• Fair Chance Learning

Student Innovation Day

What do you call it when FCL rolls into a school with a ton of fun technology to share with a group of students? Answer: Student Innovation Day! Yahoooo!

We believe creativity and an innovative mindset are requirements to succeed; using this as an organizing principle we created technology workshops (with our buddies at Microsoft Canada) to offer a day of hands-on learning to engage students in an energetic exploration of STEAM. Students were exposed to coding with micro:bits and k8, Makey Makey, X-Box, Flipgrid, and Hacking STEM.

Beyond having fun with new technology, the goal of Innovation Day is to cultivate students curiosity, develop their creative and digital literacy skills and help them get comfy with failure. Failure is the foundation for innovation. We leave lots of room for mistakes and iterations, giving students the chance to celebrate the learning that comes from failure; more so to foster the understanding that to grow or improve they must confront difficult situations and such situations create innovation.

Daniela and Maria are grade 8 students from Ontario, who participated in a Student Innovation Day at their school and had this to say about the experience:

"During our S.T.E.A.M day, Makey Makey was one of the many activities we were able to develop our creative minds with. We worked alongside one of our classmates, Max. The instructions were simple but allowed room for adjustments, and that’s what we did. Our excitement pulled us to disregard the instructions and create our own method to play online games with playdough. We were supposed to: stick the playdough in a keyboard-like position, attach all of the alligator clips into each control, correspondingly attach the other end to the computer, and last, but DEFINITELY not least, attach the ground wire and hold it in your hand as you tap the playdough. We followed all of the rules but we did not use the ground wire. As we started playing, we noticed that if the ground wire was stuck into the playdough, the character would continuously jump, which is not what we intended to happen. Maria and Max came up with the idea to jab the alligator clip in and out of the playdough to make the character jump.

In our case, we were playing geometry dash and our temporary hack worked wonders. However, with every jab, the playdough would fall apart, making it harder and harder to stick the alligator clip in. One of the ambassadors came over and let us know that we were doing it incorrectly. She showed us the proper way of using the ground wire, which is holding it in your hand as you tap while it's connected to the Makey Makey keyboard. We were astonished.

Later on, we came up with yet another hack. We realized that if Maria held the ground wire, Daniela touched Maria’s hand and Daniela touched Max’s arm, Max was still able to tap the playdough to play. The electricity went through Maria’s arm, to Daniela’s arm, to Max’s arm which led to the playdough keyboard. With this technique, we almost beat the flappy bird high score. It didn’t improve our skills, we just felt smart as we did it. Overall, we had a very fun day, but this activity and our hacks we’re the highlight of our day!"

As Maria and Daniela's reflection highlights, not every session went as planned, but by trying to figure out, in their case, how to use the Makey Makey, students learned one of the basics of innovation - you can't be afraid of failure. Innovation is the result of iterative learning processes as well as environments that encourage experimentation, critical inquiry, and accept failures as a necessary part of the process.

To plan a Student Innovation Day at your school give us a shout: info@fairchancelearning.com.

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