Friday, June 2, 2017

Middle School Competition and Regional Competitions 2017

   Last year Moore County held its first middle school robotics competition, which was a fantastic success. Not only did we continue to provide the competition for middle school students in our county, but we extended the invitation out to other counties as well. We held our first middle school regional competition this year, which definitely upped the ante for robotics. Middle school competitions were held back to back on Friday, May 19 and Saturday, May 20th. All of the participants did such an outstanding job and it is apparent that robotics has really taken off in the region!
   
   

   Scotland County joined our "American Cities" themed competition with open arms, and participated in the elementary showcase too. Scotland County had at least one team from each middle school attend our regionals. The competition for middle school consisted of a series of challenges that were much different than the elementary showcase. For example, we had two First tech Challenge (FTC) fields set up, one depicting an urban environment and one depicting an rural environment. In addition, the students had to build an arm to throw a football and design their robot to pull "snow" on a sled. Lastly, there was also the crowd pleasing Battle Bots! These robotics events drew many people from Scotland and Moore County, with many other counties inquiring about these events throughout the year. Next year, it is our goal to have many more counties participate.
   The apparatuses that students created for these events at regionals was absolutely amazing! The competition in general, aside from being fun, really challenged the kids in engineering, problem solving, and teamwork. It is out goal to continue to challenge students in this way, so they are prepared for advanced robotics concepts and 21st century skills.




   
















   Below are pictures from the Middle School Regional Competition and we hope you can help spread the word about robotics in your county! Thank you to all of our schools, staff, and coaches that participated in these extraordinary events!

MCS Regional Middle School Competition































~Deanna Boesch

Elementary Robotics and Regional Competitions 2017

   Robotics in Moore County this year has definitely stepped it up a notch. Not only did we continue to provide showcases and competitions for our elementary and middle school students, but we extended the invitation out to other counties. We held our first regional competitions this year, which were a great success! The elementary competitions were held back to back on Friday, May 12th and Saturday, May 13th. All of the participants did such an outstanding job and it is apparent that robotics has exploded through the region.
   
  
  
   This year in addition to holding the robotics part of the competition, we introduced a Dash competition as well. Students were able to showcase their knowledge in navigating their Dash robot through a series of challenges on map like mat. This competition was hosted by Digital Facilitators (DIF's) Kelly Priest, Clint Rogers, and Kim Collazo. They did an outstanding job of building up our younger kids coding skills, to prepare them for robotics in the coming years! 
We had our first every Dash competition!
   Scotland County gladly joined the challenge and at least one team from EVERY elementary school participated in our elementary competition. The Scotland county Superintendent and many other county members were in attendance and it was evident that they had a great time enjoying their students learn, struggle, and then succeed. From speaking with Superintendent Ron Hargrave, he stated that, "we have many students that have struggled academically this year. As soon as they started with robotics we noticed a change in their behavior and motivation." That is such a refreshing and heart warming statement to hear as a Moore County Digital Integration Facilitator. It is what we all strive for! We are hoping in the next year that more counties will attend our regional competitions. 


North Laurinburg Polar Bears
 So much can be learned from participating in a robotics competition. Not only did the teams display teamwork and cooperation, but complex problem solving and engineering, which is at the heart of Moore County's principles. Thank you to all of our schools, teachers, and staff that participated in these extraordinary events!

MCS Regional Elementary Competition












~Deanna Boesch

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

School Year in Review: 2016-17 Edition

As the school year winds down and summer plans begin to take form, I want to take a few minutes and reflect on some of the great things that have happened this year.
Engineering Thread



