This is 'Iolani School

This is 'Iolani School

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Top 10 Project Highlights from 2015-2016...The First Five

'Iolani School has been running the Lower School S.T.E.MLab/FabLab/Makerspace for two years now. At the end of the 2014-2015 school year, we posted the "Top 10" things we learned our first year. As this school year comes to a close, we wanted to give our "Top 10" Project Highlights from 2015-2016...Here are the first five:


The biggest change to our program in the Lower School Lab was the addition of mini-lessons for grades 2-6. The thought was that we would introduce a specific skill, tool or software (sometimes all 3) to each of these grade levels. Because we use the "Engineering is Elementary" program from the Science Museum-Boston with kindergarten and first grade, we began our mini-lessons with second grade. The mini-lessons pan out like this: 2nd-Scratch Jr., 3rd-Scratch & MakeyMakey 4th-3D Printing, 5th-Laser Cutting and 6th-Circuits.


During the 6th grade unit on medieval times, the science class studies the physics of the ancient catapult. As part of this year's activity, students used the design process to imagine, plan, create and improve a catapult. After researching different designs, groups of students worked together to create a prototype out of cardboard. Once that was done, students were given an introduction to Inkscape and then set off to create a digital design for their catapult. Once the design was complete, it was cut out of wood on the laser cutter and glued together. The final activity was to test the catapult and record data on your distance and accuracy.

Volcano Poems

The fourth grade English teacher decided she wanted to make their writing high-tech. We decided to have the students illustrate and share a poem they had written about volcano's using Scratch. After a quick review of how to program with Scratch, students had a list of requirements that they had to follow as they created the visual representation of their poem. During this process, students who knew more about programing in Scratch became "instructors" to their fellow classmates. In the end, there was some amazing learning and sharing that went on.

Caddie Project

At the beginning of the year, some of our third grade teachers decided they wanted to do a design thinking activity with their classes. When the children came in the first day of school, they found all their supplies in one box. This lead to a problem that needed a solution. Taking the classes through Design Thinking, they decided to imagine, plan, create and improve desk caddies to hold their stuff. First came a cardboard prototype. Then, with some help, a final version cut on the laser cutter.
Towards the end of the year, the students went around to a few of our faculty and staff and, following Design Thinking principles, came up with a caddie idea that could help "client". After meetings to see what the client needed, the students were given an intro course to 123D Design. They made 3D renderings of their proposed caddies. These images were shared with the client for feedback. Students took the feedback and made cardboard prototypes, which were then shared with the client to receive input on possible improvements or changes. Finally, students and clients were brought together and the final caddies were given out.

Communication-Sound & Light

With our first grade classes, we use units from the "Engineering is Elementary" program from the Science Museum-Boston. We use the one unit dealing with Sound & Acoustical Engineering, and another one focusing on Light & Optical Engineering. Both of these go along with the curriculum for first grade.

In thinking about the culminating activities for this part of the curriculum, the teacher had the idea to have the students try to grasp how you can communicate with light and sound.

First we dealt with sound. Pairs of students had to create "tin can" phones with a variety of "cans" and "string", and test them to see how they worked. Next we broke the classes up into two groups and each had to come up with their own "Morse code" and try to communicate with the other group across the Lab.

For light, we had a great brainstorming session and came up with an interesting idea. With the help of one of our teachers from the Sullivan Center (who teaches electronics/robotics) we were going to have some of his students join our 1st graders and make a circuit board using a breadboard, RGB LED, 3 buttons, 3 resistors, 4 jumper wires and a battery. The problem was arranging the scheduling to get the Upper School kids join us. We couldn't make schedule work, so we went ahead and had the first graders follow directions and make their circuit. We thought their fine motor skills might hinder them from handling the small components, but surprisingly, they did a great job and all the circuits worked. The next class session we put the students in pairs and they had to come up with a "Morse code" that they would use to communicate between each other.

The students did a great job and even if we can't get the older kids to help us again next year, we are going to repeat this activity.

The second five project highlights will be posted soon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

First Grade Communicates With Light

In their final session in the Lab for this school year, our first graders had a chance to use the breadboard circuit they made last class to communicate to their partner. 

First the students had to come up with a list of words that they were going to use in their communication. Next they discussed and created the "code" for each word, based on the 7 possible colors created by the RGL LED.

