Student Voice Extended Through 3D Printing

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At the very beginning of the year, a student raced into the library to tell me about his goal to design and 3D print his own Skylanders figures.  He knew what he wanted to do, but I worried about how his enthusiasm might be lost in the demands of the curriculum standards. His story led me to my goal this year of “empowering student voice”.

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I spent time showing him Tinkercad and he did design his own figure and 3D print it.

When you take time to honor an individual student voice like this, you sometimes wonder if the time with one student in a school of 600 is worth it, but it is!  Recently, this same student decided that he wanted 3D printing to be part of a book project he was working on. His class just finished reading The Westing Game and each group of students is working on a book float to highlight things that they learned about the book.  His group immediately emailed me to see if they could use the 3D printer to design a chess piece for the float.

They worked independently of me and the knowledge of using Tinkercad was passed on to all 4 members of the group.  They even branched off and made their own designs and chose their favorite from the group designs.  They were bubbling with excitement to get their design printed.  Since it had lots of hanging edges, it required supports.  Supports take a long time to remove, but the group took turns coming in and working on removing the supports with my help.

Now this one student voice has empowered 3 more, and my hope is that those 4 voices will continue to empower even more.

Providing Space for the Miraculous

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I’m a planner.  In my personal life, I like schedules, details, and wouldn’t consider myself very spontaneous.  However, in education, I’ve learned to push this part of me aside and embrace flexibility.  It isn’t always easy, but it is essential.  When I meet with teachers to plan a collaborative project, we definitely put together a strong plan, but nothing makes me happier than hearing teachers say “let’s just see where this goes”.  Phrases like that mean that we are giving ourselves permission to be flexible.  We are providing space to look for miraculous things that are taking place right before our eyes.  If we script every step of a project, then the project gets done, but at what cost?  To me, the cost is student voice.  When we structure lessons and projects too much, we miss the opportunities to listen to individual student voices and interests.  We miss opportunities that might be waiting for us out in the world with experts, other schools, developers, and more just because it doesn’t fit on our timeline.

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Here’s a perfect example of what can happen when space is provided for the miraculous to happen.

During our 2nd grade black history project, we made numerous changes to our plans.  I’ve written several posts about this, but to summarize, we:

  • made the project more authentic by creating our own award called the Barrow Peace Prize
  • established our own criteria for the award, which matched numerous character traits that students study in social studies
  • housed all of the student videos on Flipgrid and linked them on a Google site with our embedded voting tool
  • created a medal using our 3d printer to honor the person from black history who won the votes

When we planned this project, we knew that certain components would be there such as time to research, time to write persuasive pieces, and time to record videos.  One thing we didn’t know when we started was that we would actually create a medal on the 3D printer.  Because we allowed ourselves to be flexible, to give individual students voice, and to look for the miraculous, an individual student was able to design and create a 3d-printed Barrow Peace Prize.

Taylor, our student designer, has been so proud of his work.  This one moment where we provided space for the miraculous has given him and our school some other incredible moments.  Taylor was able to share his work with Okle Miller’s Kindergarten students in Tampa, FL via Skype and inspire them to make their own inventions.  He also shared his work with the Flipgrid team in Minneapolis during our Skype.

While Taylor was designing his work, I was of course sharing it on Twitter.  Brad Hosack, co-founder of Flipgrid, half-jokingly replied:

This one tweet made us think even more.  We originally just planned to print one medal and share it among all of the 2nd grade teachers in honor of the winner of the black history votes, but because we gave ourselves space for flexibility, other miraculous things happened.  We printed enough medals to put one in each 2nd grade class so that now students can take turns in their classroom holding or wearing the medal, and we also sent some to Flipgrid headquarters in Minneapolis, MN.

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Now, Taylor’s 3D creation is hanging in Minneapolis with Flipgrid’s many other awards.  How miraculous is that?

The Flipgrid team proudly displays their Barrow Peace Prize medals along with their numerous other awards.

