Edison Robot

The Edison robot takes the idea of computer technology and coding to a whole new level. I spent just over two hours learning the basics of Edison and the programs that can be used to direct him as well as unique codes that I can create on my own to make him carry out different actions.

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Edison is a robot for students of all ages that teaches computer programming and the components of STEM. This robot, that fits in the palm of your hand, is Lego® compatible and quite durable. He includes infrared obstacles and light sensors on his left and right sides. One component of him that I found to be quite fascinating is that he has an infrared receiver and transmitter to communicate with other Edisons. While I was not able to test this out because I only had one, I watched an example video to show how this can be done. I would love to have a few in my future classroom so I can not only try this out, but do so with my students.

The robot can be programmed using a range of different computers and tablets which makes it even more classroom-friendly, and is able to read three different program ranges that vary in grade level appropriateness. The program that I chose to launch was the EdBlocks app in which I was able to launch demos to see what allEdison is capable of. I started out by setting a code for him to drive, and I was able to select the directions he would go, for how long, and which direction he would turn once he came to a stop.

Along with the ability to change direction, I discovered how I could manipulate Edison’s speed and direction based on physical conditions such as the color of the surface he drives over. I was able to create a code that directed Edison to speed up when he drove on a white surface. Seeing as I did not have the specific board that comes with him to layout, I simply taped a piece of white paper to my table. I also directed him to change directions when I clapped, which left me absolutely fascinated by his ability to carry out a command based on surrounding noises.

Through this authentic experience with computer technology, I learned just how engaging and hands-on this robot is. Edison assists in the elaboration of programming and coding for students in the classroom, and allows them to communicate with him through various programming languages. Seeing as these robots are within an affordable price range, I definitely plan to purchase a few for my future classroom so that I can show students how much they are capable of and allow them to not just become coders, but inventors.

For more information on the Edison robot, click here.

Thanks for reading!

Gabby Versace

 

 

Lancaster Science Factory in Lancaster, PA

In October, I took a trip to the Lancaster Science Factory. I spent just over two hours there learning about and manipulating exhibits focused around seven STEM topics.

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The center’s mechanics and motion exhibits showed the power and impact of force in the most unique ways. There were three ball tracks, all of the same length, that had different hills and heights to show how this impacts the speed of an object. The Pendulum Snake was one of my favorites because I found it so mesmerizing. It included a line of balls hung on individual strings that would sway back and forth when the board that holds them in place was lifted and then let down. I felt as though both of these exhibits could be incorporated into my classroom whether I buy it, or even task the students with making their very own.

The Light and Vision area shows the impact of light, and how humans perceive it. Some of center’s art has different colors shone on them, and others simply have different colors within them to display how optical illusions can be created. I particularly enjoyed a wall that displayed four art pieces that made the art look as though they were actually moving on the canvas and even changing colors. These too can be integrated into the classroom and hung on walls for students to look at.

Some of the other exhibits focused on topics such as electricity and magnetism such as their sustainable energy dance floor that was able to generate energy from movement on the floor, and fluid dynamics such as air, wind, and water. There is a water lab which includes a huge water valve tower in which one can manipulate the pressure and amount of water in particular tubes in order to transfer a ball from one location to another.

Overall, I truly enjoyed my visit to the Lancaster Science Factory and could not believe how fast time flew while I was there. The manipulative exhibits not only taught me more about the components of STEM, but ways in which I can integrate them into my classroom. If there’s one thing that I learned from this trip is how easily these topics can be integrated into my classroom because, while the exhibits were very well made, I too can create my own versions and so can my students.

For more information on this location and other related exhibits, click here.

Thanks for reading!

Gabby Versace

Garden for Victory in Washington D.C.

This visit took an hour to observe and analyze all of the plants as well as read the signs to learn about the history and information relevant to this garden.

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On a trip to Washington D.C. in mid-September, I visited the “Gardens for Victory” exhibit area outside of the Smithsonian’s American History Museum. This garden is abundant with plants grown in victory gardens during World War II. During this era, the nation experienced a shortage in national food supply during the first and second world wars; specifically, canned fruits and vegetables. Government agencies,    private foundations, businesses, and seed companies across the nation encouraged every man, woman, and child to plant a “victory garden” to contribute to the national food supply by providing land and seeds for individuals within the communities to grow. As  a result, millions of families grew fruits and vegetables in order to produce a plentiful abundance of food for them, their communities, and the troops at war.

This outdoor garden area was plentiful with flowers, fruits, vegetables, and thorough information on the history of these gardens. There was one entire section of the garden dedicated just to peppers, which was my favorite. There were easily six different types of peppers grown here, all of which looked almost fake; that’s how well-grown and colorful they were. There were also signs posted all over the garden and one sign in particular was placed in front of an open grass area and discussed the importance of meadows. The sign noted on the importance of them, including the fact that they provide cover, food, and nesting sites for birds, insects, and other wildlife. To provide a background on how they are still relevant today, it discussed how the U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees and protects numerous incentive-based programs to encourage farmers to preserve these areas to support pollinators. Having pollinators in the area is essential when growing a garden because, without help from insects, fruits and vegetables grown in a garden will not survive nor produce food. The sign also listed ways in which anyone can help, including children, in restoring and promoting the importance of meadows. This list includes promoting community gardens, replacing parts of the one’s lawn with a meadow of native plants, and avoiding using harmful pesticides.

