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.

Winter Around the World and in Athens, GA: Original Songs and Personal Narratives

song recording (3)

For the past few weeks, 2 classes have been involved in exploring winter right here in Athens, Georgia.  Even though we might associate cold and snow with winter, it isn’t always like that where we live.  Ms. Kelly’s Kindergarten class and Ms. Ramseyer’s 2nd grade class both participated.  You can read about the beginnings of their projects here.  Our work is all coming together with classrooms from around the world on a collaborative Google slide presentation.

Ms. Kelly’s class has been busy in their classroom dividing into groups and building a song about winter.  As a class, they worked on the base beat using beatlab.  Then different groups worked on parts of the song.  Singers created the words and sang them. Clappers used their hands to add rhythm.  Ukuleles strummed chords for another layer.  Instruments such as coffee can drums added even another layer of rhythm.

song recording (4)

Ms. Kelly wrote the words up onto a big chart paper with plenty of visuals for students to follow.  She saved their class beat in beatlab and pulled it up on the library projector.  I used Screencastomatic to record the beat along with our webcam recording the student performers.  Ms. Kelly used dry erase markers to make notes on the beatlab beat for specific groups of students.  She also used a cowbell and her voice to help students know when to come in.

We gave ourselves plenty of time to record multiple times, but we just loved our first take!

Even though we were in love with that version, we decided to try one more time with just an iPad so that we could get some closeup shots of students performing.  We love this version too, but we are including the 1st one in our global winter project with classrooms around the world.

We had some fun shout outs while we were working on our song, including some retweets from Kishi Bashi who was one of our inspirations for our song.

Ms. Ramseyer’s 2nd grade class split into groups of 4.  Two students were author and two were illustrators.  After starting their work in the library, they continued to write and draw in class to tell about personal experience with winter in Athens.  They featured things like food, clothing, school, and events in winter.

Each group came to the library with their finished work.  We spread their pages out on tables and took digital pictures of each page.  We then took these and added them to the collaborative Google presentation.

In Youtube, we pulled up the feature where you can record straight into Youtube with your webcam.  We placed each page in front of the webcam and students read their winter personal narratives and facts.  These videos were also embedded on the Google slides.

We look forward to seeing how the rest of the slides turn out as we learn about winter around the world!

 

 

 

Beginning Our Winter Around the World Projects

Winter 002

I’m so excited about a current opportunity we have with classes around the world to think about winter where we live.  Shannon Miller and Cantata Learning recently invited schools to research winter in their areas and for students to work together around the globe to create a collaborative e-book filled with information, personal narratives, poems, illustrations, and songs.

All classes participating in the project started by reading and listening to the Cantata Learning book Winter the Coldest Season of All.

From there, different classes branched off to do different types of projects.  In Ms. Ramseyer’s 2nd grade class, we focused on winter in Athens, GA using notes from her husband Craig, who is studying to be a meteorologist.

Winter 001

He gave us facts about the average temperatures and snowfall in Athens each winter.  I think we all think of snow for winter, but in reality, we really don’t get much snow or even cold here in Georgia.  We were trying to get students to think about that.

After gathering our facts, we had students reflect on their own experience since that is a big part of the research process, especially about your own community.  I had students turn and talk to a partner about a variety of winter topics: clothes, events, food, school, sounds.   Each time they talked, I ran around with the keyboard and typed the ideas into a shared doc that could be used for our project.

Ms. Ramseyer let students group themselves into groups of 4.  Each group needed 2 authors and 2 illustrators. They could decide what kind of text they wanted to write such as personal narrative, poetry, or informational.  They had to make a plan before they could start working.  I spread out materials for them to use such as white paper, pencils, and crayons.  It was a lot of fun to walk around to tables and talk with them about their decisions while they worked.  I often found myself asking the illustrators to check the text that the authors were creating so that their illustrations were matching or extending the text.  There were a few arguments along the way, but each quarrel was an opportunity for a connection back to how books are created.  As usual, there were unexpected moments that were priceless, such as when a student noticed that the illustrators were only drawing boys into the illustrations.  She called him out and said he needed to add some girls. We talked about diversity in illustration and what that might mean and why that might be important.  It was fascinating.  The priceless moment came when the second grader said:

Students will continue working on this project in writing workshop in the classroom before they come back to me to digitize the work and add it to the collaborative Google slide ebook.

Kelly Hocking’s Kindergarten class is planning to write a song about winter in Athens. She often uses ukuleles in her class and incorporates song writing.  After listening to the book, students explored a tool called Beatlab to tinker with creating a beat. They will use this tool to establish a beat for their song about winter.

In the library, we also explored the book Hip Hop Speaks to Children collected by Nikki Giovanni.  I selected a few poems from this book that had an established beat such as Things by Eloise Greenfield as well as poems that had actual music with them on the accompanying CD such as Ham N Eggs by A Tribe Called Quest.  For poems without music, we clapped or snapped along with the rhythm of the poem to see that there was in fact a beat there.  For the poems with music, we listened once and then closed our eyes and tried to focus on the various instruments we could hear layered over one another in the background and how they repeated.

beatlab (1)

We even looked at a video by the famous Kishi Bashi, who is also a parent at our school.  He accompanies himself by recording a layer of beats live onstage and looping them with pedals.  He performed at our school last year, and the Clarke Central Odyssey crew filmed this song that we used for inspiration.

After the library visit, Ms. Kelly’s class used a Capstone Library book called Winter: Signs of the Season Around North America.  They gathered various winter words that might inspire their song.  Once the song is written, we will record in the library as well as perform at a school assembly.

I love how student voices from around the world are coming together around a common topic, and I can’t wait to learn about winter through the eyes of students.