To say that this event exceeded our expectations would be a severe understatement. Over the past several months, we have continued to iterate on a format for the showcase event that would enable students to demonstrate skill development while also being safe. We didn't want elements of the showcase event to be super competitive as we know that can create anxiety among our students.
However, we also want to create a space where students can show what they have built over the Fall season. It is also important to us that the emerging community of builders gets to meet each other and see what others who are in different sections may have built.
So, we ultimately settled on a format that had 3 different parts: (1) Student at Instructor, (2) Student vs. Parent/Guardian Challenge & (3) Project Showcase. We believe that these 3 elements give us a firm foundation with which to build future showcase events on.
(1) Student as Instructor Exercise
The student as instructor helps provides students with the empathy to explain how to build with technology to their parent/guardian who may not be as familiar. It also gives students confidence that they have learned fundamental skills related to the projects they have built during the course of the season. Finally, it gives parents/guardians insight into the process of building with technology. Often, parents/guardians just get to see the final 5 minutes of class. However, this exercise enabled parents/guardians to see what all goes into what their students build on a weekly basis with us.
For this exercise, we chose to have students guide their parents/guardians in building character controls using the Scratch programming language developed at MIT.
(2) Student vs. Parent/Guardian Challenge
During this part of the showcase, we wanted to unlock the competitive nature of both the students and their parents/guardians. To facilitate this goal, we had a challenge to build the tallest tower using Lego Robotics pieces. This reduced the cognitive load for students along with their parents/guardians since mostly everyone has previously had an opportunity to build a tower. The twist was that we broke the teams up into parents/guardians vs. students. Each team member had 1 minute to build and then we rotated to the next team member.
Both groups seemed to really enjoy this challenge with the student teams prevailing in both rounds of the competition despite a great effort from the parents/guardians.
(3) Project Showcase
Since these projects were selected by the students, it was great to see the pride when other community members engaged with their projects & gave feedback on how they appreciated the effort put into building. At the end of the day, this is what make technology-focused instruction meaningful. When you are able to see the potential of students demonstrated within the community.