Design Challenge Makerspace

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I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. We are so fortunate to have the University of Georgia right next to our school and even more fortunate to have instructors like Gretchen Thomas who collaborate with local schools.  Gretchen and I have been collaborating for about 3 years now, and each year we try some new things.  We’re always looking for ways to improve the makerspace time at our school as well as the opportunities available to students.

Gretchen teaches an undergraduate course at UGA all related to maker education, design thinking, STEAM, and more. Every Tuesday and Thursday, at least 4 of her students come to our library to work with students who sign up for our open makerspace time.

This semester we are once again trying something new. Rather than try to do something new on Tuesday and Thursday, students sign up for a 2-day makerspace that gives them time to work toward finishing a project rather than feeling rushed. In addition, we are thinking about design challenges as well as seeking solutions to authentic problems.

Sketching plans for @sphero chariots #librariesofinstagram #steam

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This week, we had our first UGA group of the semester and they offered a chariot building design challenge.  Students had access to Strawbees, popsicle sticks, cups, straws, tape, paper, scissors, and anything else in our maker supply cart.  Students from 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade came to the sessions.

So many chariot designs #designchallenge #steam #librariesofinstagram #makerspace

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The UGA group started out my explaining what a chariot is.  Then, they gave students the task.  Design a chariot that can be pulled by a Sphero robot.  Students grouped themselves in groups of 2-4 and brainstormed designs on paper.

Sphero chariot in action #makerspace #librariesofinstagram #steam #designchallenge @sphero

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Next, students started construction of their chariots.  There was a lot of trial and error during this process.  Designs on paper didn’t always translate to physical designs so adjustments were made.  The UGA students also got out some Spheros so students could check their design to make sure the Sphero fit in the right places.  No driving was done on day 1.

Students left their designs on the table in the makerspace so they were ready for day 2.  On day 2, students finished designs and began testing their work with a Sphero.  Most designs did not work out on the first try, so students brainstormed modifications and got to work. I loved listening to their thought process in deciding what was problematic and how they could fix that aspect of the design.

I also saw students considering the settings of the Sphero to change the driving speed in order to navigate an obstacle course of coffee cans and ramps with their Sphero.

I really loved this two-day model because I saw students able to finish a project and actually take time to redesign.  Students loved coming to makerspace 2 days during the week rather than just one.  We’ll keep considering how this supports students creation and how it might get in the way of opportunities.

I also have a group of students who are wanting to work on individual projects and Gretchen is going to help me pair UGA mentors with these students as a 2nd piece of makerspace.

We’ll see where this goes, but the potential is looking pretty miraculous!

We Need Your Votes for the 2017 Barrow Peace Prize!

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It is time once again for the annual voting on the Barrow Peace Prize.  This award was established 3 years ago by our 2nd grade.  Each year students select up to 6 nominees from history.

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We hold a Google Hangout with the entire 2nd grade to decide what criteria someone must exemplify in order to win the prize.  This year, we read the book Peace is an Offering by Annettee LeBox before brainstorming our list on a Google doc.

Each student in 2nd grade selects one of the nominees to research.

Students research these people using PebbleGo, Britannica School, Destiny Quest web resources, and books.

Barrow Peace Prize research continues in 2nd grade using Destiny Quest websites. #research #informationliteracy #2ndgrade #peaceprize

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Using Google Classroom and a Google doc graphic organizer, students gather facts about their person and use those facts to write a persuasive essay during writer’s workshop.

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In art, students create a watercolor image to represent their person.

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Back in the library, students use Flipgrid to record persuasive essays and showcase their art.

Now those videos are ready for you to view.  We need you to view, vote, and share!

Instructions:

  • Visit this Smore
  • View videos for each of the nominees.  This can be done as a class, individually, and can be shared with anyone you know.
  • Feel free to click the heart on any video to “like” it because the kids love that!
  • To vote on the Peace Prize, use the Google form here or on the Smore to select one of the 6 people who you were convinced deserves the prize

Voting will end on February 24th where we will announce the 2017 Barrow Peace Prize in a Skype with Flipgrid.  Two 2nd grade students designed a 3D peace prize that was printed on our 3D printer and every student who researched the winner will receive one of the medals along with each 2nd grade classroom.

