Tuesday, 10 April 2018

"Problems are hidden opportunities, and constraints can actually boost creativity."


When it comes to home-schooling, the learning never stops, but over the school holidays we definitely kick back and relax a little. The boys have had so much fun so far over the Easter period and it'll be sad when Seth goes back to school after this week. Ive been trying to get Opeie into a little coding recently and have borrowed books from the library and a BBC Micro:bit but he just hasn't shown any interest. I think part of it is because I want to have a go and learn with him but I didn't want to push it as thats the quickest way to put any child off an project.


Yesterdays activity, which I assumed would only last for a couple of hours ended up filling our whole day and in Opeie's words was 'One of the best Daddy-School days he's ever had'. Back in November we bought Seth a LEGO Boost kit for his birthday (Ok, so I was trying to get them both into coding) and with his obvious love of LEGO, it seemed like the perfect gift for Seth and something that Opeie may have been interested in at a later date. Seth sat and built it after his Birthday and had a little play but it ended up on a shelf untouched. So yesterday as the weather was awful and it was clear that we were not going anywhere, Opeie and I decided to have a play.


After learning the basics and working out what each of the commands does we began building a track out of LEGO so that we could work out the commands to get Vernie the robot to the finish line. For dramatic effect we used Opeie's Creator 3 in 1 robot (Which looks like it could be Vernie's child) and placed it at the end of the course. So Vernie had lost his child and needed to be programmed to get to them safely. One of the many thing I love about the boost is being able to key in the turning Degrees. We hadn't covered that yet so we drew a circle and I spent some time explaining Degrees and how the number we entered, would affect the robots movement. Seeing the actions in motion rather than just being on paper meant that this sank straight in with Opeie


It wasn't all movement that we needed to code though which made the activity even more fun. I placed the traffic cones (that come with the kit) across the track and Opeie stopped the robot at that point, recorded himself saying "Oh no! traffic comes, please can I have some help?" and also added that into the chain of commands followed by a 360° spin and flashing disco lights on the chest once they were moved.


Opeie's next obstruction was a Nexo Knights robot who was blocking his path. Opeie programmed his robot to stop and say hello and then recorded voice commands so that they could have a short conversation before high fiving and continuing along the route. Desperate to make use of the rocket launcher on his shoulder, Opeie built a LEGO target before adding in some coding to make Vernie stop and shoot it down. When the command for 360° spin didn't quite go around all the way (probably due to being on carpet), Opeie worked out how many more degrees he needed to turn and then added that into the line of coding too, which straightened up Vernie, keeping him on his path.


When Vernie finally made it to Vern Jr, Opeie had recorded an excited reunion piece to finish off our afternoon of LEGO fun. These are the sort of homeschooling activities that really reinforce our decision to teach Opeie ourselves and this is also another huge win for those amazing bricks, turning a dull and rainy day into a colourful learning adventure. 


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