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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Flipgrid is Flipping Awesome!

Sometimes a technology tool comes along that you know will drastically change the way kids collaborate, create, and communicate! I feel this way about Google Classroom (well all the Google Apps for Education, actually) and Seesaw, and now I am adding Flipgrid to that prestigious list.

“Flipgrid is a video discussion community for your classroom that supercharges your students’ voices. You add the topics, your students respond with short videos, and everyone engages!” (Flipgrid website)

flipgrid.PNG

Like Seesaw, Flipgrid is extremely user-friendly for both the teacher and the students. Because the video responses are limited to a minute and a half, students are able to practice being concise and articulate, while teachers don’t feel overwhelmed viewing the responses from an entire class. Flipgrid allows all students, especially those who struggle with expressing themselves via written language, the opportunity to share ideas, thoughts, and newly gained knowledge. Also, Flipgrid is able to be used on all modern browsers, desktop, Chromebook, iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.

How many times have you spent hours leaving penned comments and suggestions on students’ written work only to have them immediately shove the paper into their desks or backpacks (or better yet, the trash can)! Today’s students rely on visual and auditory messages to gain meaning in their lives. Think about Snapchat, Instagram, and the other social networking platforms that they use profusely throughout the day. As a teacher, Flipgrid can be used as a powerful formative assessment tool, allowing you to provide meaningful feedback using a modality today’s students desire.

Because students are able to view each other’s responses, Flipgrid is also a great way for our kids to practice digital citizenship, critical thinking, and gain new insight, understanding, and perspective (something sorely needed these days). In the teacher dashboard you have the ability to allow students to comment on each other’s responses or just allow viewing. Flipgrid also makes it easy to help our students become global learners through their global connection portal!

global.PNG

Flipgrid is an awesome tool for all grade levels and all subject areas. Math teachers are using it to have students explain their problem solving, ELA teachers are using it for global book discussions, science teachers are having students describe their lab findings, music teachers are having students share short performances, the possibilities are endless! This week at Southern Pines Elementary, several 3rd grade teachers used Nearpod lessons to teach students about the differences between saltwater and freshwater ecosystems. Then they had their students choose three things they wanted to share from their notes (Venn Diagrams) using Flipgrid.

IMG_4175.JPGIMG_4174.JPG

The students used their Chromebooks and the entire class was finished recording within five or six minutes. The teachers now have rich formative information they can use to plan tomorrow’s follow up lesson, the class has a collection of interesting facts, and the students enjoyed quickly sharing what they had learned. You can visit the grid HERE.

kohut flipgrid.PNG

I encourage you to give Flipgrid a try! If you are on Twitter @flipgrid is developing an enormous, energetic following. Make sure you check out the #flipgridfever hashtag to get amazing ideas on how other teachers are using this awesome tool! You can also check out a new grid HERE they’ve created where teachers (even you!) can add new ideas throughout the month of May!

Your DIF will be happy to get you started or model a lesson using Flipgrid, just ask!

Here’s to trying new things to empower our kids!

Kim

Monday, May 1, 2017

My Mail Has Moved....Now What?!?!

Tips for navigating the Google Migration
Moore County Schools merged staff email over spring break into Gmail, a move that will save the county thousands of dollars.  A major plus in the move is that the district does not have to worry about email going down if the servers go down locally, like what happened during Hurricane Matthew this fall.  Gmail also provides us with a more secure email than we had with Outlook.  Let’s talk about some differences so you will be able to navigate Gmail a little better:


Gmail Looks Different
Gmail looks different than Outlook in that our former email allowed you to see emails as individual messages.  Gmail groups messages into conversations, which groups emails together in a thread.  This feature can be turned off in settings if you prefer to see individual messages by clicking on the gear - settings - conversation view off.  The stars in Gmail are simply a way for you to denote that a message was important, but we have discovered that it is a great way of keeping up with whether or not you have replied to an email or not, since there is no visual in your inbox that allows you to do that.  You can mark an email as important with either the little pentagon or star next to the message so it will be easy to find later.


