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It’s my second week in NY and as part of my plan for the trip was to visit organizations that are doing interesting things in the education field, I’ve been to two amazing places so far and I’ll be writing about these amazing spaces in the Creative Spaces in NYC series.

Last week, I went to RoboFun that offers fun classes on robotics and programming for the kids. Here are some observations/questions/thoughts/wondering I had from my visit:

  1. In the 3 classes I observed, the youngest kids’ group had 6 boys and 4 girls, the middle group had 7 boys and 5 girls but the older kids’ group had 12 boys and just one girl.
    So I was wondering what the reason behind the decreased interest in robotics/building/making (lego related) in that age group in girls was. We’re facing similar problems at Karkhana with our Creative Computing class (based on Scratch and Arduino) and we’ve been trying to address that.roboFun1
  1. I saw the kids use Lego Mindstorms, which are really expensive (especially for us since the exchange rate is 1USD = 105 NRs). So it would be great if there opensource alternatives to the Mindstorms.
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  1. The class size was relatively small (10-12 kids) with a lead teacher and an assistant. But one thing I noticed was that there wasn’t any  differentiated instruction for kids with different skill levels. This is something we’ve realized is missing in our classes at Karkhana and our teachers have been experimenting with different lesson plans. Classes at Karkhana have 2 teachers and 24-30 students in a class.
  1. One of the facilitators mentioned that RoboFun also offered an offsite program for public schools which sounded similar to Karkhana run engagement classes.
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  1. The smaller kids sounded so professional when they told me they were following the instructions for the blueprint and shared with me what they were making. That class was fun. 🙂
  1. I had a few questions about the teachers because we, at Karkhana are having a tough time finding committed teachers who are passionate about education
    1. What backgrounds to the teachers (and assistants) come from?
    2. Do they have a teaching background?
    3. Are there professional development sessions the teachers go through?
  2. I also liked that the kids were working on the floor. It seemed effective for younger kids.One problem we had at Karkhana was that we got chairs and tables for 11-14 year old kids but then it was too tall for the younger kids and a floor seating seems to solve it.
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  3. We started teaching a whole year Science and Computing content for grades 5, 6 and 7 from this year. Since most of us have an engineering background at Karkhana, we think we’ve figured out how to make the Physical Science classes hands on but we’re struggling with Earth Science and Life science.

Laura Allen, the CEO/President of Vision Education and Media/RoboFun sent me a detailed reply to some of the thoughts and questions I had about their program and am looking forward to meeting her in person.   

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