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.
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 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.