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12 — Experience is key.

2015-03-22. By Kelly.

This week has been packed with activity. Last weekend, Patrick, and I were running around Falls Lake to improve our orienteering course. We met with Ian to learn the ins and outs of the computer programs necessary to run the orienteering event. We got the orienteering maps printed out on Thursday. The map image would change on different printers and it took several attempts to print out a map that was true to scale.

On the Saturday before our orienteering meet, Patrick came to school to work on Raspberry Pi's with our MakerSpace Club. I am so glad he came. We got one Raspberry Pi up and running. Patrick worked with three students for the entire time. Patrick had his hands full keeping everyone on point. One student was a nonstop talker. All the students wanted to race on to quickly get their Pi set up. We had all kinds of issue crop up. My work computer couldn't copy to the SD card due to administration issues. Pat's computer battery died while copying the SD cards. These things slowed down their progress and at the same time helped the students realize the steps needed to set up a Raspberry Pi. After our club meeting, I wondered if the students would lose interest in the Pi. Instead, I had a group of four students come into our MakerSpace Club on Wednesday to work on the Pi's. It was great to see students trying to figure out the possible projects for the Raspberry Pi.

So what does orienteering and our MakerSpace Club have in common? After the orienteering event, I realized that Patrick and I had gone through the engineering process. We designed, implemented, and ran an orienteering event. Upon getting feedback from the participants, we reflected on our course design. It was taking time to reflect that helped us gain valuable experience. My students have had a similar experience after building solar cars. After designing, building, and testing their working solar cars the students had to reflect on their process. The reflection stage was vital for resolving design flaws to improve the final product. The sense of accomplishment that my students felt after creating a working solar car came from their reflection on the choices they made and how they impacted the final product. It was evident that when students are guided through the reflection stage their successes and failures will provide valuable experience to make more informed choices in the future.

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