It is stories like these that remind me of the importance of slowing down and being flexible.  Planning is still crucial, but I’m reminded that I shouldn’t plan so much that it hinders the amazing things that can happen when we let go of control and see what happens.  I encourage you to give it a try.

Using the 3D Printer to Empower Student Voice: A New Piece of Our Barrow Peace Prize Flipgrid Project

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Any time I implement a collaborative project, there are way more ideas swirling around in my head than we can actually pull off.  This year, our Flipgrid Black History Project has gone through so many changes.  Several of these changes were ideas that we had last year.  One of those ideas was the concept of moving this project to something more authentic than designing the next postage stamp.  We wanted something that was more within our control that students could actually have a voice in deciding.  We came up with the Barrow Peace Prize.  I’ve written a few posts about this project already this year.

One day an idea just popped into my head that we really need an actual “Barrow Peace Prize” to present when we announce which person from Black History will receive this honor this year.  Since we have a makerspace in our library with a 3D printer, I knew it was certainly possible for us to make a professional award.  I considered how this might happen.  Should I ask an older student who had experience with 3D printing but no real connection to the project?  Was there a 2nd grader who might work with an older student to design our award?

Then, a student voice came through during one our enrichment cluster sessions.  Taylor is a 2nd grader who has tinkered with all sorts of things in our makerspace.  At our last enrichment cluster session, Taylor brought in a pair of spy glasses.  They are glasses that have mirrors build in so that you can see what is behind you. He wanted to learn how he could design something like this by using Tinkercad and our 3D printer.  He had never used Tinkercad before, but he jumped right in and started tinkering.  He had a clear plan in his mind of what he wanted to create and in one session he had an initial design for his glasses.

Ideas and student voice collided and I knew that Taylor was the designer for our Barrow Peace Prize.  By the time this all happened it was just days before our Skype with Flipgrid and the announcement of our award, so I emailed his teacher just to see if it was possible to pull him into the library at some point to work with me on a design.  One of the things I love so much about our school is how much our teachers know each individual student and how much they want them to explore their passions.  His teacher wanted to do everything possible to make this happen.  We scheduled a time…..and he was absent.   We scheduled another time…..and he was absent.  The third time was the charm apparently because on the day before our Skype with Flipgrid, he was here.

I brought him into the library and told him about the idea.  He was beyond excited to get to work.  I showed him one of the designs that I had tinkered with.

One of my designs as I was tinkering with the idea of a peace prize

Being the kind student that he is, he said, “Well….I do like how you included the word peace, but I was thinking it should be more like a medal”.

I handed over the mouse and he got right to work.  I really sat back and let Taylor drive the work, but if I saw a tip that would help him I jumped in and shared.  For example, he didn’t know about grouping objects in Tinkercad so that they always stay together as you move them.

Within 30 minutes, he had his design ready to go and we put it into Makerware to prepare it for 3D printing.

 

Taylor’s Tinkercad Design

Taylor picked out his filament to look like an actual medal, and he pressed the glowing M to get it started.  While he was gone, this happened.

We are very used to failure in our makerspace.  I’m not really sure what happened, but I think the filament got tangled on the spool and caused some stress on the printer.  We decided to make some very minor tweaks and also to print it smaller than we were trying to print.

Taylor came in when the other print was nearing its finish and we talked about the first print failure.  He picked up the failure and started showing me all of the things that went right in the print.  It was an amazing examination of work.  Seeing a student not reach a point of frustration or meltdown, but instead, look for what was right and what needed to change was simply miraculous.

We did keep a close eye on this 2nd print, and before we knew it, we had a medal.

Even our friends at Flipgrid think this student voice is awesome.

Like many people, we are not having the best luck with weather right now, so we hope we are able to connect with Flipgrid very soon and announce the winner of the Barrow Peace Prize.  For now, we will celebrate that one more student’s voice was empowered through the makerspace in our library.

