This is 'Iolani School

This is 'Iolani School

Monday, August 31, 2015

3rd Grade Mini-Lesson: Scratch and MaKeyMaKey

Today we welcomed a third grade class in the Lab for a mini-lesson on Scratch and MaKeyMaKey. This year mini-lessons are being offered to each grade level 2nd-6th. Each grade will have a different topic, dealing with something we have in the Lab. For example 5th grade will be introduced to the 3D printer and 123D Design. Sessions are only 90 minutes long, and are designed to give the students a taste of what's possible.

For this group of 3rd graders, after a brief intro to Scratch, the students were put in pairs, give a few criteria (move the sprite, keyboard interaction, make a noise, and change the stage) for their design and off they went.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Digital Portfolios...Trying out the Seesaw app

I was introduced to the iPad app "Seesaw" to create a digital portfolio for students work. I just finished playing with it and have decided to run a pilot test with some kids. Two of our 3rd grade classes are going through the design process to create desk caddies. The kids are in groups of 3 and we had our first "class" in the Lab on Tuesday. I have asked each teacher to give me 1 group per class to be my guinea pigs. I am going to ask them to use Seesaw to keep track of the process of designing and creating their caddy.

Monday, I am going to meet with the students and show them the app. After that, it's all up to them. Can't wait to see how this work.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

6th Grade Mini-Lesson: Circuits

This year we are trying some different ideas in the Lab. One thing is holding mini-sessions for different grade levels on different topics. We picked these topics based on the projects each grade did last year. Our idea is that by the time our students graduate 6th grade and move to the Upper School, they will have been introduced to electric circuits, coding, 3D printing, and Laser Cutting. Here's the break-down of mini-sessions:
     2nd grade...Scratch Jr
     3rd grade...Scratch and MaKeyMakeys
     4th grade...Laser cutting and Inkscape
     5th grade...3D printing and 123D Design
     6th grade...Circuits

Today was our first mini-session with a 6th grade class. We discussed circuits (open, closed, series and parallel), and schematic diagrams. We then were introduced to copper tape, LED's, and coin cell batteries. The students made a simple circuit using a template to make their LED light up. After that, we discussed other possible uses for circuits from making cards that light up to interactive posters to lamps.

Here are some pictures of our students making their circuits.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Teacher Professional Development Session

Thursday, August 20th was the 'Iolani Faculty Professional Development Day and we opened the Lab to K-6 teachers interested in learning how to use Inkscape and the laser cutter. The 90 minute session started with a quick intro of how to use the software and some examples of things kids and teachers had made on the laser cutter over the summer. Then the teachers were off and began making. Some wanted to make name tags for their students. Others were making name tags for their doors.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Three Observations About Girls and Boys in a Summer School Makerspace Class

            I need to say at the start, this isn't a scientific study or a psychological report on the difference between girls and boys. Rather, one teacher's observations of his students in a very specific circumstance. I'm not making any judgments so feel free to agree, disagree or add your comments.

            Educators read articles and books about getting more girls involved in S.T.E.M. This summer we had 20 girls and 16 boys in our "Design It-Make It" sessions. I ran 3 sessions of summer school in our Lower School FabLab at 'Iolani. Each class covered the same topics with the same instruction; the difference was the length of sessions, assigned projects and the gender of the students.          
            The session breakdown went like this:
                      Session 1) Six weeks, Monday thru Friday, 12:30-3:30, 6 boys/6 girls
                      Session 2) One week, Monday thru Friday, 8:30-2:30 (1/2 hr. lunch), 14 girls
                      Session 3) One week, Monday thru Friday, 8:30-2:30 (1/2 hr. lunch) 10 boys

            During all the sessions, I assigned intro projects (like making a box on the laser cutter) to get them familiar with the software and hardware. However, because we had more time in Session 1, I also assigned more advanced projects like designing and creating a "Wa'a" which is Hawaiian for a voyaging canoe. In Sessions 2 & 3, I showed the students examples of more advanced items, but left it up to them as to what project they wanted to make.

            So is there a difference between the genders? Looking back on the summer, here's what I noticed:

1: Girls and Boys - Boys and Girls: No Matter How You Say It, They Are Still Kids.
            My students ranged from entering 3rd grade to entering 6th grade. Some of them were 'Iolani students and some came from other schools (both public and private). We even had a couple of kids from Japan and one from California.
            At times they were all laser focused on their projects yet at other times all they could think about was lunch or getting plugged into MineCraft or some other game. Some days they had so many ideas, that we didn't have time to finish them that day. Other days it seemed like they had no original ideas at all.

