Dr. Pauline Dow (@PaulineDow), an Associate Superintendent in our district, shared this recent TED Talk by Steven Johnson, “How Play Leads to Great Inventions,” in a tweet this week. Steven Johnson, you may remember, is an author I’ve mentioned on this blog because I was fascinated by his book, How We Got to Now. Johnson is adept at tracing innovations back through time to discover the (often surprising) building blocks that made them possible.
In this October, 2016, TED Talk, Johnson claims that necessity is not always the mother of invention – and that play may be just as, if not more, important when it comes to generating new ideas. I’m pretty certain that Sir Ken Robinson would approve this message.
I will be adding this video to my Pinterest Board of Inspirational Videos for Teachers. Click here to see more.
Joe Tedesco, the man behind SA Makerspaces for Education, posted about CoSpaces a couple of weeks ago. CoSpaces is available on the web, and as a free iOS or Android app. My students and are still investigating its features, so I may be incorrect about what we’ve discovered so far.
Using CoSpaces on a computer (desktop or laptop), you can register for a free account and then create projects. To experiment, I created one account that my students could also use (if you do this, make sure each student knows how to start a new project or collaborate with someone else on one). There are tools on the web browser version to “build” 3-dimensional scenes, somewhat Minecraft-ish. For those of us who are spatially challenged, it’s good practice for using other 3-d modeling programs like Tinkercad. You can also add your own images as well as audio files.
The scenes can be viewed on mobile devices as 3d by walking around with or moving the device to explore the scenery. If you have a VR headset, you can also experience the scenes this way. The video on this page is the best way to understand how it works. At this time, you can only create CoSpaces projects using a web browser and experience they are best experienced through mobile devices.
CoSpaces shows a great deal of potential for use by students to create – which is one of the main purposes for technology in my point of view. I have a feeling there are going to be some exciting advances made by this company as it evolves, so you should definitely check it out.
The long-suffering Flat Stanley no longer has to endure the indignation of postal journeys. Karen Bosch and her students have developed a 21st century solution to Stanley’s travel woes. They created 3D Stanley’s! Download one of the .stl files from their site, and print the “Stanley” of your choice with your school’s 3d printer. Then take a picture of your visitor in its new environment and share the picture in a Tweet or through e-mail (@karlyb or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org).
This is a great twist on a popular school tradition, and I love that Bosch’s students even gave their characters short bios to make them unique!
Since I recently did a presentation on global collaboration, this gives me all sorts of ideas. How about doing some sort of mystery print, where the students download separate pieces, print them, and then have to figure out to assemble them to make something? Or tweeting pics of 3D Stanley’s in front of moderately famous landmarks and having classes guess their locations?
I hope that you can support Bosch and her students with their project. Let me know in the comments if you have any other ideas!
My students have always been completely mesmerized by the power of Cubelets, modular robots that adhere magnetically and can be put together in a seemingly endless number of combinations. Obtaining enough Cubelets to feed the curiosity of a large group can get expensive, but we were fortunate enough to get some grant applications approved that allowed us to purchase a decent number. The combined set has definitely been one of the best investments I’ve made for my classroom.
Modular Robotics, the company behind Cubelets, has offered resources to teachers for the past few years. But they now have an updated portion of their site devoted to lesson plans. The plans are divided into grade level strands, starting with Pre-K and ending with 12th grade. Browsing through the plans I found some “meaty” material, including this “Cause and Effect” plan for 4th-6th graders. Be advised that you will need to look carefully at the required Cubelets for the plans you use as some are not included in the less expensive kits.
Cubelets are great for centers and maker spaces. With these free lesson plans, educators may feel more comfortable with integrating these versatile robots into their curriculum as well.
I typically post something light on Fridays, (often not connected to education) called my Phun Phriday Post. For today’s edition, I am sharing a cute website I came across called, “Picture This Clothing.” Similar to sites like “Imaginables” and “Doodle Your Toys,” which allow you to upload a drawing that can be turned into a stuffed animal, Picture This Clothing offers dresses that can be made based on your own artwork. All you need to do is download and print the template, color it, send a picture of the design, and order your custom dress.
Dress sizes on Picture This Clothing are children’s sizes 2-12. The dress will cost you $49, and you can also add on identical miniature dresses for dolls. According to the site, it will take 12-15 business days for you to receive your order.
For those of you with budding fashion designers in your household, this could be a fun way to channel their passion before you decide to purchase a sewing machine and let them loose in the fabric store to start creating their own creative wardrobes.
My students have loved using the Dash robots from Wonder Workshop so much that I thought they might enjoy some extra time with them over the summer. So, earlier this year, I devised a plan for an Undercover Robots Camp to be held at my house. Last week was the first session, “Spy School.”
Using 4 Dash robots, the campers were divided into teams of 3 for the week. Dash received a letter that he was invited to train to be a secret agent at spy school, and each team took their robot through the different spy courses, such as speaking in Morse code and surveillance. At the end of the week, their robots “graduated” from Spy School.
I’ve never done this before, so I wasn’t sure how it would go. Fortunately, I had a great group of campers who were willing to experiment along with me. Throughout the week, I sprinkled puzzles and crafts (such as creating undercover disguises for the robots) along with the programming challenges, so there were lots of opportunities for every team member to shine and get involved.
My favorite part of the week was the graduation ceremony. The students got so creative with my box of random stuff as they made graduation hats and gowns for their robots! And one of the teams leapt for joy when they finally were able to program their robot to join the graduation procession at the precise time and spot. (Sorry that the video below got prematurely cut when I ran out of space on my phone. Oh, and one robot got replaced right before the final ceremony due to low battery power!)
This week is our second session, where Dash has his first assignment as a bona-fide secret agent looking for the saboteur of a robot pageant. I’ll let you know next week how our undercover spies do in foiling the plot!
UPDATE 9/3/17: My Spy School curriculum is now available for purchase here!
Speaking of considering a maker space, Laura Fleming (author of Worlds of Making, and one of the pioneers of school maker spaces) tweeted out a link to this video today, which is an awesome overview of the maker space revolution. Laura’s excellent suggestion is to share it with teachers and school leaders for PD.