Recent Scenes from Our Makerspace and an Exciting Update!

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Our library makerspace has been a bustling place over the past few weeks.  I’ve still been holding some periodic makerspace recess sessions where students can signup to come and explore the space and what it has to offer.  Several students have been coming on a regular basis on their own.  This started as one or two students asking to come and then those students told some other students.  Before I knew it, I had a good problem on my hands.  I’ve been trying to find a good way to organize the process of students coming to use the space on their own.

At the moment, the process is that students send me an email if they want to start using the space on their own.  I make sure to put an appointment on the library calendar to introduce them to the space and set some parameters of what they can and cannot do.  Once I feel like the student is responsible, he or she can start coming without an appointment but still needs to tell me the plan of which days to come.  So far, this has been working with the exception of clean up and organization.  Often, these students are in a rush because they are using recess time.  Just when they get going with their making, it’s time to leave, so there’s little time to cleanup.  This is on my agenda to figure out, but I will have some help with this very soon.

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I’m partnering with Gretchen Thomas at the University of Georgia and some of her independent study students.  As their project, these students will be coming each day of the week from 11-12:15.  I will be able to tell students and teachers that they can come any day at that time.  The UGA students will be responsible for creating a sign in sheet so that we can track which students are using the space.  They will also monitor how often each student is coming.  Although I love having kids come and use the space, I think it is still important that they spend some time outside.  The UGA students will ask the students to limit their days so that there is space for others to try as well as time to go outside as well.  The UGA students will also help me establish a routine for keeping the space in some sort of organization.  Most importantly, they will explore alongside these students using the space.  All of this starts next week!

Over the past week or so, some amazing things have been made and tried in the space.  These have happened during our weekly enrichment clusters as well as these exploratory recess times.

A student spent time tinkering with LittleBits during enrichment clusters.  He would try one combination of bits and it didn’t quite do what he wanted.  He didn’t give up, and instead, kept trying different combinations until he made a type of microphone.  His next step is to figure out how to make this something we could actually use without having to lean right into the bit to talk.

Other students tinkered with littleBits in different ways:

There has been a lot of exploration of MaKey MaKey by using existing tools online and controlling those with the alligator clips and playdoh.

A challenge has been getting students to move beyond using the MaKey MaKey with existing tools and stretch their thinking to designing their own programs that can be controlled by the tool.  We finally had a breakthrough this week as some students began designing things in Scratch and controlling it with MaKey MaKey.

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Several students have been bringing in their own maker tools to share with the makerspace and classmates.  One student brought a robotic dog that can be controlled through an app and another student brought his snap circuits.  The Snap Circuits were very popular and students were screaming when they figured out how to snap pieces together to create an AM radio.

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I’m still seeing a lot of tinkering with Sphero.  The students love driving Sphero around and playing the various games, but this is another tool where I want to nudge students to begin programming.  I think they need this experimental stage, but I know they can create amazing things once they get going.

I’ve seen a lot of interest in duct tape.  This is the one area where I’ve seen students read the instructions in our duct tape books as well as watch videos about making things with duct tape in order to design something.  Now, a group of students have branched off to start making their own creations from duct tape.  One student made a flower from tape and then decided to add it to her headband.

So far, I feel like our 3d printing has been very teacher directed.  Because of safety concerns, I’m afraid to let elementary students use the 3D printer alone.  Now, though, I have some students who are really capable of this.  They know how to design something in tinkercad, export to Makerware, slice for 3d printing, save on an SD card, load the SD card, and get the print started.  I was startled one day when I heard the 3d printer start, and when I raced over to see what was going on a student had gone through this whole process alone.  I did remind him that due to safety I really wanted to be around when something was 3d printing, but I was also proud that an elementary student was able to go through all of the steps to print something.  Now, he has passed on that expertise to several other students.  Their designs are very simple at the moment, but I think they will get more complex as they tinker with the tool more and more.

