Activities category

Two D.C. area Scratch Day 2014 events coming up!

While we are no longer meeting as the OLPC Learning Club (I have a personal and club update nearly ready to post), there are two Scratch Day celebrations coming up in the D.C. area on Saturday May 17, 2014 that were jumpstarted by club members.

Jeff Elkner, who hosted many club meetings at the Arlington (Virginia) Career Center, has engaged with the staff of Hoffman-Boston Elementary School in Arlington to help them stage their first Scratch Day. They are calling it the All Star Computer Programming Party. I’ve enlisted Michael Badger, author of the new book Scratch 2.0: A Beginner’s Guide (Second Edition), to make a guest appearance. The school’s STEM team will showcase a number of other fun coding tools. Dell Computer and George Mason University are also sponsoring. For more information, visit this link:

Hoffman-Boston Elementary School All Star Computer Programming Party
http://day.scratch.mit.edu/event/1046

In D.C., our amazing friend Leshell Hatley of Uplift, Inc., is doing her third Scratch Day, moving this year to Howard University’s Computer Learning & Design Center (CLDC). Kevin Cole, who has hosted many, many club meetings at Gallaudet University, helped Leshell get her first event going. Uplift, Inc. is a 501c3 nonprofit immersing students in STEAM and CS education. For more on Uplift’s Scratch Day, visit this link:

Uplift / Howard University Scratch Day
http://day.scratch.mit.edu/event/1986

Both events are open to the public, but the Uplift / Howard University Scratch Day asks for an RSVP.

While Scratch 1.4 is still in wide use, many are adopting the new web-based version, Scratch 2.0, which has been completely rebuilt from “scratch” and substantially enhanced. Just in the last few weeks, support for the Lego WeDo robotics kit was added to Scratch 2.0 and a touch tablet version called ScratchJr. was announced. Exciting times lie ahead for Scratchers of all ages!

Mike (Twitter: @curiouslee, Instagram, Flickr, Facebook)

written by Mike Lee on 1 May 2014 Comments Off

April Meeting: Deployment Stories from Senegal and Zambia

Our first meeting in some time will focus on OLPC deployments in Africa.

Saturday, April 13, 2013, 10am-1pm, Room 208
Arlington Career Center
816 South Walter Reed Drive
Arlington, VA 22204
Contact PageGoogle MapAerial PhotoBus Info

First, Open International founder Khady Lusby, will talk about College Adja Penda Ba in Nioro, Senegal and their new program for children using Sugar and XO computers. Our meeting host, Jeff Elkner, of Sugar Labs DC, is supporting her deployment (see blog post) of HP and OLPC XO laptops and will help provide training to students who will visit the school as part of their senior experience. Brittany Windju of Yorktown High School is refurbishing laptops and maintaining a detailed project blog.

Following Khady, I will do a trip report on my USAID/Worldvision-funded workshop sessions for the Lubuto Library Project in Lusaka, Zambia, which ran last month from February 18 – 27. My time followed Christoph Derndorfer’s week there in late January repairing and refurbishing the 20+ XO laptops in use in two childrens’ libraries. My sessions, held at the newer library at Ngwerere Basic School in the Garden Compound, focused on training Lubuto staff and students basic and advanced Squeak Etoys and sound editing skills to enable them to enhance the 700 digital language literacy lessons they developed in 2011. For a peek at my odyssey, see this photo set on Flickr (and my detour to the incredible Victoria Falls!).

Lastly, we’ll have a beta version of the OLPC XO-4 Touch laptop, which goes into mass production soon, for you to try out.

written by Mike Lee on 18 March 2013 Comments Off

Next Club Meeting at DIY Fair, DC Library

With the recent OLPC Community Summit in San Francisco and news that my project developing digital literacy lessons in Etoys for street children in Zambia won a grant from USAID, I’ve arranged to have a club meeting as part of a display I’m setting up at the DC Library’s DIY Fair:

On Saturday, Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 18 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Adaptive Services Division of the DC Public Library will host a DIY (Do It Yourself) Fair in the Great Hall of Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library at 901 G St. NW. The DIY Fair will be a celebration of creativity for people with and without disabilities.

