Teachers Learn Scratch with Finch

Longwood University’s Institute for Teaching through Technology and Innovative Practices (ITTIP) recently offered a two-day professional development workshop, Flying with Finch for STEM. On June 22-23, fifteen middle and high school teachers came to campus to learn how to use the Finch Robot in their STEM classrooms. The participating teachers were from Amelia, Buckingham, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Pittsylvania, and Prince Edward school divisions. The funding for this professional development was made possible through a grant from the Verizon Foundation.

The Finch Robot was developed at Carnegie Mellon’s CREATE lab for computer science education and has compatibility with over 20 different programming languages, including several that are appropriate for learners as young as 5. It has on-board features including sensors, motors, LED beak, pen mount, buzzer and an accelerator that users can manipulate by programming the Finch. During ITTIP’s workshop, the participants learned the Scratch programming language to program their Finch Robot and get acquainted with its features. In order to gain hands-on experiences with programming and connecting to subjects across the curriculum, teachers were given several challenges to complete during the workshop. The following is a link to a short video that highlights some of the activities conducted during the two days:  https://youtu.be/eAIpwb9v_dw
The teachers will have access to classroom sets of Finch Robots for integration into their classrooms. ITTIP staff looks forward to visiting the participants classrooms throughout the upcoming 2015-16 school year and hopes to share the successes and challenges of classroom integrations with the Finch Robot through pictures, videos, and teacher lesson plans on the ITTIP website (www.ittip.org). As an extension of this project, ITTIP will be offering a Saturday workshop in Fall 2015 at Longwood University for middle school students to learn about the Finch Robot.