I’m excited that Gretchen Thomas is bringing yet another fun tool for us to try when she comes next week:  Google Cardboard.  It’s sort of silly, but it’s a cardboard viewfinder that you stick your phone inside in order to create your own virtual reality on a budget.  Since Cardboard doesn’t officially support iPhones, we also used our makerspace to print an attachment from Thingiverse that will let us use our iPhones for the cardboard tinkering.

I’m still pushing to weave makerspace into classroom curriculum, and I think a next step is going to be to hold some informal teacher exploration time.  I think if teachers give themselves permission to tinker and explore, they will immediately start to see a use for their classrooms.

It is overwhelming and promising to see how many independent projects there are in our school and that students are coming to the library as a place to work on these projects.  I was amazed when I paused and took a quick look around.

Our 1st #3dprinting Project of 2014-15: Native American Hopes and Dreams stamps

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Fourth grade has launched into an incredible project for the 1st quarter of the year.  I’m so excited to be a small part of the project in the library.  In social studies, they are studying Native Americans.  Their standards include:

SS4H1 The student will describe how early Native American cultures developed in
North America.
a. Locate where Native Americans settled with emphasis on the Arctic (Inuit),
Northwest (Kwakiutl), Plateau (Nez Perce), Southwest (Hopi), Plains (Pawnee),
and Southeast (Seminole).
b. Describe how Native Americans used their environment to obtain food, clothing,
and shelter.

During this study, they are exploring the folklore of Native Americans through several folktales.  The brought them to the idea of a grade level dream catcher.  The beginning of the school year is a time full of hope.  It’s a time where students, teachers, and families set goals for what they hope to accomplish throughout the year, and many spend time writing about hopes and dreams.  The teachers in collaboration with the art teacher decided to design a project to capture the hopes of dreams of students in the form of meaningful symbols on a dream catcher.

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Working together, students will creative a massive dream catcher.  In art, they are designing symbols that represent their hopes for the year.  They are designing shapes that can be drawn in one continuous line.

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With me, students are using an iPad app called Cubify Draw which is designed by 3D Systems.  The app is very simple to use.  With your finger or a stylus, you draw one continuous line to create pretty much anything you can dream up.  You can adjust the thickness of the line and then touch “make 3d”.  The shape automatically turns 3D and you can adjust the height and thickness.  Once your design is ready, you can email the file to a central location to prep for 3D printing.

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For the lesson in the library, I gave a very brief intro to the app and shared some tips that I discovered through my own tinkering.  Big open swirls seem to print better than lines that are close together.  The shortest height and thickest line tends to print best.

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Mrs. Foretich, our art teacher, passed out the paper designs students made in art and gave students another opportunity to make adjustments to their designs and practice tracing the design with their finger.  I passed out iPads and the tinkering began.  Most students made several designs until they got the design just the way they wanted it.  Mrs. Foretich and I walked around and conferenced with students about adjustments they might need to make to their designs as well as helped troubleshoot problems.  Students emailed their designs to me with their teacher name and first name in the subject line.

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We are doing this lesson with the entire 4th grade, so that makes for roughly 60 designs.  Each design has to be imported into Makerware, reduced in size, and exported as a file for our Makerbot Replicator.  These files are being placed onto SD cards.  To speed up the file prep progress I used multiple computers and multiple SD cards.

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Then, the printing began.  Print after print is now running in the library.  It took about a day and half to print the first class batch.  Now I have 2 more to go.  Each student print is being placed in a ziploc bag with the student and teacher name on the bag for easy distribution.

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The next step will be for students to create a vessel out of clay in art.  They will use their 3d stamp to press designs into their vessel.  All of the vessels will hang from  the grade level dream catcher, including vessels designed by all of the teachers involved in the project.  This will serve as a symbol for the year to represent our connectedness and our common goal of working together to achieve many hopes and dreams this school year.  Our vessels and dream catcher will hold these safe throughout the year.

