Quadrilateral Sphero Coding Challenges

By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator

Code is everywhere: agriculture, sports, education, art/design, pharmaceutics, robotics, health, entertainment, travel, law, politics, engineering, transportation, meteorology, tourism – you get the point. No youth or 21st-century workforce development program should be absent of code.

Computer Programming with Sphero Summer Camp Program with OSU Extension. Music credit: song,18 anni, by ARIETE from Anzio, in the province of Rome.

 

The highlight video above documents a middle school summer camp program where students learned about geometry, coding terminology, and how a program is written from a series of simple commands or algorithms for a computer to run through and follow. The students also explored computer science careers and had an opportunity to work together on a Sphero Quadrilateral Coding Challenge to explore firsthand how accessible and fun coding can be for anyone that is willing to try and have fun with coding.


Resources

Presentation:

Handout:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quadrilaterals: Sperho Coding Challenge Handout


 

Tech Recipe: Starting A Scholastic Drone Racing Team (fact sheet)

By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator

Schools interested in starting a drone racing team may have some basic questions, such as, “Is drone racing legal?”, “When did drone racing start?”, “How does drone racing work?” This fact sheet is written in a recipe format to provide simple how-to guidance for prospective schools and teachers who want to learn more about what it takes to start a drone racing team, such as materials and people needed, the skill-building benefits scholastic teams offer, equipment cost estimates, online resources, and instruction on how to develop a practice schedule and racing events. Fact sheet available at: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/cdfs-1576

WHY DRONES?

Scholastic drone teams propel lifelong learners. Student teams encourage and build enjoyment, teamwork, curiosity, critical thinking, courage, and creativity.

Video of 2019 Circleville City Schools District drone racing team, Maker X video highlight, an event held in Columbus, OH, by Meghan Thoreau, retrieved from: youtu.be/ITxWx-4jQXU.

Research Capabilities Statement

Ohio State University Extension

Research Capabilities | Community Development, Pickaway County

Figure 1. OSU Extension program areas: 4-H Youth Development, Agricultural and Natural Resources, and Family and Consumer Science images by OSU Extensions retrieved from: https://extension.osu.edu/. Community Development’s STEM Club Program image by Meghan Thoreau.

SUMMARY

Ohio State University Extension is the community-based outreach unit of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at Ohio State. Extension “empowers through education,” we help Ohioans build better lives, businesses, and communities.

OUR VISION Ohioans have the knowledge and resources they need to thrive. OUR MISION We create opportunities for people to explore how science-based knowledge can improve social, economic, and environmental conditions.

OSU Extension delivers knowledge from Ohio State to all 88 counties in Ohio. We work with people where they live to strengthen their own lives and communities. Extension connects with people in all stages of life – from young to older adults – from families to K-12 schools, farmers, business and industry leaders, community leaders, and elected officials.

Community Development in Pickaway County has a unique programming focus geared towards STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math.) My work, as an Education Educator, is informed by a collaborative team of Extension professionals, volunteers, campus collaborators, and community partners that provide leadership for the development, production, and evaluation of educational programs and applied research to foster informal STEM educational opportunities that increase career attainment in STEM fields. My Extension outreach and programming integrates new technologies, hands-on learning experiences, career exploration, and emphasize on the 21st Century skill set.

CAPABILITIES

  • Focus on critical economic, environmental, leadership, youth, and family issues.
  • Engage people in lifelong learning.
  • Apply knowledge/practical research to the diverse needs/interests of Ohioans in rural, suburban, and urban communities.
  • Extend resources of The Ohio State University.
  • Recruit/develop volunteers to multiply Extension’s efforts while developing their leadership potential.
  • Enhance teamwork through networking and connectedness.
  • Link youth, family, and community needs to scholars in Ohio and nationwide.
  • Teach with cutting-edge strategies using new technologies and approaches.

DIFFERENTIATORS

Research projects that require real-world STEM education and instruction, including areas of applied science, engineering, computer science, workforce development, and other areas of instructional methods and delivery.

We offer hands-on programmings such as drone racing, intro to coding, simple circuitry, aerospace and flight simulators, intro astronomy, simple motors and robotics, renewable energy, and more.

We bridge the gap between science and the community, with instruction in STEM and science concepts across community members of all ages, including community members typically underrepresented in research. We utilize relationships across the community to deliver impact in formal and informal learning environments.

