Innovators - Amy McKearney
K-5 | Technology Skills | App & Robot
Amy McKearney, a STEM Teacher at Corpus Christi School in Connecticut, is increasing the STEM presence at her PK-8 school and thought Wonder Workshop’s hands-on approach would be the perfect fit. As of January 2018, she’s just getting started with her Classroom Pack, plus an additional 2 Dash robots.
When we use Dash & Dot, I go to the classrooms and pair a couple kids up with each set of robots and tablets. Our STEM Lab has thirty computers in it, so there’s more room to move around and use the robots if I go down to the classroom. During the Christmas season, I bought eight Kindles with covers and additional memory for $40 each. I have a mobile cart to store them. On the bottom of the metal cart, I took out the separators and all of my robots are in the bottom. The top has separators and the Kindles are kept on top, where they’re charged.
For our K-2 classrooms, I bring 6 Dots and 6 Kindles down and use the Wonder app. I pair them up with two students per set. One handled Dot and one handled the Kindle. After two minutes, I would set my timer and then they would switch. After both of them got a turn, then we would switch the group and more kids would come in, so there was another set of kids doing the same thing.
I use the controller section within the Wonder app for K-2 students. It’s great because they can control the robot and make it say sounds. They had a blast doing it. They were so animated and happy and laughing at the robot making pig noises or getting the robot to kiss. It’s funny because when you hold Dot long enough, he says “I love it when you hold me”. The kids will say “Aww! Did you hear the robot?”. That program has been really successful.
For 3-5 classrooms, we have a five week long after school club. I went into each of the classes and drove Dash around to give them a taste of the after school club. This was the first week of the after school club. We paired them up in groups of three or four. Everybody was engaged. They’ve all been exposed to code.org, so I didn’t have to teach them coding, they already knew it.
The first thing I taught them was how to connect their robots in the Wonder app. Then, we went through the puzzles, which are huge. You could tell some of the third grade groups were struggling, while fifth graders were blowing ahead, which was fine because they were working separately at their own pace. There were some that got stuck and we were there to troubleshoot and help them figure out what’s not working.
We have one person we call the programmer, one person we call the documenter, and one person we call the fetcher, who goes and gets the robots. We have another person we call the troubleshooter. Each person has a chance to take part in each of the roles and they switch when they complete a challenge. Towards the end of the club, we are going to have them program with Dash with the catapult and another week with the xylophone. They’re going to have an opportunity to do their own thing and show it off.