Next, sitting back to back, the students created a sentence that they wanted to "say" to their partner, just using the lighting combination of their breadboard circuit.

Last, using their code, they sent their light signal to their partner. The partner had to record the code and then translate it when they were done.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Third Grade Design Thinking Projects Presented to Clients

As a culminating activity, the 3rd grader design thinking project teams presented their final product to their clients in a program today. Each group went to the front of the room, introduced themselves and their clients. They then talked about the process they went through: first, to gain empathy and find out what the client might need. Next they talked about designing a prototype and how they got feedback. Last, they presented create the final product with any improvements.

Great job by the students of 3Ewa, their teachers and our Education Innovation Lab teacher for a great student learning exercise.

Third Grade SEVs Take "Flight" With MakeyMakey and Scratch

 After weeks of imagining, planning, creating, improving, painting, glueing, fixing, etc., the 3rd grade SEV's are ready to take flight. Here are a bunch of the finished projects on display in the library.

But this year, we wanted to bring a little high tech into the enter Scratch and MakeyMakey. At the beginning of the year, the 3rd grade classes were offered a mini-lesson in the use of Scratch and MakeyMakey. Now, some of them made their SEV's interactive using these two tools.

Using a wand to touch 4 different areas of these SEVs, children will hear and see more information about each of these objects. If you touch the antenna, the computer will tell you what it is and what it's used for. If you touch the drill, thee will be a picture of the drill on the real Mars rover, as well as the sound of a drill.

Of course, this entire unit is the brain child of our wonderful 3rd grade science teacher who has been doing this making project for years...long before we called it "making". The Lab just helped out by adding the tech part of S.T.E.M.

We were also very lucky to have Mr. "Y" (one of our teachers from the Sullivan Center who specializes in video game design and programing) come help us one day as we wrote our Scratch program.

3rd Grade Service Project Designs and Creates In The Lab

At the beginning of the year, two of our third grade teachers along with one of our EIL (Education Innovation Lab) teachers, did a Design Thinking project where each group of students had to design and create a desk caddy to hold their materials (pencils, erasers, scissors, etc.). The final product was cut on the laser cutter in the Lab and the kids glued them together (you can see more about that if you look back in our blog posts).

Recently, the third grade finished their Mini-Society unit and as a culminating project for the year, these same two classes wanted the students to do a service project. Groups of students went out into the school community and looked for "clients". Through interviews with their clients, these students came up with desk caddy concept that met their clients needs. 

In the Lab, we taught them to design using the 123D Design and Inkscape software. After they created their digital prototype, they shared it with their client to get feedback. Using that feedback, the students created life-size prototypes using cardboard, foam, tape, etc. These were shared with their clients to get final approval.

Once the clients gave the students the "OK" to proceed, the kids came back into the Lab and we began laser cutting the pieces for their caddy. Of course, some of the caddies had to have alterations made to the design, but overall, it's all part of the process.

Here are some of the final projects:

Kindergarten SEL Tools

As part of a social emotional learning activity this year, our kindergarten students crated a "tool" box that held "tools" that helped them various social emotional situations. For example, they had a "personal boundary bubble" that they would wear if they felt like their personal space was not respected. They also had "Other peoples socks" that helped them think about what it would be like to walk in other people's shoes.

As we came to the end of the year, the students came into the Lab after working on a design thinking activity with their teacher. They brought in a "tool" that they wanted to build. Out came the pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, bottle caps, toilet paper rolls, etc. and off they went to follow their plan and build.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Second Grade Designs and Creates Their Pedestals

The second grade is again making statues to represent 'Iolani School and designing & creating the pedestals takes place in the Lab. First they learned about forces (see earlier posts). Then they made prototypes of their pedestal. To test for strength and stability, they used a container of metal nuts. If their design didn't work, it was on to the improve stage and try again.

Once the prototyping was done, it was time to build the real pedestal. Lots of measuring and cutting of cardboard was going on all around the Lab

One of the groups saw the level hanging on our tool board and asked what it was. After I gave a brief explanation of what it was used for, all the groups wanted to test their pedestals to see if they were level.

When the pedestals were in their final stage of creation, students tested them to see if they would be strong and stable enough for their statue. 

Once the pedestals are finished, the students will decorate them. Once they are all finished, the statues will be placed on them and put out for display.