Tag Archives: Maker Ed

What Could You Do with a 3Doodler?

Triplane created with 3Doodler featured on the 3Doodler blog
Triplane created with 3Doodler featured on the 3Doodler blog

Really, what can you not do with a 3Doodler?!!!  It’s Phun Phriday, and I am here to tell you that the 3Doodler is PHUN, PHUN, PHUN!!!!!!

I did a search of my blog posts to find out when I first wrote about this invention.  It was February of last year.  That was when I decided to back the Kickstarter for 3Doodler.  I have been waiting since February for this gadget to land in my mailbox.  (In all fairness, the Kickstarter site nailed the expected arrival date of December perfectly.)  Considering my husband and daughter told me that my one-word resolution for this year should be “patience,” I think waiting nearly 10 months to get a product this fun totally proves that I have no problem being patient.  Add on to that the time that I had to wait to use it once my daughter got a hold of it, and, well, I’m practically the patron saint of patience;)

The 3Doodler is basically a fat pen that allows you to make 3D creations limited only by your imagination – and patience.  You feed plastic in one end, push the buttons on the pen, and the heated plastic comes out the tip.  You can choose to make the plastic come out fast or slow.  There are tons of different colors of plastic, including neon and glow-in-the-dark.  The plastic cools and hardens very quickly once it comes out of the pen.

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3D printing is a big trend right now.  (See our Donors Choose project going on right now for a Makerbot printer.)  3Doodler has advantages over other 3D printers in the following categories:

  • Cost: At $99 for the pen plus 50 strands of plastic, the 3Doodler is way more affordable than regular 3D printers, which can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
  • Time: Most current 3D printers take a long time, often hours, to print out even small creations.
  • Simplicity: Most 3D printers require some software knowledge so the user can program the design; 3Doodler requires absolutely no programming or computer knowledge.
  • Freedom:  Without hardware and software restrictions, new ideas can quickly be imagined and created.

Of course, there are some cons to the 3Doodler as well:

  • Heat: 3Doodler is recommend for ages 12+.  I am guessing this is due to the amount of heat generated to melt the plastic.  However, the only part that you need to be wary of is the very tip of the pen.  My daughter just turned 11, and I had no qualms about letting her use the pen with my supervision.
  • Precision: It takes some practice to make things look exactly the way you envision.  Even then, you will not have the machine-precise product that you would get from a standard 3D printer.
  • Planning: If you plan to use more than one color, think ahead.  Once you feed a plastic strand into the 3Doodler, you can back it out if some is still sticking out.  However, no matter what, some of that color will be left in the pen.  If you don’t want to waste a lot of plastic, you might want to get a sense of how much is still waiting inside so you can use it all.
  • Patience:  Yep, there’s that word again.  Since 3Doodler was a Kickstarter project, they are only shipping to backers right now.  According to the website, if you want one (and were not one of the original backers), you will need to wait until March of 2014 for delivery.

Personally, I think the pros far outweigh the cons.  I can’t make anything like the tri-plane at the top of this post, yet, but I’m just getting started!

If you decide to buy a 3Doodler, there are plenty of stencils and ideas to inspire you on the Community portion of the site.  And, here is a link to the FAQ section.

Let me know if you get one!

DIY Gifts for Kids

DIY Slotted Building Discs from Made by Joel
DIY Slotted Building Discs from Made by Joel

It’s Friday!  And you know what that means, right?

Okay – other than the fact that tomorrow is Saturday, or that many of us in the education world are about to have a two-week break.

Friday + December + Engage Their Minds = Another Installment of the “Gifts for the Gifted” series.

Since it’s a bit close to the Big Day for some of us, I thought I would spotlight some cool ideas for gifts that would not require mail order.  One of my favorites is the “DIY Explorer Activity Kit” detailed by the women at the Merry Thought blog. Inspired by the Child’s Activity Kits carried by Anthropologie, this post describes how you can make your own for your adventuresome child.  The photographs are helpful for those of us who may not be quite as creative.  Of course, you could do any number of variations of this kit, depending on your child’s personal interests.

I found some more ideas for DIY kits on the Kids’ Activities Blog.  There are 101 suggestions, but here are some that I think are particularly suited for gifted kids in elementary school:

Build a Fort Kit

A Marble Run Kit – (You don’t have to be able to understand the language on this page to love the concept!)

Slotted Building Discs Made from Recycled Cardboard

Popsicle Stick Building Kit

For more installments of “Gifts for the Gifted”, check out my Pinterest Board!  Next Monday – a bonus post of recommended apps to load up on new tablets!

“Magic Arms” and Robots for Humanity

The other day, I was talking to one of my GT classes about the possibility of our Maker Studio classroom getting a 3D Printer through Donors Choose.

“Can’t those be used to make guns?” one student, who apparently pays some attention to current events, asked.

“Those should be banned, then,” said another student.

This brought up a great discussion about technology, and the inventions, through time, that have had both positive and negative impacts on our society.  How many creations have been designed to help people or address a particular need, but ended up being harmful to us (or the other living things on this planet) as well?  And, how many, if any, were created for violent purposes, but ended up being helpful in the right hands?

We have also been reading The Giver, and discussing the fine line between freedom and safety, a connection which one student quickly brought up.

Ultimately, the class decided that getting a 3D printer would be a great idea – and that we would commit to using it for good if the project gets funded 😉

Since then, I’ve run across a couple of videos that show how some current controversial technologies have changed lives for the better.  My hope is that we can educate our students to become innovators who are wary of possible negative consequences from new technologies, but find multiple ways to bury those detrimental uses with the positive benefits of their creations.

Design Squad

Design Squad

Recently, I did a post on Engineering for Girls Resources, and included Design Squad as one of the resources.  I realized, though, that Design Squad really deserves its own post, so here you go!

As Maker Education becomes more and more prevalent in schools, Design Squad, a product of PBS Kids, is the perfect website for finding projects for elementary aged children.  Similar to DIY.org, it has everything from “Hack a Greeting Card” to “Build a Blaster.”  There are videos and instructions galore.  You can choose by topics of interest, such as:  food, art, sports, etc…

Design Squad includes resources for Parents and Educators here.  There are lesson plans and other links for the adults who want to get kids involved in hands-on engineering projects.

The site features a “Top Builder” challenge.  Today, November 6th, is the deadline for the current challenge, “Newspaper Power.”  But you can always take a look at the Past Challenges, and find some great ideas for your classroom, club, or at home.

Kids can also take the “Build it Better” challenge, such as designing school supplies that work better or clothes that you can wear in any kind of weather.

To enter the challenges, kids will need a log-in, but the great thing is that the log-in does not require any personal information.  Once students are logged in, they can also offer feedback on the other designs that have been uploaded by awarding stickers to the ones that they like.

Design Squad is a great site for involving kids in creating and problem-solving.  Whether you are using it in your classroom, after-school, or at home, it is sure to offer you ideas that will keep students engaged and excited.

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