The 12 Days of Tech-Mas 2018

More Tech-Mas photos, including family snapshots from our Winter Wonderland Family Showcase, below.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Tech-Mas time!

Each year, our 12 Days of Tech-Mas tradition has a theme (last year, we went wild for robots!) and for our third annual  celebration, we decided on a Winter Wonderland theme. That meant that our computer-science filled December featured challenges, crafts, and activities all about snowflakes, snowmen, and icy excitement (and, of course, cozying up next to the digital fireplace!).

New to Tech-Mas? Here’s some info from celebrations past:

Those few short weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas… does anyone do their best work at this time? If my own distraction and forgetfulness are any indication, we IMG_8724are all struggling to hold it together under the twinkly lights. With our six-day rotation cycle at St. Anne’s, I only get to see students in the library three or four times between breaks – and with sugarplums and candy canes dancing in their heads, that short hour or two that we get together can feel like a waste of time. Luckily, there is one sure-fire way to increase student engagement while providing students with worthwhile educational experiences: computer science. So K-8 Computer Science Coordinator Kim Wilkens and I came together again this year to offer The Twelve Days of Tech-Mas, a mini-computer science intensive for students in grades K-6.

Instead of creating lesson plans, we approached most of the activities with the kids as engineer explorers, helping us all learn more about robotics. We often kicked things off with something Kim likes to call the “hole in the wall learning”. Inspired by Sugata Mitra’s “Hole in the wall” project, the idea is to get students hands-on with the robotics as soon as possible and let them figure out how to test it through trial and error activity. It means the library is loud, messy, and full of empowered students making excellent mistakes.IMG_8713

The Twelve Days of Tech-mas has become a treasured tradition that our students look forward to each year. For Kim and myself, it is a fun and invigorating time of collaboration, and a reminder of how much joy there is in teaching computer science and letting students explore. Providing technology activities this way allows students to test out new skills in a fun, low pressure way. It provides great opportunities to talk about growth mindset and perseverance in an environment with no competitions and no grades. Students get to relax, enjoy themselves, and learn without judgement; a true luxury in the fast-paced and often high-stakes world of education. Teaching technology alone is worthwhile, but the real magic happens when students use their skills and creations to help inspire and lift others.

We had so much fun at last year’s “grand finale” Wild Robot makerspace, we had to plan another party to celebrate this year’s Tech-Mas hijinks! So we invited families to join us for a Winter Wonderland Showcase before school to give engineers a chance to share IMG_8714their skills with family and friends. With stations for LED circuit holiday cards, Dash and Dot robots, snowflake-making sequences, BeeBot snowmen, Code-a-Pillar Hanukkah adventures, and Hour of Code challenges, computer scientists of all ages spent the morning exploring and learning together. Ms. Wilkens and I love watching empowered learners step into the drivers’ seat and use their skills to teach others, so it was wonderful to see students lead their parents through crafts and activities. Thank you to all of our K-6 students and families for attending! Gathering together to try new things, make lots of mistakes, and learn from each other was the perfect way to bring our third annual Tech-Mas celebration to a close.

Check out the photos from our 12 Days of Tech-Mas Winter Wonderland Family Showcase, below. Thanks for all of your hard work, and happy holidays, engineers!


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