Class 01 – Welcome!

Each week I will come here to our site in order to give you a recap of the information.Slides from today’s walk-through can be found here.

Today was a “syllabus day”. We chatted about a class overview, got our WordPress logins set up, and talked with parents and family. I know it isn’t the most exciting – but we have to lay a solid foundation in order to build an incredible experience. What follows is the recap email I sent out to family and students!

First off, let me reiterate how excited I am to work with such an outstanding group of individuals. I just wanted to touch base with everyone and recap what we discussed in class. Important points are in bold and reiterated at the end of the email – they are also reiterated on the Slack channel (see below). I am working on getting a course website up in the next week where all material, presentations, and miscellaneous information will be posted in addition to emails.

Recap – Instructor Introduction
I had to privilege to meet quite a few of you last night and I am looking forward to create a strong line of communication with each and every one of you! To reiterate, my name is Katrina Siegfried and I will be the senior instructor for the SSA STEM Stars course. I have a B.S. in mechanical engineering with minors in biomedical engineering, biology, and premed, and I have a M.S. in Integrative Physiology with a focus on Biomechanics. My thesis work and capstone work were all in computer programming (language of choice is C++).  My research background is in the bone-tissue interface and biomechanical educational software development. I taught to pay for graduate school and fell in love with it. I am currently teaching as a full-time guest math teacher with DPS and SSA, and I can confidently say that whichever path I take forward there will be an educational component to it – I truly love teaching. Your sons are a fantastic group and I can already tell that we are going to really create some great projects moving forward! I am joined by the assistant instructor Andrew Carpender, he is currently a junior in high school and is easily one of the most ambitious and dedicated students I have met. He is a maker in his own right and I know will serve as a positive example and invaluable team member with SSA – so excited to have him in this course!
I can not repeat this enough – I want to keep an open and clear line of communication open with each of you through this semester. If you have questions, comments, or concerns feel free to email, cal, or text me at any time. I work “school hours” so the best time to reach me is generally in the evening or early morning.
Slack vs. Discord
The purpose of Slack is to create a community outside of the classroom. This is a place where we can discuss topics from class, chat privately one-on-one, and exchange “spicy memes”. If you would like to learn more about Slack, there is a great article here.
So I looked into the matter and the pros/cons of each application and I have decided that the original plan to go with Slack will be the one we stick with. Though Discord and Slack look similar, the biggest advantage to Slack is the long-standing integration with Github and IFTTT, and the ability for me to easily generate multiple private channels to discuss projects. I understand there are chat bridges that connect the two, but it does not appear at this time that they are robust enough to rely on them for class communication. So, I would like each student and parent to click on the link below to join our Slack server. Parents will have their own channel in the event that they want to engage with me or Andrew at any point.
Slack offers desktop web-based applications for all computer platforms and can be downloaded here, and also offers mobile applications for Windows Moble, Android, and iPhone that can be downloaded from the corresponding mobile store. We will go back through Slack on Wednesday but it is fairly simple to use. Send me a message and test it out! I am also happy to get parents acclimated on Slack as well, just reach out by phone/email or stop by during office hours.
I appreciate all the students getting their WordPress accounts up and going. The WordPress blog/websites will serve as a “digital portfolio” to showcase the work on this project, previous, and future projects as well. Additionally, it will serve as the digital engineer’s notebook for the class, so we can all keep detailed notes on our projects and the skills we learn. Moreover, this will allow students to share all the hard work they do in class with family and friends. If you would like to see the vision I have for this aspect of the project, please navigate to my personal website where you can see some of the projects I myself have and continue to work on. We are going to work on our WordPress with intent on Wednesday – please come to class ready to document a project you’ve already worked on. Depending on your project that may mean photos or screenshots, code, sketches, measurements, etc. Don’t worry about the formatting / theme of your website, next week we will go in and edit the actual HTML5 code of the site and adjust the pages to look exactly as you envision. So for now – focus on your vision, and we will actualize that vision next week!
Office Hours
I will hold office hours Monday and Wednesday 4:30pm – 5:00pm before class, and 6:30pm to 7:15pm after class. Please use this time to hang out, work on homework, chat about projects, or anything else. I want this to be a welcoming community and I hope you all have some time to spend in office hours this semester. This also includes parents, siblings, or whomever! In the event I have to cancel these hours for any reason I will let you know well in advance.
Weekly Emails
I will send out a recap email after each class – once we get in the groove these emails won’t be so long, I promise! I only have one email for each student, but I know that there are likely other family members that would like to be in the loop as well, if that is the case please respond to this email or send me another with the email address that needs to be added.
As the students begin to work on their projects in the coming three weeks, we will want to keep an eye out for miscellaneous odds and ends that will be helpful moving forward. These are things that you probably have shoved in a junk drawer somewhere – like extra charging blocks, micro usb cords, old speakers, old toys with moving parts.
The framework I prefer to use for coding in C++ for microelectronics is the Arduino IDE, it is a simple interface with great support and debugging tools. The Arduino IDE will run on almost any platform and you can find more information here if you are interested in checking that out now, don’t worry, we will go through this in more detail in the coming weeks. Students do not need to bring a laptop to class, we will have that available for them.
The microcontrollers we will be using are from a company called Adafruit, which was started by a (female) MIT graduate who wanted to create a user-friendly purchasing environment and a community of makers. The founder, Lady Ada, seeks to bring making to everyone and Adafruit is a strong supporter of STEM education. They have a great blog where they discuss relevant industry happenings, customer projects, and more. Every week they host live web shows where the community shows of projects, asks questions, and engages with one another in a way that really makes Adafruit more than just a one-stop-shop for electronics. The website is and I highly recommend giving that site a look.
1. Click on the invite link above and join the slack channel – parents and students
2. Come to class Wednesday with whatever information you need to document a previous project on WordPress
3. Office hours Monday and Wednesday 4:30pm-5:00pm and 6:30pm-7:15pm
4. Please let me know if there are other family members that would like to be added to the course email list.
5. We will have laptops for programming so students do not need to bring one if they do not want / are not able
Class 2 Agenda
1. Class agenda overview
2. Check out some projects from myself and Andrew – you are welcome to check them out after class as well!
3. Chat about Slack
4. Write our first blog post about a previous project
I am looking forward to seeing everyone on Wednesday. I know that there was a lot of information in a very short period of time. I will do my best to clearly communicate the information that we need for each class, but please don’t hesitate to follow up on any loose ends.

See you on Wednesday 9.13.2017!

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