This experience left me amazed at how much I did not know about not only the nation’s history, but how and what garden’s need in order to thrive. I learned about the importance of having and preserving meadows, the evolution of gardening through the decades, and just how much of an impact just my garden can have on the community. This experience helped me to not only learn things I did not know, but also how important this is to integrate into my future classroom. This STEM-related topic not only teaches the importances of how student’s can make an importance in the environment and their communities, but also is a perfect example of how STEM can be applied both indoors and outdoors. If you ever find yourself in Washington D.C. and you’re looking for a unique place to visit, be sure to make your way over to the “Garden for Victory” just outside of the American History Museum!

For more information on this location and other related exhibits, click here

Thanks for reading!

Gabby Versace

My Educational Guru

 

Miss. Versace

~ 1 October, 2020 ~

My Educational Guru

 My Role Model:

Whether you are a student or educator, there is more than likely one person in particular that has had a major impact on your career path. My biggest role model as an early educator is Melissa Forry; a first-grade teacher at Mount Wolf Elementary School in York, PA. I began shadowing her and helping out in her classroom as a freshman and have grown in so many ways through her insight, knowledge, and examples set in place within her classroom. The way Mrs. Forry structures and sets up her classroom helps me to further understand everything I learn in college and apply my knowledge. Over the years she has so graciously allowed me to come into her classroom and run small lessons with the students while she works with other groups. Doing so has stretched me as an educator and put me outside of my comfort zone to help me grow and learn how to apply my knowledge into how I teach and interact with the students. She is always there when I have questions and puts into perspective things that I am sometimes unsure of. Regardless of the questions I ask or the advice I go to her for, she always provides insight for me and gives me nothing but the truth Mrs. Forry has helped shape me into the student and educator I am today, and I aspire to be half as great as her.

 Theorists:

Lev Vygotsky (1896- 1934) — 

As we gain more and more experience and knowledge, our educational philosophies change or mold with new concepts to constantly improve. The main theorist whose pedagogies are shaping my path and educational philosophy is Lev Vygotsky. His biggest emphasis involved teaching within the students’ zone of proximal development (ZPD). This involves knowing what students are able to do with the help of a teacher and what they can do on their own. By carefully scaffolding the instruction and curriculum within a classroom, children are able to gain control over their learning and expand their abilities in terms of what they can do on their own. Vygotsky’s theory inspires me because I firmly believe that each student should be appropriately challenge in order to grow as a learner. Understanding the process of scaffolding provides me the ability to do just that in my future classrooms. By understanding Vygotsky’s ZPD and where each of my future students are in their learning, I am able to appropriately structure lessons and activities so that children can fully understand concepts and work to be able to master them with and without my help.

Read more about Lev Vygotsky here.

John Dewey (1859-1952) — Another theorist whose pedagogies I admire is that of John Dewey. His approach to learning through a child-centered curriculum. Dewey emphasizes the idea that education involves adults sharing life experiences to students when it applies to content so that they too can understand how to make real-world connections to learning within the classroom. Furthermore, child-centered instruction involves basing the starting point for lesson plans on the knowledge and interests that students hold. I admire this idea because I strongly feel as though students will not want to learn and learn as well if they are not interested in the content. Making content relate to students based on what they know or are interested in provides a personal aspect and motivates them to do their best because of this increase in interest. Dewey also emphasizes the importance of seeing the whole child, and not just their academic needs. As an educator, it is important to understand other aspects of students whether it be social-emotional, physical, or developmental needs.

Read more about John Dewey here.

The “Why” and the “How”:

When it comes to the why and the how of this field, the Early Childhood Education program at Millersville University goes above and beyond all expectations. Every professor and doctor I have had thus far for my major has been nothing but helpful. Whether learning about instructional strategies, differentiation, literacy and reading, or even culture and diversity every class provides the most necessary and beneficial information to ensure that all students are fully prepared for the actual classroom. All of the staff are fully supportive, helpful and caring; they want nothing but the absolute best for students. The students within this program also help in teaching the why and the how through small group projects, one-on-one interactions, and whole group discussions. I also work at KinderCare, and my other teachers in the classroom always provide helpful feedback and strategies so that I can improve myself as an educator and be the best that I possibly can.

Overall:

When it comes to being an educator, self-reflection is crucial. Through not just reflecting on my strengths and areas of need, but my inspirations and gurus as well, allows me the ability to ensure that I stay on the path that I want and is the most beneficial. Observing those who inspire me the most whether role models or theorists, provides me the ability to improve everyday. I am able to improve as a student, as an educator, and as a person.

 

 ~Thank you for reading! ~

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