Winter Design Challenge Using Blokify and 3D Printing

Blokify Design Challenge (5)Our open makerspace on Tuesdays and Thursdays is taking a break while UGA is having finals and winter break.  However, the demand to use the makerspace doesn’t disappear just because UGA is on break.  I decided to have a design challenge makerspace on two days and feature the Blokify app and our 3D printers. Since 3D printing takes a long time to complete, I decided to create some rules to help us out with the number of pieces we would need to print in a short amount of time.

Blokify Design Challenge (12) Blokify Design Challenge (11) Blokify Design Challenge (8)

Rules:

  1. Design a winter symbol.  Any winter holidays or winter objects could serve as inspiration
  2. Design in 1 layer.  The more layers we have, the longer it takes, so we want our designs to be 1 layer only.
  3. Use Blokify to design and don’t worry about the colors of the blocks since your print will be whatever filament color we use.
  4. All blocks need to be connected so that your design prints in 1 piece.

Since Blokify uses blocks to design in 3D, I found some 8-bit winter designs to serve as inspiration for student winter designs.  I blocked off six 30-minute time slots on the library calendar and made a Google doc for teachers to sign students up.  I shared it with all teachers and encourage them to let any interested students come.  There were 8 slots in each time block.  It didn’t take long for the slots to fill with Kindergarten, 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.

During each session, I gave a very quick intro to Blokify and shared the 8-bit winter designs to consider.  I went over the rules as well, and students jumped onto the iPads to work.  It was a short amount of time to design something, so I told students not to panic if they didn’t finish a design.  As usual, students began looking at one another’s work for inspiration and helped one another with Blokify tips such as how to zoom in, delete blocks, or change the view.

It was fun to see what some of the students came up with and which students naturally gravitated toward this type of design because of their previous experience with block tools such as Minecraft.  We had Santas, a menorah, Christmas trees, snowflakes, reindeer, presents, crosses, and a few randomly shaped symbols too.

A few students did get frustrated, but most of them persevered through their frustration to complete a design.

Once designs were done, we had a process for getting them to me for 3D printing.  I created a separate email account just for 3D files.  Students went to “3D print” on Blokify and selected “Email to me”.  They emailed the .stl file to the 3D printing email account.  In the subject of the email, they changed the “untitled” file to their first name and teacher’s name.  This would help me in getting the printed file back to students.

At the end of the day, I sat down, logged into the email account, and started putting the .stl files into Makerware and Cubify.  Makerware works with our Makerbot and Cubify works with our Cube 3D printer.  For Makerware, I put up to 3 student files in a row on the build plate.  On a separate piece of paper, I wrote down the main file name and then wrote the student/teacher name in the correct sequence that the files would print on the plate.  For Cubify, I could only put on design on the build plate at a time, so I named each of those files with the student/teacher name.

cubify

Once all of the files were complete, I loaded them on a USB stick for the Cube and an SD card for the Makerbot.  Each day, I come in and crank up both printers right away and start printing the files.

I write the student/teacher name on a Ziploc bag and lay them out in the right order of the floor to await the finished print.  When a print finishes, I remove and bag them.  Then, I immediately start a new print.  I’m making good progress and hope to have all of the designs printed by Friday.  It takes a lot of organization to get this moving efficiently, but I finally have a process that is working faster than how I originally started.

Even with the speed I’m working at, the kids are still dropping by to ask if their design is done.

I loved the experience of having a design challenge and hope that the students did too.  I think if I offer these types of experiences more often, the students will start to develop their own ideas for 3D designs.  They will also get more comfortable with the 3D design tools.  We will try others in future design challenges along with Blokify.

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.

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.

native american stamps (1)

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.

native american stamps (2)

 

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.

 

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.

blokify printing (3) blokify printing (2)

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.

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Connecting Libraries: Using Tinkercad with Students in Van Meter, IA

Hanging out in Iowa from my kitchen!

Hanging out in Iowa from my kitchen!

I had so much fun today spending some time in Van Meter, IA from my kitchen.  Shannon Miller and her students just received their Makerbot 3D Printer from Donors Choose.  Her students are starting an Olympic project where they will be designing new symbols for the Olympics.  Students will eventually use Tinkercad for their designs.  Since this is a new tool for her students, Shannon thought it would be a good idea for us to connect and share what we’ve learned.  I had a group of 5th graders eager to share their expertise, but the GA ice and snow caused us to be out of school today.  Rather than keep her students waiting, I went ahead and shared my own learning about Tinkercad.  We plan to reconnect when we are back in school so that students can share.  I’m sure that her students will have just as much to share with mine by the time we reconnect next week.

Here’s our Google Hangout from today:

After the Hangout, I realized that I forgot to tell them an important step, so I made a quick screencast to fill in the hole I missed.  I also share with them the steps that wouldn’t screen share through hangouts.

It was wonderful to be a part of another library.  We all have expertise to share, so why not share beyond our walls.  Happy making, friends!