Saturday, October 15, 2016

How I Spent My Saturday

I am fortunate to be included in the Texas Instruments group Teachers Teaching with Technology (often abbreviated as T^3 or T3). The connection garnered me an invitation to a so-called mini-PD session today covering the TI Innovator microprocessor hub.

So, I woke up early and headed up to Worcester. One of our group is a teacher at MA Academy, which is a high school affiliated with Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in what looks like an old factory building on Prescott Street. I arrived to work with roughly a dozen other high school STEM teachers.

We began the morning refreshing our programming skills in TI Basic. We have the two platforms: TI-Nspire and TI-84 Plus CE, which each has minor differences in their implementation of the language, and in how we interact with the program editor, so even for experienced programmers, it was time well spent.

After lunch we got to work with the Innovator hub.

The hub has a lot of similarities to an Arduino, with a few key differences. Arduino programming is a lot like C, Innovator is TI-Basic. Arduino programming uses a computer, Innovator can use a computer, but can also be programmed directly from a handheld calculator. Arduino is very open, Innovator is more of a closed protected system, which may make it more suitable for younger students.

To get used to the environment, the first projects simply made LED lights blink. Then we got more involved. Some people worked on a "banana switch." Other groups made a model "rescue" winch with a servo-motor, magnets, and a spool of thread. I worked on a homemade speaker by winding a solenoid using wire around a soda straw.

I look forward to applying some of these ideas in class.