Anderson Harp and Melodie Ting served as faculty advisors to the 25 Middle and Upper School boys comprising the executive team and supporting volunteers who organized the second annual TEDxYouth@BrowningSchool event.
From September to February, a dynamic team of organized, self-managed and hard-working individuals met on Tuesday mornings before school to oversee the many requirements of hosting a TEDx event. Following approval of their 16-page application, an amalgamation of Browning’s student talent collectively joined their skills to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience open to anyone in the greater NYC community free of charge, namely, the TEDxYouth@BrowningSchool event. Nearly 100 guests gathered on February 11 in the Kurani Gymnasium for a live speaker series of profound innovators.
This year in technology class, the third grade boys focused on three goals. Learning to type was the first goal. Using a program called Learn to Type, we started this section by identifying parts of the keyboard and computer. The second goal was learning to code. We used the website, code.org, which further introduced the students to object/drag and drop base coding. The students’ final goal is to become comfortable working on Lego Mindstorm's EV3 robots. To encourage teamwork, the boys work in groups of three. Currently, the teams are designing, building and programming their robots to perform certain tasks. Please click here to view photos.
In the Kurani Gym on January 25, over 100 parents, special friends and students participated in Browning’s “Family Hour of Code.” Attendees enjoyed this special opportunity to practice computer programming (also referred to as computing or coding) together, joining what has become a national and international movement to teach all kids to code.
The two sections of the Intro to Engineering class competed in a robotics competition as a culminating activity for their engineering design project. Each student designed a robot then selected the best design to build, program, test and improve their robots in order to compete against the other section of the class. The winner of that match then went on to compete against the Advanced Robotics team. The Advanced Robotics team will compete at Dalton next month in a NYC regional competition for the First Tech Challenge. Please click here to view photos and a livestream of this exciting robotics competition.
Browning’s Middle School team of six won second place in an Agile Youth Competition (AYC) Hackathon on December 11 at Riverdale Country School. The boys spent eight hours developing an idea into a working program, with the challenge topic revealed the day of the event.
We are working with robotics to ultimately design a robot to compete in the First Tech Challenge; an international robotics competition. Each student learned the rules of the competition, research the problem, design and sketch ideas, select an idea, build a robot, and test and evaluate the performance of the robot. Just before spring break, each student presented his robot design to the class. We then selected a student design to build a robot that will compete against the other section of this course at the Tech Expo.
Forms II and IV boys excelled in the Rube Goldberg Engineering Expo on April 3, competing against other teams to build chain-reaction machines designed to ultimately open an umbrella. Our Middle School team won third in the first-ever live competition for their age group, while the Upper School team brought home the Legacy Award presented to them by Rube Goldberg’s granddaughter and chairperson of the organizing foundation, Jennifer George!
What makes a better designer today? In Form II this year, we experimented with project-based learning. The boys examined existing chairs and reengineered a personal version using digital tools in technology classes.
Rapid prototyping with technology has become commonplace in many professional services. In this class, the boys explored pragmatic tools including Computer Aided Design, 3D printing and Virtual Reality to produce a minimum viable product. In the third iteration, students built a virtual experience using the Unity programming language and Oculus Rift. Furthermore, the boys scanned ceramic models with Mr. Davis and imported these organic structures into a VR realm where they could be displayed next to CAD models created in technologyclasses. Our class meetings often resembled a studio where boys would “learn, create and problem-solve in an unstructured environment” (MIT Admissions Office, 2013). This process was the intentional result of meaningful collaboration between the art and technology departments. Through student process, our line of inquiry offers a glimpse into the world where learning to become a better designer will include an interchangeable order of experience with computers or clay.
On Saturday, February 6, students and teachers from nine different schools along the east coast as far as Buffalo and Pittsburgh came together at Browning for the CS50 AP Hackathon led by Harvard’s computer science professor David J. Malan and his team, who led the students through different problems sets. Though students were at different spots throughout the curriculum, everyone was working together in a relaxed environment, helping each other, and having a great time. The event was full of music, candy and learning. Students left the event with lots of “swag,” including T-shirts, stickers and bags, all with the Browning name emblazoned on it. I hope we can do more collaborating like this in the future. Click here to watch a video about the computer science movement at Browning and for more details on the hackathon.