Preparing for Robotics

Preparing for Robotics
Students at DC's Whittier Educational Campus with ReSET Volunteer Peter Mehrevari

Monday, January 31, 2011

Volunteer Bob Blumberg's Field Trip

Bob works with third and fourth graders at Orr Elementary in Anacostia. His report on his recent field trip to the Navy Yard in Southeast DC: 

The field trip to the Navy Museum was wonderful. The program was  called 
the Straw Rocket Program. There was a young woman who took charge of the 
class lecturing, demonstrating and even demanding good behavior. We had 
21 students. There were all kinds of prepared parts and materials so the 
students could put a rocket together with a straw, paper fins, clay nose 
cone, and clear tape to hold it all together. And then she had them do a 
test firing in the main Hall of the Museum, go back to the work shop, 
change the rocket. and go bock to a final firing of each rocket. A boy 
and a girl were given a prize for the longest flight of their rockets. 
Both Ms Trowell and I were really impressed and pleased that it came out 
so well. I am sure that the students had a good time and probably will 
remember it for a long while . They might even have gotten a life lesson 
out of it. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Participant Feedback ReSET’s 1/15/11 Volunteer Meeting

Things that worked well:

-  Overall, I think that was a very good meeting. Having elementary school teachers at the meeting and on the ReSET Board is an excellent idea. Their remarks at the meeting were quite insightful. Keeping the meeting to a 2 hour limit is also a good idea, but you may have to cut off some discussion if you are going to cover all Agenda items.

- The panel with the teachers and volunteers was helpful

- Particularly helpful were the ideas for
            o          How to keep the attention of the students
            o          How to manage the progress of the activity
            o          How to better work with the teacher and help meet his/her needs

- The presentation about the demographics of the student body most of us see was
very helpful.  Maybe next time we could get some additional pointers on how to
deal with such a student population.

-  I thought the meeting went quite well.  It was good having the teachers there for their input

- Great meeting. It is important to meet with others to get a better idea how to proceed in our role in the school.  I took away many good ideas.  

- I felt great to see my colleagues at this meeting. It was the first time for me to see most of them.  I enjoyed the discussion panel and break time which gave us the chance to talk freely and listen to teaching experiences and encounters from one another as ReSET volunteers.  Podium speakers further gave me some inspirational ideas by telling their volunteering experiences and thoughts.  The meeting location is convenient and the room is very comfortable.  Refreshment was great.

-   I really enjoyed the meeting and learned from the panel.

-  Having DCPS teachers there to tell us what they need. Additionally they had a
chance to hear our side too, and become aware of things they might not have
recognized about volunteering.  Since we and the teachers work together, it makes total sense to have open discussions outside the pressure of the classroom. The arrangement is very positive for everyone, and it's another step forward for ReSET. Another thing is that there seemed to be at least as many volunteers present as I've ever seen at a meeting. It's possible that the teachers were a draw that brought in more volunteers.

- The panel and the extended discussion in place of the small groups.

- This is the best ReSET meeting I've attended. The discussions were spirited and informative after each speaker. I suspect there could have been more time allotted for the fruitful discussion. I am strongly supportive of involving teachers at every meeting. We can learn a lot from them to guide our presentations. So, the meeting format and topics
worked very well.

- I believe the agenda was helpful in attracting a larger number of ReSET
volunteers, which made for richer discussions.

- Since most of don’t get to see other volunteers, hearing what worked for others was effective. On the whole, I think it was a productive meeting.  I liked some of the sharing because it presented a variety of ideas for follow on.

- Your move to cancel the next agenda item was excellent.

Things that didn’t work so well:

- The brief presentations went well but but some of us had trouble sticking to the subject matter and the questions being discussed.

- More time could have been more time allotted for the discussion as
they were still fruitful.

- I don't know of anything.

- Location might have been more accessible.

- This meeting didn’t summarize what we were looking for as common goals for science volunteering at ReSET. 

- It might be better to separate the volunteers and teachers into two different
panels.  I think the questions for each might be different

- Introductions are good, but take a lot of time in such a big group.  Maybe
there’s a way to streamline this part.

