3-5, Art, Creative Thinking, Education, Games, Student Products

Theme Park Ride Winners

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. Last week, the challenge was to build a model of a theme park ride.  With a great introduction video from the awesome Joey Hudy, our “celebrity judge” for the week, and some links I provided, the students were assigned to create projects that were: fun, creative, and had at least one moving part.  Their videos and/or pictures of their inventions were posted by Thursday evening on Padlets that I created for the purpose. On Friday, Joey Hudy announced the winners.  He admitted, and I completely agree, that choosing the winners was extremely difficult!  I was blown away by the intricacies of each one, and it was really fun to see how different they were.  Each week we have two categories – one for the family to enter together, or one that the individual student can enter.  Here are the winners:

  • Family Theme Park Ride – “The Sparking Spur” – I don’t have a good image of this one, as only video was provided.  However, as you may or may not know, we live in San Antonio – home of the 2014 World Champion Spurs basketball team. This ride celebrates our awesome team and city by starting at the AT&T Center, going past the Tower of the Americas and the Alamo, and ending at the River Walk.
  • Individual Theme Park Ride – “Kittyana Jones”
yarn bolder pushes the cart off  the ledge and into the box of rubber band  snakes!
Move the lever up, and the yarn boulder pushes the cart off the
ledge and into the box of rubber band

I want to give shout outs to the other amazing entries:

  • The BGW (Bubble Gum Water Blaster) – Ride down a slide as you are pelted by water balloons and splash into a pool.
  • The All-Star – Spun by a K’nex motor, this ride offers you a basketball hoop to sit in and features Larry Bird and Michael Jordan.
  • Turning Tail Over Scale – I wish I could show you a picture of this one, but all I have is video and the screen shots are blurry.  This innovative inventor used a pencil sharpener to turn her ferris wheel!
  • Dolphin Ferris Wheel dolphin
  • Best Way to Hogwarts hogwarts

If you are interested in the idea of getting your students more involved with making, here are some other resources for you:


Art, Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Parenting, Student Products, Videos

Don’t Be Bored. Make Something.

Available on Look What Joey's Making!
Available on Look What Joey’s Making!

No one has ever accused me of being artistic.  And, though some might call me “crafty” I’m pretty sure that they don’t mean it in the complimentary sense.  When it comes to technology, I am comfortable. When it comes to Scratch programming language, I’m all over it.  When it comes to making things from scratch, I’m at a loss.

And yet, I sense the need for many of my students to explore the depths of their creativity.  And I realize that, with our ever-increasing reliance on technology, many crafts are becoming lost arts.  This is why the “Maker Movement” has started to become so popular.  It’s why my students embraced the Global Cardboard Challenge so enthusiastically last year (and I have even bigger plans for this year!).  And, it’s why I decided to offer an online class this summer for my students that is all about being off-line and creating. (5 other awesome teachers are offering courses as well – more about that in a future post!)

Make a Theme Park

Since I am, by no means, an expert at making anything but blog posts, I realized that I would need some help if I was going to pull this off.  So, I enlisted the help of some people who actually know what they are doing.  How did I find them? On Twitter, of course.  Joey Hudy is the famous marshmallow cannon maker – now working at Intel.  Michael Medvinsky is an awesome middle school music teacher who integrates technology and making into his classes on a regular basis.  And Sylvia Todd is the amazing talent behind Sylvia’s Super Awesome Maker Show (and has a book coming out this summer!)

I want to introduce you to the youngest “teacher” of our class this summer.  His name is Braeden.  If you follow @rafranzdavis on Twitter, then you know her nephew, Braeden.  Rafranz is a must-follow for all of the resources and insights about education that she shares.  But, I was immediately captivated by the pictures she would tweet of Braeden’s creations.  You see, Braeden is developing the skill of making puppets.  We’re not talking sock puppets or putting a drawing on a popsicle stick.  We’re talking Henson-type creations.  You can view some of the amazing puppets he has made on his YouTube channel.

Braeden will be giving tips during one of our “Theme Park” weeks on making a mascot.  He will, through Edmodo, respond to questions from the participants and give advice.  At the end of the week, he will choose a “winner” from the individual and family categories. I am so glad he (and his aunt) agreed to help out – especially after I saw the video below.  This young man knows what he is talking about, and will definitely be able to offer a lot more guidance than I could ever hope to contribute.

Braeden obviously receives incredible support from his family, especially his aunt, who all encourage him to continue in his endeavors.  He is well on his way to becoming a professional puppeteer.  And these are obviously not skills he has learned in school.

If you have, in any way, observed the Rainbow Loom craze that has swept the nation, then you know that young people really want to make things.  What’s exciting is when they stop following instructions, and start venturing out on their own.  That is what we, as adults, should galvanize them to do.

So, if you are a teacher or a parent, and you have any influence over someone who is about to have two months of freedom to do just about anything they want to do, be sure to give them this message from Joey Hudy, “Don’t be bored. Make something.”

Here is a link to my “Make” Pinterest Board in case you need some inspiration.