  • Before students returned in August, teachers were beginning to prep for the upcoming year.  Teacher leaders in Moore County met with Curriculum Specialists to develop our Engineering Thread in K-5 classrooms.
CyberPatriot
  • Early in the school year, our high school CyberPatriot Teams began the qualifying rounds for the State and National rounds of the competition that puts students in the place of newly hired IT professionals managing the network of small local businesses.  One Union Pines CyberPatriot team received a State award for advancing to the 3rd Round.  
Winter Warriors
  • Before Christmas break, our middle and high school FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Robotics teams competed in a local warm-up called Winter Warriors.  This event was hosted by Union Pines High School and was a great measuring stick for future FTC events.  Robotics teams were able to practice their robots and programming on the actual Velocity Vortex playing field they would eventually see at Trinity High School in Durham, NC in January.  
NCCAT
  • In January, the DIF team traveled east to Ocracoke for a Team Planning Session at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching.  While we were there we planned out our Spring activities (digital learning showcase, NCTIES presentations, elementary and middle school robotics events, STEM Camp).  
FTC Robotics
  • On January 28th, Moore County Schools took 7 FTC Teams to Trinity High School of Durham and Chapel Hill to compete at a Regional Qualifier event.  Our teams were pitted against 15 other teams from around the state in an attempt to qualify for the State level Robotics Competition.  
NCTIES
  • In March, the North Carolina Technology In Education Society (NCTIES) had its annual conference in Raleigh at the Convention Center.  This is always a great learning experience as we get to meet with colleagues to share ideas about how to effectively use technology and digital tools in the classroom.  It is worth noting this year that 8 DIF's presented at NCTIES on topics like Coding in Middle School Math, Sustainable STEM Camps, our Elementary Engineering Thread and using the app SeeSaw in Elementary Schools to create portfolios.  
Digital Learning Showcase
  • In March, our students and teachers had an opportunity to show the community the great things they are doing in their classrooms with digital tools.  We had our 3rd annual Digital Learning Showcase at West Pine Elementary.  Teachers, students, parents and community members were invited to check out things like 3D printed fidget tools, custom built cell phone applications, programmed drones, play-dough pianos and robotic Lego arms.  
Elementary Robotics Showcase

  • A few weeks ago, May 12th, we held our 3rd Elementary Robotics Showcase at Pinecrest High School.  The event has grown tremendously since our fist elementary robotics event held at Sandhills Farmlife in 2015.  Students had to navigate terrains that depicted different cities around the United States but programming for different turns and objectives throughout the unknown landscapes.  We also opened up our Elementary Robotics Showcase to other districts in our Region with Scotland County sending several teams the following day on Saturday.  
Middle School Robotics Competition
  • The following Friday, May 19th, we had our 2nd Middle School Robotics Competition.  This year's competition provided opportunities for students to program robots to throw a football, pull a weighted sled, measure area of a building and traverse terrain with various obstacles.  The middle school event was opened up to other schools in our region the following day as Scotland County schools brought 5 teams to the Saturday event.  
STEM Camp and Advanced Robotics Camp
  • STEM Camp will be our next big thing in the district.  This year's STEM Camp will be held at New Century Middle School.  There are two, 1-week camps (June 19-22 and June 26-29).  This year we are partnering with the Moore County Airport to have an Aviation Theme culminating with the opportunity for campers to fly for free at the conclusion of camp on each Thursday.  STEM Camp filled up at a record pace this year with over 280 applicants in the first week.  
  • This year is a first for our Advanced Robotics Camp (ARC).  This camp will run during the first week simultaneously with our June 19-22 STEM Camp and will focus on preparing students for the FTC Robotics use in secondary schools.  The ARC is open to rising 8-10 grade students and still has a few open spots.  If you are interested in attending the Advanced Robotics camp please email me at jcallahan@ncmcs.org
As we wind down (or wind up) for summer, it should not go unnoticed that our schools are in a dire financial situation.  With the cuts that have been proposed, these events listed above will certainly be affected in some fashion.  The support staff that makes things like this possible are vital in sustaining them.  I feel like the people that will read this article already know about the great things teachers and students are doing in the district.  My hope is that this article reaches those that do not know about all of the great things Moore County Schools students are achieving.  My hope is that at least one person reads this article and thinks "We have to fully fund our schools".  My hope is that people realize that Moore County children are our greatest investment.  So I ask of you, share this article with others so the hard work our teachers, students and support staff get the notoriety they deserve.  Share this article so we can let the community know what our students are capable of when they are funded.  Share this article to be part of the solution.  