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Thank you for participating in our project, and we can’t wait to see who you pick!

Who will win the 2017 Barrow Peace Prize? Voting details coming soon. #studentvoice #librariesofinstagram

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What is Home?: An Illustrator Study of Carson Ellis

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We recently received a Donors Choose grant for an education set of 3Doodler pens. These pens allow you to design 3D sculptures.  Think of them as hot glue guns that aren’t quite as hot and have more design control.

The education set is great because it comes with books of design ideas, multiple filament strands, 12 rechargeable pens, and several molds to use for creating pieces.

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As soon as the pens arrived, I showed them to our art teacher and let her borrow one of the design books.  We didn’t immediately plan a project because many times an idea will appear out of nowhere over time.  That’s just what happened.  One day I pulled some Carson Ellis books to show to a class and Home was at the top of the stack.  Ms. Foretich started looking through the illustrations during BTV and her creative wheels started turning.

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Before long, she came back to me with an idea for 5th grade.  What if we explored the idea of home with our 5th graders and had them create a sculpture that symbolized what home meant for them?  The sculpture would have multiple parts and multiple materials that would come together for one piece of art from each 5th grader.  The 3D pens could be a tool that students used to create a part of three-dimensional sculpture.  They would also use paper and cardboard along with other art materials.  That’s where it started.

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We booked multiple times on the library calendar for the project and Ms. Foretich made plans for work that would be done in the art room as well.  This week, during art, 5th grade came to the library for the initial lesson.  We wanted to use this time to look at Carson’s work as well as read Home.

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We looked at a variety of art on her site and in her books.

Students made many noticings such as the mixture of dark and bright colors.  They noticed how often times there is a bright color that seems to pop off the page.  We also noticed that her work had an embroidered or handmade quality to it as well.

After reading Home, we watched a short video to see Carson’s actual home and hear a bit about the environments she put into the book.

This brought us to a discussion of the word “home”.  Most students started by talking about a physical structure, but then Ms. Foretich asked them to think about what they missed when they weren’t at home.  This brought many students to bring up things like smells, objects, people, foods, pets, and more.  We referenced that in Carson’s video, she zoomed in to things like a fireplace, apples hanging from a tree, chickens strutting through the yard, and a guitar propped against the wall.  Ms. Foretich told students she wanted them to stretch the idea of “home” to go beyond the physical structure.

Next, we gave students some planning and exploration time. We split the class in half.  One half worked on brainstorming.  

They made a list of possible things that represent home and then selected what they would focus on the most for the art piece.  They also sketched their image as well as what part of the image they would use the 3Doodler for.  This brainstorming step is a step students will continue in the art classroom because they only had enough time to begin their planning.

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The other half of the students explored the 3Doodler pens.  I showed them the basics of how they worked as well as some examples of things that could be made based on the instructions in the books.  Each student got 1 strand of filament to experiment with.  I encouraged them to try writing their name or making a cube.  Some of them created their own designs as well.  Since this was a tinkering session, they did not have to create anything specific.  I wanted them to see the possibilities and the limitations of the pens so that they could do better planning back in the art room.

After about 10 minutes, each group switched so that students visited both areas.

We are so excited about the possibilities of this project and the many standards that it will include.  I can’t wait to learn more about the students by seeing what represents home for each of them.  We will continue to revisit the work of Carson Ellis as we go.  Planning will continue in art as well as the creation of the paper and cardboard pieces of the sculpture. Students will return soon to begin working with the 3Doodler pens.

More @3doodler practice today for our art collaboration using @carsonellis books #art #arts #librariesofinstagram #home

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It’s always so much fun to collaborate with art. Ms. Foretich plans the most meaningful projects for our students and I can’t wait for them to get to showcase these in multiple ways at school and in our community.

Trying out our 3Doodler pens for an art project. #art #collaboration #home #librariesofinstagram

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Weaving Together Social Studies and Makerspace

inventors-24Our 5th grade is currently studying the impact on American life that several famous inventors had. When I was brainstorming with Shelley Olin, 5th grade social studies teacher, we began to wonder about connections these standards had to makerspace.  It started as an idea seed and grew into a set of experiences for all 5th graders to engage in.

