Mid Program Update: Starter X, Starter S, and Advanced 2.0

by Zoe Davis

Our Kinet-X summer is almost over, the end of our two-week coding and engineering journey just around the corner. That means we have a lot to look back on - including a lot of accomplishments our students should be super proud of. The mentors have had a blast teaching and considering how many points the kids are racking up in engineering with Chauncey (earned each time they successfully complete a goal), I think it’s safe to say the students have had a blast too.

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Starter S and X have designed some impressive websites this past week. Now, students in both classes have mastered HTML/CSS, learning to add features like navbars to their static websites. But those websites aren’t going to be static for long, because it’s time to amp up the difficulty: using Javascript to add dynamic components to their websites.

Already competent in HTML/CSS, our Advanced 2.0 students had their sights set on learning Python. They’ve been writing functions starting from the basic “hello world” to the more complex Pig Latin translator. From there students moved on to learning about dictionaries enabling them to code simulations like fruit stands in Python, which could buy and sell fruit (and even other fruit stands for the more ambitious tycoons). Armed with these skills plus other essentials like handling CSV’s and indexes, the students are ready to start working on their own final projects.

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We weren’t just working on their computers the whole day though. In engineering, everyone Starter and Advanced students alike, was getting hands-on experience in areas like circuitry and soldering. Both Starter X and Starter S blew us away with how quickly they picked up the basics of circuitry. Soon they were using capacitors, potentiometers, and transistors to solve various challenge problems. They were also able to try their hand at soldering and completed their first project on a printed circuit board that they could take home. On Friday, students were able to learn about electric motors, and create their own! We had fun experimenting with what happened when we hooked their motors up to a power supply and measuring the rpm at various voltages. (Spoiler: the motors go really, really fast and sparked. A lot. )

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Students in Advanced started their engineering equally strong, learning the ins and outs of Arduino and Arduino programming extremely quickly. Advanced also started with basic circuitry, but soon branched out into LED circuits, adding integrating buttons, SPST switches, and potentiometers. For the rest of Monday and Tuesday they learned the basics of programming with Arduino IDE and students used digital, analog, and PWM signals to interact with lights and motors in various ways, all while writing code and breaking every interaction down to the fundamental physics.

This week, everyone's getting the chance to invent their final project. The final project is a chance for students to express their creativity, the only rules being that whatever they create use the skills they've learned over the past two weeks. It’s all free reign for them, so stay tuned to see what they come up with!  

 

Zoe Davis