Who says that Robotics can’t be tasty? If you believe that, then the L’Essor Secondary School Robotics Team, Team 6331 SaBOTage, would disagree with you. The team has produced a downloadable STEM book of recipes titled, appropriately, How to SaBOTage Your Kitchen. The students researched and published this guide to preparing delicious dishes. It includes scientific health tips and explanations, and has recipes that will appeal to a variety of taste buds, ranging from “Big Bang Caramel Popcorn” to “Exploding Bacon Pulled Pork.” To learn more about this FIRST Robotics team, located in Canada, you can visit their Robotics website. This unusual perspective on how STEM can even enhance our cooking is a great resource for families and students who may have a more narrow view when it comes to the usefulness of math and science in their everyday lives.
SlidesMania caught my eye the other day on Twitter when this cute Harry Potter template was shared:
I typically go to Slides Carnival or Canva when I am looking for a new presentation theme for Google Slides, but I’m excited to find another resource.
Paula, the woman behind the SlidesMania site, likes to design slide templates as a hobby. Fortunately, she is kind enough to share her projects online. Just like the Slides Carnival presentations, the ones on SlidesMania can also be downloaded for Google Slides or Powerpoint.
The next time you need a great theme for a slide show, you should definitely check out SlidesMania!
Last nine weeks, I co-taught an Electronics class for our 7th grade elective. I say “co-taught” even though my colleague, Kat Sauter, actually did nearly all of the planning and teaching – and I learned nearly as much as the students. One of the projects that the students did was to take apart old battery-operated toys to identify the different electronic parts. After dissecting the toys and making posters that illustrated diagrams of the inner workings, the students could make new toys using the parts and any of the tools we had in Zorro Astuto. This group was particularly proud of the musical toy they transformed into a UFO, complete with 3d printed alien pilot, laser cut acrylic laser beam, and very confused 3d printed cow.
One of the resources Kat used for ideas was this “Toy Take Apart” project from the Exploratorium. You can find some more ideas in this article from User Generated Education. You can also see some other fun examples by looking at #toydissection on Twitter.
I got to be a small part of an interesting project on my last day at Advanced Learning Academy. One of my colleagues, Dan Mallette, teaches a class for the high school students called, “Global Changemakers.” Inspired by the World Art Drop Day in which the Southwest School of Art participates annually, Dan tasked his students to each create two works of art based on the Sustainable Development Goals each student had chosen to study. About a week before Art Drop Day, they started advertising #alaartdropday on our web announcements, and encouraged the school community to follow the Instagram account for our makerspace/studio (@studiozorro). On the day of the Art Drop, I was able to accompany a couple of the groups of students as they took their pieces of art to different spots around campus to “hide” them. Once a student found the perfect spot for his/her art, we took a picture of it in its location, trying to include a couple of clues to its surroundings, and posted the picture of the artwork on Instagram with the #alaartdropday tag. Any student or teacher who was interested in one of the masterpieces could try to find it based on the clues in the Instagram picture, and claim it as their own.
The students had a great time hiding their artwork (one piece ended up on the railing inside the elevator). It was the perfect activity for the last day before Winter Break – allowing the students to get out of the classrooms and to come up with devious ways to camouflage their pieces while leaving them in plain sight. A couple of staff members I ran into were excited about trying to find particular artworks that spoke to them that they hoped to display in their classrooms.
Finding a way to give students a larger audience than just the teacher and their classmates can be challenging. This was a unique way to achieve that goal, and I hope that it will become an annual tradition at the school.
One of the advantages of my new school is its location. We are in downtown San Antonio – steps from the Riverwalk, downtown courthouses, parks, museums, and the Central Library. Our students go on many walking field trips, and we try to take advantage of our location whenever possible. Last weekend, the Central Library hosted the San Antonio Mini Maker Faire. A couple of my colleagues who also teach in our Maker Space at Advanced Learning Academy have been working with their students for a couple of months to design projects for the Faire.
Our school emphasizes exhibitions of student work, but this event had the added pressure of being open to the public. The students did not disappoint. Their projects included: a “Soc-Car” game with remote control cars on a soccer field moving ping pong balls, laser cut lanterns, upcycled toys, masks, ornithopters, wooden robots, and screen-printed shirts.
One highlight was “Fruit Guillotine,” admittedly a nerve-wracking demonstration every time as the aluminum blade whooshed down to decapitate bananas. Children were delighted, begging for multiple turns, as anxious parents stood nearby.
Watching the students interact with guests of the Maker Faire was wonderful. I heard descriptions of their design processes, details of failures and problem-solving, and obvious pride in what they had accomplished. Some of them were already prepared with ideas for what they will do differently next year.
Watching my colleagues conduct this project with the students was inspirational, and I am already determined my own students will participate next year. If you have the same opportunity (many cities host similar events), I highly recommend you consider guiding your students through this experience. It is a lot of hard work, but making for a genuine audience is always rewarding.
One of my presentations this year at TCEA was called, “50 Shades of Green,” (thanks to Angelique for that title). I’ve been curating information about using green screens with classes from my own blog posts, tweets, and other shared blogs from educators. The presentation included ideas for activities/lessons, apps and software for editing, and practical tips. There are lots of links for resources, so if you are looking for a comprehensive collection of green screen ideas, feel free to take a look at the presentation here.
My students have done agamographs in the past, but I always called them “pictures that show two perspectives.” It’s nice to learn there is an official name for these that has fewer syllables. There are many ways to integrate this art form into other subjects – showing cause and effect in science or literature, or different historical perspectives, for example. To see great directions for making agamographs, check out this set from Babble Dabble Do. You can see some beautiful examples made by middle school students here. If you are ready to hop on trying this out, you might want to consider making agamograph Valentines.
Of course, if you Google “agamograph” you will find many more examples. Apparently everyone on the internet knew what they were called except me 😉