AREAS OF PROGRAMMING, RESEARCH & SCHOLARLY INTERESTS

Programming

  • Scholastic Drone Racing (video)
  • K-12 Teacher/Business Tours
  • Elementary STEM Club Program
  • Student Career Exploration Tours
  • Problem-based Learning Initiatives
  • Pickaway County Library Youth STEM Club (video)
  • Summer STEM Camp
  • Real-Money, Real World
  • 21st Century Skill Set and STEM Careers
  • Extra Mile
  • Coding Club & App Development
  • Community and Scholarly Outreach

Research & Scholarly Interest

I’m interested in building new collaborations among practitioners, STEM researchers, learning researchers, and evaluators that are interested in developing and/or studying models in Pickaway County related to informal STEM education. With an additional focus on professional development or professional development resources related to informal K-12 STEM learning; and developing or supporting collaborations, connections, and professional networks within and across sectors informal STEM education and beyond.

My outreach and programming focus on promoting science and engineering education, especially programming that engages professionals and youth from populations typically underrepresented in the STEM fields. I’m interested in advancing my programmatic development with researchers focused on STEM learning outcomes, organizational capacity, and mechanisms for expanding programming and access to STEM resources and experiences. Some challenges I have experienced are a poor understanding of informal STEM challenges and opportunities in rural communities. Rural school districts face shortfalls and hardships, fiscal pressures, school consolidation, population loss, low capacity of the workforce, diversity of the workforce, tech workforce, and a general lack of knowledge about learning technologies and effective STEM delivery.

I’m seeking out ways to: increase informal STEM offerings in rural and agricultural communities; provide support and leadership for expansion of STEM programs (e.g. existing scholastic drone racing program); provide information and resources for rural communities and schools to deliver STEM programs; and better academic understanding of informal STEM opportunities in rural communities.

CURRENT PARTNERS & CLIENTELE

I’m tasked with providing leadership and programming to meet the current and future needs related to STEM education and career development for K-12 youth and educators. I work in conjunction with the Pickaway County Educational Service Center, Pickaway WORKS, school district curriculum directors, K-12 teachers, economic development organizations, such as Pickaway Progress Partnerships, local business and industry, and OSU collaborators. Additional program partners: the PAST Foundation, DuPont, Safety Third Racing, COSI, Digital Flagship, and more. My clientele is primarily K-12 youth and the families and organizations interested in STEM programming opportunities.

Figure 2. OSU Extension Community Development’s STEM Program images by Meghan Thoreau.


 

STEM Parenthood: every childhood needs a little coding

By: Meghan Thoreau

Living in a technology-driven society puts added pressure on parents. Parents have to make decisions about the role technology plays in our kids’ recreation and education, all the while building enthusiasm towards the sciences and creative technologies that appear to be dominating the 21st century job market. And yes, I still want my children to grow, laugh, run, create, travel, and enjoy their life. I also believe there are a good deal of parents that may feel lacking in skills or confidence to be the technological role models they want to be for their kids.

Kano Assembly
I’ve decided to introduce coding into my children’s life without ever writing a line of code my myself. We bought a Kano, a new DIY computer kit designed to help young kids and adults learn to code by assembling a computer and learning code through interactive activities like making music, art, streaming HD video, reprogramming games like Pong and Minecraft, composing music, word processing and web browsing. Kano collaborated with Raspberry Pi and Codecademy and is designed for educators to adopt student-led learning in the classroom or empower parents to support computer science learning at home.

And its so easy a six-year-old can do it. Last month, my six-year-old daughter (with just a little guidance) put together her Kano and started coding within the hour; impressive. She now takes pride in sitting at her work station and codes with the interactive games that visually build and support her learning and attention. She sees it more as a game and is therefore almost unintentionally learning basic coding skills through play. I’ve also enjoyed watching how her Kano is helping increase her reading, typing, and computer skills as she moves around the computer programs and familiarizes herself with its capabilities and decides what to do on the system. Kano is a great tool to introduce responsible technology and basic coding skills in your child’s life.

Art Exhibit Inspires Tech Innovation in Art Curriculums

Photo of Jason Salavon

Photo of Jason Salavon retrieved from artist’s website, jasonsalavon.com

By: Meghan Thoreau

Tech Artist Jason Salavon has embraced technology to create art, developing a new way of looking at the familiar. Through his own software programming designs, Salavon creates codes and algorithms that manipulate data into new shapes and forms to study and consider. His final compositions are exhibited as photographic prints, video installations, and interactive software engagement stations. Salavon’s art is comprised of true STEAM; science, technology, engineering, art, and math. This intermingling of art and technology could breathe new life into our high school art classes, art education curriculums, and career advancement.

