'Iolani, a private K-12 school in Honolulu, Hawaii has made a commitment to S.T.E.M. education at all levels. In the Spring of 2014, 'Iolani began to create something special in their Lower School (grades K-6).
This blog follows the process of creating a Lower School STEMLab/FabLab/Makerspace and how it's being used by students and staff.
Various students across a number of grades will make a box in our Lab using the laser cutter. Once they get a plan (how big it will be, what's it going to be used for, etc.) we have them use the website http://boxdesigner.connectionlab.org/
Here they put in the important info like width, depth and height of the box as well as the thickness of the material we are using (wood, cardboard, etc.)
From here, we generate a PDF of the 6 sides we need for the box we want to create.
Next, the PDF is imported to Inkscape and manipulated...we take out the text from the PDF and change all the box lines to a cutting thickness (0.001 inches) for our Epilog Laser. If students want to add graphics or cut-outs this is where they do that too.
On issue students have when designing their box is not begin sure which side belongs where. We got this idea from Dr. Inouye, our iLab leader in the Sullivan Center here at 'Iolani. In talking to Doc, he showed me what they use with the upper school students to help them know where each side goes. So back in the Lower School Lab, this is what we made.
Third grade science studies space in the fourth quarter and the unit ends with the creation of SEVs. This year, some incorporated LEDs on their vehicle and others made them interactive with Scratch and MakeyMakey.
Every year the SEVs and the Scratch programs get more and more complex and sophisticated. Can't wait to see what next years classes come up with.
Towards the end of the year, second graders learn about different cultures. They do research and come up with things that represent that group of people. They then design and create a statue using recyclable materials to represent their culture and what they have added to the overall "Hawaiian" culture. However, they need a pedestal to put the statue on. That's when they come down to the Lab
We start with a lesson on structures, forces and a bridge building challenge. Next, the students imagine, plan and create a structure, made with paper and tape, that will hold 2 wooden blocks. The two criteria are that the pedestal must be strong and stable. After a couple of iterations, the students then begin to imagine, design and plan their "real" pedestal.
If the prototype is strong and stable, they begin creating the final version out of cardboard.
Once the cardboard version is complete, we'll post more pictures.
Early in the year, some of our third grade classes design and create desk caddies to organized their classroom tables. To see more about this project, look back in our blog posts...
At the end of the year, they go a step further, by visiting various offices and classrooms on campus and coming up with solutions to storage problems they find. This activity is called "Get Organized" and was developed by some of our classroom teachers. Students learn design thinking methodologies and put them to use in this project-based learning activity.
After making initial visits and talking with their "clients", the students come up with a plan and develop drawings and prototypes of their storage solutions. They return to the client and get feedback on their idea. Back in the classroom, they improve their design and eventually get a final OK.
Next they take their blueprint and prototype to a digital platform in order to laser cut the pieces and make the final item out of wood.
After some finishing touches, they hold a presentation where each group discusses their process and gives the finished organizer to their client.
So much goes into this project from the writing about the process & the reflection, to the learning and use of digital fabrication software & laser cutter, to public speaking skills, cooperative learning groups, interpersonal communication skills, and a ton of math. These third grade teachers have come up with a great way to teach their curriculum. We are glad the Lab is a small part of it.
Once the SEVs get the final "OK" from "NASA", they begin to add either LEDs or MakeyMakeys (with Scratch programing). After a review of simple circuits, the first group of students began to attach an LED to their vehicles.
Another group got some computers and began to write a program using Scratch (from MIT). Then they "wired" their SEVs with copper tape, attached the MakeyMakey and their vehicles became interactive.
The SEV project is coming to the next step which is painting. Students pick either silver, gold or copper colored spray paint and a few minutes of shaking, their SEVs are covered with a new "skin" and are set out to dry.
While they are drying, students go to the bins on the "take-apart club" table (take-apart club meets twice a week during recess and students can take apart computers, printers, radios...whatever is on hand. All the parts, circuit boards, buttons, etc. are stored for future projects...like the SEVs). There they can pick between 3 and 6 different pieces that will be glued onto their SEV...of course these parts must be included on their design and meet a specific need.
When they are done, it's time to display them around the library and and science classroom.
But they are not done...time to add LEDs or MakeyMakeys/Scratch...check back soon for a new post.