-  At this meeting, we couldn't get to your final Agenda item; while I don't know exactly what you had planned there, it sounded like an exercise to plan some sample classroom sessions. If so, that could have been very useful for the newcomers who were probably trying to figure out how you keep a group of kids engaged for an hour.

Recommendations for future meetings:

-  It would be great to show a video of one of us in the classroom.  

- More open discussions are productive.

- How about including tent name cards so we can get to know peoples' names?

-  Always have at least 3 DCPS teachers present. I suggest that this type of
meeting replace the ones we had in the past, where volunteers demonstrated their
experiments. I think it's much more important for us and the teachers to talk to
each other.

- Another panel with a principal, two teachers and a scientist discussing their views of what is age appropriate science at the  3rd and 5th grade level. Of course some follow-up discussion after each presenter is nice. Include two short presentations of ReSET volunteer lessons. Discussion could then focus on if it’s age appropriate and if and
how it could be adapted to other grades where the subject is in the science curriculum.

- Debriefings of recent experiences for different grade levels.

- First, I hope more teachers from schools ReSET is serving would come to the meeting to share their thoughts.  Second, it would be great  that in the future meeting the list of experimental tools and resources ReSET currently owns can be officially announced. In this way, we can keep good awareness of their availability and make use of them in our classes.  Last, but not the least,  I want to see if it is possible to include some statistics of students’ academic performance and hands-on related community services in the future meeting. In this way, we can better visualize our volunteering efforts.

-  1) What to do if the teacher is not in the room to maintain discipline.  I had a substitute teacher leave the room and two kids were unruly so I had the stand at the back of the room.  I also ask the kids if they want to hear what I have to say - or should I go home. But our policy is the teacher should (must) be present in the classroom at all times.
2) Do you do your presentation if the teacher has a substitute? I've had good experiences and bad experiences with substitutes (mainly with class discipline).
3) The responsibility of the teacher to notify you if the class will not be held or the class will return to the room late. More than once I have come to the classroom and found it vacant.  Either the kids are on a field trip, or there is a program in the auditorium the teacher failed to tell me about. And many times I have had to wait 10 to 20 minutes for the class to appear from another activity.  The teacher needs to know that our time is valuable. Also I have a 40 minute drive so it is an additional expense to me if the teacher is not there. 
I know these are gripes but, they are common problems we face and can lead
to the loss of volunteers.

- A separate focus would be on the various activities. 
            - Who has had success with which experiments? 
            - Which experiments are good (easy) for “not my field but I’m willing to try”
            - Maybe start collecting helpful hints/clarifications for the ones we already

- The Q&A session was helpful, with volunteers using their experience to answer
questions of others.  I’d recommend this as part of a future session.

- As for recommendations for future meetings, it might be useful (especially for newcomers or potential newcomers) to devote 15-20 minutes to an example of a class session that a volunteer thinks went over well. I wouldn't suggest multiple examples because then there wouldn't be enough time to get into detail----just one example with a fair amount of detail.
How often should we schedule sessions like these?

- Suggest we meet on a quarterly basis to keep up the excellent momentum.  

- 2x per year

- Three of these extended meetings a year would seem about right.

- At least every 6 months. Personally, I would like them every 4 months

- Perhaps at the beginning and end of terms, to help prepare and to do "lessons learned".

- I would like to have this type of meeting held twice every school semester. The first one
should happen before the semester starts, and the second one after the semester ends.

-  Once a semester, at or before the beginning of the semester.  The session helped
get me focused as I think about heading back into the classroom.

- As for the frequency of these meetings, I suggest not more than 2.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Recruiting Idea

From Rich Repplier:
Today I posted ReSET ads at these places in Centreville: 
2 Giants (3 X 5s) 
1 Shoppers (8-1/2 X 11) 
1 Starbucks (8-1/2 X 11) 
The Goddard School (8-1/2 X 11) 
You can cover lots of places in a short time - you just pick a  
shopping center and once you're there, you have many possibilities  
close together. I have a lot more prospects waiting for me to get to  
Please send me 5 more 3X5 ads. They are very useful for boards that  
are jammed with ads.