Thank you Mrs. Foretich and the 4th grade team for an incredible project for our students that allows them to dream, tinker, create, and share.

 

Heart Poems, 3D Printed Charms, and Rainbow Loom Bracelets for Banding Together

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We kicked off poetry month today with Heart Poem writing.  After our wonderful Skype last week with Shannon Miller’s students and poet, Joyce Sidman, our second graders have been hard at work crafting their heart poems to attach to our Rainbow Loom bracelets.

They started by filling out the heart poem graphic organizer from Joyce Sidman’s website.

www.joycesidman.com books what the heart knows chants heart worksheet.pdf

They did this in their classrooms and also in the media center.  Teachers sent small groups to me about every 15 minutes so that I could conference with some of the students and help them think about what their hearts know.  Each heart map was so personal and I smiled with students as they shared the happy things that their heart knows, but my heart also hurt with them as they shared very sad things that their hearts know too.  I was just floored when a student told me, “Mr. Plemmons, even when our hearts our sad, there is still happiness.  Everyone has happiness.”  Wow!  When I heard that, I knew that this project was going to be something that truly mattered in the world.

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When I conferenced with students, we looked at their map and I asked them if there was a part of their heart that spoke to them more than others.  Most students gravitated toward what brought them joy and what they treasured.  A few wanted to write about what they longed for.  Even fewer wanted to write about fear, but we still talked about that part of their heart since Joyce Sidman really encouraged us to.

Once they selected the part of their heart to focus on, I asked them to think about how to add words to that thought to really make the poem sing or to make a picture in our heads or to make us feel an emotion.  Each conference was a little different.  We played around with words and thought about how a thought in our heart could sound different depending on the words that we put with the thought.

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When students were happy with the poem, they used iPads to scan a QR code that took them to a Google form.

Heart Poems

They typed their first name, selected their school, and typed their poem.  Each poem went to a spreadsheet so that I could print them, cut them into strips, and attach them to our Rainbow Loom bracelets.  Here are a few of their poems so far:

Adaline David C. Barrow Elementary The waves, the sun, the beach, it makes me happy!!
cyra David C. Barrow Elementary Dogs spread joy with a wag of a tail.
clara David C. Barrow Elementary Nature brings me joy and love when the wind blows and it rains and I go splashing through the puddles.
Wilson David C. Barrow Elementary Sudden noises scare me but my family comforts me.
Sola David C. Barrow Elementary Love is everywhere,up the hill and over the mill,in nature.
Jacob David C. Barrow Elementary Sun feels warm when you be nice
Finley David C. Barrow Elementary Spring showers brings spring flowers.
Mara David C. Barrow Elementary Love is in this bracelet.
Claire David C. Barrow Elementary You give me the best thing someone has ever gave me and it is the love,joy,and the happiness that makes my heart sing
Carinne David C. Barrow Elementary We are joy. We are bright together. You are powerful.
Evin David C. Barrow Elementary Enjoy the world,keep it healthy
Finley David C. Barrow Elementary Animals spread joy with a wag of their tail
Alanna David C. Barrow Elementary Roses are red, violets are blue. I’m your friend and I hope you are too.
Harry David C. Barrow Elementary Love defeats hate.
Natalia David C. Barrow Elementary April fun and sun. Here. I come! Flowers. Showers Baby. Animals
Axel David C. Barrow Elementary I wish my brother would come back.
Finley David C. Barrow Elementary Bands linked together just like a family
Kyleigh David C. Barrow Elementary My family bring’s me joy and my school bring’s me joy and so do you.
Alice David C. Barrow Elementary Don`t expect things to be bad, expect things to be good.
Adam David C. Barrow Elementary I wish I was magic so I can bring my papa back to life.
Adam David C. Barrow Elementary I wish I was magic so I can bring my papa back to life.
Sha’Niyah David C. Barrow Elementary Enjoy you – don’t change enjoy life – do what you like enjoy Love – love your love
Sophia David C. Barrow Elementary Treasure and everyone is everything

Students and families are helping me with attaching poetry to bracelets.

