[Week 3 Reflection] Pick a Quote


I really liked the idea that kids aren’t inherently lazy and always seeking to ‘game the system’ to find the easiest path - that they will invest an amazing amount of time/energy/effort to a task that is internally motivating, instead driven by some externally set requirement. I believe that Papert’s “hard fun” is true, as evidenced by the time many kids spend mastering the “next level” in their favorite video game or that elusive skateboard trick.

I recall Roger Schank (Head of my grad school program) proposing that the first day of kindergarten should be devoted to finding out what every new student’s main area of interest was, then (with the help of a soon-to-be-developed educational technology/AI) customizing the curriculum around that topic. If Bobby likes trucks, he should learn to read, write, calculate, and reason through examples and assignment that all involve trucks. If Suzy loves riding her bike, all of her learning should be grounded in bikes. It’s a neat idea that mirrors some of the concepts being presented in Mitch’s video (although it’s a little discouraging that more progress hasn’t been made towards making that vision a reality - although Scratch is a great tool in that pursuit!)


Hello @benjiwheeler! I really appreciate this post - it made me think about how sometimes there’s an interesting trade-off between having “high ceiling” examples that inspire you to push the bounds of what you might create, and the intimidation factor of “wow, I’m really far from being able to make that” (or support others in making that).

I wonder if your students might enjoy remixing your robot(s)? Maybe as they get started with a (possibly new) interface, programming environment, and materials, it might be helpful to be able to really get to know a particular robot, and tinker from there (digitally and/or physically) - especially since they do like using your demonstration robots.

I’m really curious to hear what others think about this - how do you get students “off the ground” when they are having trouble making what they imagine? How do you think about what examples you provide?


I liked what Mitch said in his first video of the week that - “An investment in interest always pays off with the best knowledge”.

This is true not only for children but for adults as well. I have realized it through numerous experiences. I left my well paid job to become a Maker Educator simply because I loved working with kids. So what I realized is passion if identified properly and followed diligently can take us a long way and if we adults can enjoy being a part of that journey, why not our children?

Additionally, I also liked the term “wide walls”. I’ll keep this in mind so that every child gets a fair chance of being included with their diverse range of projects made in a class.


The quote that really stuck with me this week was from the video, when Mitch asks “How can you widen the walls to make sure that all kids have a chance to work on projects they really care about?” This is such a powerful question, message and mission. We all bring our own lens to any given project we are working on. When it’s possible to have that project boundaries be undefined or wider, the myriad of different ways the project gets accomplished allow this uniqueness about us individuals to shine through.


Thanks, Chris! I’d love to hear more about how you’re using Mindstorms and what you’ve found useful. I’ll check out the Carnegie Mellon curriculum!

Maybe we could connect for a discussion/hangout?

I’m .

Thanks again!


“The wide walls of the workshop led to a diversity of projects—and an outpouring of creativity.”

I choose this quote from the excerpt because I am truly grateful that there are people in this world with kind hearts to make these types of programs and organizations available to all kids with any kind of background. These are the people I look up at and aspire to be like.

Thank you!


I like your point about how hard fun can fall flat on its face. I have certainly experienced this with my students, too! Something that J thought would be challenging ended up being insurmountable. In the other hand, I have seen students engage in “productive struggle” in other cases. I think that I like “productive struggle” better as a phrase because it gets to that idea that whatever work we give our students needs to be productive for them… we can’t just challenge them and let them fail and give up!


“An investment in interest always pays off with the best knowledge.”

I’m thinking about kids at the age of 3 or 4.
They are all full of PASSION!
They are interested in almost everything around them, and asking “What’s this?” or “Why?”.
And they are tinkering with everything without any fear.
And while tinkering, they gradually get knowledge about the world.

I think it’s the best way to learn.

But, after several years, some kids are still passionate, but the others are not so passionate.
I’m curious about the cause of the difference between them.
What do you think about the cause?
Parents, school, teachers, TV, video games, or something else?
I’d like to hear your opinion.


Hi Benji,
I saw another poster mentioned the Carnegie Mellon robotics curriculum, and I just wanted to put another word in for that. I think it is the best free curriculum out there, and very comprehensive.

I also think there is a lot of value in letting kids use YouTube tutorials if the site is not blocked in your district. YouTube videos can be both inspiring and helpful, and my students have enjoyed them.

There are also a lot of robotics competitions out there, and many of them have resources for competitors. I do RoboRave International with my students every year, and it is a huge motivator for them! Also, since we’ve done it for a few years now, the kids have resources and knowledge that they share with each other every year. The first year was the hardest, and since then it has only gotten easier for me and the kids (oh, but it’s still ‘hard fun’).

