Category Archives: Student Products

Chibitronics

There are so many wonderful things that have happened in my classroom as a result of resources people have shared on Twitter, and I have a feeling Chibitronics will be another one that I can add to the list this year.

@GingerLewman tweeted about a Chibitronics kit that she was eagerly anticipating last week.  The name caught my interest so I visited the web site.  When I saw the product, I knew immediately that I had to try it out.   I went with the Advanced Kit because, well, it just had so many cool things included and I hadn’t spent money on anything fun all summer yet ;)

Chibitronics offers circuit stickers.  These are stickers that can be re-used a few times, and include sensor stickers, effects stickers, and LED’s.    Included in the kits are also some conductive tape (which I can already tell will need to be replenished very soon), batteries,  and a Sketchbook.

image from: Chibitronics
image from: Chibitronics

The Sketchbook is not just a blank book.  It includes instructions and templates as well as prompts for creative elaboration on each project. The Sketchbook and the video tutorials (which can be found on their main page) have been highly advantageous for my daughter and I since we are both completely ignorant about electronics – aside from our MaKey MaKey adventures.

Conductive tape can be purchased separately (Amazon, for one, offers different sizes), as can the batteries.  I think one Sketchbook is fine.  But I am going to need to set aside a serious budget for those stickers. We are having such a great time making LED’s blink and fade and twinkle that I have a feeling we will have used the entire supply before it ever makes it to my classroom Maker Studio!

I have been collecting other resources for “making” on this Pinterest Board if you are interested.

TurtleArt Tiles

Yesterday, I featured a great series of images and video taken during a Maker Space event at a public library in Westport, Connecticut.  The man behind the event, Josh Burker, also has a great blog sharing other ideas for making.  The most recent entry caught my eye because it involves using “TurtleArt” and a 3D printer - two things with which I have little experience, but would like to know better.

Josh details an activity in which students use TurtleArt (similar to Logo programming) to create designs on the computer.  These designs are then used to make stamps with the 3D printer.  After practicing using the stamps on Play-Doh, the students stamp clay tiles and paint them to make amazing works of art.

The step-by-step process can be found on the post by Josh.  There are lots of photographs, and it seems fairly straightforward – even for a layperson like me.

I love this intersection of logic and creativity!

TurtleArt image from Josh Burker
TurtleArt image from Josh Burker
Final Clay Tile image from Josh Burker
Final Clay Tile image from Josh Burker

Yes, They Have No Bananas

One pretty standard piece of inventory in a Maker Space seems to be a product called MaKey MaKey.  I posted about the MaKey MaKey and its potential for creativity in April of this year.  If you ever see one demonstrated, chances are that someone will be using it to play a banana piano, or a Play-Doh piano, or even a human piano.  But there are far more uses than just as a piano.

I ran across this Flickr album posted by Josh Burker (@JoshBurker) that pretty much shows every instrument in the orchestra integrated with MaKey MaKey.  Josh had the opportunity to be the “Maker in Residence” for the Westport, Connecticut Public Library for a month this summer.  As you can see from his Flickr album and this video, you can do a lot with cardboard, conductive tape, MaKey MaKey, and Scratch – especially if you are a kid with an endless imagination and a bit of adult guidance.

My absolute favorite piece is the bird.  You will find a video on the 2nd page that details the creation of the bird and its numerous amazing abilities. The 11-year-old girl who came up with this brilliant device is as articulate as she is innovative.

I am really inspired to challenge my students to find a unique way to use the MaKey MaKey when we do this year’s Global Cardboard Challenge.  Since we only have one for our classroom, I plan to have a contest and whoever proposes the best idea will get to use it for their game.  Josh Burker’s collection of images will help the students to see the amazing potential of this tool.

image from: Josh Burker on Flickr
image from: Josh Burker on Flickr

Don’t Forget to Take the Fridge

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 11.47.04 AM
from “The Nightly News with Libby and Sarah”

For today’s Phun Phriday post, I would like to share with you a delightful video I found on Neatorama.  Before you watch,  I have this disclaimer: I am certain that Canada is a lovely place, and I’m pretty sure it is not the only spot on the globe that suffers from natural disasters. Also, it might be an interesting strategy for reducing traffic on the road if you insist that every evacuee secures transport for the family fridge before leaving :)

Lessons Learned When Offering Summer Learning

GOALS

Regular readers may have noticed a few blog posts I have done this summer regarding an online class that I offered my students through Edmodo.  This is the second year that some colleagues and I have gotten together to do this, and I thought I should share a little bit more about the project in case any of you might consider doing it for your own students.

The group of teachers involved in this particular enterprise are all elementary Gifted and Talented teachers in my district.  We chose to create this program for free for our students, and are not paid to participate.  Last year, 9 teachers volunteered their time.  This year, there are 6 of us.

Each of us chose our own topics and length of the courses.  We created a catalog, and sent it out to our students (3rd-5th graders) in April, giving them plenty of time to choose a course.  Because there were fewer classes this year, we decided we would only be able to offer the program to our own students, rather than all 3rd-5th grade gifted students in the district as we did last year.  Fewer students than expected signed up, so we extended the deadline and allowed them to sign up for a 2nd course if they were interested.  We used a Google Form for registration.

By far, the “Programming with Scratch” class was the most requested.  If you have read any of my posts about teaching students to code, then you know I am a huge proponent of introducing programming to elementary students.  My belief that there is a desire to learn this amongst our young people was certainly reinforced by the number of people who signed up for this course, taught by my colleague, Kacie Germadnik.