You can register for the DIY Fair through Eventbrite http://dcdiyfair2012.eventbrite.com/

The Learning Club meeting will take place Saturday Nov. 17 at 10am on the second floor of the east lobby of the DC Library during the Fair. I will give an update using the presentations I gave at the OLPC Summit on OLPC open hardware and Lubuto Library in Zambia, show off the new OLPC 15 watt solar panel with an XO-1.75 laptop, talk about the USAID grant and relay some significant news on the future of OLPC (much positive, some uncertain). I will have USB drives with the latest stable build of the XO-1 operating system for anyone who needs to upgrade their laptop. The upgrade will overwrite the contents of your laptop, so be sure to copy off important files. If you have any other special needs, please contact me in advance.

At around 12 noon, I will set up some displays I recently assembled for the local First Lego League Senior Solutions Science Expo and will be there until 3pm and during Sunday’s scheduled Fair hours. On display will be a Raspberry Pi computer running MIT Scratch and Lego WeDo, my exact replica of the Mars Curiosity Rover built entirely in Lego bricks designed by former NASA engineer Stephen Pakbaz and an XO-1.75 laptop with the digital literacy lessons developed for street children in Zambia.

This will be the last Learning Club meeting for 2012, so please use the meeting opportunity and display hours next weekend at the DC Library to bring your questions about OLPC, open source learning, open source hardware and informal digital learning.
written by Mike Lee on 12 November 2012 Comments Off

Scratch Day 2012: That Cat’s A Superhero!

We’ve gotten RSVPs from friends old and new for this Saturday’s MIT Scratch Day in Arlington, VA. It’s going to be a fun event locally that’s part of an epic global day of celebration that will see our superhero orange cat dancing across thousands of computer screens. All of our event information is the same as previously announced, but here’s a recap and some new goodies:

Event:
Scratch Day 2012, Arlington, VA

Date/Time:
Saturday, May 19, 2012, 10am-2pm

Location:
Washington-Lee High School

Rooms 4207, 4209, and 4211
1301 N Stafford St
Arlington, VA 22201

Map: http://g.co/maps/7q2ru
Street View: http://g.co/maps/fjj52

Agenda:

  • 10:00am – 10:15am – Welcome and introduction with Mike Lee
  • 10:15am – 12noon – Scratch Learning Sessions in 2 or 3 classrooms with experts Paul Bui, Anthony Spanos and Richard Bullington-McGuire
  • 12noon – 1:00pm – Lunch on your own; Yelp listing of restaurants nearby: http://j.mp/KucvN3
  • 1:00pm – 1:45pm – Continue with the learning sessions
  • 1:45pm – 2:00pm – Closing thoughts and prize raffle

And there are several interesting and related developments occurring this week:

MIT Media Lab Conversations Series Hosts Sugata Mitra – Wednesday May 16th 4:30-6:00pm (tomorrow!) Professor Sugata Mitra, champion of the concept of “minimally invasive education” (MIE), will discuss the question “Is Education Obsolete?” Mitra has most recently been collaborating with Nicholas Negroponte to test a deployment of 20 Android tablets in a remote village in Ethiopia. The talk will be webcast live and archived here: http://j.mp/JJ6fQr

5-day Preview of Scratch 2.0 – The Scratch team at the MIT Media Lab has been hard at work developing the next generation of Scratch, which will be completely web-based, requiring no installation of software. To commemorate Scratch Day and the 5th anniversary of the software, the team will open up the alpha version of the new site starting this Thursday May 17 through Monday May 21. The site is currently password protected, but check this link soon: http://alpha.scratch.mit.edu/ Here’s a preview video: http://vimeo.com/41683547

Get Your MaKey MaKey! – Two graduating members of the Scratch team, Eric Rosenbaum and Jay Silver, have revealed a new project on Kickstarter called MaKey MaKey. It’s an amazing little $35 circuit board that turns almost any real-word object into a computer keyboard or piano key input. It requires no assembly or additional software other than what you have already to create a piano out of bananas or a game controller made of Playdoh or buckets of water to name a few of the infinite possibilities. The project was fully funded last night after launching early on Monday. Hurry over to the site to learn more and place an order: http://makeymakey.com/

O’Reilly Books 50% Off 18 E-books This Weekend – It turns out this weekend is also when Maker Faire will be held in San Mateo, California. To celebrate, O’Reilly is discounting by 50% selected DRM-free ebooks on the topics of robots, sensors and science. Visit this link: http://j.mp/Klh5ys

Well thanks for sticking with this long message. I hope there’s something for everyone whether you can attend Scratch Day or not. See you soon!

written by Mike Lee on 15 May 2012 Comments Off

A water drop microscope for the XO laptop

Bill Tuk of OLPC-SF emailed to tell me about how, for years, he has been using a drop of water over the OLPC XO laptop camera aperture to convert it into a microscope. The technique saw a resurgence recently when Scientific American blogged about insect photographer Alexander Wild, who put a water drop on the iPhone 4 camera to make macroscopic photos. His sample photos of a flower, ant and dime look incredible.