2: The Girls Were More Athletic.

            During sessions 2 & 3, we had a half hour lunch break. Both the boys and girls had either phones or tablets and while they ate, they played their game of choice.  The difference was that when I would announce that we had about 10 minutes left, the majority of the girls put down their electronics and ran to the playground structure to climb, swing, slide, etc. I think only three boys at the most went to play during the week.
            Did this affect their ability to focus in the afternoon? Reflecting back at the two sessions, it seems like the girls did make more projects after lunch. Next summer I am going to have to keep some stats.

3: Boys Like Electronics, Girls Like the Laser and They Both Like Plastic and Vinyl.
            Over the 8 weeks, it seemed like there were a couple of favorites for each group. When given "Free Making Time" the boys tended to be drawn to Scratch and littleBits. The girls kept the laser cutter running as they made boxes, signs, presents and various other things made out of wood.
            The 3D printers and the vinyl cutter were busy all day with both groups. The girls liked 3D printing name tags and various trinkets. The boys got into designing and printing castles...some were very complex. Both groups also liked making "stickers" on the vinyl cutter.

            So what does this mean? Honestly, I don't have a clue. I know that some of the boys had to be refocused from time to time because they would be "playing" Scratch games rather than making games...but then so did a couple of girls.  A few of the girls were not risk-takers...making the same type of thing over and over (boxes and signs were popular)...and yes, so were some of the guys. Was one group better than the other? Will more girls go into S.T.E.M. jobs or will more boys? Of the 'Iolani kids that took this class, how many will be coming to the Lab during recess time? How many students will think about "making" when it comes to doing a project for their core classes? I don't know the answers.

          This I do know: All 38 students were makers during their time in the Lab. They all seemed to have fun and walked away from the class with the knowledge of how to use the equipment in the Lab. Each student gravitated to the activities that were interesting to them and spent most of their "free time" creating at that station. Lastly, both girls and boys were exposed to the possibilities of S.T.E.M. options in the Lab.

           Only time will tell what will happen next.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Summer School Auxiliary Week Two - Check daily for updates from Aug. 3-7

Last week we had 14 girls in the Lab. For the next 5 days, the Lab will be just for boys. Check back daily to see what these young men are making.

The morning started off with the basic housekeeping issues...introductions, procedures, rules, review of syllabus and preview of the week. We then got started with the "Paper Chain Challenge". The boys had to make paper chains with as many links as possible. They had 4 different attempts, each with a unique criteria. First, there were no restrictions, next they could only use their right hand, then they could only use their left hand. Last, they had no restrictions, except they couldn't talk during the building phase. The longest chains were made during this attempt...and the boys decided it was because they were more focused, could use their prior experience and were more planned out.

Next we created simple circuits with copper tape, LEDs and a coin cell battery. It was great to see the excitement on their faces, when the LED lit up. It was also good to see them problem solve when their light didn't work.

Scratch programing came next. The boys worked in pairs to plan and create in Scratch. Their program had to include moving the Sprite, change the background, adding sound, communicating with the viewer/player and interact with the Sprite using the space bar, click button, up, down, left, or right arrow.

Next it was time to introduce MaKeyMaKey's and connect them to the Scratch programs the guys made.

We ended the day with some time to play around with littleBits.

Today is vinyl cutter and laser cutter day. The boys got right to work after the intro "lecture".

Names and stickers were created.

Drawing and pictures were laser cut on wood. 

The guys started to design boxes.

Today, we finished making boxes on the laser cutter and then started 3D printing.

With the cutting over, it's time to go "Old School"...Elmer's Glue

To help the boys learn how to 3D print, they had to make "name tag."

For the rest of our week these young men will come up with their own project ideas. Let's see what they decide to make...

This guy thought of a problem...his grandmother's door wouldn't stay open. He designed a doorstop and made it with the 3D printer.

Here are some of the things the guys have been making so far today. Free making days are the best.

Here are some cool 3D prints made today.

Last day of summer school classes in the Lab.

Some boys got right to work printing some 3D creations.

Others went right to Scratch and MaKeyMaKey.

Right before lunch we took a break and dividing into 2 groups, the guys were given "The Marshmallow Challenge".

After  lunch, we are going to use vibrating motors, coin cell batteries, and some tape to make a "Creepy Crawler".