School: 3rd General Lyceum of Patras (Patras, Achaia, Greece)
Grade Levels: 1st, 2nd and 3rd Class of lyceum ages: 16-18
Courses Taught: Applications of Informatics, Communication Technology, Mathematics, Multimedia
What are the main learning objectives in your course(s)?
My courses have a lot of objectives that include both theory and practice. In theory level, students learn all about computers. They learn the history and the evolution of computers and other technological devices, the categories of software applications, the categories of commands that we use in programming languages, programming techniques, the use of functions and subroutines, and lot of algorithms: from very simple to very complicated. In practice level they use a lot of software but mostly Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Power Point). For multimedia we use Mit Scratch, Audacity, Movie Maker, Photostory, Photoshop, etc. To write code we don't usually use any particular programming language. We prefer to use simulations of programming environments that have the basic programming structures: sequence, selection, and repeat. Sometimes we also use flow charts in order to visualize an algorithm. Students learn what a microcontroller is in theory, as the official curriculum doesn't have something about this topic. Last, but not least, is the "project" lesson. In this lesson students choose a free subject from math, technology, computer, art, literature history, etc. and they produce a "final product" about it (article, image, video, etc.).
Which Parallax items do you use in your course?
I have used almost all of the Parallax microcontrollers and robots. Robot kits are ideal to perform a variety of activities like moving a certain distance, avoiding obstacles, navigating with IR, following a line, etc. Parallax robots are a fantastic educational tool with which to explain algorithms, and teach students the value of programming in the real world. I have also used several BASIC Stamp and Propeller boards, and many types of sensors in order to prototype robotic devices while working on projects with my students.
Describe the experience for you and your students.
The students and I are always passionate while working our projects. Parallax's high-quality products plus our creativity and hard work is a recipe that has always led to success! Our projects have won a lot of awards in technological competitions and have also been published through several online portals:
1) Project "Smart photo-voltaic" 2008 Award ICE-HT
2) Project "Color sorter" 2010
3) Project "Speech Recognition Robot"
4) Project " Ecclesiastic Symbols and Robotics" or http://3lyk-patras.ach.sch.gr/projects/esymbol2.htm
What is your favorite Parallax product and why?
This is not easy to answer. Every product has its own "magic" and its own functionality. Color sensors can make amazing projects with colors. Servo controllers gives you the ability to manipulate servos and build amazing robotic structures. Emic2 gives you the opportunity to play with sound and the human speech. The powerful ActivityBot makes you the robotic overlord, and the S2 has an all-in-one compact chassis! I love them all! It is very difficult to choose only one!
Any tips for other teachers?
Visit the Parallax Forums. It is the best place for brainstorming! You can ask a question and find a solution every time you face a difficulty, and you can also find ideas for your next project!
Any other comments?
Be part of the Parallax family!
I'm saying family and I'm really mean it. I strongly believe that people of Parallax (staff and customers) are a big family. Their staff always supports and helps you. Even the president, Ken Gracey, is always among the customers on Parallax forums; he asks for our opinions and feedback for product design, and is always giving generous offers and gifts! You don't see it as only a company, you see the people behind the products. This is very important, especially if you are a person that works in education!
Any resources to share?
Here is my personal YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/NGYT40
My tutorial here on Learn (for the ActivityBot): Regular Polygons and Circles
Samples of some of my videos with Parallax products (follow the link above for more):