Me enables young children to better communicate with their significant adults about their daytime activities at early childhood programs through the use of digital cameras, microphones, e-mail, phone messaging and other technologies. Originally developed using adapted computer kiosks, the program now uses an app developed for the i-pad.

The Harless Center has been at the forefront of using Message from Me in their Pre-K classroom and sharing their experiences with others around the state.

The Children’s Innovation Project takes a broad interdisciplinary and integrated learning approach, focusing on creative exploration, expression and innovation with technology. Children explore and learn about electricity through hands-on engagement with a kit of components designed for young hands. Utilizing this learning, children disassemble toys, identify components and then repurpose and reconfigure these internal components into new circuits, empowering them with new relationships and understandings of their world.

The Harless Center has also taken the lead in the use of the Children’s Innovation Project in West Virginia schools. In addition ASSET and Carlow University are developing professional development programs, which will be shared with the Satellite partners for their use.

The third program is Arts & Bots. The Hummingbird robotics kit is designed to enable engineering and robotics activities for ages 10 and up that involve the making of robots and kinetic sculptures built out of a combination of kit parts and craft materials. Hummingbird provides a great way to introduce kids to robotics and engineering with construction materials that they are already familiar with. Hummingbirds have been used in nearly every aspect of the curriculum: teachers and students have completed Hummingbird units in science, art, math, history, english, drama, poetry, and character education classes. The kits have also been used in numerous summer camps, after-school programs and other community-based environments.

When Ilah was here last fall, he shared the news that the CREATE Lab had been awarded a three-year $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant to support the “Creative Robotics” project, an innovative program that introduces robotic technology into non-technical middle school classes. It is the intent of the research project is to identify and nurture students with an affinity for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

All 7th and 8th grade students at Springdale Junior-Senior High School in the Allegheny Valley School District outside of Pittsburgh and all 6th, 7th and 8th grade students in the Mingo County Schools — a total of 900 children annually — are using the robotic kits developed at Carnegie Mellon University. They will use the kits to complete at least one project or assignment each year in required courses such as health, earth science and language arts.

The project also includes faculty members and pre-service educators in the schools of education at Marshall and West Liberty universities. We are working with CMU researchers to develop the curriculum and integrate the project into both existing and new courses for our students.

GigaPan is an earthly adaptation of NASA’s Mars Rover imaging technology - GigaPan helps bring distant communities and peoples together through images that have so much detail that they are, themselves, the objects of exploration, discovery, and wonder. Using a small robotic device, point and shoot camera, stitching software, interactive online platforms and large-scale prints, GigaPan is enabling people to explore, experience, and share each other's world.

West Virginia University is working with North Elementary School in Morgantown, to train the teacher to both use gigpan images as well as generating their own gigapan images.  The technology integration of Gigpan is being conducted in and around the Garden Based Learning project at the school.  The ability to take super high resolution images during the garden growing season and then utilizing those images during the non-growing months in the winter allows teachers to extend the garden based learning curriculum through the non-gardening months. 

At West Liberty, we have incorporated learning how to use the GigaPan images and technology into several courses in the professional education program. We are also working with the art teachers in Ohio County Schools supporting them in the integration of GigaPan into their classrooms.

A key focus of the Satellite Network is to provide professional development opportunities for both teachers in Pre-K through 12th grade settings around the state –and- for our pre-service students. We have presented at conferences throughout the state included the West Virginia Technology conference and the West Virginia Art Education Association conference. The partners have provided opportunities ranging from GigaPan workshops lasting a few hours to weeklong Creative Robotics programs. It is important to note, that these programs are only the beginning of our work with teachers. Each Satellite provides on-going support to the teachers.

We are emphasizing the integration of the CREATE Lab resources into pre-service education because we believe it is important for our future teachers to learn these skills and technologies throughout their undergraduate years so they will be fully prepared to integrate them into their classrooms. ASSET, as our newest partner, will be involved in the expansion of this work.

