This is 'Iolani School

This is 'Iolani School

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

FETC 2018 Reflections

"For nearly 40 years, the Future of Education Technology Conference has gathered the most dynamic and creative education professional from around the world for an intensive, highly collaborative exploration of new technologies, best practices and pressing issues. It's impact has been felt by thousands of districts, schools, educators, and ultimately students...FETC is the nations largest independent education technology event focused on leveraging technology to drive preK-12 student success...attended by nearly 10,000 professionals from across the US and around the works."

From January 23-26 the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) 2018 took place in Florida. The conference has five program tracks and each track offers sessions, workshops, and numerous learning opportunities. There are also several keynotes during the week as well as an amazing exhibition floor with vendors from all over.

The opening keynote was Sir Ken Robinson. I have had the pleasure of hearing him speak a number of times over the past few years and I always come away excited to be an educator. "The aims of education: To enable students to understand the world around them and the talents within them so that they can become fulfilled individuals and active, compassionate citizens."

Doing the job I do, I was drawn to workshops and sessions that dealt with maker and STEM education. There were two great sessions that I quickly want to mention. Sylvia Martinez did a hands-on session on "STEAM you can wear". This is an area of making I want to start to incorporate more in our Lab here at 'Iolani. Another session that covered a topic that is on my radar was "Arduino 101" by Kris Swanson. He introduced us to Adafruit's Circuit Playground and now I am hooked.

Not only did I attended FETC, but I had the honor of representing 'Iolani School in three different presentations. I lead one session on "How to use a laser cutter: With innovative projects from different grade levels." This session showcased some of the curriculum projects that our students do, using the laser cutter. I also took part in two different poster sessions, "A Case Study: So You Want to Have a Makerspace?" and "10 Lessons Learned While Working Together: Curriculum, STEM and a Makerspace."

FETC was a great four days of learning, sharing, and networking, and I'm thankful to 'Iolani for allowing me to attend and represent our students and teachers.

Fifth Graders 3D Design and Print For Language Arts Class

Our 5th grade language arts teacher has the students reading "The Neptune Project" by Polly Holyoke. Here's an excerpt from the book... "Nere feels more at home swimming with the dolphins her mother studies then she does hanging out with her classmates. Nere has never understood why she feels some much more comfortable and confident in the water then on land, but everything falls into place when Nere learns that she is one of a group of kids who - unbeknownst to them - has been genetically altered to survive in the ocean. These products of "The Neptune Project" will be able to build a better future under the sea, safe from the barren country's famine, wars and harsh laws."

In the first session in the Lab, students were introduced to Tinkercad, an online CAD program by Autodesk. After a brief introduction, the students set off to play with the program on their iPads. They were encourage to continue to play at home since the program is web-based, they could have access to their project from any device.

The next session, we began the design process. First we asked questions like: what do things that go underwater look like? Why do they look like that? How big can our 3D print be? What is the time line we are working with? We stared off by looking at pictures of underwater structures (submersibles, underwater research stations, etc.) What were some similarities? Why were they shaped that way? This led to a discussion of pressure and how the shape of a structure reacts to that pressure. Next they started to imagine what they wanted to make...some drew designs on their iPad while other used pencil an paper. Some student started their own research on underwater structures. Even though they were working individually, there was a good amount of sharing of ideas and questions for their peers. Once they had some ideas, they picked one, and started designing on Tinkercad. Student were told by their LA teacher they would be evaluated on three criteria: The thought they put into their design, the creativity of their design and the effort put into the design (from beginning planning stages to completion).

In the third and fourth session we totally geared to be work sessions. Tinkercad was up and running and as soon as their design was created, we would sit down, evaluate it's "printability" and if no improvements were needed, we would head to the 3D printers and start creating.

We currently have five printers in our Lab. Three Printrbot Simple Metals (that are 4 years old) and two brand new AnyCubic i3 Mega.

Here are some of the first prints our 5th graders created.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

First Grade Language Arts and the Laser Cutter

This year, our first grade teachers are working with their students to be more reflective when listening to stories. Encouraging the children to make connections to the text. Asking questions like: "Is this something you can relate to because you've experienced it before?"; "Is this a new experience?"

