This is 'Iolani School

This is 'Iolani School

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

First Grade Language Arts and the Laser Cutter

This year, our first grade teachers are working with their students to be more reflective when listening to stories. Encouraging the children to make connections to the text. Asking questions like: "Is this something you can relate to because you've experienced it before?"; "Is this a new experience?"

At the beginning of the school year, these teachers came to the Lab and we discussed ways to incorporate what we do here (design process, digital fabrication, etc.) into this new theme in their curriculum. In the past, we had done sessions on light and sound. After learning about both, we would experiment with different materials. After that, students would make systems that "move" light (with mirrors) and they would create sound making devices.

This year, we changed the session on light to one dealing with reflection. Students learned about material properties (transparent, translucent, opaque, those that absorb light and those that reflect) and then experimented with various items to get a real grasp of what each was.

As the new years began, we took this to the next level. We were asked to design a solid item that students could use to help them think about the abstract ideas needed to reflect on a story. We came up with a board that had a space for a mirror (for self-reflection) and a "window" (to reflect on new experiences the children are seeing for the first time). In regards to the window, it is an opportunity for students to empathize and think about a "story" from another (character's) perspective. This would include it being a character in a story they are reading or a character in their own story (sister, brother, mom, dad, friend, teacher...).

As prototypes were made, new questions came up...could kids personalize these boards? How could they do that? Can the mirror go "here"? Can the board have rounded corners? After a few iterations, we came up with this:

Students will be able to personalize their board by first adding their name. Then they will have the option of creating a border around their mirror and/or curtains around their window.

All the students had been to the Lab so they knew about the 3D printers and the laser cutter. They had also done a laser project in December (their Christmas ornaments) which gave them an experience to draw from. We had a mini-lesson: first we discussed fabrication (additive and subtractive), then looked at different examples of what makes a good image to laser and what makes a not-good image.

Next we showed them the template they would use. They would be writing their name in the long box. If they wanted a frame around their mirror, they would draw it in the box. If they wanted curtains for their window, they would put the window frame under their paper and draw what they wanted on the top paper. We touched on the design process as we talked about the importance of having a plan before you begin. One young lady suggested drawing in pencil first and then tracing it with marker.

After the children do their part, we'll bring the drawings into the Lab and we'll do the "technical" stuff using a scanner and Inkscape to put all the pieces together before we cut them out of wood.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Before The End Of The Year...Here's Some Other Stuff We've Made

This semester has flown by and as we look back, a lot has gone on in the Lab. Here are a few of the projects done over the last month or so. 

This second grader wanted to 3D print a trophy. After a quick into to Tinkercad (we use to use 123D Design but Autodesk stopped supporting it and phased it out while pushing Tinkercad and Fusion360...but that might be a post for next semester). After drawing out what he wanted to make, this young maker took to the computer. After a week or two of working at recess and at home (one of the nice things about Tinkercad is that it's web-based so kids can log into our Lab account and work from any computer) he was ready to print.

Afterschool circuit class continued to solder. Here was the final soldering LED strip, wires, circuit board and battery connector. The next step if for them to design something to put this into...some students want to make lamps while others want to put it on a sign.

The construction wall mural project got students from a variety of grades involved. As part of the science curriculum that deals with the local water shed, including native and endangered species, students were challenged to research and create animals for the mural. 1st graders, drew their creature, teachers traced them on Inkscape so the laser could cut them out. Our 4th graders drew theirs but they were charged with tracing their own drawing. After all the creatures were cut out of wood, the students painted them. We had so many animals, that we enlisted other grades to help paint. Students, parents and teachers gave up a Saturday to paint the mural and over a few weeks, the creatures were put up. We'll have more about this project after the first of the year.

We offer mini-lessons to different grade levels to introduce making topics or tools to the students. In first grade, one of the lessons is on attaching things. After we show students to make tabs, slots, flanges, L-Braces, and brass fasteners, they are given a variety of materials and are asked to start attaching things together.

 Since we are talking about 1st grade, here is the 1st grade Christmas ornament project. After talking about different shapes in class, the students head over to the Computer Lab and use KidPix to create a closed shape Christmas ornament. The picture is printed out and take back to class. Then we come in with an iPad that has the app Vectorize It (by Autodesk...however, they haven't offered this app in about 2 years...which is a shame because it's great). Using the app, students take a picture of their KidPix drawing, crop it, vectorize it, and email it (to our laser cutter). In the Lab, we arrange all the ornaments and laser cut them.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

After-School Circuit Class: Soldering and Circuit Boards

Over the past few weeks, our after-school circuit class has been learning how to solder wire and how to solder components on a circuit boards. After a few sessions of practicing (soldering just wires together and soldering old resistors to old circuit boards), it was time to take their skills to a real, circuit board.

This was not going to be just a standard, cookie cutter board...they were going to make their own. We started by creating a schematic drawing of a simple circuit comprised of a battery, LED, switch and resistor. Next they were given the real parts and asked to make a working circuit on a bread board.

Next we taught them to use Fritzing, an online circuit board designing program. After that, it was time to mill their boards.

Using the OtherMill and single sided PCB blanks, we created their personalized circuit board. Because of time, students watched as we set-up the program, imported their files, arranged them on the PCB and started milling.

Once the boards were finished (it took longer than our class period so it was the next session when...) the students sat down to solder.

Creating the circuit board with the OtherMill

Ready to solder

Parts tubs ready to go

It's "Solder Time"!

As the first group was working, we realized that, while more practice is always needed, the design of the circuit board could be adjusted to make the soldering a little more successful. As you can see, the distance between the soldering points and the rest of the board is very close...this caused our still novice solderers to have issues with their circuit working.

So with the next batch of boards, we are milling away a little more of the copper. This will allow the students a little more space to makes mistakes as they fine tune their soldering skills.