Tyler Callahan
Digital Integration Facilitator

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Soaring to New Heights!

From the military, to farming, movie sets, and even the Super Bowl halftime performance, drones are on the rise, and the sky’s the limit for teaching STEM skills with these unmanned aerial vehicles.  This year, thanks to Randolph Electric’s Bright Ideas Grant, students from Westmoore Elementary and Highfalls Elementary have had the opportunity to program, fly, and most importantly, learn, with Parrot “Airborne” drones.
Up and Away in Math!


Ratios and Proportions took on new meaning for sixth graders at Westmoore Elementary.  Working in small groups, students worked through four different stations, measuring the distance from point A to point B at each stop.  After finding the distance, students flew their drones from point A to point B, and used a stopwatch to find the time that their drone made it to point B.  Using their distance and time calculations, students were able to determine the speed of their drone.  Now when students think about ratio and proportions, and the formula for finding speed, they can reflect on this hands-on learning experience!






Flight School


Students from Mrs. Pfiefer’s 4th-grade class at Highfalls met once a week for a month to participate in “Flight School”.  In Flight School, these students learned about current and future uses for drones, discussed drone safety, learned how to code using the Tynker curriculum, and then finally they were able to program and fly their drones!
Carson Phillips showing students how to program the drone to fly.
Carson Phillips, a fourth grader in Mrs. Pfiefer’s class, demonstrated his drone programming skills at the 2017 MCS Elementary Digital Learning Showcase and at Highfalls Elementary’s Family STEM Night.  He describes his experience with flying drones, “At first, I thought the drones were going to be hard to program, but after working with the Tynker app and the website, it wasn’t so hard.   I really like the cool tricks you can do with the drones, like programming it to flip forward or backward.  At the Showcase, I was able to teach other students how to program the drones using the app, that was really cool and really easy!  And at the Family STEM Night, I was able to write the code to fly my drone through a basketball goal!”

So what does this fourth grader hope to do next with drones?  Carson explains, “I think it would be cool if there could be a drone competition like we have the robotics competition.  We could have courses set up like we do for the EV3 robots and we could program our drones to fly around the courses!”


Carson just might be onto something with his idea for a drone competition!  This summer, students participating in MCS STEM Camp will be using their engineering skills to build drone obstacle courses to fly their drones through!


As you can see, flying drones impacts student engagement, communication, collaboration, and other important classroom components. Students are engaged, motivated, and inspired to learn in ways that no other technology will allow.



To see more pictures and videos of drones in action, follow me on Twitter @carrierobledo

-Carrie

Monday, May 15, 2017

Give Them Choices

Not all students think alike. Not all student create alike. Mrs. Hayes at Pinecrest High School decided to give her students choices for a final unit project. These students could choose to utilize parts of the Makerspace or other resources at home or school. This project was done with students of all ability levels. She reserved about 30 minutes of class time to allow students some exploration time in the Makerspace. Students were shown how to use the green screen, 3D printer, Tinkercad and sound engineering. This is an excellent example of how the Makerspace can be used at the high school level.






Let's Create and Write About It

Sometimes it is difficult to get students to write. Writing flows much easier for most students if they are invested personally in the process. In these projects we were able to tie the Engineering Design Process, student creations and writing together with an end product of a complete essay. What we found in the process of this project is that students are excited to write about their creation.

We followed the following process and students wrote about each step.

Image use from this source.

Step 1: Define the Problem (Introduction paragraph to essay): Teachers present a problem that needs to be solved in a very general form. 
Step 2: Plan the Solution (Paragraph in the essay):  This is the brainstorming phase. Students use graph paper to sketch out their design.
Step 3: Make a Model (Paragraph in the essay): Students use a program such as Tinkercad to design their idea.
Step 4: Test the Model (Paragraph in the essay): 3D models are printed and students check for accuracy.
Step 5: Reflect and Redesign (Closing Paragraph in essay): Students reflect on what should be changed in the design. What worked and what did not work? 