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These poems are such a great addition to our Rainbow Loom bracelets.  I was excited when we added 3d printed charms, but the poetry brings the bracelets to life as if they had a voice to speak to our friends across the miles.  We will write more poetry tomorrow before we finalize our package of bracelets to ship to India via Van Meter.

Happy Poetry Month!

 

 

Banding Together with Joyce Sidman and Heart Poems

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Our two schools are part of a wonderful project called “Banding Together”.  In partnership with In This Together Media, the Van Meter third graders kicked this off while working on their Rainbow Loom research projects.  After creating so many beautiful bracelets throughout the project, they wanted to do something special with all of these handmade creations.  They partnered with In This Together Media to bring these bracelets, happiness, and friendship to children from an orphanage in Mangalore, India.  The third graders decided to call the project “Banding Together” and the next step was bringing others onboard to make a difference in the world.

Shannon told Andy about “Banding Together” right away….Van Meter School couldn’t wait for Barrow Elementary to be partners with them too.  Together they would bring so much to the children in India….and to each other.

Recently during a Skype planning session, Andy brought up the idea of incorporating poetry into the Banding Together project.  It started with a wondering.  What if we added short poetry, like a fortune cookie slip, attached to the bracelets?  Shannon said, “Let’s go for it.” And the brainstorming began.
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We both started thinking of possible titles for the short poetry.  We wanted the title to represent the spirit and joy of the Banding Together project.  In looking through poets, we thought of Joyce Sidman and her new book, What the Heart Knows:  Chants, Charms, & Blessings.  In her note to readers, Joyce Sidman writes, “We believe in the power of words themselves.  Why else would we pray, sing, or write?  Finding phrases to match the emotion inside us still brings an explosive, soaring joy.”

That idea of finding a phrase that matches the emotions in our hearts really connected with what we hoped the Banding Together poetry would represent.  Suddenly, we had a thought about our poems.  What if we called them “Heart Poems”?  They would have a connection to our inspiration from Joyce Sidman’s words.  They would represent spreading the joy in our hearts to friends across the miles.  They would also be symbolic of the heart charms that we have been creating on our Makerbot 3D printers.
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We both reached out to Joyce Sidman to share our ideas and see if she would like to meet our students to kickoff the heart poem project.  Not only did she say yes, she pointed us toward a great graphic organizer on her website that would help our students figure out what their heart knows. www.joycesidman.com books what the heart knows chants heart worksheet.pdf.png

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Today our students in Athens, Georgia and Van Meter, Iowa came together with Joyce Sidman via Skype.  After a quick hello and meeting her dog, she read the poem, “Blessing On the Smell of Dog”.  She reminded us that when she is with her dog, she feels like she is home.

This setup the idea that poems come from what he hold in our hearts whether it’s joy, treasures, things we long for, or even what scares us.  Joyce spent time walking through each question on the graphic organizer and giving examples of what the question means to her and why it’s important to think about all of these emotions we hold in our hearts, even the feeling of being scared.

She encouraged our students to write from their hearts.  She also connected with our Banding Together project.  She said, “You’re helping form a bond between you and kids in another part of the world.”
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Our students were able to ask her some questions at the end of our Skype.  When asked why she writes poetry and not other kinds of writing, Joyce said, “I notice the things that are happening around me and I celebrate them.  Poetry allows me to focus on that one thing”.  IMG_2523.JPGIMG_2450.JPG

She also told our students, “Even if there are times when you don’t write, you can always go back to writing from your heart.”

Our students left this experience eager to begin writing heart poems to attach to our Rainbow Loom bracelets.  They will fill out the graphic organizer and then submit their poems using a google form.
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Students can quickly get to this form from Symbaloo or by scanning this QR code.