Being realistic, I think there is always a balance here. I have worked with a huge variety of kids doing LEGO robotics, and I have a hard time picturing exactly what Mitch wrote in the chapter. Most kids cannot just walk up to a Lego ser and build a car and a crane; however, given enough time and the right support, they will figure it out. One year, I had two groups of kids do a line following challenge for RoboRave. One group created their own design; a second group followed instructions provided by RoboRave. The group that created their design ended up completely failing: their robot fell apart when they tried to make last minute adjustments. I think they still learned a lot though, and when I told them I was proud of what they did, they believed me because they felt it, too. The other group succeeded and competed, but they mostly just followed instructions. There is some balance between creativity and “not reinventing the wheel” when doing robotics projects with kids. I think you have to find the right balance for your group, and it might be different every year. Some students want total freedom and respond well to the challenge of creating their own designs. Other kids want structure and instructions and learn more by copying someone else’s design, step-by-step. As teachers, I think we need to be open to both options, depending on the kids we’re working with.


I think it ultimately boils down to how the kids respond to the walls, ceilings, water, or whatever else you want to throw at them. To stick with your analogy, if you make kids swim from an island and they drown, give them a lifeboat. If you build wide walls and the kids still crash into them, can you make them wider? Did you build the walls in the right place? I think that all of this philosophizing goes better with a dose of practicality because kids respond and give us feedback. I have had plenty of experiences with my students where I thought I had created an optimal learning environment and it just didn’t work for the kids.


Something that resonated with me was “diving in and stepping back”. I do not have my own class of students, instead I work with teachers when they invite me into their classrooms. I have not built in reflection time into these sessions, but this has made me start to think about this. I think these reflections may also help give me insight into their Passions.


I agree with you, Diego_S. I think that most school curriculums strive to provide not only basic skills and knowledge that can serve to help a person function in our world, but also a buffet of topics that might spark a student’s interest and become their passion. There are so many topics in the world that a student would not be aware of it they were not exposed to them at some point and school is often the place where they are exposed. However, I do agree that there should be a place in school for children to explore their own interests.
The Computer Clubhouse model is a such a great way for kids to build on their interests. It would be nice to see more of that actually in the school day and not just an after-school option.


One more quote is “hard fun”.

I’m trying to drag kids into the Hard Fun World (tinkering, making) from the Easy Fun World (phones, TV, video games).


I love the low floor, high ceiling and wide walls. I love the hard fun idea. And I also love the investment in interest pays off the greatest knowledge. I feel the combination of all of these guarantees the best learning possible. The low floor ensures that the learner is not discouraged by the project and that she feels she has the skills that will give her the opportunity to at least start the process. The high ceiling ensures that she knows she can continue building on what she comes up with. The wide walls ensure that she knows there are unlimited ways she can go about what she is working on. All of that, without the interest and passion would not ensure the buy-in and the heart. Yes, a project may be completed, but the connections wouldn’t necessarily be made. This is where passion ensures the connections are made and the investment is paying off knowledge. And finally, the hard fun, in my opinion, is what develops tenacity, grit and courage.


‘High ceiling and low floors with WIDE WALLS’ created a great impact. It helps me to create lessons in a right way


I keep thinking about the idea of “Low floor, high ceiling and wide walls”, especially “wide walls”. When we work with 20 kids at the same time, the most important challenge is to attend the diferents interests. So, the idea of wide walls is very important for me. I think every day how to motivate each child and the interest of each one.
It`s an interesting challenge, I like it!!!


This is especially hard because i have more than one favourite quote. I volunteer in Coderdojo and we are trying to create a space that is less “school-like” which is hard because all the adults teaching / mentoring are used to the system we went through, plus we have our sessions in a school. But slowly, we are changing our ways. love the idea of wide walls, low floors and high ceiling, but if i must pick one then let it be
because the challenge will motivate you, make you repeatedly try to solve the problem and not give up, yo might take a break but you will go back!!!


The best learning experiences go through alternating phases of immersion and reflection (it is important to step back and reflect on our experience).

This exactly reflects on my way of learning and why I love to learn: sometimes I am very immersed in a project and then I get stuck, the best thing to do in this case is go to run, take a walk, talk to other people, and it is interesting how stepping back from the problem give me new insights and sometimes these are the moments when you connect the different ideas that are going around.


My favorite quote from week three is "Passion is the fuel that drives the immersion-reflection cycle."
After teaching Math, Science and Computers for over 40 years now, I firmly believe that when students get passionate about a topic, that’s when the best learning occurs. That’s why at the end of each semester I let students pick an application we have learned and let them have an open road to create whatever they want. It is no coincidence that they usually pick Scratch and create something amazing!!


I think schools have a lot of responsibility. It’s not the people, but the system that is broken.
Have you ever watched this: