School is almost ready to be back in session, and if you have been reading my articles each week you will know that I have been spending the summer going to lots of conferences to try and make my coding and robotics courses better. Last week was so hectic that I ended up forgetting to write about what had happened, so this week is going to have to pull double duty.

After getting back from Indiana and Washington, DC, I went to a training on how to produce better lessons that improved my writing content in my History class. It is an ongoing training called the Idaho Coaching Network that a few of our teachers at the Middle and High Schools have previously done. They had said good things about it and when I got an invite to do it this year, I couldn’t say no. That three day training took place in Lewiston and was followed the week after by a coding camp in Moscow at the University of Idaho.

The coding camp was a culminating project after the last two years of working on my Computer Science endorsement. Starting in the fall of 2017 I took classes on computer programming through the U of I. Each semester and during the summers I have been learning about C++, Python, Databases, and several block coding intro concepts for kids. After 5 classes I was left with a methods course and an observation course. While going to conferences this week I have been finishing the methods course and the coding camp was the observation course. During this week, me and the three other teachers from around the state that also worked on this endorsement met and conducted a coding camp for middle school kids in Moscow Idaho.

The nice follow up to this is that I am finally done! All I have left to do is take the Computer Science Praxis, pay the registration and certification fees and I will be officially licensed to teach Computer Science classes in Idaho!

This week however was probably my most looked forward to conference of the summer. Ready, Set, Drone through the Idaho STEM Action Center. Back in the spring I applied for and got a grant to be trained in how to fly and program drones. I was accepted, and I spent the first part of this week in Boise doing just that. In addition to the training, they also gave us lesson material so that students have a curriculum with goals that they can follow. I now have material to teach students how to fly and code drones that will be added into my robotics class with my new 3D printer material and the original Lego Robotics League.

The best part of this new training was that I was also awarded with a set of 6 drones that will be used in my class this fall. Each of the drones is worth over $100 and the extra parts, batteries, and chargers brings the whole grant value to almost $1000. I am excited to say that while there is currently no state-wide competition with drones, we have enough material to put together several of our own teams and have an in-school competition. If anyone would like to sponsor some prizes for these teams in their competition, please get ahold of me at the middle school.

Now that all of my trainings are done, I am home. It is so nice to be home and know that I don’t have to go out on the road anymore, but can relax and spend time with my family. This is good because, news to share, my wife is expecting our 4th baby in a week and a half. She has been a real trooper and an amazing person surviving most of the summer on her own, with three toddlers, and being very pregnant. So the next time that you see her, just let her know how amazing she is for me.

Charles Horikami is a Social Studies Teacher at BLMS, and the Legislative District 32 Chair for the Idaho State Republican Party. The views expressed are not representative of the BLSD or of the Idaho State Republican Party. He can be contacted at chorikami@gmail.com and welcomes all comments and critiques.