Thursday, 26 March 2015

Project Work

Researching is an important component of our Montessori learning environment.  As Term 1 is coming to an end projects are starting to be presented.  This afternoon the first project was presented to the class.

The Timeline of Life

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A Lesson in Ballistics?

You parents can be very proud of your children because they have completed building the most complex robots from the Lego set instructions. I was not sure at the beginning, but they've made it through.

The students built the robots themselves and I was only involved in settling disputes regarding borrowing of some Lego pieces between the teams.

A huge thanks to Jackie who saw an opportunity to teach children the right way to share the pieces (as opposed to "steal" them).

It just happened that all robots include an attachment to "spit" or shoot Lego plastic balls.

Initially I thought we would just use the shooters to write programs that will teach how to use sensors. For example, the robot cruises around, senses an obstacle, gives a warning, then shoots.

But now I think we can spend at least one entire session on some experiments in ballistics and projectiles. Let's measure angles, distances, ball weights and shooting power and draw some charts.

Like this one:

Oh now, sorry, I meant this one:

Nah, let's just do this one:

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

EV3STORM and Others

After building simple classroom robots and programming them to drive around and sound sirens, most students were eager to build more complex and cool-looking robots.

On the other hand, I wanted them to learn more programming, this time with some sensors to make robots do something in response to external events.

In the end I decided to offer them a selection of more complex robots (with sensors). This way they will satisfy their interest in building and end up with a platform for further steps in programming.

The only issue is that some teams picked robots that might be a bit too complex for them to build! We now have 7-8 year old girls building EV3STORM that is the biggest model featured on the retail box.

It is very challenging to follow instructions exactly for long time, find the right parts and connect them in the proper way. Perseverance, fine motor skills and the ability to go from printed paper to 3D model are called upon. Some components are exactly the same, but mirror each other (left and right legs). If you omit a step or connect parts in wrong way in at least one places it will become apparent sometime later and retracing back will be required.

It will take several sessions to complete and will be interesting to see how it works out for everyone. Here are some of the robots that are currently being built.

Llama - spitting balls.




Monday, 9 March 2015

Take Pictures of the Far Side of the Moon

The first theme for a robotics project we selected was "Take Pictures of the Far Side of the Moon".

We talked briefly about why people from Earth always see only one side of the Moon. Also about the fact that for ages people could not do anything about it. It only became possible to see the other side when people started to build spacecraft in the recent history. This is probably the simplest video I've found:

The students built classroom robots using instructions (we picked Dr Damian Kee's RileyRover and Domabot

Then the students had to design and build their own camera mounts without instructions.

Next, students had to create a program to drive the robot. First "flights" were conducted in testing mode where the "Earth" and the "Moon" were printed on  paper and attached to the floor. The programs had to be tested and adjusted to avoid losing the spacecraft.

Finally, the robots were sent on a real mission. The students had to work out the proper camera angle. The camera was glitchy at times, but that created a very realistic "video from space" effect:

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

What is R15 FLL?

R15 FLL is a LEGO robotics club for students (Years 4 to 6) of Room 15.

The goal is to enrich our children’s curriculum and provide them more opportunities to learn physics, mathematics, team work, project work and computer programming in a hands-on way.

FLL stands for “FIRST LEGO League” and the club is loosely based on the idea that one day, to measure our own progress, we might decide to participate in the yearly FIRST LEGO League event as a team. The event is not the main goal of the club, but FLL publishes some very useful materials and we incorporate them in our sessions.

R15 is our team name. It obviously refers to Room 15. But it also sounds a little bit like “Area 51″ and refers to something unknown publicly, a testing facility or extraterrestrial intelligence. All this seems applicable to what we are doing at the club.

We have been kindly invited to this classroom blog to post some of what we learn during our sessions.

From our trial club meetings back in 2014 with just one NXT set we have now gone to the "full production" mode with 13 students and twice a week sessions during school hours.

Some interesting links:

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Timeline of Life

The 'seeds' were planted with these students during the Second Great Lesson - the Timeline of Life.  Their conversation during this work has lead then to investigate early humans and the Ice Ages.

A Montessori Guide is an Educator, but not a 'Teacher'

An interesting read as to why Montessori educators refer to themselves as 'Directors / Guides/ Facilitators'.

#Montessori Rocks

Check out #MontessoriRocks on FB.  A former Montessori student, goes to show how Montessori education truly prepares you for life experiences both in a college setting and beyond. Check it out!

Montessori Madmen

Watch this 3minute video of the author of "The Rise of Superman" discuss FLOW and the Montessori environment.  Want FLOW?  Get Montessori.

Like Montessori Madmen on Facebook

Why Our Future is in Good Hands (

Click on the link to hear an inspirational young person's talk at

Perhaps you and/or your child(ren) might like to also check out her website.