2018 Term One - Week Three - New Toys!

Welcome back everybody!


This is the face of someone encountering VR for the first time:

I think we all make this face the first time we put on a headset even though we don’t like to admit it.  Both our returning groups (The Megabots and The Guinea Pigs) got to try out our new Samsung Gear VR headset this week, in this photo Eli is enjoying a Lego Batman clip.  We’re planning some great sessions around designing VR spaces so keep watching this blog and there will be lots more VR goodness to come.


The other very exciting news this week is that we’ve finally ordered our LASER CUTTER! 

This will start travelling to us via boat in the next couple of weeks and (fingers crossed) will be with us for Term Two.  There will be a bit of a learning curve as we get it all up and running properly but once going it will be a great tool to share with all our Stem Club kids.  I know I have so many projects that are waiting for its precise micro-precision wonderfulness.


When they weren’t immersed in a headset our returning groups spent time completing their Light signs or learning about designing in 3D using Tinker CAD.  Our younger group got to use the 3D Printer for the first time having first spent time designing their creations.  Here we have Eli and Austin working on their design.  HEY, hang on!  That's a ROBLOX Screen!  Who said you could do ROBLOX ELI!

Anyway...  We soon had the 3D printer doing its thing.


Our older group (The Guinea Pigs) finished their light signs and then continued learning about the basics of the Python programming language.



It's a bit of a step up from things like "Scratch" but Python was the fastest growing programming language of 2017 and is actually fairly easy to read and understand - which makes it great for Stem Club.  It is also the main language used to program the Raspberry Pi.



Meanwhile our new groups (who as yet don't have group names (we might do some work on that this week)) were making a scale model of the Solar System!  First of all we spent some time learning about ratio's and scale - looking at a map of Wellington (1:25 000 scale) and an architects drawing of the MakeRoom space (1:50 scale).  Then we talked about the ratio that we would need to fit the entire solar system into about 100m (down at Miramar North School).  Each student was given one or two small wooden boards each of which represented a planet.  On those boards they then had to fill in some information about their planet(s) and the measurements needed.  We then drilled a hole in each board representing the size of each planet at our chosen scale (1:50,000,000,000).

Here is the board for The Sun:

That large hole on the left hand size represents the sun at 1:50,000,000,000 scale.  A diameter of 28 millimetres.

You can imagine that planets like Mercury end up being pretty small at that scale.

Once all our boards were filled in we went down to the school and laid them out, each the correct distance from one another.  They barely fitted onto the school field.

This is actually a photo from last year when we did this exercise with another group - because I completely forgot to take any photo's down at the school this weekend (Doh). 

Then we talked about the Voyager Spacecraft (Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were launched in 1977).  On our scale model they are well off the school field and down near the Weta Cave.  We then talked about where the nearest Star to the Sun is (Proxima Centauri), the nearest Galaxy (Canis Major) and the nearest Galaxy that is similar to the Milky Way (Andromeda).  After all that our brains started to hurt so we called it quits.


Another great weekend!