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FreeDroidz workshop with tarent

Not too long ago, I mentioned a workshop with FreeDroidz in this blog. I heard about these robots before, saw them at fairs and haven’t known much about our host, except that they are the sponsor of the Fellowship grant. Matthias asked me if I was interested in leading such a work shop at schools in the future.

Freedroidz on a table

Our work place by Matthias Kirschner

I thought that might be a good opportunity to get a foot in the door to talk with kids and teachers about Free Software in education while teaching them that programming is not magic and can be a lot of fun!

On Saturday, Nov 27, 2010 a few FSFE members, including members of the edu-team and other interested people met for a workshop at the offices of tarent in Bonn, Germany. We enjoyed the same presentation the kids got at Murrhard and Berlin at their workshops. We tried to give some feedback to it and the attending teachers could give some valuable input from the didactical point of view.

Tarent created a really nice and easy to use environment on a live-system-usb-stick with many examples and documentation. With a set of these sticks at hand, it’s certain that everybody in class is on the same sheet of music. As I said, we followed the slide show that was presented to the kids. Trained as adults, we managed to refrain from playing abd fiddling and focused mostly on the presentation. By doing so, we saw something what the kids have never seen and probably never will see: the end of the presentation:

Joscha and Steffi made the experience, that as soon the kids grasp the possibilities and power at their hands, they are so eager to try and experiment, that it’s nearly impossible to stop them. And I think that’s incredibly good. That’s how learning works. Just look up the word “grasp” in the dictionary of your choice. Wiktionary shows two meanings:

  1. To grip; to take hold, particularly with the hand.
  2. To understand.

    building a forklift

    building a forklift by Matthias Kirschner

It’s no coincidence, that these two meanings are represented by the same expression.

The kids get taught the very basics that are required in order to program the robots and then get off the leash! And it’s really amazing what their imagination can built.

Even though we tried to act as grownups and didn’t play as much as we wanted to, we had a lot of fun. The friendly and informal atmosphere at tarent was one key to that. The mixture of people was the other. A big Thank You to tarent and their team for organizing and funding this workshop and not to forget: for food and drinks!

I got the impression that all participants really enjoyed the workshop and left it eager for more. If you got interested, check out the FreeDroids wiki or project page. Everybody is invited to free more robots!

hands on keyboards

hands on keyboards by Matthias Kirschner