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.
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.
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.