Sunday, 4 December 2016

Making a Block, Green Architecture, and Taking a Break

Here are a few of the things we have done the past couple of weeks in gifted.

Image Manipulation

All of the students now know how to use Adobe Photoshop Elements to remove the background from an image.  They can save the image as a PNG file and import it into Scratch.  Students are finding this a handy skill to have--they are using it on a wide range of images!

Green Architecture

Brainstorming 'green' architecture features. 
Students brainstormed different ways that buildings use energy and resources.  We then went on to learn about different ways that architects are trying to make buildings 'greener' or more sustainable by reducing energy consumption, reducing water use, and choosing materials that are better for the environment.  We looked at the Hearst Tower which has lots of windows and few inner walls to allow for more natural light.  It also has an icefall in the lobby to cool and humidify the space.  We also looked at buildings that have giant blocks of ice in the basement for cooling and others that use shower towers.  We discussed ways that we can help conserve energy in our homes in the summer and in the winter.  Most of the classes finished off with a fun and competitive Kahoot online quiz to review what we learned.


Programming

This past week we learned how to use the 'Make a Block' block in Scratch.  It's very handy when you are repeating the same lines of code over and over again.

Students continued to create programs that feature:
  • reset code
  • broadcast message / when I receive message blocks
  • animations
  • changing backgrounds
  • imported images
Below are some photos of the Thursday afternoon class and the programs they've been working on .






Taking a Break

Last week was the last week of classes until January.  Gifted Program classes stop a couple of weeks before winter break so that students can fully participate in the extra activities and events occurring in their home school.  During this time I will be doing assessments with students who have been referred to the program.

Have a great December and enjoyable winter break.  I look forward to working with the students again in January!

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Saturday, 19 November 2016

How to Change Your Image

Here are a few of the things we did... This Week In Gifted!

Architecture

Last week the Penticton Primary group's class fell on the Curriculum Implementation day, so we did a bit of catching up this week.  We learned about ancient roman architecture, as described in this post.  We also did the amazing egg activity (eggtivity?!)

Changing our Images

The rest of the classes learned how to remove the background from a photo using Adobe Photoshop Elements.  Each student chose a building that interested them, located a photo of it online and downloaded it.  Then they followed these instructions on how to remove the background and save the image as a PNG file.  From there they imported the image into Scratch.  See some samples below (link)




Programming

All of the classes continued to work on their programing skills in Scratch.  This week we focused on how to animate our sprites.  Oscar did a great animation that involved two crabs climbing up the twin towers.  Also with the crab sprite, Finn animated it to appear that it was eating a large watermelon.  All of the students are adding complexity to their programs.  Our goal right now is to build our skills with lots of smaller programming activities.  In the second half of the year we will tackle a  B I G programming project!

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Musical Chairs

Here are a few things that we did... This Week In Gifted!

4 Chairs Design Challenge

This week the Summerland AIM/ASPIRE class and the Penticton Wednesday morning class were given a design challenge.  They each had to design a chair for a specific client with specific needs.  Students has to choose two client needs to focus on and then design the chair to meet those needs while also incorporating their (the designer's) own sense of style.  Once students had identified their client's needs, they made drawings of their design and then they created models of their design using cardboard, then pipe cleaners, and finally toothpicks.  We discussed the benefits of making different iterations of their designs and related it to the process architects and other designers use.  Below are photos of some of the designs (link).  This activity was adapted from this lesson created by folks at the Institute of Design at Stanford.



Programming

Students continued to build up their programming skills using Scratch.  We are learning how to;
  • reset our programs so they always start with the correct background and sprites (characters) in the correct location
  • use the 'broadcast message' and 'when I receive message' blocks
  • animate our sprites

Architecture and Remembrance

The Wednesday morning class viewed the slides below (link) and discussed the link between architecture and Remembrance Day / war memorials.  


Thank you for dropping by and checking out what we've been up to this week!


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Saturday, 5 November 2016

Some Concrete Examples

Here are a few of the things that we did... This Week In Gifted!

Once Upon A Time

During Circle this week we played a storytelling game called Once Upon A Time.  Each person wrote a noun on a piece of paper.  One person started the story by randomly drawing a piece of paper and including that noun in their sentence which began, "Once upon a time...".  The next person drew another slip of paper and added to the story by adding another sentence including the new noun.  The final story was often very strange!

Architecture

The Pantheon--a giant egg?
Most of the classes continued their exploration of the influence of geology on ancient architecture.  We learned about the advances of the ancient romans due to their access to volcanic ash and volcanic rocks.  They were able to make mortar using ash and lime and later they invented concrete by adding rock fragments to the mortar.  Concrete had many advantages as a building material.  We also looked at the the benefits of the arch and the dome, which the Romans used extensively and usually built using concrete.  In particular we learned about the amazing Pantheon!  It's dome has a diameter of 43 meters and for 1000 years was the largest dome of its kind.  It was built using a variety of volcanic rocks of varying density in the concrete: basalt for the bottom parts of the structure, tuff a bit higher up and extremely lightweight pumice in the concrete of the dome itself.

