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OpenTechSchool Zurich Message Board › Call for School Coaches

Call for School Coaches

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Robert L.
user 37503672
Zürich, CH
OpenTechSchool Zurich has the unique possibility to give workshops for Zurich schools!
We have been approached by the local administration (eZurich, Wirtschaftsförderung Zürich) and business (Startup@UZH, CTI Invest) to give classes to students (Sekundarstufe II, ie. age range 15-19 if I understand the Swiss education system correctly.)  We'll host the workshop at the Googleplex on Thursday, 12th of September.
This is a pilot project to see how we can hook best into K-12 education and runs in parallel to our longer term, ongoing efforts in Berlin (itlabsberlin, in collaboration with the Technologiestiftung Berlin.)  We're currently looking into our Python for beginners material, Scratch curricula, eToys/Makey Makey, Processing, Blender, and different hackathon formats.  (I do not yet have info on the language of the class but I guess they're most comfortable with German, sorry.  Will reconfirm.)
If you want to coach and have time at that date, please sign up now.  If you want to join in on the discussion, participate in our Doodle­ for a coordination meetup.  For all additional questions please inquire directly with me.
Robert L.
user 37503672
Zürich, CH
Post #: 2
We had a meeting on Mon, Jul 29, and these are our meeting minutes:

  • More structure than normal workshops
  • Inspire some of them to study CS, get the others curious about computers
  • Different stations, starting at 9am (until 1pm, then lunch/tours)
    • One larger programming workshop (half of the time, 2h, 15ppl)
      • Python for beginners
    • 20min break
    • Two smaller practical/motivational workshops (a quarter of the time each, 45min, 7ppl, 10min break in-between)
      • Computer Science Unplugged
        • Error-correcting codes to detect change in a pattern
        • Binary search (find a numbered cup in sorted cups, lose a candy for each guess, double the number of cups but only increase by one try)
        • Binary numbers
      • Frog game (swap positions from left to right)
      • Average pocket money calculation without leaking individual information
      • Sorting card decks with divide/conquer
  • One laptop per student, encourage team work

Next steps:

  • Robert: Put schedule on a slide
  • Teacher: How to split up the groups? (via Robert)
  • Fieldtech: 15 Laptops (+ a couple spare ones) (via Robert)
  • Bookmark Python material
  • Turtle material
    • Ale: Add more challenges (spirals, gradients)
    • Translate the material to German
  • Marc: Formalize/pick CSU exercises
  • Peter: Formalize one motivational block
  • Uche: Contact ICT

Robert L.
user 37503672
Zürich, CH
Post #: 3
Updates from my side:

  • Laptops are ordered. It's probably going to be ordinary Ubuntu machines (not Chromebooks as I mentioned.) We're all set on the installation then, basically.
  • Schedule is online.
  • Our school contact reported back:
    • 16-years old students, 21 of them.
    • They have an "iPad course" on "Information and Communication."
    • English skills at B1/B2, that's "Independent user." English instructions should not be a problem. Hooray for our non-German coaches. :-)

Robert L.
user 37503672
Zürich, CH
Post #: 4
We had a meeting on Tue, Aug 20 and these are our meeting minutes:

  • Frog game extension: Always swap two players.
    • Other than that, both games look great.
  • Gender diversity among coaches? (Silvan asking Leandra, Ale possibly has another contact)
  • Need infrastructure for material translation. (Robert, escalating to OTS)
    • And then, translators. Silvan stepped up to help with this.
  • Suggest students to use English version, have German version ready.
  • Silvan & Marc are working out the CS:U material, coming next week.
  • Organize some snacks for the breaks. (Robert)
  • Have one puzzle block instead of two. See the updated schedule for details.
    • Splitting up a group of 21 students into programming/puzzles and then again into CS:U/games would result in 5 students per group, which we considered too few.
    • In trying to duplicate our schedule calculations we found a 15 minute gap after each puzzle session. This neatly circumvents all complications there.
    • Also, all coaches expressed interest in doing programming coaching and puzzles.
  • Get a central repository for material (CS:U, other puzzles, Python course, ...). (Robert, escalating to itlabsberlin)

Robert L.
user 37503672
Zürich, CH
Post #: 5
Péter Szabó formalized two games:

Frog game. The game is played on a 7x1 grid with the initial state >>>@<<< . Each < is a frog which can step 1 left or jump over a single frog to the left. Each < is a frog which can step 1 right or jump over a single frog to the right. The @ is an empty cell. The goal is to swap the frogs, i.e. to reach this state: <<<<@>>>>.

The 15-step solution for 3+3 frogs is:


After some trial and error one learns how he the frogs get stuck: if there is a >>< and no @ anywhere to the right of it, then the < frog gets stuck, because it has no way to jump over the >>, and the >> can't be broken up because they have no destination to jump to. (By flipping this we get to other kind of stuck state.) With pencil and paper one can easily come up with a move sequnce in which he avoids getting stuck, thus eventually the frog reach the target state. Avoiding getting stuck is a bit tricky, because it's not always imediate: for example from >><>@<< we can move to >><@><< (not being stuck yet), to which it's possible to move to >><<>@< or >@<>><<, both of which are stuck.

How to animate this game: organize participants to groups of 6, split each group to 3+3, give some token to each of the first 3, make them stand in a line, 3+3 facing each other with a gap between. Announce that the first group who reaches the target state wins. Ask them to start moving. There should be at least 1 organizer per group, who watches them if they are moving according to the rules. Let them return to the initial state if they wish, any number of times. Don't tell them that they are allowed to plan and draw in advance, but let them if they want to do it.

FYI The 24-step solution for 4+4 frogs is:


This looks like too complicated to figure out on the spot, so just do the 3+3.

What this teaches: planning ahead, nominating a boss who tells others what to do, thing out-of-the-box (by asking for a pencil and paper).

Average pocket money calculation without leaking individual information. An organizer can propose this question to the participants, let them come up with ideas, and point out flaws in the ideas. For example, using a trusted third party can be expensive and needs full trust of all participants. One possible solution without a trusted third party: people sit in a circle, forming a circular linked list. One of them volunteers to be the head of a list, and writes two large random numbers on a sheet of paper, and passes on the paper. The next one reads the two numbers, adds his own pocket money amount to the first number, and increments the 2nd number by 1, writes the new numbers to another (previously empty) sheet of paper, and passes that paper to the next. At the end, the head person adds his own pocket money amount and 1, then subtracts the two (corresponding) random numbers, and reads the results: the sum and the count of people. Then everybody can divide to get the average. (Those who don't want to participate just add 0 and 0 when it's their turn, or they don't join the circle, thus they declare their non-participation openly.) Then the organizer can mention that asking for the maximum value and asking who has the maximum for a group size larger than 2 are unsolved problems. And the known solution for 2 people is very slow and complicated.

What this teaches: privacy is important, algorithms can improve (provide) privacy, privacy is hard, random numbers are useful, small random numbers are not as useful, cooperation is necessary.
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