Preparing for Thinking Day

This weeks meeting my Guides prepared for the 2019 WAGGGS Thinking Day Challenge.  We did the “Get Ready to Time Travel” section on pages 13-14.  First the girls got together in patrols to discuss what it takes to be great time travel team and to develop their personal challenges for next week.  We have this handout for them to keep them on track.

Then we gave each patrol a plastic bottle and put out a variety of old craft supplies to let them build their “time machines”  I’m glad we used the bottles instead of the suggested matchboxes as it gave the girls more room to be creative.  The Guides really got into it, so much so that we didn’t get to the planned team building games.

Next week we will be getting together with the local Pathfinders and Rangers.  The Rangers will be running the stations for the challenge for the younger girls.

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Speed Stacker

Here is one more offline programming game from Canada Learning Code.  Speed Stacker creates a 6 symbol program language for stacking cups.  One girl acts as the programmer and writes the symbols on a piece of paper, while her partner (who does not know what the finished structure is suppose to look like) tries to follow the instructions to built it.  There is even an extension for turning it into a competitive game once the girls have the hang of it.

Squishy Circuits

Another great idea I was introduced to at Connects 2018 is Squishy Circuits.  This is an easy way to get kids to build electrical circuits and would work with girls as young as Sparks.  Basically you make two types of play dough, one with lots of salt that will conduct electricity and one with lots of sugar that acts as an insulator.  If you connect them to a power source you can then make LEDs light up, motors spin etc.

The idea was developed by Dr. AnnMarie Thomas.  Here is a short TEDtalk by her, explaining how the circuits work.

The Squishy Circuit website contains recipes for each kind of dough and lots of suggestions for projects.  The Guider presenting this at Connect commented that the dough stores well in sealed containers.

Origami as Algorithms

Understanding algorithms is an important programming skill.  But it doesn’t have to be taught though programming.  Many of the base concepts for programming algorithms can be found in skills like baking, knitting or origami.  Knitting patterns are especially great because they include if statements (if making size small then cast on 30 stitches etc.), for loops (repeat for next 30 rows) and while loops (repeat until 20 cms long).

Origami doesn’t often have while loops but the concept of step by step directionless still stands.  If you have girls who get frustrated with the instructions, ask them how they would improve them.  Do they need better definitions of what the words mean?  Do more steps need to be added?  Did they accidentally skip a step? Or add one that isn’t there?

You might want to have one basic design for everyone to make and a more complex one for those girls who are really experienced or pick up the design quickly.

Alexa, How Might We..?

This is another activity idea from, Canada Learning Code for Code Week.  Like BasketBots this one can be done entirely off line while still learning skills related to programming.  In Alexa, How Might We..? the girls are asked to propose a new app for a voice assistant (like Alexa, Siri or OK Google) to solve specific problems.  The girls then need to define the 4Cs of the problem: Components, Characters, Challenges and Characteristics (of the desired outcome).

Basket Bots

The first week in December Canada Learning Code sponsors a Code Week the first week in December.  I know a lot of units meet in places were accessing computers would be difficult.  My unit meets in a church basement and even cell signal is really iffy. So I liked that Canada Learning Code has included a number of unplugged activity that still teach the basics of coding.  BasketBots involves pairing the girls off.  Once girl will be the robot and do just what the partner (the programmer) tells her to do.  The aim is to have the bot throw a ball though a basket ball hoop.  If you don’t meet in a room suitable for ball throwing, you could instead Do the Robot  which is basically the same activity but with random activities like opening a book, or opening a door.