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Afterschool Curriculum Choice: Technology Resources

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Curriculum Details for
PicoCrickets

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Resource Description
Staff, Planning,
and Costs
Standards, Research, and Evaluation

PicoCrickets

PicoCrickets give young people the raw materials to build their own artistic creations, which they can program to respond to light, sound, and touch. Drawing on the same research base as Lego Mindstorms, the PicoCricket Kit is a robotics kit designed with greater emphasis on artistic expression, in an effort to appeal to girls as much as boys. The Kit includes a miniature computer, sensors, software, Lego bricks, craft materials, and project ideas. The user-friendly Web site provides technical support, additional ideas for educators, and photo and video galleries for showcasing creations.

Content Focus:
Robotics, Media Arts Production, Engineering

Linkages to:
Science, Math

Grades/Ages: Designed for ages 8 and up, but suitable for younger children with adult guidance

Costs: $250 for a whole PicoCricket kit. Workshop kits are also available.
The costs shown were accurate at the time of the review. Please check the publisher's web site for current prices.

Publication Date: 2006-2007

Developer Contact Information
Playful Invention Company Inc.
2075 rue University, Suite 1208
Montréal, QC H3A 2L1 Canada
(514) 282-4994
info@playfulinvention.com
http://picocricket.com

Design Overview

Developed in close collaboration with afterschool programs and classroom teachers, PicoCrickets are fun and easy for youth and adult facilitators to use. The PicoCricket Kit contains electronic parts and craft materials that young people use to create their own robotics constructions, such as a cat that purrs when touched, or a birthday cake with programmable candles. Activity ideas stem from themes: kinetic sculptures, celebrations, musical instruments, wearable art, and more. In small groups, participants work on their projects, moving back and forth through phases of building, programming, testing, and decorating their inventions. The developers encourage groups to hold exhibitions, not competitions, as the culmination of their work. The intent is to create an atmosphere that supports creative, playful learning, while at the same time giving participants a chance to learn and apply science, engineering, and technology concepts.
  • Activity Types: hands-on learning, engineering design, collaboration, exhibition
  • Materials/technology required: PicoCricket Kit, computer, plus a wide variety of arts and craft supplies. An LCD projector can be helpful for demonstrating how to program the PicoCrickets.
  • Program Length/Duration: Workshops can last for a single 1-hour session or several sessions.
  • Site Adoption: Museums, afterschool programs, and schools are all using PicoCrickets

Instructional Approach

Integral to the design of this resource is that the projects are learner-driven, based on their interests. Educators set the stage for creativity, exploration, and experimentation, by suggesting a theme and giving examples of constructions. Young people work together collaboratively and learn how to problem solve, conduct investigations, and develop and refine their own designs. Note that a series of guides for educators on working with PicoCrickets is forthcoming.


Online Training for Afterschool Staff
The Afterschool Training Toolkit is available online free of charge.

The following resources can be used with the online Afterschool Training Toolkit to give you the resources you need to build fun, innovative, and academically enriching afterschool activities.