I would like to acknowledge the amazing work done by Debbie Workman, Carrie-Meghan Quick Blanco and Cathy Walker. They devoted countless hours building the programs and services of the first Satellite site at the Harless Center. Over the summer, Debbie and Cathy retired and Carrie-Meghan moved on to another position. Their enthusiastic support has helped the other two Satellite sites get off the ground.

I would also be remise if I didn’t acknowledge the support of Benedum Foundation and Jim Denova. Jim has not only provided financial support for our work but has also shared connections and given us guidance as we expand the Network’s programs and services.

Looking ahead, next spring, The CREATE Lab Satellite Network and The Sprout Fund are partnering to present the first annual Creative Tech Conference: Best Practices of Creative Technology in Education on April 21 through the 23 in Pittsburgh. The Creative Tech Conference will ignite productive dialogue and spur the exchange of ideas about the use of creative technologies (or creative use of technologies) in education, teaching, and learning.  

The conference will feature two tracks of programming: Practice and Ecosystems. The Practice track will feature educators sharing ideas and stories around their methods and experiences with integrating technology creatively and successfully into their classrooms and programs. The Ecosystems track will focus on discussions about the networks and conditions that support and empower meaningful technology practice in education. We hope you will consider joining us for the conference.

In the mean time, we also invite you to visit us at Marshall, West Liberty and WVU to see the work of the CREATE Lab Satellite Network in action this school year.

Thank you.

Lou Karas, Director of the Center for Arts & Education at West Liberty University.

STEAM Learning in the Locomotion Lab

Art is a Catalyst in the Locomotion Lab

The Locomotion Lab is a STEAM lab in Chartiers Valley Intermediate School. It was set up through a 2013 STEAM grant that was sponsored by the Allegheny Intermediate Unit's Center for Creativity. The Locomotion Lab is a learning environment that centers on art to provide hands-on experiences and a creative means to teach science, technology, and above all creativity to elementary level students. Students have the opportunity to make do-it-yourself projects in screen printing, graphic design, robotics and recycled art. Each facet of the Locomotion Lab can be explored individually or combined depending on the depth of the project. 

A major component of the Locomotion Lab is Arts & Bots. Students in third, fourth, and fifth grade have used Hummingbird kits to unleash their inner maker through robotics. Students made robots to welcome spring, recycle materials, and animate animal habitats. During the upcoming school year all fifth grade students at Chartiers Valley Intermediate School will work in collaborative teams to design robots that can make art.

The Locomotion Lab was designed and run by the art teacher at Chartiers Valley Intermediate School, Mrs. Mary Mastren-Williams. The premise for using art as a catalyst in STEAM learning was an answer to a call from employers for a need of creativity in their employees. Using art to design and solve problems in a STEAM lab prepares our students for 21st century skills at an early age.

“What I love about Arts & Bots is that not only are we incorporating 21st century skills such as robotics and coding into all curricular areas, visual art is and the design process are being incorporated as well. Open any education book and you will read art and making are a catalyst in learning.”


-Blog post submitted by Mary Mastren-Williams, art teacher from Chartiers Valley Intermediate School

BirdBrain Technologies Hiring Educational Content Developer

Our friends at BirdBrain Technologies are hiring! Check out the job description below. 

Title: BirdBrain Technologies Educational Content Developer

Position Description
BirdBrain Technologies seeks a technical writer to develop tutorials and documentation for users of its upcoming Hummingbird Duo product. The Hummingbird Duo is an electronics kit designed to allow users of any age or experience level to build and program interactive, robotic artifacts. The predecessor to Hummingbird Duo, the Hummingbird Robotics kit, is in use in hundreds of classrooms and homes. Find out more about Hummingbird Duo on our Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/938274194/hummingbird-duo-a-robotics-kit-for-ages-10-to-110

Responsibilities:
Document and create tutorials that describe to a novice user how to program Hummingbird Duo with a number of different programming environments. These tutorials will include:
1. A large written component with appropriately designed graphics.
2. For most tutorials, screencasts and video tutorials.

Required Skills and Experience:
1. Technical writing or related degree (or significant progress towards completion).
2. Experience developing screencasts or other online video tutorials. 
3. Familiarity with editing websites using a content management system. Direct knowledge of Drupal websites a plus.
4. Some ability to design graphics or edit images using Photoshop or similar software packages.

