We are a little over halfway done with our enrichment clusters this year. Every Friday, students across the school go to an interest-based cluster of their choosing for one hour. During this time, students explore a topic and develop products or services related to their topic. My cluster is called Makerspace Maniacs. So far this year, we have explored making with duct tape, building with cardboard, lego robotics, and 3D printing. After lots of explorations, students are making decisions about where they want to focus.
A small group of students is focused on lego robotics. Monica and Omarion are both committed to building a robot and programming it. They both have varying levels of expertise. Today, I asked another student, Ludwig, to come and work with them. Ludwig has a lot of experience with Lego Mindstorms. During clusters today, he worked with them to build a robot and program it. Although they didn’t get far with the programming, he was able to show the students some tips and tricks to get the robots to work the way they wanted to. I love using students as experts. They hold so much knowledge that we don’t even know about. Ludwig just happened to talk to me one day about Lego Mindstorms because he knew that I bought some. He used Lego WeDo and Lego Mindstorms in other settings and told me he was willing to help me any way he could with them. How exciting that a student offered his expertise without even being asked!
Other students in the cluster have decided to work on 3D printing. Over the past 2 weeks, they have used a new iPad app called Blokify. This app uses blocks to build a 3D object. It is very user-friendly to build a 3D object in very little time. Once built, the object can be ordered or emailed for 3D printing on your own device. Today, students really focused on coming up with an idea and using the blocks to build. While they were using the app, I started a Google Doc, which I will share with them, to collect what we love, wonder, and want to change about the app. One service they will offer as a part of the cluster is to share this info with Blokify.
Today, we were also tweeting with Blokify and students were able to respond to their tweets. Such fun!
Students prepared several files that they emailed to me. I have them ready to go for 3D printing next week. We’ll be printing a pirate ship, a Trojan pig, and a castle among other things. As we progress, these students will also think about how they see this app fitting into what they are already doing in class. We’ll come up with some lesson ideas for teachers to consider.
We only have a few weeks to go, but our speed is picking up and our focus is narrowed. I know incredible things are going to happen with these students.