This is 'Iolani School

This is 'Iolani School

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The OtherMill...Our New Addition

Right before we left on our Christmas Break, "Santa" came and gave us the OtherMill from Other Machine Company. We were able to set it up and get a first milling job done..."Hello World". Can't wait to get back and make some circuit board...and who knows what else.

Friday, December 11, 2015

First Grade Rainforest Creatures - Finished

After weeks of planning and creating, the first grade rainforest creatures are finished. Here are a few of them.

Kindergarten and First Grade Christmas Ornaments

Our kindergarteners and first graders make Christmas ornaments each year to send home. This year the teachers in these grades wanted to take advantage of the Lab so we came up with these two ideas.

The kindergarten students would draw their card on 3x5 cards. We brought them into the Lab, scanned them and I put them on the computer. We laser cut them out and the students took them back to their classroom to color and put their pictures on the back with "Mod Podge"

In first grade, we stared to get a little more "high tech." In computer class, the students worked with KidPix to design their ornament. Our computer teacher, Mr. Sue, printed each picture out in black and white. Next, I went into each classroom and using the iPad, had each student come up and use Vectorize It by Autodesk. This app allows the students to take a picture of their design, crop it, edit it and turn it into a vectored drawing. Then I put the drawings on the computer and laser cut them.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Intro to "Hour of Code" Activities

With the "Hour of Code" next week, we wanted to get the kindergarten through 6th grade students familiar with coding. We set up a 12 x 12 grid (3x3 feet squares), place obstacle in certain squares and created a type of maze. The object is for the students to get in groups of 2...on will be a "robot" and the other a "programmer". It is the job of the programmer to give verbal only directions to the robot and guide them through the maze the a target on the opposite side. Once they reach the target, the programmer gets a token (made on the laser cutter) and the students switch rolls and start again. For the 3rd-6th grade, we added a degree of difficulty and have the robot blind folded.

It's a kinesthetic activity to help the students understand coding. We followed a StarWars theme (like Hour of Code) and printed various "Darkside" figures on the laser cutter.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Check Out Our Photos on has a post titled, "What is a makerspace?" and some photo's of our Lab are featured. They have also started a "Maker Wall" with pics from "Great makerspaces around the world" and we are on there as well. Check it out.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

Ignite Innovation--February 13th, 2016

A one day professional development confeence for K-12 educatiors that will encourage and foster student innovation in the learning environment.

For more information please visit

Was "Old School" So Bad? Part I

When I started teaching 30 years ago at Liberty Elementary School (part of the Nyack Public School System), ‘making’ was part of every elementary classroom. There was always cardboard, paint, play dough, Legos, blocks, tape, name it. The curriculum of the elementary school was all about hands-on learning...learning by doing...letting kids be creative. Of course we didn't have standardized tests starting in kindergarten, so teachers didn't feel the pressure to "Teach to the test." Students designed and created dioramas of their favorite part of the novel they read; pop-up cards for Christmas and mailboxes for Valentine’s Day cards were annual projects. High school was a little different...we had the basic classes (math, science, social studies, language arts), but my district also offered drafting, metal shop, wood shop, photography, home economics, and auto shop. Not that you were going to be a mechanic or a chef (although you might)...but you had to know how to sew on a button, how to change a sparkplug (for those who remember doing that), and making a bird house taught kids how to plan and problem solve (like what to do when you cut a board too
short). That was 1986..."Old School."

Today we hear the term "Maker Education." Thanks in part to Make Magazine, published in 2005, there is this "new" trend in education. The organization Maker Ed states as it's vision, "Every child a maker." We are now seeing dedicated "maker spaces" in schools where students use 3D printers, laser cutters and a variety of technological components to create things. Libraries are being converted to "maker spaces" labs are being replaced with "maker spaces." Books and articles are being published at lightning speed spreading the "maker" philosophy. As I read articles and attend conferences, it seems like maker education is going to change the way we teach and the way students learn.

Don't get me wrong... I am not against this movement in education...just the opposite. I am the Lower School S.T.E.M/FabLab teacher at my school ('Iolani). We have a dedicated maker space in both our Lower School and Upper School. My kindergarten through 6th grade students have all the high tech machines and gizmos you could imagine--we even have use of a water jet cutter (which cuts metal) in our Upper School lab! I am all in when it comes to making in education. I know the benefits. I know the "why.” I speak and write about the positives of maker education whenever I can. But with all this new technology, I can't help but ask myself, "Was old school so bad?"

We know the key to learning is being an active participant. As teachers, we know the importance of getting our students engaged.

In the book, Invent to Learn, by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager, they state:
"Maker classrooms are active classrooms. In active classrooms one will find engaged students, often working on multiple projects simultaneously, and teachers unafraid of relinquishing their authoritarian role. The best way to activate your classroom is for your classroom to make something."

So why can't all classrooms be "maker" classrooms? What if we got our kids more active in their learning? What if more teachers went a little "Old School"? What better way to engage our students than to have them create something, extend their learning by making something tangible, and in doing so, incorporate science, technology, engineering, math, language (reading and writing), art. And no, I am not coining a new acronym.

Was "Old School" so bad? In part II, I'll share how 'Iolani School is on the cutting edge of modernizing "Old School."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

First Grade Material Shopping-Making Creatures Continues

In their classrooms, the first graders got into small groups and, following the design process, imagined and planned their rainforest creature. The next step in the creation of these animals was to "shop" for the materials they would need in the create step. Over the past few weeks, our first grade teachers have been collecting bags and bags of stuff.

So out to the bins they went...the students reviewed their plan, got a box top and started shopping.

The next step is to come into the Lab and start making their creatures. Can't wait to see what happens.

Friday, November 13, 2015

What Is First Grade Making Now?

After their dioramas were complete, we brought the 1st grade students back into the Lab to discuss planning and creating rain forest creatures. Their design challenge is to create a creature...either from their imagination or by adapting a real creature...that would live in one of the levels of a rain forest. Based on the level it lives in, how it gets around, what it eats, and how it finds shelter, groups of students will imagine, plan and create their animal.

Today, the students returned to the Lab to explore ways of attaching pieces of their creature together. This lesson was suggested by a 1st grade teachers because she noticed that in making their diorama, there was tape, staples and glue very visible.

She created a "3-D Attachment Technique" poster that we shared with the students. After a quick discussion of what we were going to do today, the students got right to work.