Poems will go into a spreadsheet when they are submitted which will allow us to easily print them and attach to our bracelets.  Heart Poems  Responses .png

We invite you to join us by submitting your own heart poems.  Use Joyce Sidman’s great graphic organizer and have your students submit their poems in our Google form.  We’ll attach them to bracelets that we have as well as share them with other special friends in coming months.  You can also use the hashtag #heartpoems to share some of your poems on Twitter.

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Thank you, Joyce Sidman, for inspiring this special addition to the Banding Together project, and thank you for taking time to connect with our students.

 

 

 

Kindergarten Blokify Creations Becoming Reality with Makerbot

blokify printing (1)Today, Mrs. Kelly Hocking brought her Kindergarten class to the library to begin 3D printing their creations that they made with the Blokify app on iPad.  It has been a few weeks since they made their creations.  After they left the creating session, 5th graders helped email all of the files to me.  We put them into Makerware, made them smaller, and sliced the files for 3D printing.  All of the files went onto the SD card to be ready to print.

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Today, they all sat in front of the 3D printer.  We spent some time talking about what a 3D printer is and looked at some of the creations it had made.  We also talked about the safety of not touching the printer while it is printing due to the heat and the fact that bumping the printer could mess up the print.

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Finally, we cued up a file on the screen and the student came up to press the M to start the print.

They loved watching the build plate raise to the top.  There were even oohs and ahhhs as the printer was heating.  Once the printing started, we let one student at a time come up to peek inside and see what 3D printing looks like.  They were all amazed.

Mrs. Hocking is working with all of these students to stretch their imaginations.  They are going on a virtual field trip to Boston over the next few weeks and along the way they are virtually stopping in each state and learning something about that state along the way.  For example, next week we will read the book Suryia and Roscoe: The True Story of an Unlikely Friendship and visit the sanctuary where they live in Myrtle Beach South Carolina.  Mrs. Hocking is having the class imagine packing a virtual suitcase that they can put anything in.  Today, they want to add the Makerbot to their suitcase.

These students are also planning out imaginary gardens in their minds.  Their Blokify creations will eventually find a spot in those imaginary gardens and students will imagine what it’s like to go inside of their Blokify creations.  They will create art and stories to accompany these 3D printed sculptures in their imaginary gardens.  I always love the imagination and creativity that Mrs. Hocking brings to life in her classroom.

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Over the next few days, the Blokify creations will continue to be printed until all 21 are done.  Then, the imagination and creating of stories will begin.

 

Banding Together with Rainbow Loom, Makerbot, and Libraries

Back at the beginning of the new year, my friend Shannon Miller in Van Meter, IA told me she was planning to do a research project that involved Rainbow Loom bracelets.  When she started implementing the project in her library, it organically grew into something much larger.  Through connections with In This Together Media , the project developed into “Banding Together”.  You can read the full details of the project here:  https://www.smore.com/n65m

Here are the basics:

  • Students at Van Meter, Barrow, and multiple schools around the country are making Rainbow Loom bracelets.
  • The bracelets will be sent to a school in Mangalore, India
  • Along with the bracelets, we will send poetry written by students, 3D printed charms designed by students, and a disposable camera to take pictures to send back

I announced the project this week on our morning BTV.  I placed a collection box for Rainbow Loom bracelets on our circulation island, and by the end of the day, a few bracelets had already been donated.  Students asked me about the project all day.  By the next day, several kids were bringing bracelets in.  I was so surprised by the generosity and enthusiasm from the students to send their bracelets across the miles.

First Day

Second Day

 

Next, we started designing charms for 3D printing.  I had already experimented some on my own, and I sent Shannon Miller a file that I made so that her students could print it and learn from the file too.  Her students took my file and modified it or examined it in order to design their own.