I wanted students to put themselves into the shoes of an inventor so that they could begin to understand the perseverance and curiosity that inventors have. We focused on 3 of the inventors: Thomas Edison (electricity), Alexander Graham Bell (communication), and the Wright Brothers (flight).

I prepared 3 centers on electricity, communication, and flight.  Each center included a biography about the inventors, instructions for an activity, and a clipboard to leave wisdom for the next group to learn from.

Invention centers are being prepped for our 5th graders. #librariesofinstagram #makerspace #invention #bitmoji

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For flight, I selected some paper airplanes that could be made from a full sheet of paper.  I also included books about other paper airplanes.

For communication, I created 2 choices.  One was to use littlebits to create a tool for communicating using Morse code. I included a buzzer and LED bit as well as button, pulse sensor, and slide dimmer bits.  The other experience was to create a tin can phone.  I provided coffee cans and cups and various kinds of string.

Invention centers are finally ready for 5th grade #librariesofinstagram #invention #makerspace #steam #socialstudies

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For electricity, I copied instructions for making a simple paper circuit using a coin battery, led light, and copper tape.  I put materials in Ziploc bags so each group would have what they needed to create a circuit.  I added extra led lights for tinkering beyond an simple circuit.

It took a long time to prepare all of the materials for 3 back-to-back 5th grade classes.  I had to have everything ready for an immediate turn round between classes.

Before coming to the library to engage in some makerspace activities related to these themes, students read about each inventor in textbooks and on PebbleGo.  They gave Ms. Olin their top 2 interests out of the 3 themes so that she could put them in groups.

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In the library, we started by looking at the littlebits invention cycle.  There’s not just one place to start in the cycle and it doesn’t necessarily follow a linear sequence.  We talked about how students could start with “create” by following the directions that I had given. Then they could play with their creation and begin to remix ideas to create an improved version or an alternative invention.  By the end, I hoped that they would have something to share with the rest of their class or group.  It really seemed like it could be linear in talking about it, but I quickly saw that it is very fluid.

After our quick intro, students sorted into their chosen task and got to work. Luckily, Ms. Olin and other collaborative teachers joined the class during this session. At times, we had me and 3 teachers supporting students around the library.  It was 3 very different activities, so having the extra support was beneficial.

Inventions in action #5thgrade #invention #librariesofinstagram #makerspace #steam

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What I quickly saw was how much students wanted to just jump in and put things together without reading directions.  At paper airplanes, students started folding paper in all sorts of folds and testing them out.

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At paper circuits, students were sticking down tape and connecting the led to the battery without reading  the instructions or even formulating a plan.

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At tin can phones, students immediately started connecting cans.

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But…as I stepped back and thought about it, isn’t that really what inventors do?  They don’t necessarily have a set of instructions to follow. They just try things out to see what happens.

After some initial tinkering, several students did in fact try to read the instructions and many said that they wished they had read them at the beginning. It was an important lesson that we talked about and learned from. It’s hard to read all the instructions before putting something together when all you want is to see the finished product.  I do that myself as an adult.

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One thing that was really interesting was when students finished their first prototype and they started remixing. One example at the tin can phone center was when 2 groups decided to combine their two phones and see if they could make a four-way call.

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At the paper airplane center, students started combining their planes together to see if a combination would create a better flying plane.  They were truly embracing the idea of remixing.

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When we came back together at the end, I asked students to think about what it was like to be an inventor.  We had some great conversation about perseverance, staying calm through frustration, trying again, problem solving, and taking plenty of time to invent. We circled back to our inventors and considered how much time, frustration, and perseverance they each put into their inventions.  I think the experience gave the students a greater appreciation for the inventors they were learning about rather than just passively reading about them.

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We even had a moment to talk about continuing inventions in our makerspace or at home and entering them into our school maker faire coming soon.  I loved how a simple idea from a social studies standard was able to weave together growth mindset, literature, social studies, and makerspace all into one experience.

 

How about a Popup Makerspace at Recess?

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The University of Georgia is winding down its spring semester, so that means our support for weekly makerspace is also winding down.  We only have 3 more weeks of school ourselves. Last year, Gretchen Thomas and I took our makerspace on the road to UGA to introduce random UGA students and visitors to the fun of making and tinkering. We really want to try that idea again, but this year we wondered, “How about a popup makerspace at recess?”.

