Thursday, 2 October 2014

CodeClub: TWSU DIY Gamer Week 3

So this week the children who didn't finished their small led board last time did so at the start of the session. It was quite nice not to have a movie to watch or any group instructions to give first thing: the kids often arrive in dribs and drabs so it was good that they all had something to be getting on with straight away without waiting for everyone to arrive.

Those who had finished the little practice project got stuck into the DIY gamer board itself, assembling the components ready for soldering.

I'm pleased that I took the time to do the practice exercise, as everyone seemed really confident this week and on the whole, the quality of work was pretty high. Inspecting the joints it looks like most will be good enough to let the Gamer work when complete. There are a few larger than ideal blobs in places but nothing too dramatic. In fact some of the more competent children were able to spot when they'd used too much solder and use the solder sucker to make things better.  The best work was actually done by the only Year 4 attendee. To be fair he is also the only one to have ever done any soldering before, but nevertheless I'd be more than happy with the joints he made today if I'd done them myself.

By the end of the session most pairs had completed all the buttons and the LDR. Some had added the buzzer and started on the resisters. The main bottleneck is waiting for the soldering irons to be free. One pair in particular were quite slow - but their work was excellent - which meant that there were always more than half the group waiting.

No burns today, pretend or otherwise. The only minor mishap was that one clubber managed to slightly melt the cable of the soldering iron. The smell of singed plastic was actually a pleasant change from the pong of burning hair (one of the girls, despite having her hair tied back, managed to shed plenty of strands onto the hot soldering iron).

Everyone was keen and enthusiastic again today. It is clear that this sort of activity is unlike anything else they normally do at school and they are really enjoying it. There have been no problems working in pairs and sharing the soldering duties. They are all very sensible with the soldering irons and don't complain about wearing their goggles. In fact two of them had to return after the end of the session because they'd walked out with them still on their heads!

News of what is going on in CodeClub this term seems to have circulated nicely around the school. I've received and overheard several admiring comments from children and teachers alike.

Things to do differently next time

I did consider having everyone also start on lesson 3 (writing the first Arduino sketch) this week so that they could work on that while they're waiting for a free soldering iron.  However I'd then have to reload the games back on to each unit ready for testing when the soldering was complete so decided against that idea. I think I'll maybe do it next week though.

Open more windows to increase ventilation!

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