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Design Lab Playdates: Charlottesville Computer Science Community and C4K Collaboration – Part 1

Thank you, Charlottesville Computer Science Community, for providing a series of fabulous workshops—Design Lab Playdates— for our C4K mentors last Spring!

The Design Lab Playdates targets K-12 educators and other adults who work with youth during and after school. The aim is to help them become familiar with computational thinking resources, implement these computational skills when working with K-12 youth and help them develop a passion for computer science.

The technologies explored in the Playdates were ones C4K youth members are very interested in, but ones that require advanced skills or knowledge. Training our mentors in these desired topics provides the mentors with the confidence and skills they need to share their skills with C4K youth, making these technologies (such as 3D printers) more accessible to our members. 

The 2022 Design Lab started on March 15th and ended on May 1st.

C4K mentors and area educators could participate in 6 STEAM skill-building sessions. They

  • explored design thinking process using Makey Makeys
  • learned and coded with micro:bits (a pocket-sized computer)
  • designed video games related to human cells (using Scratch)
  • jousted using Finch robots provided by Birdbrain Technologies, 
  • created text-based choose your own adventure game with Twine and explored Tinkercad and 3D Designing and Coding.

Today we spotlight the Game Controller Design Challenge. C4K mentors used Makey Makeys (Makey Makeys is a tool that combines physical computing and coding) to design game controllers, such as this one:

A game controller made of a blue clay ball and Makey Makeys

But sometimes, you run into obstacles and have to pivot. This pair made a music shaker.

C4K mentors used Makey Makeys to create a music shaker (that was supposed to be a game controller)!

As you can see, it looks like a cardboard tube from the outside. The tube contained conductive foils, Makey Makeys clips, and a clay ball. When you shake the tube, the clay ball rolls around and touches different parts of foils and other Makey Makeys clips to produce different sounds. 

Thanks again to our community partner Charlottesville Computer Science Community, for providing a series of fabulous Design Lab Playdates to our mentors. 

Thanks to Kim Wilkens and Eric Bredder for organizing and designing the Playdates! Our mentors build their STEAM and mentoring skills through ongoing support and training like the Design Lab Playdates. 

Check out the Design Lab Playdates resources here. And learn more about stories behind the scenes—read the interview of our long-time partners, Kim Wilkens and Jennifer Chiu here!

Stay tuned for Part 2 where we will highlight the entertaining Finch robot Jousting workshop.