Inksmiths; Crazy K8

I would like to introduce you all to someone / something really cool!

This is Crazy K8 (Kate)

Crazy K8 (Kate) made her first ever appearance at Lakewood Elementary Schools #HourOfCode event this past Thursday, December 6th, 2018.

K8 was introduced to intice and engage students into the Abstract World of Computer Science (during Computer Science Week) for grade 2/3 students (140+ students to be exact).

For students who are in mid primary its hard to understand the reality / notion of coding and computer programming. Especially the message that I was trying to share; that “Coding provides you with ‘visual understanding’ of mistakes / errors in your work” and that “these mistakes / errors show teachers / people that you are trying / working and immersing yourself into your work”

One of the key things we teachers love for our students is growth in learning, which leads to success stories and understanding of big ideas and concepts embedded within curriculum content. For me, the key, the absolute largest impact I can have on my students is “Teaching them how to respond when they are NOT successful”. This is how and when I pull in the fabulous world of Coding / Computer Programming.

Coding is in my opinion the new ‘cursive writing’ its the 21st century version of sharing information in a meaningful way with 21st century products that are thoroughly engaging for todays youth! The world they (our students) have grown up in is drastically different then our world during our youth, therefore as Educators; we have a duty to teach to our students interest areas in order to engage, inspire and create a culture of inquiry driving learning. 

For this teacher I am trying, with exhausting efforts to constantly find items, interests and engaging ideas and concepts my students love and want to learn about, let alone a creative means of tying these into our Ontario Curriculum Document. Coding is something I have been able to find vast assortment of curriculum connections while using, Micro:bits (which can be purchased from Fair Chance Learning Online Shop, click that highlighted text please)

Now, enter my new friend; ‘Crazy K8’ (aka Kate). Crazy K8 uses Micro:bits to Code / Program and basically move. K8 requires a reciever Micro:bit and a remote control Micro:bit that sends radio signals to the actual robot, aka K8. The hardness for the robot itself allows for an insertion of a Micro:bit, which is fantastic because with ONLY one K8 Robot, the entire classroom can create meaningful coding programs that they want in collaboration to manipulate K8. So, once creation occurs, students can then try out thier program inserting their Micro:bits into K8 and see their success or mistakes/ errors in reality. Talk about powerful eh?!?! (Yep, I am Canadian).

So, moving back to our #HourOfCode event, what I was sharing from my slide deck (link is added at bottom of this blog) before students were about to go out and explore our 9 stations (Makey Makey, Micro:bit Fidget Spinners / Critter Faces, HourOfCode.Org, mBot Soccer, MinecraftEdu, Scratch) was that K8 (Kate), was driving me (a teacher) bonkers, but more then bonkers moreso crazy…. the students were instantly inticed!

I could imagine and see the confusion on their faces, a teacher being driven crazy by a robot!?!? So, I shared that I was struggling understanding the concepts, I was going crazy trying to figure out how to create the program the drove the K8 robot correctly, infact I looked up youtube ‘how to do’s’ (because I am a troubleshooter, problem solver, but enjoy doing it on my own) and had no luck! I was stuck…(just like them within the classroom).

Now, being an Educator with 10 years of experience we become fantastic storytellers, we become incredible prompters, probers and forthought thinkers. So, these kids were sad, as they thought they would get to see K8 roll out… one individual said; why didn’t you ask for help?!?! Bingo!…. I actually contacted my buddy Doug Braden (who is one of Inksmiths own as the Chief Technology Officer, click that highlighted text to get to his twitter handle, give him a follow too a great educator and inspires me) who helped me out. The key I was missing was the ‘Collaboration’ piece to this puzzle in order to figure out the programming I was not totally able to understanding even with Inksmiths tutorials, which are fantastic and can be found here;

You see, teaching students ‘Critical Thinking’ and ‘Computational Thinking’, we can infuse a new way of approaching difficult tasks, problems they will face in the future with any struggle they may have. Classroom teachers provide lots of curriculum content learning, which is often difficult for people to gain a strong confidence in their abilities to succeed (this was me with anything math related, and still is the same today).

This all goes back to my need to infuse the ability to “Respond when they are not successful” within my students. Looking ahead to the future we will have a drastically different reality, drastically different jobs and drastically different problems to solve within our world; therefore the workforce / problem solvers of the future (our students) need to be armed and ready to conquer these problems using ’21st Century Competencies’

So, lets go back and revisit Thursday, December 6th, 2018. Students were in the moment engaged and thoroughly infused and listening to my every word, as I said; “K8’s programming was really hard, she was driving me crazy….I had to make 17 ‘Iterations’ (adjustments to the orginal program I wrote to control her) and I still need to make adjustments as she is not perfect yet”. One student mentioned she was cute though….and that she was (I added purple pipe cleaners for crazy ponytails), another mentioned that no one is perfect, not even teachers as you are people just like us too! Jackpot….if kids see us fail and make mistakes it allows them to see that the mistakes are fine to make, it is within a mistake that we analyze and find solutions to problems!

Now, the ridicously crazy educator in me always tries to inspire and infuse problem solving into any oppertunity, and I was not going to miss this one as I had my 26 students, 140 + grade 2/3 students, 6 fellow teachers, many drop in parents a local newspaper reporter (Click Here, to read the article he published later that day) sharing the learning on hand.

I actually programmed K8 wrong on purpose, for ‘purposeful learning’ to allow everyone to Computationally Think (using decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction and algorithic design). The program I wrote using the Micro:bit, went like this; ‘When tilted forward, motors spin backwards’ and ‘When tilted backwards, motors spin forward’ and visa versa with left to right movements.

I told the audience that I am still very determined, but ran out of time last night and needed thier help figuring it out….teaching to the power of ‘Collaboration’ (even a teacher needs help), but the most powerful piece, is that I am well known as a fantastic robotics, cool toys and tools guy…..but this guy, this teacher needs a students help to find a solution to a problem….that is / was the powerful piece! Some people tried it out and low and behold  K8 wouldn’t do what they wanted it to (but what the actual program I wrote DID tell her to do), she was driving everyone ‘Crazy’, hence ‘Crazy K8’.

I had many thoughts and suggestions, lots quite good, all thinking with abstraction! I did have two little ladies (seen below) who figured it out! Two whom neither ever seen block coding before, two whom heard others suggestions, worked the problem, again, again, again and finally got it! (I love ‘The Martian’ and Mark Watney is the Ultimate Problem Solver…infact I always show my grade 6 students this movie at the end of our space unit and Watney is referred to afterwards throughout the entire year).

So, thanks Inksmith

This 3D Printed Robot, known as K8, but within Lakewood Elementary known as ‘Crazy K8’ (Kate)….I think I am going to change her to a capital ‘K’ because crazy cool things for the really cool kids use a ‘K’ for ‘Kool’, therefore; ‘Krazy K8’ is inspiring, ridicously engaging and wicked awesome as well for teachers, students and anyone! She was a hit at Lakewood Elementary Schools 2nd Annual #HourOfCode (click on that highlighted text to see a Sway for that day).

K8, would make an incredible Christmas Gift that is under $80. If interested please visit Inksmiths Online Shop! (Click the highlighted text).

Meet my wonderful, incredible class this year that hosted the #HourOfCode at Lakewood Elementary in 2018 below; Archer’s 2018 6’s


Meet the two awesome gals who figured out ‘Krazy K8’s’ errors within her programming below;

Thanks for reading and listening to our story of our #HourOfCode event!

Krazy K8 Rocks!!!!!!

Here is my slide deck I used for this day;

Here is the handout I was giving out this day;



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