Earlier today, with low expectations based on my past experiences with the low resolution, low contrast XO camera, I set an XO-1.75 beta machine (any XO laptop will work) with screen face up on my porch railing and dabbed a drop of tap water on the camera aperture window with a plastic drinking straw.

The preview in the Record activity went completely blurry, but unlike most any other laptop, I was still able to clearly see the activity screen in the bright afternoon sunlight. I had some random objects from my yard and kitchen. Holding a yellow 1×2 Lego brick in my fingers, I hovered it over the water drop. The letters LEGO burst onto the screen from the sunlit brick. The quality of the image was excellent for an XO. Some of my shots are in the collage above and in an annotated set on Flickr.

It is Bill’s wish that this simple, zero-cost technique become a standard learning exercise for all children who use XO laptops. Here are some tips he provided:

  • Use a 1-inch square piece of clear plastic cellophane from a CD/DVD wrapper or cigarette pack to hold the water drop so that it can be kept centered over the camera aperture
  • Manually focus by moving the object closer or further from the face-up XO camera
  • Video can be taken as well (perhaps of a wiggling bug)
  • Clean up the water with a tissue or towel

The clear plastic disc over the the XO camera is glued completely in place, so I just put my drop of water directly on without any problems. Even a small bottle of water will be enough to keep an entire class of XOs refreshed with water drops every 15 minutes for many hours of field exploration. The XO’s daylight readable screen makes it easy for the children to share their photos and reflect on them by taking notes and making sketches.

We’re hoping that water drops on XO laptop cameras will inspire millions of young Van Leeuwenhoeks around the world.

Here are some resources I found related to water drop magnifiers:

Historical information

Using clothespins for support

Water drop on an Android smartphone camera

Water drop on an iPhone 3G camera

Book: Single Lens: The Story of the Simple Microscope, Brian J. Ford, 1981

written by Mike Lee on 18 March 2012 Comments Off

Hold Saturday May 19 for Scratch Day 2012!

The OLPC Learning Club DC and Sugar Labs DC bring Scratch Day back this year at a new location. Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 19, 2012, 10am-2pm to be at:

Washington-Lee High School
1301 N Stafford St
Arlington, VA 22201

We’ll be in rooms 4207, 4209, and 4211 doing Scratch demos, tutorials and teacher certification. Check back in early May for updates.

written by Mike Lee on 2 March 2012 Comments Off

We’re immortalized in the new ‘Cult of LEGO’ book!

Thanks to a tip from Walter Bender, I discovered that wife Amy and I are featured in the new Cult of LEGO book from No Starch Press. My 2007 photo of Amy modeling a One Laptop per Child XO-1 laptop camera viewfinder made of LEGO bricks runs full bleed on page 41. The viewfinder is shown as an example of one of a wide variety of ingenious uses for LEGO bricks. The book itself is a broad survey of LEGO history, culture and fandom.

The Cult of LEGO is available in bookstores and online. No Starch Press offers an ebook or ebook/print bundle on their web site. The PDF ebook is pictured here on my iPad.

The LEGO viewfinder was discovered by design professor Phil Renato, who collaborated with me to create a custom design for 3D printing. We made a couple hundred of them for sale and gifting. The photo of Walter Bender looking through that viewfinder has been used far and wide. The viewfinder was even converted into a USB flash drive. Then Vik Olliver of RepRap fame came up with a simpler design that could be printed from an XO laptop to the DIY RepRap 3D printer.

My ongoing involvement with LEGO through the MIT Media Lab and the OLPC Learning Club of DC attracted a visit from producers of the LEGO Mindstorms Robotics products. I provided consulting on approaches to optimizing their low-cost WeDo robotics kit for the OLPC XO laptop. The discussions led to my introducing to LEGO the team of developers that did the port of the Win/Mac software to Linux that is now being deployed to 20,000 kids in Peru.

I’m looking forward to helping LEGO some more in 2012.

CC Flickr photo by Mike Lee

written by Mike Lee on 31 December 2011 Comments Off

No formal meeting for April; Scratch Day 2011 next month!