If you liked the split screen in Outlook where you could preview a message on one side and see your entire inbox on another, that is available in gmail too! The vertical split will allow it to look just like Outlook!
Personalize Your Mailbox
You can customize the background of your Gmail mailbox by clicking on the gear- settings- theme.  You can choose one of the themes Google has available or you can upload your own picture to really make it personal.  You can also add a signature line and change the font for your emails in settings under the General tab.  Just make sure you save all of the changes you make by scrolling to the bottom of the page and hitting the save button.


Where Did Your Folders from Outlook Go?
If you are wondering how everything is organized now that the merge is complete, you can go to the gear- settings- labels and see all of the labels you have in Gmail.  This is what Gmail calls folders.  You can move the order, you can also clean up your folders if you would like or mute or hide them so they don’t show up (that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, they are just hidden from view).  
Once your labels are all set up you can file or even filter your emails to go into the label you want.  You can set up filters to automatically delete messages or send them to a specific folder.  This is a great way to keep your mailbox current.  


Archive or Delete?
If you archive your Gmail instead of deleting it, it will no longer be in your inbox but you can find it again later.  If you delete your email, it will stay in your Trash for 30 days, then will be gone forever.  Outlook would make you delete everything twice.  


Looking for a Specific Email?
If you search within your mailbox, you can find an email by searching based on location, sender, subject, key-words, attachment titles, or date.


Contacts
To create or edit your contacts list, go to google.com/contacts or you can click where it says mail right under the Moore apps icon, and switch it to contacts.  You may need to clean up some of your contacts.  You can take out @ncmcs.net and @mcs.k12.nc.us contacts because those no longer exist and when you type in someone’s name to send them a message or share something with them in another Google app, it will get pretty confusing or frustrating.  To add a contact click the little person with a + and add a contact, then you can sort your contacts into groups.  This is an easy way to send mail to an entire list of people instead of typing in each individual name.  
.org or .net - Check Your Phone
There has been a lot of confusion about .org or .net, it is .org. Make sure you are logged into Gmail with your .org email so that you can continue to get your emails! Moore County Schools Technology department knows this is confusing but since .org has been our email for so long, having us change it on our logins is much easier than changing all of our contact information to be .net.  

There is a lot you can do with Gmail that you couldn’t do with Outlook.  It will just take some getting used to, your DIF is more than happy to help you learn how to use this tool.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Media Tech Assistants in Moore County


As I sat on a small fishing pier at a local farm pond, I noticed a couple of ducks land and begin to swim across from one side to another.  They looked so majestic as they glided across the calm water making it look effortless to the passer-by.  What you don't see from the duck is the hard working legs kicking underwater to keep it afloat.  This image is a perfect representation of our Digital Learning Initiatives here in Moore County.  From the community on-looker, the Digital Learning Showcase a couple weeks back looked amazing.  It was an exhibition of all of the hard work and creativity students had put into digital projects that allowed them to master the content while being engaged at the same time.  The teachers of those students worked with Digital Integration Facilitators (DIF's) to plan the lessons. These types of awesome lessons and many more are what is at stake with our budget crisis.  If the cuts proposed are made, the domino effect will subsequently take its toll on the level of learning and engagement that is taking place in our schools.

One of the positions the district is in danger of losing is the Media Tech Assistant.  Without a doubt, this position has been most valuable in the roll-out, collection and day-to-day maintenance of our Digital Learning Initiative.  I have seen the impact the Media Tech Assistants have on a daily basis for the last 4 years at North Moore High School.  Jenean Garner, Media Tech Assistant at North Moore High School and 28-year veteran of the Moore County School System, works tirelessly everyday so I am able to meet with teachers more and spend less time fixing mouse pads and wireless issues with the Chromebooks.  Because of Jenean Garner, our Media Specialist can work with students taking Sandhills Community College courses and teach them how to cite their sources for research papers.  Because of Jenean Garner, teachers can continue to teach with minimal disruption when there are technology issues.  Because of Jenean Garner, students have a go-to person when their Chromebook is not working.  Because of Jenean Garner, our turn-around time for Chromebook repairs has been drastically reduced.  Because of the Media Tech Assistants, our Digital Learning Initiative has been a success.

So while the public sees the duck gliding across the water, don't lose sight of the work being done that you can't see.