Last year, I also taught a programming course – using Tynker.  But I decided to go a different direction this year.  After jumping into the Maker Revolution during the past school year, I saw many students enjoyed the opportunity to create in a variety of ways.  So, I came up with “Make a Theme Park” as my class.

The premise was that the students would create imaginary theme parks, and would focus on one portion per week for four weeks.  To motivate them, and because I am probably one of the least creative people I know, I thought I would invite some other talented people to give them some ideas each week and “judge” their creations.

I debated the judging part, I must admit.  Just to be clear, the only prize was an Edmodo badge and a mention on this blog.  However, I still struggle with the idea of external vs. internal motivation.  I’ve asked for feedback from the participants now that the class is over, and I’m still getting responses.  So far, though, they seem to like the judging aspect.

Our judge/mentors were: Joey Hudy (Theme Park Ride), Braeden (Theme Park Mascot), Michael Medvinsky (Theme Park Song), and Sylvia Todd (Theme Park Game).  I want to thank them one more time for their awesome contributions.  They, too, donated their time to this project – and they all have precious little time to donate! You can see specifics about each of their weeks by going to my most recent post about the course and following the appropriate links.

From past experience with Science Fairs and other huge home projects, I thought I would have two categories for each week – Family and Individual.  My daughter and I posted projects in the Family category each week.  No one else did.  So, I guess 2 categories was a bit much…

The students posted their entries on a Padlet each week.  This worked fairly well.  They could post pictures and/or video.  One recommendation I would make for videos is a little trick I learned after the first week.  If you are using an iPhone to make your video, record in landscape with the home button on the right.  Then your video won’t post upside-down or sideways on the Padlet.  We did have problems with longer videos being posted on the Padlet, so you might want give students other options such as uploading to Google Drive or Dropbox just in case.  The advantage of the Padlet was that the judges were able to see all of the projects in the same place.

Things that Went Well:

  • amazing creative ideas and use of many types of materials and media (from using Scratch to compose a theme song to muffin pans and wrenches)
  • great input and feedback from our guest judges
  • a purpose and outlet for students that hopefully showed them ways to be producers rather than mindless consumers over the summer
  • I was able to monitor and post to the class even when I was, myself, away on vacation!

Things that Didn’t Go Well:

  • a lot less students ended up participating than who had signed up for the course
  • there were a few issues with the mentors/judges using Edmodo as 3 of them had never used it before
  • uploading large videos to Padlet caused a bit of stress to some of the students
  • having a Family category

The feedback I’ve received so far from students who participated has been excellent.  Of course, the number who signed up compared to the number who actually completed the course is not very encouraging.  Is this a result of disinterest – or students who found it too difficult to fit it in with summer camps and family vacations?  Should I open the course up to even more students next year, or give it up all together?  Should I offer more interaction between our guest judges/mentors – such as Google Hangout – or is that asking too much?

I would certainly welcome suggestions for improving the program.  We will be getting feedback from the students and their parents as well.  Knowing me, I won’t do the exact same thing next summer – but I think that I would definitely like to modify this course in a way that would encourage more participation.  Please feel free to offer advice or ideas in the comments below!

By the way, if you like the idea of an online Maker course, don’t forget that the Google/Make free online course started this week!

Theme Park Game

Adventure Claw
Adventure Claw

This summer, some other GT teachers and I got together to host some free online classes through Edmodo for our 3rd-5th graders.  My class is called, “Make a Theme Park.”  Each week, the students are invited to make something for a theme park that they have imagined. For the 1st week, the challenge was to build a model of a theme park ride, and the fantabulous Joey Hudy judged.  You can see the post I did on the winners here.  During the second week, the students created theme park mascots, and Braeden the Master of Puppetry was our judge.  Here is the link to that post.  For week #3, I invited Michael Medvinsky (@mwmedvinsky) to judge theme songs created by the students for their parks.  You can find the winner, as well as a link to the Padlet of their submissions, here.

The final week of our “Make a Theme Park” class was judged by Sylvia Todd.  For those of you who don’t know Sylvia, she is the delightful host of Sylvia’s Super Awesome Maker Show.  She also, along with Joey Hudy (our 1st week’s judge) appeared at the first White House Maker Faire this summer.  And, she has a book coming out – hopefully very soon!

Sylvia’s task was to judge the games that students to made to go along with their theme parks.  This project assignment was similar to the Global Cardboard Challenge in which some of my students participated last September and October.  Sylvia chose “Adventure Claw” to be the winner for the week.  The game, pictured at the top of this post, was described this way by its maker: “The alligator on top is the claw, and when you pull the string it moves! If you are lucky, you might even get a prize. I was able to pick up a dime.”

Some of the other entries were:

undertheseaUnder the Sea - You get five tries to throw the water balloon through the holes. The eyes are two points each and the mouth is three points (like basketball).

jellyfishdefenseJellyfish Defense – I made a pinball machine. You have 3 lives to try and get as many points as possible. I used magnets to get the double ball and multiball.

whackamouseWhack-a-Mouse - When someone underneath the box pushes up the cups you will have to whack the mice with the cat paw.

Catch Indiana Jones (sorry I don’t have a picture available as only a video was submitted) - Can you catch him? Or will he escape? You get three tries to roll the boulder and hit Indiana Jones. The first Indiana Jones you hit is the one you score points on.