Enriching Rocks with Blendspace, Tinkercad, Research, Thinglink, and Painting

Third grade studies rocks as a part of their science curriculum. Each year Ms. Hicks, 3rd grade spectrum teacher, finds so many ways to enrich the study with her students. She collaborates with me in the library on several pieces of the project.

Blendspace

Early in the project, students come to the library to learn about a tool called Blendspace. This tool has gone through many changes and names. It allows users to create a lesson made up of tiles. The tiles can include quizes, images with descriptions, links to websites, embedded Google docs, and more. The goal for the students is to use Blendspace throughout the study of rocks to capture their learning and present in a way that might teach someone new what they have learned.

I show the students how to login with Google and we explore the features together. Ms. Hicks shares a folder with students in Google drive that is filled with images for them to pull from. The images feature work the students have done in class during their study of rocks and the Mohs hardness scale.

We also think about types of quizes and students create pre-test, midpoint checks, and post tests for their blendspace tiles. Each time they learn something new in class or create something new in the library, they add a tile to their blendspace.

Tinkercad

In another series of library blocks, students return to the library to explore a 3D design tool called Tinkercad. They use their knowledge of the Mohs hardness scale to design a climbing wall prototype. Each color they select represents a different rock or mineral that would work well in their wall. As students finish their design, they create screenshots and upload those to Blendspace.

Thinglink

When students have added several tiles to their Blendspace, they return to the library and add their link to a Thinglink image so that we can access every Blendspace in one location. This makes it easy to share with families and with other viewers around the world.

Research & Painting

This year, students were very interested in their birthstones. One birthstone in particular caught their attention more than others: opal. We had no idea how many kinds of opal there are in the world. Students spent a week in the library exploring 2 websites: Gem Kids and Geology.com

Each student narrowed down to one type of opal to research. Students added notes and images to a Google doc so that they could tell someone else about the type of opal they chose. Once they gathered enough information, students selected a river rock and used paints and paint pens to design the rock to resemble the opal they studied.

We sealed these with Mod Podge to give them the shiny play of color effect that opal has. Students added their Google docs to Blendspace and will get to take their painted rocks home.

It’s always fun each year to see what new directions this project takes. There are always pieces that we keep the same, but time and interests always lead us in new directions too.  Take a moment to look at some of the student work in Blendspace and see what you might learn about rocks.

 

Crowdsourced Rockology with Blendspace and Thinglink

3 ELT Rockology   ThingLink

A group 3rd graders have been working for several weeks on a project in Blendspace.  They are using this tool to combine their notes and photographs from class along with research and instructional videos they are finding online.  They are also creating their own pretests and post tests within the Blendspace lessons as well.

thinglink (8)

Ms. Hicks, the Spectrum teacher, and I wanted their projects to be crowdsourced into one location so that an audience could easily access all of their lessons on rocks and minerals.  Crowdsourcing the Blendspace lessons would also make it efficient when sharing their work with one another for peer review as well as sharing with families.  There’s even potential to share this work with other schools who might use their content or offer feedback to improve the work even more.

thinglink (7)

To crowdsource, we used Thinglink.  Ms. Hicks selected an image of rocks and minerals positioned in rows.  Then, she assigned students to the various rocks or minerals.  I uploaded the image to Thinkglink and made it unlisted.  Then, I allowed anyone to be able to edit it.

thinglink (5)

Ms. Hicks emailed the link to the image to all of the students.  They went to their Blendspace lessons and selected all of the privacy permissions that they wanted to.  Then, they copied the link to their Blendspace lessons and connected them to the Thinglink image.  We did run into a problem with several students trying to edit the image at the same time, but as long as they kept retrying, they eventually were able to edit the image.

thinglink (3) thinglink (4)

Now, students are looking at the image to access all of the projects in their class. They are viewing the work and offering feedback to their peers.  Since the links are active, any changes they make to their Blendspace is automatically connected to the Thinglink.

thinglink (2) thinglink (1)

I love this way of getting student work out to an authentic audience and I invite you to take a look at their work.  Feel free to leave them a comment here on the blog.

Our 1st Student-designed Print on Makerbot Replicator 2

1st print (22)Today was a Barrow milestone.  Grant, a 3rd grader, became the 1st student to print his own design on our new Makerbot Replicator 2.  Grant’s class has been studying rocks and minerals.  As a part of the study, they skyped with Aurum Studios, a jewelry store in downtown Athens.  During the Skype, Aurum toured students through the design process of a piece of jewelry.  One piece of designing is to use 3D software to create a model.

Students used a free tool called Sketchup and began to design their own gems with all of the cuts that they would design into a piece of jewelry.  Ashley Maher, Spectrum teacher, worked with these students and gave them space to explore the many functions of Sketchup.  Many of them figured out several functions of the tools within Sketchup by just exploring on their own.  The students started this project before we even knew we were getting a 3D printer, but when we did, they had an ultimate goal of holding their gems in their hands.

Ms. Maher took Grant’s Sketchup gem as an experiment to see if we could print it.  We used this post for guidance.  Basically, a plugin had to be downloaded into Sketchup in order to save the Sketchup files as an STL file.  Next, the STL file was imported into Makerware.  The gem was rotated so that the flattest side was on the build plate.  We set the file to a 15% infill with no raft.  Finally, the file was loaded onto the SD card ready for Grant to print.

Today, I checked in with Grant to see what color he wanted his gem to be.  I had his natural filament loaded and ready when he came to the library for ELT.  He was eager to see what happened.  I reminded him before we started that this was all an experiment.  If it didn’t work, we would look at our mistakes and try again.  We pulled up his file on the Makerbot and he pressed the red M to begin.  The rest of his classmates were in the library working and they frequently came over to visit.  We watched as the 3D printer built layer upon layer perfectly.  It took about 35 minutes for his gem to print.  Along the way, we made some video and Grant talked about his design as he watched it appear.  As the gem neared completion, Grant was bouncing around shouting out the percentage because he knew we were so close to finishing the print without a mistake.  When the build plate lowered and his gem that he designed was sitting their, he was ecstatic.  His classmates rushed over and everyone wanted to hold it.  He passed it around and then took it to show a few adults in the building.

Immediately, all of his classmates began asking when they would get to print.  We probably won’t print any more until January, but now we know that the process works.  After winter break, students will continue designing and printing.  I have a feeling that now that students have seen the final product, they are going to get even more creative with the cuts in their gems.  I’m also excited that we have so many young experts in our building that will be with us for 2 more years.  These students will be leaders in teaching others how to use Sketchup and other modeling tools.  This is only the beginning.  It’s exciting to think about what is to come.  I am so grateful to the donors, Donors Choose, and Makerbot for making 3D printing a reality in our school