Middle School Workshops: Home Hackers

This has been a big year for our Middle School! In addition to launching our Adventure Trips to Boston and Raleigh, this was the first year in which we split our Middle School into two classrooms, creating a 5th & 6th grade class and a 7th & 8th grade class. We love the flexibility that this gives us in designing our curriculum.

Each week, our students participate in Afternoon Activities, where they can explore our history, science, and geography curriculum in more detail with games, arts & crafts, and hands-on activities. But since these are designed primarily for kids in 1st-4th grade, we decided it was time for our older two classes to have a weekly activity designed just for them. Our 5th & 6th grade class uses their Tuesday Afternoon Activity time for multi-week in-class projects led by Mr. Ryan, while our 7th & 8th grade class experiences something outside of the classroom.

Part of our goal with the 7th & 8th grade workshops is to expose our students to a variety of topics that are outside of our expertise or outside of a typical school curriculum. We started with computer programming! This fall, we invited Home Hacker Camp to the school (https://homehackercamp.com) to teach our students the basics of computer programming through robots. This fantastic program typically operates summer camps (be sure to check their summer 2019 schedule on their website), but we were fortunate enough to have Francie Black run a 5 week program just for our 7th & 8th graders.

They started by building their robots from the ground up in order to learn exactly how they operate.

The finished product is pretty cute!

The finished product is pretty cute!

Next, they learned to program lots of different aspects of the robots. They started with sounds, lights, and color, and obviously had a great time playing with that!

Things got more complicated as they learned how to program the robots’ movements, which included figuring out the right start and stop timing, turning angles, and speed. They started with a simple straight line (which is clearly not as easy as it looks!) and then moved onto programming their robots to complete a square. The end of each class meant competition time, which was highly entertaining for everyone!

We’re pretty excited about other workshops we have planned. We’re working on a primitive survival skills class through Holistic Survival School and a knitting workshop with a TNCA mom as instructor. We’d love to offer workshops on building with power tools and cooking, so if you have any resources or leads for help with that, please let us know!

Jane Cross