‘Abstract Scaffolding’

I was recently introduced to Salavon’s work through an exhibit at the Columbus Art Museum in Columbus, Ohio. The final compositions on display belong to a broader series of portraits that started in 1997 and was explored through 2011. The three images displayed have a ghost-like atmospheric essences that require several minutes of closer inspection and thought to really appreciate. I was especially drawn to the Anthony van Dyck Portrait, the middle piece depicted above, which Salavon created (through a software code) by merging the bulk portraiture works of van Dyck into a single image. I thought the final composition had a over arching feminine buttressing quality, despite the mixed nature of his portrait inputs that went into the algorithm. It is the subtleties of images, the colors, light, composition, etc. that reveal patterns in the data through Salavon’s averaging imagery technique that is fascinating to contemplate.

A portion of Salavon’s Portraits Series that spans from 1997 to 2011, on display at the Columbus Art Museum. Photo by Meghan Thoreau.

QuoteSalavon’s computing technique compels his audience to observe traces of the input of what was, while simultaneously understanding the output image of what now is. Data is powerful and despite manipulation, still leaves a trace of the original essence, but aggregates itself into a new computation.(1) Salavon stated, “Data has a story to tell and its very hard to silence.”

High Tech En Masse Portraiture

Another famous Salavon averaging series is Every Playboy Centerfold, The Decades (normalized) 2002. The series divides the Playboy magazine centerfolds from the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s into four respective en masse portraitures through his mean averaging software  processing technique. Salavon is drawn to qualities of response that reinforces clichés, especially over the power of the individual and its uniformity to the masses. Patterns of images and data often reveal themselves with averaging, such as, how the 1960’s centerfolds models had less lighting effects to enhance body features then the 1980s and 90s centerfolds. The models of the 1960s and 70s also appear to have more sideways turned models then later decades. Art creates a visual forum to observe and discuss important nuances, themes, and variations about society and how we evolve over time that may otherwise go unnoticed. Salavon’s innovative decision to infuse his art with technology keeps art relevant in a technology driven world.

Every Playboy Centerfold, The Decades 2002

Every Playboy Centerfold, The Decades (normalized) 2002

Other powerful installations by Salavon include the American Varietal (Atlas) 2013, permanently installed at the headquarters of the US Census Bureau in Washington, D.C.. The installation was created by the compiling of US population data by county from 1790 to 2011. Colors were determined by states’ flag colors.

Permanent installation, American Varietal (Atlas) 2013, US Census Bureau Headquarters.

Permanent installation, American Varietal (Atlas) 2013, US Census Bureau Headquarters.

Real-time interactive system, structural steel, multi-touch screen of American Varietal (Atlas).

Real-time interactive system, structural steel, multi-touch screen of American Varietal (Atlas).

He then processed the database into a 3D graphical image that Salavon chose to rotate and freeze into the final image pictured above. He later included a real-time interactive multi-touch screen that allows people to explore the graphic and population data more thoroughly. Again, Salavon re-establishes the importance of both art and technology into our daily lives, education systems, and workplaces.

Salavon’s, Shoes, Domestic Production, 1960-1998 video installation in 2001, took domestic shoe sales from the US and coded the  database into a 3D visual graphic representation. The base of the image is wide and over the years the datum points narrow to the top representing the outsourcing overtime of shoe manufacturing to outside the US. His work requires closer inspection and understanding than a first glance suggests.

Shoes, Domestic Production, 1960-1998, 2001 from Jason Salavon Studio on Vimeo.

Salavon’s work requires more of his audience then a traditional artist. Onlookers must not only observe the final product, but the technology driven process behind its methodology: part human selection, part human programming, and part autonomy of running a software program to create #techart.

Salavon has been compared to J.M.W. Turner and later Impressionists, but where those artists relentlessly tried to explore the style of space by brush and paint, Salavon unremittingly chooses technology as his medium to artistically explore data.

Graphic design, the process of visual communication and problem-solving via the use of typography, photography and illustration, has brought computers into art classrooms, but Salavon’s work demonstrates that more technology, such as software programming, has place in art education and STEAM career pathways.

Jason Salavon has a large collection of work worth exploring, visit jasonsalavon.com.


Footnote:

(1) Data is used in this post as a singular mass noun to describe information.