Monday, January 11, 2016

Fun In The Hack Shack

By Lilia Pettit

A lot has been happening over the past few weeks in the Hack Shack.  New people are coming in to
check out the cool technology, the new items are being added to the Hack Shack and the fun and interesting events are happening every week. 

One of the coolest weeks of this semester was Hour of Code week, which was the week of the 7th in December.  During this week all Hack Shack employees and some teachers held workshops to give students a chance to try out coding.  Many people used online tools, like coding games and programs.  For my activity, I decided to show my advisory an online coding game called, Code Combat.  The game lets you select which type of code you wish to use and through different levels and tasks, teaches you how to use that

Before starting the game, most of the students in my advisory did not seem that into the idea but by the end many were so involved with the game they were screaming at the computer screen.  All the students seem to enjoy their experience and were surprised at how fun the game was. 

These past few weeks, many workshops have been held in the Hack Shack to show students the
technology in the Space.  One workshop that I held was for the LittleBits.  LittleBits are little magnetic circuit pieces that you can mix and match and attach to each other.  They each do something different in your design.  There are three types, the pink ones control a green one that come after it and the orange connect different pieces or designs together.

During the workshop, many of the people that attended made great designs.  Two students in particular made a huge design with lots of different moving parts.  Once they finished, they felt very accomplished and told me how much fun they had building the design and seeing what each part did. 

Many students have also been visiting the Hack Shack for non-technology related activities.  The space now has projects like an adult coloring book, Bendaroos, Legos, and a lot of different arts and craft supplies.  Many students are enjoying getting in touch with their little kid side and just having fun.  One visitor insisted her design be shared with the world.  She had come in one day and made a turtle out of the Bendaroos, its name, Toto the Turtle. 

As the year progresses, more and more students and teachers come into the Hack Shack for assistance or to have fun with the equipment there.  The fan base is growing rapidly, come check it out before the crowd gets too big.    

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Hour of Code

By Alex Landrigan

The Hour of Code occurs during the week of December 7-13th, which is also Computer Science Education Week. The goal of Hour of Code is to get tens of millions of people to perform one hour of coding at some point within that week. You can do the Hour of Code at anytime but this week is just more publicized. Hour of Code is run by, which is a public, non-profit organization. People from over 180 countries have participated! People can officially sign up on their website to be counted and there are even prizes for educators involved. The unique thing about the Hour of Code program is that it does not feel like you are coding. There are two options or views that can be utilized while completing the project. One looks like traditional coding sequences, while the other appears like puzzle pieces, making it possible for anyone to give coding a shot. Here is how to get involved with Hour of Code:

Everyone can agree that 2015 is a time filled with technology. Everywhere we turn there is technology. Our phones have even become mini, portable computers that we take everywhere with us. There is all this use of these different devices but most cannot explain how they work. Yes, a person knows how to navigate their phone, but do they understand what is going on behind the screen? Most would think it is all very complicated but that is because they have never learned. Currently the pressure to have coding classes in school is heightening. Coding is what tells the computer what to do. Understanding coding helps a person understand the world around them. In elementary school we are taught the basics of science and math to help understand our world. Now coding needs to be added to that list. Children’s minds are like sponges, so ready to absorb all of the information they are learning, so if they were being taught these basics of technology from a young age, they would be more knowledgeable and ready to apply that knowledge in their everyday life. Coding can be fun and kids might not even know they are learning because often these learning experiences are disguised as games. Due to its nature, coding also builds and expands a person’s problem solving skills. These reasons are all why is necessary for coding to be taught in our schools today. There are many different activities to learn coding for all ages. Young children (who cannot even read yet) can do maze like activities that teaches them how a program moves things a certain way. Older children and adults can access tutorials or take special computer classes. Oyster River even has a programing class. Learning how to code prepares you for your future.

For my Hour of Code activity, I went into the PEP preschool classroom and taught ten 4-year-olds the basics of coding. They had to fill out a maze-like activity to get an object to a piece of fruit. They quickly grasped the concepts that I presented. I heard a lot of  “This is so fun!” and “This is so easy!!” and all the children seemed to really enjoy the Hour of Code activity. I think it was a very successful activity. 

Works Cited
Coding. Digital image. Pearson. N.p., 24 June 2013. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.
Hour of Code, Coding. Digital image. AppleInsider. N.p., 11 Dec. 2013. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.
"The Hour of Code Is Here." N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.
Hour of Code Logo. Digital image. The HoofBeat. N.p., 3 Feb. 2014. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.

Missio, Erik. "Why Kids Should Learn To Code." CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 10 Apr. 2013. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.

Did You Read The Instructions?

By Coleman Moore

Recently I noticed a strange phenomenon with all the problems people seemed to have while getting technology to work. The answer to all of these problems seemed to lie in the instruction manual that came with the device. Whether the manual was online or came as a paper copy it seemed no one had actually given it much thought. You see we have moved into a time where reading the instructions is thought of as a long tedious task that will not give you any helpful information. This causes many problems such as people needing help from “professionals” who actually just read the instructions and therefore know the information that the company felt was useful or would allow the customer to use said product.

Now for some personal stories about reading the instructions.

Story number 1: Mrs. Pearce helped her friend install the newest gadget The Clapper, but then her friend could not get it to work; the lights would not turn on. So being the literate genius that she is, Mrs. Pearce found the instructions and read them (a truly unimaginable feat). After reading she had new knowledge about how the mechanism was supposed to work.  She then proceeded to clap twice with little time in between and the lights turned on!

Story number 2: Soon after the new Hack Shack opened this fall the 3D printer was making a sound that befuddled the staff each time the printer started, and we kept having print jobs that didn’t quite work correctly if they were too tall. So being a firm believer that you have to read the directions to use the object (which has been quite helpful to me), I decided to read the directions and found that in actuality when we first got the 3D printer we were supposed to remove two bright orange spacers from under the build plate that were there for shipping purposes and so the spacers were removed and now the printer works great.

Story number 3: while trying to setup an apple TV that someone had gifted his family, Logan, one of the big users of the Hack Shack, thought to read the instructions as he normally would and found that setting up the Apple TV was a lot easier than his family thought. He was able to easily walk up to the TV click a couple of buttons on the remote and set the system up with no problem, all because he read the instructions