Pathfinders Summer Institute 2020

The Paper Mechatronics team, including the Concord Consortium, Georgia Tech’s CodeCraft Group, and CodeJoy delivered a week-long professional learning workshop as one of the many offerings convened and hosted by the InfoSys Pathfinders Institute. Teachers from Title 1 schools across the U.S. joined daily Zoom sessions with other teachers, librarians, teacher leaders, and afterschool educators and engaged in a range of hands-on activities. Sessions were organized into multiple one to two-hour blocks with online lectures, coding tutorials, guest speakers, lesson planning, access to video tutorials, and technical support, as teachers learned how to engage students online with making, engineering, and coding.

Teachers worked through a progression of PaperMech projects, starting with a simple hand crank mechanism, then a powered hand crank mechanism using programmable hobby servomotors, and a final project using a rack and pinion mechanism powered by the Chibi Chip microcontroller and small servomotors. The theme for the projects was “belonging” and teachers created a wide and wonderful diversity of narratives and storybook characters with messages of hope, mask wearing, and Black Lives Matter.

Remote instructors were able to bring a diversity of expertise to professional learning. Teachers met in breakout rooms for deeper learning on requested topics such as advanced Arduino programming or tips on cutting linkages out of cardboard.  And in a midweek skill swap , the instructors from Chibitronics (skilled in computing programming and teaching computational thinking) taught the PaperMech teacher participants, while the PaperMech instructors shared our work on creative papercrafts, engineering design, and making using tools with the Chibitronics class. Other highlights included two guest speakers who shared their strategies for teaching making during COVID-19 and a final gallery walk celebration of final projects on Zoom.