Musical Drawings

4th graders are continuing their exploration of computer programming through music. In the video below they are demonstrating prototype experimental musical instruments that are drawn in graphite pencil, connected via MaKey MaKey, and coded with Scratch. Drawings, code, and music are all student-generated.

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Coding Electronic Music

We’re starting a new integrated unit on experimental music in the 4th grade. I’m excited to be collaborating with the Science, Music, and Art teachers to explore sound and music through all these disciplines. For my part, I’ll be teaching students to make electronic music by coding with sound in Scratch. We’ll also dive into programming with sensors to make unusual DIY electronic instruments.

My first activity is called “Boom, Snap, Clap”, a simple percussion program based on the kids song/dance that I frequently overhear them reciting.

Race Timers on the Field!

Race day is here and the 5th graders used their final pressure plate sensor designs on the track. Based on their analysis of their cardboard prototypes, the final models were made of more durable materials: corrugated plastic on the exterior and disposable baking sheets for conductivity. The video has captions that will hopefully explain a little more. It was a really rewarding project that incorporated computer programming, decimal math, electricity, engineering design… and of course, Social Studies via the Greek Olympics. I made sure to express how proud I was of these young people for sticking with it over these last few months. They weren’t just studying engineering and design – they were actually doing engineering and design. On to the new challenges next year!

Live Testing Race Timer Prototypes

Students do a live test-run of their cardboard pressure plate prototypes. They have designed and built these sensors by hand with cardboard, tin foil and wire. Then they coded a stopwatch in Scratch (a drag-and-drop programming language for kids) and connected with MakeyMakey (a wildly fun computer input board).

The designs function well, and their structural limits (watch one break!) are important as they inform these young engineers of next steps about how to proceed on the next model, with better materials and design! New models, made with stronger materials will be used on a proper track during the “Greek Olympics” and at Field Day.

Race Timer Prototypes Complete

Our Olympic footrace timer prototypes are coming along nicely. Watch as a 5th grade student describes how he created a track race timer by coding a stopwatch in Scratch and then building a cardboard-and-tin-foil pressure plate to step on as runners cross the finish line. Connected via MakeyMakey. Inventing is learning!