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Many of our students come to makerspace during recess anyway, but some struggle with leaving their friends on the playground. We wondered if having the makerspace on the playground would bring in more students since they could easily run back and play if they wanted to. We also wonder if some students don’t come to makerspace because they are unsure of what happens at it. We thought putting it on the playground would make it much more visible and inviting.

Gretchen and her students planned several stations for students to explore. I also had some students prepare stations. Ahead of the recess makerspace, I advertised to teachers that we would be having the makerspace on the playground from 11AM-12PM. We also mentioned it on our morning broadcast on the day of the event.

Before 11:00 rolled around, we setup tables under the awning and sunshade on the playground and got the stations ready. My students and Gretchen’s students helped make this happen. Before we could even get setup, we already had students coming up from the playground asking if they could try something.

It was wildly popular! There were moments when 2-3 entire classes were descending on the makerspace, but being outside allowed us to spread out and really not worry about the noise. It also helped that Gretchen’s entire UGA class was here o

Here’s a look at what we offered:

Station 1:

Students constructed their own bubble wands and then tested them out. Some students chose to make a basic wand with a circle and stem, but as the station went on, we saw students really get creative in trying out different designs from very large shapes to tiny circles. This was also a great station to have outside because we didn’t have to worry about bubble spills. Next time, we will add beading to this center to allow students to personalize their wands. However, I loved that the focus this time was on trying different shapes to see what made the best bubbles.

Station 2:

We marked off an area and put a bucket of sidewalk chalk for students to create their own chalk art on the sidewalk.

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Station 3:

Students used marbles, orange cones, duct tape, and pipe insulation to create a marble roller coaster. This station really evolved as time moved on. Students began working in teams to try to make small changes to the pipe insulation to make the marble travel a longer distance. They even started gathering materials from other stations to add to their design, which is just what we want to see makers doing. I was amazed by the teamwork from students in different classes and grades. There’s something about the maker environment that cultivates teamwork.

Station 4:

Students used aluminum foil to build boats and test their floating capability in pans of water. Some students chose very simple designs just because they knew they would float, but other students really pushed their designs to the limit to see how much detail they could add to their boat or how big they could make it before it would sink.

Station 5:

Outside was the perfect place to test paper airplanes. This station allowed students to share their paper airplane building skills and test out to see who could make a plane that could really travel in the wind. We didn’t have any specific instructions or books at this center, so it really did take tinkering or sharing expertise to build the planes.

 

Station 6:

A group of 5th grade girls setup an art station filled with coloring sheets with dogs and cats. They are leading a changemaker project to encourage people to donate food to a local shelter, and the coloring sheets will eventually be used to help bring awareness to their campaign. Along with this center, students could learn how to draw a dog or cat using a series of circles or go on an observation walk with a 5th grade girl to sketch objects in nature. I think we forget the importance of coloring. Many of us know that adult coloring books are all the rage right now, so it only makes sense that kids are still into coloring too! there’s something soothing about sitting around with friends, pulling out the crayons and color pencils, and focusing on filling in the lines. This proved to be one of the most popular stations at makerspace, so it really made me curious about where we could go with this. My mind was racing about student-designed coloring pages, coloring tablecloths, and more.

Station 7:

A 4th grader and a 2nd grader assisted students in exploring Finch robots. They setup 5 computers, connected the Finch, and introduced students to the Snap program to code the robots. Then, they let students explore coding on their own. The 2 students only jumped in if someone was stuck or had a question about how to start. I loved seeing how 2 students who had spent 10 weeks learning about the Finch could allow people to start from the very beginning without telling them every step to make. They really understood the importance of tinkering and figuring things out for yourself.

 

 

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As the hour came to a close, we still had a circle of students coloring, and we sadly had to dismantle the roller coaster. The UGA students didn’t want to leave and students were asking if they could miss lunch. Moments like those make it a great day. Now, Gretchen and I have some thinking to do about next year. We have lots of ideas in the works, but I think one of the big things we will think about is how we can take the makerspace on the road around our school. I love having the space and opportunities in the library, but changes in venue bring in new voices. Changes in location also allow us to try things that maybe we wouldn’t try if we were inside. I think we will see a few more popup makerspaces next year. Who knows where we will popup next!

 

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.