Tyler Callahan
Digital Integration Facilitator
@STEM_TC

Monday, April 3, 2017

What's Your Story?

   I am sure everyone here has heard the groans from students when told to "pick up their pencil and write/tell a story". Many kids have become reluctant writers and creative story tellers, but why? There is nothing scarier than a blank, white piece of lined paper staring you in the face when you know you have words to write. Often times we give our students specific tasks to write about, which leaves out the element of creativity. 
  
 About a year ago, I was able to attend a Lego conference in High Point, NC that completely changed my view on Legos in the classroom. I am not going to lie, I was a little skeptical about this whole "Lego thing" when I first arrived at the conference. Upon doing our first task of creating a duck with specific traits, I was immediately humbled at the difficulty to create such an object. My attention was hooked from that moment on!


   We began to discuss kits called Lego Story Starters. These kits were fascinating as you could use them for any subject area and virtually any grade level. I particularly like that these kits lent themselves more the ELA and Social Studies topics. With these kits students can build predictions, summaries, settings, mood, re-create scenes, etc. In addition, writing becomes a major component of these kits. Students can write a creative story about what they built, create a comic strip, or create an expository news report. The sky is the limit!

   After trying these kits out in a few classes, I was beginning to see excitement and enthusiasm on the kids faces. They were able to build according to the standard taught and explain their build in great detail down to the reasons certain colors were picked. When asked to write about their builds after, I honestly did not have one student not know what to write about. The scariness of the blank, white piece of paper was gone! I had a third grade teacher at Pinehurst Elementary School tell me that her student, we will call Jacob, wouldn't write more than a few words all year. After this activity he had a two paragraph story! 

   Lego story starters are a great tool to get your students engaged in an activity and reinforce the skills already taught. You can purchase the kits at the Lego Education store and I typically use one kit to four students. Let creativity and story telling come to life with the Lego Education Story Starter Kits! Happy building!

~Deanna Boesch

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Power of Twitter!

Do you often Google new ideas for your classroom, but you’re just not sure if they will work, or how to best manage the flow of the activity? Do you feel bored with the same lesson you’ve done for a particular standard and want a new idea? Enter the supportive and amazing educational world of Twitter!
twitter.jpg

Eight years ago, a DIF in my former county told me I really needed to be on Twitter. In my ignorance of what a powerful tool it could be to build my PLN, I declined, telling her I really didn’t need to know all the gossip being shared by strangers. And really, didn’t she realize how busy I was grading papers, writing lesson plans, and preparing for my students every day? I didn’t have time for Twitter!

Thankfully, I accepted her challenge to try it for 30 days, and since then, have been a part of one of the best educational networks in my career. I currently follow, learn from, and connect with over 1800 educators from around the world!

For those of you not familiar with Twitter, it is a social networking site that allows you to share ideas and thoughts in up to 140 characters with others around the world. The 140 character limit is perfect for educators since our time is valuable and we don’t very often wish to read long paragraphs of text. Ideas are short and to the point. You can also attach photos, short videos, and links as you share the wonderful things you are doing in your classroom!

Many of the technology integration ideas and tools I have come to love, I first learned about on Twitter. Teachers and others who work with kids on a daily basis share successes and difficulties which often allows me to hit the ground running, rather than tiptoeing in “will this work?” mode!

One of the best ways to dip your toes into the Twitter waters is to lurk during a scheduled “chat”. There are many weekly Twitter chats focused on various topics, grade levels, and/or subject areas. Those who participate engage in meaningful conversations similar to the EdCamp MCS recently held. The chats are organized by hashtag (#), so if you search a particular hashtag, you can see what everyone has shared. HERE is a calendar of many of the education chats being held. Pick one that seems interesting, get on Twitter at the appropriate time, and search the #tag to see all the great ideas being shared! You may even be drawn in and tweet out your own thoughts on the topic! Lurking in a Twitter chat is also a great way to find other educators with similar interests to follow. (Below is a screenshot taken during a chat.)

chat.PNG

So, in an effort to introduce you to one of the best personal learning networks and some of the most awesome professional development you have experienced, I challenge you to join the educational side of Twitter (if you haven’t already). Just like my friend and colleague challenged me eight years ago, I ask you to give it a try for 30 days so you can see what a valuable learning tool it can be for you as an educator!

