Looking for a meaningful and authentic way for students to share their learning with others? Read on for tips from Pam Waters, an elementary teacher at Londonderry Elementary School, in the Lower Dauphin School District, in Pennsylvania.
Waters recently hosted her first Hummingbird Expo – an exhibition of student robotics creations, where students show off their work and talk through their process with curious visitors. “I have been doing Hummingbird projects with my 5th graders for 4 years I think, but this is the first time I’ve done an expo with outside guests,” Waters said. Last year, other classes from her school toured to view student creations, but this year, she opened the Expo to the wider community.
Here are a three suggestions from Pam Waters, to help you throw your own Hummingbird Expo:
Include challenges and iteration in presentations
Make your students growth mindset experts by helping them to include challenges and project iterations in their presentations. Was one section of the build particularly difficult? Did the group stuggle debugging code to make the device work? How does the finished result differ from their first design plan? Sharing these experiences not only normalizes the non-linear creation process for the audience, but also teaches students that they should be just as proud of the process as they are of the product.
“Our district tech director came to our Hummingbird expo to hear all about what the kids learned,” Waters said. Hosting administrators at a student showcase like this one not only provides an engaged and enthusiastic audience for your students, but it also gives administrators a chance to see your class – and your teaching – at its best. Our sources tell us that administrators love being involved in events where students get to showcase their passion for learning! Opening your doors to decision-makers in your district on a showcase day also helps administrators like principals, superintendents, technology directors, and more to see why materials like the Hummingbird Kit are worthwhile (and that their dollars are being well spent!).
Invite students from other buildings or grade levels
No matter what level you teach, there’s an audience that will bring different and valuable perspectives to your students. Teaching elementary? Invite older students to empower your presenters and make them feel like confident experts. Working with high schoolers? Challenging them to create an experience that is inclusive and engaging for young learners pushes them to create based on someone else’s needs – a valuable skillset to build. And if you teach middle grades, like Waters, you can get both benefits. “Computer Science Honor Society students came with their teacher and adviser Nancy Kiscadden. [She] brought a van of her students to see my 5th graders’ robotics projects! It meant the world to my kids to have role models and ‘important’ people show interest and allow my students to show their expertise,” she said.
Practice presentation skills and accurate terminology
Preparing for a showcase is a perfect opportunity to work with students on their communication skills. Review proper terminology for robotic components – like servo motor, sensor data, and tri-color LED – so that they’re providing the best quality information for their audiences. Also challenge students to “translate” for the level of robotics expertise in their audience. Completing a project is a difficult enough task – but explaining it to learners of all levels will really test their knowledge! (Our Hardware Guide and Block Descriptions can help speakers to prepare with confidence.) Students can also practice presenting without scripts, speaking clearly to groups, giving and receiving feedback, and more.