Time Commitment:
This is a consulting position expected to require 10-20 hours of weekly work for three months. 

Perks:
Highly flexible hours, a free robotics kit, and your work will be appreciated by thousands of students and teachers.

Contact:
Please send a resume and portfolio to tom@hummingbirdkit.com if interested.

About us:
BirdBrain Technologies was founded in 2010 to commercialize robots and robotics kits developed at the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute. Our products include the Finch and the Hummingbird. The Finch is a small robot designed to promote an engaging introduction to the art of programming. Hummingbird is a kit of parts that allows students to create and program robots built from kit components and craft materials. Together these products are in use in more than one thousand classrooms. as well as in libraries, museums, and homes. Learn more at www.birdbraintechnologies.com

Join the Remake Learning Digital Corps

Check out this exciting opportunity from our friends at The Sprout Fund! Details below.

Are you interested in robotics, coding, gaming, and apps? Have you been looking for a simple way to give back to the youth in your community while getting paid and garnering new skills yourself?

Apply to join the Remake Learning Digital Corps. The application deadline is Friday, September 5, 2014Apply to become a member today!

The Corps provides free workshops for tweens and teens at locations across the Pittsburgh region where youth can learn how to build the web, program robots, and design mobile apps. Adult Corps members act as digital literacy mentors, working with youth on projects that demystify robotics, build websites, make media, and empower the next generation of digital innovators. Following a series of free trainings, Corps members will lead an 8 week series of lessons in an afterschool program. The Sprout Fund can reward you for your teaching time with a paid stipend.

For more information, please contact Ani Martinez at ani@sproutfund.org or 412-325-0646.

Hear Me is Hiring a Project Assistant

Hear Me is looking for a new team member! This is a great opportunity for the right person to work with students, promote youth voice in the region and work at the CREATE Lab.

View and apply for the position here.

Please share this posting with any qualified candidates.  The application period will end on August 29.
 

Sincerely,

Hear Me and the CREATE Lab

More than a Number

An Open Essay by 16-year-old Denis McCormick

“People like to say we need to prepare students for real life, and what I counter that with is why don’t we make schools like real life itself-bring experiences outside of school into the school environment.”

This is a powerful quote from young education activist Nikhil Goyal (pictured above),who inspired me to further question standardized testing. As a student, I understand the importance of tests to track the progress of schools and individuals, but students shouldn’t be ranked based on test scores. The multiple-choice format of testing is a simplistic and inefficient way of assessment. It doesn’t show who the students are.

For example, students shouldn’t be labeled as “advanced,” “proficient” or “basic,” based on their answers to test questions. Coming from a low ranked school, I’ve seen students score poorly on these tests; meanwhile they have valuable real-life problem solving skills. I know that some of the things we learn are useful, but when will I be challenged in real life to fill in bubbles?

Schools put so much emphasis on the multiple choice section of standardized tests, but in the real world nothing will be given to us on a Scantron sheet with a packet full of multiple choice questions. As students, we struggle to find value in the state assessment system.

When I found out that our school district ranking was 437 out of 500, I felt that the Pittsburgh Business Times article was wrong and other students had mixed emotions. Some people agreed with the ranking, while others were mad, hurt and disappointed. We took action to make people realize that we are more than a number ranked by a system that fails to measure our real qualities. We all asked, ”Does this really define us? Are we really this bad?” We quickly shot down this thought and said, “We are more complex than what a test says about us. We are more than a number.” Then we decided as a collective group (The Future is Mine) to interview people on this topic and see how they felt about being labeled as “437”

Watch my documentary "437" here.

The state should provide more than just numbers about the students and the school district. The writers at the Pittsburgh Business Times were given the statistics and they were doing what they were supposed to do.  The numbers don’t show anything about the students’ character or their community.

It is difficult to measure creativity and social involvement, but we should be ranked and defined by more than our test scores. We never get a chance to tell the true stories about our community and the quality of the people who live there. We are all held back by the statistics and we need to break the shackles of the “standardization” of our community and tell the real stories.

