February 25, 2019

Week 7: High School Workshop with ChickTech


Written by: Arpita Bhattacharya

On Saturday, February 23rd, our High School team-leads ran a fantastic workshop with High School students from ChickTech, Seattle. ChickTech organizes monthly workshops on coding for female and non binary students from different high schools in and around Seattle. Anh Hua, a HCDE alumnus, who is now a volunteer at ChickTech, reached out to Andy regarding the workshop and the timing couldn’t have been better!

 Figure 1: Students leading session 1 of the workshop

Fifteen High School students attended the workshop. They sat in pairs facing each other but each had their own laptop and CPE.

Session 1- Introductions and Coding Hot Potato (50 min): Alaa started the workshop by explaining what is physical computing and showing the different sensors and output on the CPE. Alaa and Aylee then led a game of hot potato with the CPE by asking the girls to form two circles. They passed around a box with the CPEs indicating the countdown with sound and changing light colors. This process helped Aylee and Alaa explain the game logic while having fun. After a couple of rounds of the game, Aylee taught the students to code the game on MakeCode while the other leads circulated around the room helping everyone to catch up. The High School students had different experiences with coding and worked at different pace as some of them had already attended multiple ChickeTech workshops, learned in school, or learned on their own. This session ended with the students downloading the code to their CPE and experimenting with the light and sound effects.

Each team lead then introduced their projects asking students to join their group: Laser Tag, Wearable, and remote control car.

We took a 10 minute break and then asked students to join the group they wanted to work with. Laser tag had 6 students, Remote controlled car had 6 students, and Wearables had 3 students.

Session 2 – Studio time (50 min): All students were given a handout for their respective project and the leads guided them step by step, explaining concepts along the way. Ivan and Aylee guided students in pairs to code the transmitter and receiver, respectively. Though they had assembled the cars before, Ivan explained the circuit to students explaining the working of the DC motors. Some of these students had done robotics workshop and also showed passion in changing the speed and directionality of the car. The wearable team was an intimate group of students who were really engaged. The students learned to use Vinyl templates that Alaa had prepared and painted the designs on white t-shirts using conductive ink. Wes led the laser tag team to code and debug on their own laptop.


    Figure 2: Students leading studio time

Lunch: Lunch break was around 12:15 to 1 pm. We had really yummy Mexican food, thanks to ChickTech!

Session 3 – Studio time (60 min): The students continued to customize and debug their code. Students in car team aimed to get the car go in a straight line trying to figure out what speed worked for both motors. Wearable team then started using conductive ink to paint on their hand and connect a battery and LED to it.

We wrapped up the studio time around 2 pm and asked the students to fill out a feedback form. To explain what is HCDE, Sunny showed them a video on the Norman door featuring Don Norman, himself explaining the importance of affordance, core design principles, and how this discipline considers people’s needs and challenges at its center.

Q&A: Finally, it was the High School students’ turn to ask us questions and they sure wanted to know about college life, including why we decided to major in HCDE, homework load, amount of sleep we manage to get, and whether we get lost on the UW campus. It takes me back to the days when I first realized the potential in coding.

Figure 3: Group picture with UW ASB team, High School students, and ChickTech

We are very grateful to all our undergrad workshop leads, ChickTech volunteers, and organizers who made this workshop possible, especially Anh, Ivette, and Kate. It was a meaningful experience to learn with these wonderful High School students and our ASB team has much to reflect and iterate on.