At the beginning of the school year, these teachers came to the Lab and we discussed ways to incorporate what we do here (design process, digital fabrication, etc.) into this new theme in their curriculum. In the past, we had done sessions on light and sound. After learning about both, we would experiment with different materials. After that, students would make systems that "move" light (with mirrors) and they would create sound making devices.

This year, we changed the session on light to one dealing with reflection. Students learned about material properties (transparent, translucent, opaque, those that absorb light and those that reflect) and then experimented with various items to get a real grasp of what each was.

As the new years began, we took this to the next level. We were asked to design a solid item that students could use to help them think about the abstract ideas needed to reflect on a story. We came up with a board that had a space for a mirror (for self-reflection) and a "window" (to reflect on new experiences the children are seeing for the first time). In regards to the window, it is an opportunity for students to empathize and think about a "story" from another (character's) perspective. This would include it being a character in a story they are reading or a character in their own story (sister, brother, mom, dad, friend, teacher...).

As prototypes were made, new questions came up...could kids personalize these boards? How could they do that? Can the mirror go "here"? Can the board have rounded corners? After a few iterations, we came up with this:

Students will be able to personalize their board by first adding their name. Then they will have the option of creating a border around their mirror and/or curtains around their window.

All the students had been to the Lab so they knew about the 3D printers and the laser cutter. They had also done a laser project in December (their Christmas ornaments) which gave them an experience to draw from. We had a mini-lesson: first we discussed fabrication (additive and subtractive), then looked at different examples of what makes a good image to laser and what makes a not-good image.

Next we showed them the template they would use. They would be writing their name in the long box. If they wanted a frame around their mirror, they would draw it in the box. If they wanted curtains for their window, they would put the window frame under their paper and draw what they wanted on the top paper. We touched on the design process as we talked about the importance of having a plan before you begin. One young lady suggested drawing in pencil first and then tracing it with marker.

After the children do their part, we'll bring the drawings into the Lab and we'll do the "technical" stuff using a scanner and Inkscape to put all the pieces together before we cut them out of wood.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Before The End Of The Year...Here's Some Other Stuff We've Made

This semester has flown by and as we look back, a lot has gone on in the Lab. Here are a few of the projects done over the last month or so. 

This second grader wanted to 3D print a trophy. After a quick into to Tinkercad (we use to use 123D Design but Autodesk stopped supporting it and phased it out while pushing Tinkercad and Fusion360...but that might be a post for next semester). After drawing out what he wanted to make, this young maker took to the computer. After a week or two of working at recess and at home (one of the nice things about Tinkercad is that it's web-based so kids can log into our Lab account and work from any computer) he was ready to print.

Afterschool circuit class continued to solder. Here was the final soldering LED strip, wires, circuit board and battery connector. The next step if for them to design something to put this into...some students want to make lamps while others want to put it on a sign.

The construction wall mural project got students from a variety of grades involved. As part of the science curriculum that deals with the local water shed, including native and endangered species, students were challenged to research and create animals for the mural. 1st graders, drew their creature, teachers traced them on Inkscape so the laser could cut them out. Our 4th graders drew theirs but they were charged with tracing their own drawing. After all the creatures were cut out of wood, the students painted them. We had so many animals, that we enlisted other grades to help paint. Students, parents and teachers gave up a Saturday to paint the mural and over a few weeks, the creatures were put up. We'll have more about this project after the first of the year.

We offer mini-lessons to different grade levels to introduce making topics or tools to the students. In first grade, one of the lessons is on attaching things. After we show students to make tabs, slots, flanges, L-Braces, and brass fasteners, they are given a variety of materials and are asked to start attaching things together.

 Since we are talking about 1st grade, here is the 1st grade Christmas ornament project. After talking about different shapes in class, the students head over to the Computer Lab and use KidPix to create a closed shape Christmas ornament. The picture is printed out and take back to class. Then we come in with an iPad that has the app Vectorize It (by Autodesk...however, they haven't offered this app in about 2 years...which is a shame because it's great). Using the app, students take a picture of their KidPix drawing, crop it, vectorize it, and email it (to our laser cutter). In the Lab, we arrange all the ornaments and laser cut them.