Your DIF can help you get started, and by “following” members of the DIF team (our Twitter handles are listed below), you’ll get a glimpse of many of the cool things happening in our schools right here in Moore County! Knocking down the walls of your classroom is a TWEET away! Give it a try!
twitter follow.jpg

DIF Twitter Handles
Deanna Boesch @deannaboesch
Kelly Priest @KRPriest
Beth Alderson @texteachBeth
TJ Martin @tmartin4726
Carrie Robledo @carrierobledo
Kim Collazo @kcollazo
Clint Rogers @clint_rogers21
Jill Snotherly @snotherlyj
Jilian Reynolds @JilianReynolds
Lee Ann Holmes @tlvfan
Will Herring @WillHerring16
Steve Johnson @edtechsteve
Moore County Digital @MCSDigital

Happy Tweeting ~ Kim


Friday, March 17, 2017

6th Grade Science Coding Infusion

Looking for a fun way to review the Layers of the Earth?

...Oh...did I mention infusing a little computer science too?

Over the past few weeks, Mrs. Yeager, from Southern Middle, and Mrs. Greer & Mrs. Clark, from West Pine Middle, have joined me in teaching students how to infuse a little coding into their science classrooms.  

Let's review the lesson steps so YOU may try this in your classrooms!

Students:
1.  Go to the following website:  wescheme.org
2.  Click "login"
3.  Click "Allow"

This is where I explain the coding platform and tell the students that coders use two windows: the definitions window and the interactions window.  The definitions window is where the code is written and the interactions window will show mistakes in code after running the program.  If there are no errors, the code will run the program.

4.  Type the following code on the left side of the screen:
(circle 50 "solid" "red")

6.  Click "run" at the top left of the page     


A red circle should appear on the right side of the screen.  If it doesn't, have students analyze the code for errors.

7.  Now, type the following code on the left:
(overlay(circle 50 "solid" "red")              
             (circle 100 "solid" "orange"))

This should look like this after students click "run."




So, now that the students know the overlay code, they will need to figure out how to represent the four layers of the Earth.
* Hint:  The parentheses might be confusing.  The ONLY time there are double parentheses will be at the end of the entire code.  Therefore, the final solution would look like this:





  

If students want to explore further, have them click on "Documentation" and look up how to code tons of shapes and ideas!



 Happy Coding!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




Wednesday, March 8, 2017

DIF Team in Action

The Digital Integration Facilitators of Moore County are a team of fully licensed, former classroom teachers, that now serve as the technology specialists in the schools.  Our number one goal is to keep Moore County Students and staff at the forefront of educational changes.

We work closely with teachers and instructional staff to develop curriculum materials and lessons that are engaging and appropriately integrate the digital tools available at each school. Throughout the day, DIFs model lessons for teachers in all content areas, thus providing job embedded staff development and support for teachers.  We can also be seen providing staff development and training in small grade level or content area meetings, large group conference settings, and via online modules for learning.  We are responsible for training teachers on things from how to integrate an app into their classroom, digital citizenship practices, to the North Carolina Technology Competencies for Educators. We often troubleshoot when a technology issue occurs in the middle of instruction, so learning is not disrupted. It is our job to know the digital tools out there and assist school personnel in finding the tool to fit their teaching and learning needs.  

DIFs are responsible for the green screens, robotics, game design, 3D printing, and other projects our local students come home talking about. Many of the robots, drones, competition boards, virtual reality gear, and other various tech tools used by the DIF team were acquired by the team members through grants we wrote ourselves.  

Similar to classroom teachers, our day does not end when the bell rings, as after school robotics coaches, we are teaching young students how to code, invent, and problem solve.  The elementary and middle school DIFs are doing this at two schools, so we are pulling double duty.  The robotics showcases in the spring are organized and run by the DIF team.  This year, Moore County Schools will host the first ever regional showcase for middle school and elementary students.  