To further reinforce the idea that domes are very strong we did an activity with a raw egg.  The students were challenged to hold the egg in their palm, wrap their fingers around the egg and squeeze really really hard.  No one was able to break the egg!  Although the Penticton primary group hasn't tried this activity yet, so who knows, perhaps one of them has the strength to do it!

Scratch Programming

Part of the Penticton primary class coding away.
All of the classes continued learning more about computer programming using Scratch.  Some of the students did the activity Debug It! where they were asked to debug 5 scratch programs that weren't working as they should.  Other classes learned how to create code to reset their programs (e.g. if they create a character who walks across the screen, the next time the program runs they need to make sure the character starts from the correct starting point again).  They also learned how to make one sprite (character) respond to another by using the 'broadcast message' and 'when I receive message' blocks.  Some of the students used these skills to program conversations between characters.  Below are a couple of examples of student programs involving conversations between sprites.

video
By Finn.

video
By Ellen.

  All of the students are creating interesting programs and they are very enthusiastic about using Scratch!

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Sunday, 30 October 2016

Rocks and Architecture

Here are a few of the things we did... This Week In Gifted!

Rocks and Architecture

We learned that in ancient Egypt and Greece architecture was influenced by the type of rock that was available to use as a building material.  Sedimentary rocks, such as the limestone blocks in the Pyramids at Giza in Egypt, do well under compression.  The pyramid shape mimics that of a mountain with the blocks at the top only having to support their own weight.  The blocks at the bottom have to support the weight of all the blocks above them and the pyramid shape helps to distribute the load.

The Pyramids at Giza
We also learned that the huge and beautiful sandstone columns in the Great Hypostyle Hall at the Karnak Temple Complex in Luxor, Egypt are actually made of huge puck shaped stones stacked on top of each other.  (You can't just take a long slab of sandstone and turn it 90 degrees to make a pillar--the rock will fracture.)  Stacking the stones like pucks to make columns takes advantage of the fact that the horizontal layers of the sandstone do well under compression.  The Egyptians had to have many columns close together to support the sandstone roof since the rock spanning the columns does not do well under tension.  
Columns in the Great Hypostyle Hall at the Karnak Temple Complex in Luxor, Egypt.  It looks like a storehouse for wide columns!

In Greece we learned that the presence of marble allowed the ancient Greeks to build more slender columns with larger spaces between them because marble is a much stronger rock.  Look at the 'slinky' columns in the photo of the Erechtheion, a temple devoted to Athena and Neptune on the Acropolis of Athens.  The columns are tall and well spaced out due to the strength of marble!

The Erechtheion, the Acropolis of Athens.
Next week we will look at how geology shaped the architecture of ancient Rome!

Programming with Scratch

This week we explored the idea that when you are programming you have the 'tell' the computer every step you want it to carry out.  You have to be specific and you have to use a common language. The students went on to follow a Step-By-Step set of instructions on how to make a 'sprite' (character) in Scratch dance. 

Thanks for dropping by to see what we've been doing!

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Saturday, 22 October 2016

Scratching the Surface


First Class for Wednesday Morning Group

Our Wednesday morning group had their first class this week.  (Last week was the Naramata Run, so we waited a week until everyone could be there).  The students did the Me in 3D activity I described last week--I've added photos of their creations to the slideshow (link).  They created a cute cat, the Stanley Cup, emojis, aliens, a pie, as well as a plate of pancakes and bacon--yum!

Architecture Introduction

All of the classes discussed what architecture is, then we looked through some great books to find examples of interesting buildings or other structures.  Students were asked to either share three facts about a building that interested them, or share three buildings that they liked and explain why they liked them.  Through this activity we learned about an amazing variety of buildings and other structures!





Scratch Surprise

We did our first activity using Scratch.  Created by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, Scratch is a programming language especially designed for kids.  Scratch has a low bar for entry (you can quickly create something without a lot of background knowledge) and a high ceiling (you can program pretty complicated stuff).  This week the students' were given the task of making the Scratch cat do something surprising.  Some students made it change color, meow, glide about a stage, zoom around the screen and much more!  Over the year we will be learning more about computer programming--I'm excited to see where the students will take this!
The Scratch Cat

Thanks for checking in to see what we did... This Week In Gifted!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

First Week

This past week was the first one for the afternoon classes in Penticton and Summerland.  Wow, it was great to finally get together!  We welcomed old friends and met newcomers too.  We discussed our theme, architecture (or arKIDtecture!), and got a bit of an overview of what we'll be learning and doing this year.  We spent the rest of our time together getting to know each other by playing 'Two Truths and a Lie' and doing an activity called 'Me in 3D'.

For this last activity students made a creation in 3D that represented something they were interested in.  Students used a variety of materials and once their creations were complete they presented them to the rest of the class.  It was a great opportunity for students to chit chat and get to know each other while being creative and sharing ideas.  Check out the slides below (link) of some of the creations.  We have students who like dirt biking, music, math, gymnastics, Greek mythology, food, building structures, cats, Lego, family, snowmen, and dinosaurs to name just a few.


Note: not all structures built are pictured.

Next week we'll dive deeper into our theme and the Wednesday morning group will have their first class.

Thanks for stopping by to find out a little of what we did... This Week In Gifted!