Shannon’s students in Iowa being inspired by the file I sent them

I have a group of 5th graders who have been exploring different technology and how they might support other classes trying to use that technology.  They have already been exploring Tinkercad to design objects for 3D printing, so I knew they would catch on fast to the idea of making charms.

charm design (2) charm design (3) charm design (4)

Since the Banding Together project has a lot to do with spreading the joy in our hearts, we have focused our charm design on that theme.  We decided that each charm should have some kind of heart.  Dmitri designed a heart with a heart hole in the center.  Walker designed a charm with the word “love”.  Instead of an “o” he used a heart.  I designed a triple heart to symbolize India and the US uniting together with our shared joy.  We took these first 3 designs and made sure that they printed correctly.  Once we saw how they worked, we started mass production.

charm design (5) charm design (7)

As charms were ready, parent volunteers helped put them on bracelets.  Dmitri and Walker also became quality control and made sure that all of the Rainbow Loom bracelets we were sending had joy-filled quality.  They continued attaching charms.

quality

We are waiting on a few more designs to be completed and we will ship our first batch of bracelets and charms.

Next week, we are adding a new layer onto the project with poetry, so look for an update soon about this exciting development that our 2nd graders will be involved in.

I love how this is a project that students in all grades can be a part of whether they made bracelets, wrote poetry, designed charms, or helped with packaging and quality.  We truly are banding together in more ways than one.

charm design (1)

 

 

Kinetic Art Sculptures Using Our Makerbot Replicator 2

kinetic sculpturesOur art teacher, art student teacher, and I have been having a blast with 3rd graders designing kinetic sculptures.  About 2 weeks ago, students came to the library during art to learn about Tinkercad and how artists use technology to create.  Before this lesson, they watched a Tinkercad tutorial.  In small groups, they designed an object for 3D printing.  Whatever they designed would become one piece of a larger kinetic sculpture in art.  You can read more about that experience here.  

kinetic sculptures (15)

Once students finished their design, I went into each account and tried to double check that the designs were all pushed together into one piece art.  Then, I downloaded the .stl file into Makerware.  In Makerware, I resized the object to a smaller size to speed up the printing process.  I also added a raft (removeable base) and supports to each print.  I’ve found that in Tinkercad these 2 steps are needed because what you see on the computer screen might actually be misleading.  The raft and supports help the 3D print be more stable.  All files were loaded onto the SD card prior to students arriving.

kinetic sculptures (9)

Ms. Foretich, art teacher, created a printing schedule with about 60-90 minutes between prints.  During each time frame, students came to the library and chose their filament color.  Then, I shared some information about the 3D printer since it was the 1st 3D print for most students.  Finally, we pulled up the file on the SD card and a student pressed the M.  Students sat in chairs or huddled around the printer to watch.  After watching the print for a few minutes, students went back to their regular day while the print finished.  I kept an eye on each print during and between my lessons.

kinetic sculptures (13)

Each printing experience was different and you really never know what is going to happen when you press that red M.  Many times the print is a big success, but sometimes it’s not.  We’ve had some failures, which are very important.  We save every failed print we have and put it in a box.  It reminds us that we aren’t perfect, but it also serves as an instructional tool to talk to students about what didn’t work.  We learn from our failures and a box full of failure speaks volumes to all of the students who are starting their 3D printing process.

fail

When a print fails, we go back into the design and look at what needs to happen.  Sometimes it’s as simple as pushing some pieces together more than they were.  However, sometimes it’s a big flaw that cause students to just start over.  It certainly slows the process down, but it is important for them to revisit their work, revise, and try again.

kinetic sculptures (7)

It’s always fun to see which students are motivated by the concept of 3D printing.  Sometimes the students make surprising choices like giving up their recess time to spend that time watching the 3D printer create.  Hearing their “wows” and “cools” is inspiring.

jaymar

Students are continuing to print their pieces this week and next.  In the meantime, they are continuing to work on their kinetic sculptures in art knowing that their 3D printed object will also be a part of their design.