Makerspace

The Maker Movement has Something for Everyone

I learned a valuable lesson Thursday during the MVIFI Dine and Design event. I hate to publicly admit it but I was not looking forward to the event. As a participant in maker sessions in the past I just haven’t enjoyed them that much. It’s not that I haven’t tried to get hooked on the movement. Several years ago I read Silvia Martinez and Gary Stager’s book Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom and I attended their session at the American School of Bombay’s Unplugged ConferenceIn 2013, as the High

Scibblebot

First Attempt at a ScribbleBot

School Principal at Graded I helped get our Makerspace up and running. I’ve built scribble bots and used conductive paint to create light-up cards and seen kids tinker with circuits, magnets, 3D printing and programming. I’m also fascinated how drones can be used in learning.

At Mount Vernon our Hive is about to open and TJ Edwards has been working with Parker Thomas to develop a Maker curriculum that all of our students will take advantage of in the near future. TJ has also written about making a maker community.

Sadly I have enjoyed watching others tinker and make more that actually doing it myself. I have also been questioning how the Maker Movement fits in with subjects other than math and science. Well, on Thursday night I was actually hooked, engaged and fired up about creating a personal brand. Wait, how does a personal brand fit with the maker movement? The design exercise incorporated a tool that allows you to make vinyl stickers. Now I had seen kids creating stickers around campus but I had no idea how COOL it actually would be.

Here’s how the two hour session, including dinner, was organized.

  1. We answered the following questions on sticky notes and these answers would later be used to help us develop our personal brand.
    • How would a friend describe you?
    • How would you most want to be remembered?
    • Who is a person you most admire?
  2. We then watched a short clip of the TED Talk from John Maeda: How art, technology and design inform creative leaders
  3. To create these stickers we needed to develop a basic understanding of how to use Inkscape.
  4. Trey Boden then provided us a mini lessons on three types of logos, with examples.
  5. We then learned about the Noun Project as a tool for searching for images that represent nouns.
  6. It then came time to design and create our personal logo. With assistance we were all able to come up with our first prototype.

My personal brand came from a nickname that some of my friends have given me over the years and I’m proudly displaying it on my laptop.

Mr. Fiasco

My learning:

  1. There are such a wide variety of maker activities that can allow students to find a niche.
  2. Thinking about design was the most important task in this activity. Learning the technology was simple for our initial task.
  3. I can see more possibilities for makers in humanities and art classes.

 

 

Just say yes and …

I am so fortunate to work at a school where we have access to resources and allowed to take risks. While Graded has always worked to be on the cutting edge, the entire community was jump started after Innovate 2013. I still remember watching the flea video just after the conference and saying to myself that I have to keep the lid off as much as possible. While the school has been 1:1 for the past three years, we’ve recently started branching out by giving students learning experiences around other technologies. I have to admit that it’s been fun saying yes to new ideas from teachers and students and then working to support their efforts. My fear of failing had diminished and my attitude is that we will all learn and benefit from the opportunity.  The results have been extremely positive and I love the culture that we’re working in.

In February, Keren Soriano organized the Graded Developers Association. She realized that we had a group of middle and high school students who wanted to learn programming and she brought in Luciano Ramalho to work with our students. She was right because the e-mail advertising the 10 week course was sent out on Friday evening at the beginning of our Carnival vacation and by the next morning the course was full. Several of our high school students worked with Luciano to teach the course and he helped them improve their programming skills. Today the high school students were in my office and we were working on a strategy for Luciano to offer Python courses after school this semester. The middle school course will continue and I imagine that our numbers will only grow in the coming years. Keren was right, there were Graded students who wanted this experience.

Not long after this we were presented with the opportunity for our students to collect data using Arduino technology that was connected to satellites in space. We didn’t even really understand how it worked but it sounded like an opportunity that we could not pass up.  Amy Flindt and Adam Cross volunteered to work with students on this project and it’s been a mix of after school and in class work with the majority of the work being done outside of class. We partnered with Manoel Belem who is a space junkie and Nanosatisfi. Belem is the man behind SpaceTrip4Us. It was challenging for the students to come up with a phenomena to study since they had little knowledge of astronomy. After hours of discussion and research they decided to study solar flares. They’re in the process of programming the Arduino board and the board will be using sensors to collect data for one week. The work has been challenging and the students are learning what it is like to work Nanosatisfi which is a start-up company, project delays that are totally out of their control and a very new subject for them. They look forward to sharing the results and the process that they went through with the world in the coming months.

Finally, Luciano connected us with the guys at Metamaquina, a start-up company that makes 3D printers and we are about to open up Graded’s Maker Space.  Instead of taking a wait and see attitude, Mike Dunlop and his team decided to remodel the space and purchase toys knowing that students and teachers would use them. We’re not exactly sure how people will use the room but we’re confident that Graded teachers and students will figure it out over time. What I love is that the students and adults will all be learners and they’ll be learning from each other.  We’re planning to host events and I’m sure that there will be many times when the students will be teaching the teachers.

Who knows what will be next but I know that it sure feels great to say yes and then figure out how we can make things happen. Anyone have ideas on what our next project should be?