Gearing Up For Competitive Robotics

Greetings from the land of curricular and co-curricular robotics.

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Astrophotography - A Blending of Art and Science

September 27, 2015. The supermoon and a total eclipse of the moon, all in one night. What could be more fun or fascinating?

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A Visit to What’s Next

A recent visit to the Rockhurst High School STEAM program at the invitation of its enthusiastic and exuberant director, Mr. Greg Owsley, proved to be exciting and exhilarating. As the years pass since my retirement in 2010, the fond memories of the ROCK rest ever gentle on my mind. The soul of Rockhurst has always been dedicated and enthusiastic teachers instructing students focused on learning and formation in the Jesuit tradition. Well, those things have not changed. But Jesuit education and the Rockhurst tradition have always asked “what’s next?” And so it is with the STEAM program, an integration of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. A number of co-curricular clubs and activities make this a total approach to learning and solving problems. In my own experience as a teacher and administrator, I always believed in the maxim, “it’s not the answers one seeks, but the questions one asks” that provides the foundation for learning and thinking.

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Communication Arts Department and the “A” in STEAM

Quite a bit of the talk around the STEAM initiative has revolved around the first and last letters; S- for Science and M- for Math. The other letters are not being ignored at Rockhurst. The Communication Arts department was created to add more opportunities in the arts. Introduction to Movie Making, Advanced Film Making, Introduction to Broadcasting, Introduction to Photography, Public Speaking, Newspaper and Yearbook are a few of the classes in the CA department that provide students with an opportunity to “communicate artistically”. As the Communication Arts department continues to grow, a few clubs have been started to introduce students to the existing courses available and to possible courses.

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How We Work

One of the more empowering aspects of Jesuit education is that we have a pretty clear vision of the people our students are becoming when they cross the graduation threshold. In fact, the characteristics are laid out specifically in the Profile of the Graduate at Graduation. As such, new programs are filtered through the Grad at Grad lens.

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STEAM and Ignatian Pedagogy

Recently I came across an article about Boyan Slat, a young man who three years ago gave a TEDx talk about his innovative, “radical” plan to remove plastics from oceans. The talk went viral likely as a result of several factors: his plan was simple in that it’d be powered by the oceans themselves; it would rely on a 62-mile-wide floating wall anchored to the ocean floor; it would in theory remove millions of tons of plastic in the oceans; and the idea’s creator, Slat, was then 18-years old. Today and $2 million raised later, this young dreamer’s idea is being acted upon.

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Survey Results Are In!

After administering the Active Learning Classroom survey designed by Steelcase Education, 253 students responded.

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Professional Development

As professional educators it is our obligation to our craft to continue to develop our toolbox of skills as the world our audience lives in changes. By meeting our students where they are at…in their world…we are required as teachers to reflect on creative strategies that allow our students to grow academically during their formation at Rockhurst. Professional Development is a key aspect of our careers as teachers and is also an crucial component of STEAM.

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Reflection on Student Whiteboards

When I notice the many changes that have occurred during the transition to the new classroom, I am most impressed with the way in which the students seem to be more engaged in daily activities. This has been achieved with new furniture/technology and with the introduction of the personal whiteboards to the students. The whiteboards serve many functions in the new classroom, including privacy and visibility.

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Service Learning

In January of 2015, my friend Mr. Bill Palin, a lawyer in Boston calls my cell. “Hey Greg, I just finished helping teach this course at MIT. The level of sophistication is really not that great, you should run this class at your school.”

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Three Weeks In

I entered the new active learning classrooms with excitement as well as apprehension of the unknown. Being in an active learning classroom has given me the permission to think outside the box, and relinquish control of my classroom to my students.

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Problem Solving in the Jesuit Tradition

I have been teaching high school aged men and women problem solving skills since January of 1974. The technology of the day—the sliderule. At Grain Valley High School, I started my first programming (coding) class in 1978 using four TRS 80 computers from Radio Shack with 4K Memory. We saved our programs on cassette tapes. Wow…technology has changed in the last 41 years, but developing problem solving skills in young minds …well… that hasn’t changed that much.

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STEAM Co-Curriculars

Underneath the Science Department’s umbrella of “STEAM Co-Curriculars”, there are 7 clubs: Science Club, Ecology Club, Robotics Club, Astronomy Club, Zoology Club, Engineering Club, and Rocket Club. Co-Curricular Clubs offer students an opportunity that is an extension of the classroom, enhancing their formation and allowing them experiences they may not be able to have within the current academic curriculum.

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Active Learning Classroom (Faculty Reflections)

After 11 days, here are some reflections from the teachers in the Active Learning Classrooms:

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Problem Solving (Part 2)

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Exeter Math Problem sets and the way students and teachers approach the mathematics inspired me. I implemented their Math4 problem set into my AP Calculus BC course. After eleven days of class, here are two quotes from students:

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