Have you heard about a five year old talking about building a house out of toothpicks to protect a little pig from the wolf, or a solar oven made out of cardboard to make a s’more, or perhaps constructing a robotic kicker that can ‘bowl’? This past summer, we designed the STEM Engineering Thread, to introduce the engineering and design process to students. We designed both robotics and non-robotics lessons that are aligned to the curriculum for each grade level K-5. The team plans on extending this thread into middle grades this summer.  Currently, in middle school students are using code in math class to design their own video games and this year we had a middle school team make it all the way to state in their first year of competition with FTC robots. At the high school level, we have students competing and winning at the state level and placing 9th at the national level in a cyber security competition, in the second year of the program.  

The DIF team is very busy and we do much more than chromebooks or apps.  This past week, 10 of our 12 DIFs presented at the state technology conference, North Carolina Technology in Education Society (NCTIES).  We presented on topics and practices that are in place right here in our schools every day, something our team is very proud of.  

Currently, the DIF team is working on this summer’s STEM camp.  This aviation themed camp promises to bring STEM education to life and make it very relevant for students. This self sustained annual camp is planned and carried out by the DIF team as well.  

If you are curious about what we do, please check out the Digital Learning Showcase at West Pine Elementary next Thursday, March 16, from 6-7 pm.  See for yourself what is at stake in Moore County and the great work our team is doing.  



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ian Mackey - The Man Behind the Machine

It was the Monday after Thanksgiving and I was returning back to work after being out with the birth of our daughter.  I walked into the North Moore Media Center and said good morning to Mrs. Davis and Mrs. Garner like any other Monday morning.  I checked my schedule and saw that we had a little less than 3 weeks before the Winter Warriors Robotics competition at Union Pines High School.  I walked into the North Moore Makerspace to see the progress that had been made to the robot since I left them with a pile of pieces 6 weeks earlier.  Much to my chagrin, the pieces were left almost exactly how I last seen them.  I began to panic until Mrs. Davis said she knew just the person I needed to get this robot built.

I found Ian Mackey at lunch that very day.  Ian is a Chevy truck loving, kayak paddling, robot building machine.  I showed Ian the Velocity Vortex video and he started almost immediately building our robot.  He was a leader on our team in the Engineering Design Process and led the North Moore Robotics team to a strong showing at both the in-county Union Pines Winter Warriors competition and the Regional Qualifier Competition at Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill.

He was a leader on our team in the Engineering Design Process and led the North Moore Robotics team to a strong showing at both the in-county Union Pines Winter Warriors competition and the Regional Qualifier Competition at Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill.  


Ian knew that we were behind other teams but that did not stop his creativity and positive attitude.  He led team meetings after school and on weekend build days.  Ian was always open to other ideas from team members.


Here is a short video of the warm-ups before the actual Winter Warriors event.  To get a true appreciation for how much work Ian did, the robot was a pile of pieces in a toolbox just 10 days earlier.  


I had a chance to sit down with Ian to ask him some questions about his time in the Robotics program.  This is what he had to say:


1.  What were the highlights of the Robotics season?  
I think the highlight of the season is at the end of the building stage when it turns into crunch time and you have to get a working robot.  I enjoy the pressure and tend to work well under it.  

2.  What would you have changed about the Robotics team?  
I would have like to have another builder as into it as I was to bounce some of my own ideas off of.  It would also have been nice if we could get some better materials to build with.  

3.  How did the Robotics team experience add to your skill-set as a student?  
I learned a lot about the programming and building the robot learned some good problem solving techniques.

4.  Tell me about your experiences in building, engineering, problem solving.  
I ran into a lot of problems in the building stage getting the motors to run without stripping the gears.  The claw on the end of the arm required a lot of guess and test.

5.  What kind of vision do you have for North Moore Robotics in the future?  
Well I hope they keep it going.  It's a good program and fun.  Not many clubs are as fun as the robotics.

6.  What are your plans for after high school? 
I plan to attend Randolph Community College for 2 years and complete a course for my future job.

7.  What was the most challenging thing about the Robotics program?
The most challenging part of building was the little bit of time I had to build a working robot.  We were in a big time crunch.  

8.  What was the easiest part of the Robotics season?
The easiest part of the season was the competition day it was more fun than anything.

9.  Anything else you want to mention....
I really recommend the robotics club if you like to build or tinker with stuff such as robots or machines.