MEA days: The aftermath

I lived!  My “Teaching with Blender and Unity” presentation had 4 attendees.  About what I expected.  The number of people in Montana high schools that know want Unity is is a bit limited.  Those that know it do not need to go to a sectional about it.  The five of us had a great discussion about using tools like Unity as a method to teach with.  Good stuff.  The “Computer Programming : Free stuff is Everywhere” presentation had a full house, about 30 teachers.  Again a very interactive session.  I attended four sessions.  One of them made a major impression and is something I plan to examine in great detail.  It was on a series of CS teaching materials found at  The author of the program, Stephane Come, came up from Sacramento to do this presentation.  What he has written is a series of comic books (more like a magazine) on using the Arduino.  The attempt is to get away from the traditional step 1 through 10 tutorials to a more investigative approach.  I looked through a couple of the books and they look like they have major possibilities.  A kit includes a magazine and all the Arduino hardware to do the task in the particular magazine.  You start with Module “0” which includes the Arduino with components.  Each subsequent module includes the Arduino components required for the module.  At $39 per module I thought it would be worth looking at one closely.  I ordered Module “0”.  About 60 seconds after I placed the order I got an email from Stephane asking if I was in the Friday morning session.  He remembered me and said he would send Module “1” also just for me to look at.  Cool.  I want to look at these for an afterschool coding club for the 4-8 grades.  Hands on stuff and a comic book format.  What more could I want?  Less typing at the computer, more tinkering with actual hardware.

I also attended a “VR in the Classroom” session.  The presenter was a tech teacher in Missoula who has gotten into the HTC Vive VR device.  He also teaches architectural drawing and has incorporated the Vive in to his class.  The students convert their 2-D drawing into SketchUp 3-D and then import the SketchUp into a game engine so it is possible to actually walk through the house they are designing.  $600 for the Vive and another $350 for a decent video card for the computer is too rich for my blood but it does get me thinking about what is becoming possible.  I am going to have to try the SketchUp to Unity import.

One of the best and worst things about teaching CS is there is always something new and cool that is worth teaching.  Yes, teaching programming can be pretty traditional and, although languages may change, the theme is pretty much the same.  Broadfield CS on the other hand with hardware, programming, integration of software and getting things to work together that may not have originally been meant to work together is always new and exciting.  If a teacher is bored teaching CS then they are either a terrible teacher or they need to retire.  Teaching CS is more fun than a box full of puppies.


One Response to “MEA days: The aftermath”

  1. Jeff Yearout Says:

    Do you have a slide deck or list of the resources for your “Free Stuff” presentation? I would love to see that if you do. Thanks!

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