Denis McCormick is a junior at Steel Valley High School

Arts & Bots in Harrison County, WV

Having recently partnered with the West Virginia University CREATE Lab Satellite to include Arts & Bots as part of their “Hot Science Camp” week, The Harrison County Community Center raved about the experience.  The science camp was a combination of two summer camp groups, and included 35 students ranging in age from third grade to sixth grade, all from low income families in Harrison County.  

Campers were instantly engaged. After a short presentation on the basics of engineering, participants unpacked the hummingbird box and practiced with the software. They then began designing their robots on paper, following the rules of at least one motor, at least one light, at least one something else, multiple expressions, and at least one sequence. The kids quickly took over the computers, excitedly programming and building their robots.  Despite being chaotic, as active science always is, camp leaders at the Community Center said it was likely the best day of the week. The campers seemed enthralled by their work with Arts & Bots, and when asked if they would like a 2 or 3 day experience with this, they all wanted more! 

In addition to participating in "Hot Science Camp" this summer, WVU's CREATE Lab Satellite has also been working with the Children's Discovery Museum of West Virginia to offer robotics days for early elementary and preschool aged children. Two Arts & Bots sessions were held at the museum so far this summer, with participants ranging in age from four to nine years old. 

Camp CREATE at Mingo County

The CREATE Lab Satellite team at Marshall University's June Harless Center is running the first of three summer Arts & Bots camps this week in Mingo County, WV. Watch the full TV story here!

This week--more than three dozen students in southern West Virginia are exploring the fields of science, technology, and art. Empty juice containers, shoe boxes, and toilet paper rolls aren't the most technical objects, but these recycled materials are exactly what students are using to build robots at "Camp Create" this week in Gilbert. "It's really just about engaging children in something fun and exciting that's technology based," said Tarabeth Brumfield, program development office for the Harless Center of Marshall University. Students are using computer programs to tell their robots how to perform different functions. "We learned what everything does and how to wire it," said student Dylan Glasscock. And students are loving every minute of the design process. "I'm really into this stuff and I love science in school," said Skyler Mounts, Camp Create student. Mounts has already gotten her robot's eyes to blink and the arms to move. She's even working on getting it to talk! "I think that this will help me a lot in science because I'm moving up to middle school, and I'm sure that they have a lot of projects like this," said Mounts. Camp Create organizers hope students are energized by what they're learning to help them excel in the fields of science and math.. "The great thing about children is they're not intimidated at all. So to put real tools, real robotics components in the hands of them at 7, 8, 9, 10, then that just gets them prepared for the content that they're going to need, gets them excited about what they want to do for the future," said Brumfield. And that goes beyond school and into the hundreds of career opportunities open to kids who go into technology-related fields. "I've had children this week say they're an engineer or they're an artist, but how do you combine those skills to make a job for the 21st century? So that's what these programs are all about," said Brumfield. If you'd like to check out to finished robots these kids are making for yourself, Camp Create students will showcase their work Friday, July 11th from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Harless Center in Gilbert.

The Lemonade Project

The Lemonade Project is officially up and running!

The Lemonade Project enlightens and empowers youth through the use of science, art and activism.
Using the CATTfish digital apparatus to measure water quality, 7-10 years olds will test the drinking water. Then they’ll publicize their findings in neighborhood “lemonade stands” to inspire concern about pollution in our water.
 
Therefore, these are no ordinary lemonade stands! These kids have evaluated the water from various socio-economical regions (including their own) and the pricing of the lemonade will be set accordingly. Carafes of lemonade organized by regions (similar to wine), will be on display as a teach tool. 
 
Naïve passerbys who come to support a child’s financial endeavor—will instead receive a lecture on the environmental state of our neighborhoods!
 
We have set up sites in downtown Pittsburgh for the Three Rivers Arts Festival – plus run workshops via The Alloy School in East Liberty and through the Earth Vessel Camp in Friendship.  

Look for us out in the streets, in front of museums and in the city parks!