I just had to share this Lego/EV3 vending machine created by one of my 5th grade students. He is in my GT class as well as our campus Robotics Club. He owns an EV3, and spent his spare time last week making this contraption to dispense Starburst candies every time you deposit a quarter. There are other versions on the internet, where he got the idea, but he apparently created his machine using his own design. Super cool!
We have all sorts of building materials in B.O.S.S. HQ (Building of Super Stuff HeadQuarters) – from Legos to Magnatiles. During the first quarter of our after-school Maker Club adventures this year, the students rotated through different building materials each week. To make things interesting, they were given building challenges. I wanted to make the challenges a little bit of surprise, so I grabbed ideas from all over the internet and put them in to one spreadsheet that was a template from Flippity.net. You can make a copy of the Google Sheet template here. After you make your own copy, you can plug in whatever random ideas you have on the first worksheet. Then, go to File-Publish to Web, and paste the link you are given on to the 2nd worksheet in the space provided. Flippity.net will give you a link for the your new random chooser.
If you don’t want to build your own random chooser, you can just use mine. This tool from Flippity.net is supposed to help you choose student names randomly, but it works for anything you type into the spreadsheet cells. I just happened to want building ideas. On my Flippity page, all the students need to do is choose the random icon, and they are given an idea for building. (Be sure to click on the “Single Name” tab at the top rather than using the Spinner tool.)
I’ve found that it helps to have a bit of a focus for activities like this, as students sometimes find the challenge makes them even more creative, and they enjoy seeing how other students solve the same problem.
For more Makerspace articles, check out my Makerspace Essentials page!
“Keep Going” is a good video to show that encourages the Growth Mindset. It is filmed in Lego stop-motion, although adults are the target audience. Students in 3rd grade and up will understand the message, particularly if you have already been talking about mindsets in class. I also like that it fits in nicely with the maker ed mantra from Sylvia Libow-Martinez and Gary Stager of, “Think, Make, Improve.”
If you have ever thought about “the terrible gap between what you wanted to do and what you’ve actually done,” then this video will speak to you. It applies to any attempts we make to achieve a vision, whether as a student, a worker, a spouse, a parent, or any other role in which we have some creative control over the outcome. We should take any opportunity we receive to revise our first draft instead of walking away in defeat.
For this week’s Phun Phriday post, I am directing you to a recent article on Laughing Squid. If you have ever tried to make a Lego stop-motion film, you will definitely appreciate the artistry of this “re-make” of the Clock Tower scene from Back to the Future. (Warning: there is a short expletive around 1:19 in the video.)
I am frequently asked for advice on what materials to purchase for school maker spaces. I am definitely not an expert on this topic, but I have gotten a couple of grants for B.O.S.S. HQ (Building of Super Stuff Headquarters) that have allowed me to try out different products. I thought I would devote this week to sharing about a few items that I have judged to be well worth the money.
(If you intend to apply for a grant for a school maker space, be sure to research your district’s policies on spending grant money. If you need to use approved vendors, then you should verify that you will be able to purchase the items you propose and that the vendor will accept your district’s preferred method of payment.)
Legos may seem like a no-brainer when it comes to maker space essentials, but it actually took me awhile to realize that we needed to add them to our inventory. There were a couple of reasons I resisted their inclusion:
- Many of my students have Legos at home, so there seemed to be no point in offering them at school as well,
- I’m an idiot.
My students have been working with Lego robots for a few years, so I didn’t see the need for any additional tiny pieces ending up on the floor waiting to ambush me. And, to be honest, I kind of got stuck on the kit part of Legos, which didn’t seem like the best outlet for creativity.
We added a few last year because some of my students wanted to do a Lego stop-motion film for Genius Hour. The small box of Legos a parent donated seemed like plenty to me.
But then we kept getting robots that included Lego adapters and students kept asking, “Where are the Legos?” and our pitiful supply did not impress them, and I finally gave in and sent out an all-call to parents and staff for more Lego donations.
Legos, like cardboard boxes, are ubiquitous, it seems. Before I knew it, we had several bins of Legos, donated by parents and teachers who were grateful to re-home them, and my students were happily digging through the pieces to find the perfect accessories for their robots. (I’ll be talking more about the robots in tomorrow’s post.)
Some of the robots, like Sphero, don’t even come with Lego adapters. Yet my students managed to find a way to create a Sphero chariot with the donated Legos. The slideshow below shows Legos with Cubelets and Edison also.
If you don’t have robots or the materials to do stop-motion, here are some other ideas for using Legos in a maker space:
The Lego Education page has more information on their robotics kits and other products designed specifically for schools.
Click here for a list of Lego-related posts I have done in the past.
For more maker space ideas, here is my Pinterest Board.
As regular readers may have deduced, I am a Kickstarter addict. So, when I saw Edison on Kickstarter last year for a very affordable price, I jumped at being one of the backers. Edison arrived right before Christmas – perfect timing for me to check out its features before bringing it into the classroom.
Edison is not as cute as Dash and Dot, but don’t underestimate its ability to capture the attention of your students. For $49, it’s a compact robot that does a lot.
For starters, you can download the free Controller Pack that allows you to automatically program Edison by rolling it over different barcodes. Depending on the barcode, Edison will respond to light, sound, and obstacles. It can also detect dark lines. You can even use bar codes to program it to move using any household remote control.
To be honest, that’s about all I would expect for $49. But there is more. Edison can also be programmed by connecting it to the computer and using a free program called Edware. My students haven’t tried this yet (we can’t download unapproved software to district computers) but I have a workaround in mind to get them up and running with that.
Oh, and that’s not all! Edison is also Lego compatible. So, if you aren’t happy with Edison’s less than charming appearance, then go ahead and change it!
There are different packs of Edisons available now that it is no longer on Kickstarter. If you are interested in getting your students excited about creativity, problem-solving, and programming, you might want to consider this nifty little robot.
Not everyone is obsessed with reading education blogs or following Twitter as I am – especially over the summer. I’ve noticed this blog’s stats have started growing since the beginning of August, which probably means educators are starting to return to work and might be looking for resources. For today’s post I thought I would do a short round-up of some of the changes and updates that my readers may have missed over the summer. This is, by no means, an exhaustive list. It’s just something I brainstormed in the doctor’s waiting room the other day 😉
Tellagami – The free app is virtually useless now, as there is no longer customization of characters or Text-To-Speech. For those, you need to purchase the Edu version for $4.99. You can read more about my disappointment in this change here.
Scratch Jr. – For those of you with classroom iPads who might want to teach programming to young students, this free app, released this summer, is a definite must-download.
Made with Code – Speaking of coding resources, Google launched Made with Code over the summer – a site specifically directed at getting females interested in this field.
Padlet – Formerly known as Wallwisher (that’s so last year!), this great online tool has now added a new grid option to better organize all of those notes. Here’s the lowdown from Richard Byrne. And it has a Chrome extension (I don’t know if that’s new, but I just found out about it).
PixelPress – I originally posted about PixelPress Floors, an app that allows you to draw your own video game, in June. They now have lesson plans for educators based on the Design Thinking Process.
Lego Research Institute – I was so excited about this, I tweeted it out last week! This Lego set, featuring 3 female scientists, is now available for purchase ($19.99). Unfortunately, they are currently sold-out online- and I can’t find any indication on the website if they intend to restock.
Voxer – This may just be the next new Twitter for educators. I haven’t tried it yet, but there has been a lot of buzz about it over the summer. This post includes information about this “live messaging app.” According to Pernille Ripp, these are the reasons you should be voxing. Here are some uses for Voxer in the educational setting.