XO Flowers

With speaking engagements and family travel for the rest of the Saturdays this month, I’ve decided not to have a formal user group meeting. Spring fever too! If anyone wants to have an informal meeting on a weeknight, I’m available the evening of Thursday, April 28th for a meet-up somewhere downtown. Wayan is pretty busy the rest of this month and then out of the country next, so we won’t be at the Looking Glass Lounge.

We will be meeting again next month on the afternoon of May 21 with the big bang of Scratch Day 2011 at the Arlington Career Center. There will be one or more blog posts and an email update coming before the event. We’re looking for volunteers to present workshops or projects as well as assist with setting up. Please contact Jeff Elkner jeff at elkner.net or Mike Lee curiouslee at gmail.com.

Illustration from the OLPC Tanzania wiki page.

written by Mike Lee on 15 April 2011 Comments Off

Sugar Labs DC to release its TimeLapse Activity

TimeLapse Activity

TimeLapse is computer software for the Sugar Learning Platform used to gather periodic data (sound and images).  It is the first software activity developed by Sugar Labs DC and runs on the OLPC XO-1 laptop. The idea for TimeLapse grew out of the exciting, eclectic, interdisciplinary meeting of scientists, computer programmers, pedagogues, and hardware hobbyists originally brought together by the OLPC Learning Club DC.

Dr. Frank Linton, who has an observation bee hive in his house, was interested in studying the relationship between the sound made by the hive and the health and well being of the bees inside.  He wondered if he could use his XO laptop to gather periodic sound sampling from the hive.  This real world need became the seed for the development of TimeLapse.

Over the past two years, with Dr. Linton acting as customer, Jeff Elkner, and a group of young programmers from Sugar Labs, DC have made steady improvements to TimeLapse.  The current release is the first one that is installable through the Browse Activity in Sugar, making TimeLapse easily available to Sugar users all over the world.

Come celebrate the accomplishment of these talented young programmers.  Bring your XO and try out TimeLapse for yourself.

Update: TimeLapse is now available for download on the Sugar  Labs activities site.

Note time change!!!
When: Saturday, January 16th, 2010, 1 pm to 4 pm

Arlington Career Center
816 South Walter Reed Drive,
Arlington, VA 22204
(
Contact Page, Map, Aerial Photo, Bus Info)

Walter Bender of Sugar Labs will join in by video conference from Cambridge, MA.

We’ll also raffle off an original copy of the new XtraOrdinary 2010 SD card!

written by Mike Lee on 6 January 2010 Comments Off

Xtra Ordinary SD card for the OLPC XO-1

Update: The slide presentation and links mentioned during the meeting are now on the wiki.

For October, we’re back at Gallaudet University to look at a new software product for the XO-1 and an update of Sugar.

What: Family XO Mesh Meetup
When: Saturday, October 17th, 2009, 10 am to 1pm
Where: Gallaudet University [map, aerial photo], Student Academic Center,
**NOTE ROOM CHANGE: We are UPSTAIRS from the old meeting rooms in the basement on the first floor [
floorplan], in computer lab SAC 1212, Washington, D.C. 20002

We have a copy of Ondisk’s XtraOrdinary operating system which is an SD card that boots the Debian flavor of Linux. There have been other SD-based adaptations of Linux for the XO, but this is the most comprehensive to date and easily obtainable via mail order. Though all the software on the SD card is free open source, Ondisk charges $40 to cover the cost of the SD card and duplication. With this card installed, the XO becomes an adult-friendly netbook with software such as a version of Firefox, Open Office, the GIMP photo editor, Skype, Pidgin universal chat, Totem multimedia player and much more.

We will demo the product and describe some of the minor quirks discovered to date. We’re impressed with this effort and it’s a valuable contribution to the XO consumer community, especially for those who do not have time or expertise to configure Linux software.

The latest 0.86 build of Sugar will also be reviewed. I will also bring news from my trip this week to the Media Lab and OLPC Headquarters.

Please let us know in advance if you have any OLPC-related hardware or software support needs.

written by Mike Lee on 12 October 2009 1 commento

The OLPC Learning Club DC and Sugar Labs DC are independent grassroots organizations supporting the missions of One Laptop per Child and Sugar Labs.

contact us

mike lee -
curiouslee at gmail.com

jeff elkner -
jeff at elkner.net

kevin cole -
dcloco at gmail.com

luke faraone -
luke at faraone.cc

wayan vota -
wayan at olpcnews.com

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