I thought I'd share some thoughts on how we designed SHIP. I'll try to talk about curriculum choices, tools and more in the coming week but first, let's talk about our stewards.
When we first designed SHIP, we knew we wanted to run two rooms each with around 24 shipmates and two teachers. We also figured that we'd want a few of student teaching assistants, which I decided to name Stewards - Natan wanted to call them Tars in tribute to the British Navy, but he was outvoted.
We had some questions:
- what do we do with them when they're not working with the shipmates
- how old should they be
- what should they know
We knew that we'd be using Processing as our development environment for the shipmates 1 so we wanted the Stewards to know Java. We also knew that when the shipmates worked on their group projects we'd want to have one Steward mentor each group. That meant at least 12 Stewards. We went with 14. We also decided that we'd take kids that just finished our AP CS classes at Stuyvesant since they were already well versed in our lunacy and would help seed the culture we're looking to grow.
What to do with them when they weren't working with the shipmates?
Most of the stewards will be in my SoftDev class come the fall so I didn't want to just teach them that material
How about shepherding them through some advanced projects using the tools that the shipmates would be using.
So, we had a plan. We'd have the stewards work in small groups on interesting projects when they weren't working with the shipmates.
How has it gone so far? Pretty well I think.
I first asked them to figure out how to work with the webcam and images in processing – at this point they can figure things out like that on their own.
We then talked about edge detection and they coded it up. This also proved to be a nice demo for the shipmates.
After that I asked them to come up with their own algorithms for blob detection. They came up with some interesting solutions after which I let them look up techniques on line.
Why the image processing work? Many of the projects they want to work on are going to need to do image processing.
Now they're hammering out project proposals and getting to work. So far I'm happy with what they're doing and delighted with the support their giving the shipmates.
I don't know if other programs have teaching assistants and how they use them but I'm pretty happy with our arrangement.
Subject of a later post.