Fidget Toy Designed by a student at Pinecrest High School




Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Traci Keith - A Teacher's Teacher

Some people were born to be educators. You can tell the moment you step into their classroom that the students who have the privilege of being in this room are in for an amazing year. There are lots of teachers that come to mind when I think of natural-born educators, one of which is Traci Keith, a fifth grade teacher at Cameron Elementary School. She has all the things a principal would look for in an exceptional teacher. She’s creative, passionate, knowledgeable, and her students love her! She creates a learning environment where her students are set up for success. A lesson that stands out for me is when her class participated in a novel study and the setting of the story was a cafe. Guess what the students walked into the first day of the novel study…...a cafe. Yep, she decorated her entire classroom like a cafe. You’ll find Miss Keith doing things like this all the time to get her students excited about their learning. Another amazing learning opportunity that Miss Keith created was when her students were studying the industrial revolution. This may not come across as the most engaging unit of study as a student, so Miss Keith and I collaborated on a project where her students would bring the inventions from the industrial revolution to life using www.tinkercad.com and our 3D printer!





Students were assigned an invention that is associated with the industrial revolution, they had to research this creation and explain how it made life easier for people during this time frame. Once this was completed, students hoped on their Chromebooks and created a model of their invention using the Tinkercad website. What better way could a teacher bring their lesson to life than to have her students actually re-create the inventions that they are studying! Then, once her students completed their models, we printed them with our Dremel 3D printer! Take a look at some of their models:

Paddle boat

Steamboat

Telegraph

I always enjoy picking the brain of teachers who I look up to, so that I can hopefully take something back from them and add it to my toolbox. Take a look at what Miss Keith shared with me when I sat down to interview her and hopefully you’ll be able to take something from this phenomenal teacher:


Question: What allows you to be able to take risks with your students?
Answer: I think I take these risks because sometimes when students do things they’ve always done in the past, it’s boring and it becomes monotonous. If I take a risk and do something new with them, it becomes a learning process for both of us where I learn to be a better teacher and they learn to be a more creative learner or think more critically.


Q: How would you describe your teaching style?
A: The best way to describe it would be flexible because of the fact that every day is different and every learning style is different. You can plan as many avenues as possible but there will always be outcomes that happen that you can’t predict so you have to be ready to change at the drop of a hat.


Q: Where do you start when you are planning a lesson that includes technology?
A: For me, it starts with what I would do if I didn’t have technology and then how I can turn those things into digital pieces. For example, in vocabulary in reading instead of having them make vocabulary flashcards they used digital flashcards using Quizlet. Also, a lot of project-based learning is easier because there are more options in the digital world. It adheres to what the students like because they’re living in a world of technology.


Q: What are some of your favorite technology tools that are your “go to” tools for digital integration?
A: I use vocabulary.com a lot. I can assign the vocabulary words and then they practice those words in a number of different ways. I like Google Classroom because I can post different types of assignments and they all get turned into the same place. I can assign anything from Google Slide projects, to webquests, to Classworks reading or just give them link to check out when we’re studying a content specific area.


Q: You’re an inspiration to many people, including myself, what inspires you?
A: I think our whole staff here at Cameron because we have a staff that has tons of different teaching styles and they all make their specific teaching styles work for them. And they all have the best interest of their students in mind which inspires me to think outside of the box because what’s really important is what they learn and how they learn it. And the students, of course because honestly there’s nothing better than completing an assignment or project and seeing the light bulb go off and they finally get it.


Q: What is your favorite part about being a teacher?
A: Having fun with the kids. The best part about my job is being able to experience things with them and see their reactions when they learn something new. While lots of the things we do in class, I may have done before, they are brand new for my students so it creates a new experience for all of us and a bonding experience that helps us form relationships that last for years to come.

It truly is a pleasure to work with teachers like Miss Keith. She's always looking for ways to make the learning meaningful for her students. She has a fantastic rapport with her students and her colleagues. Thank you Miss Keith for everything that you do for your students at Cameron Elementary School.
#camscotsproud

-Clint