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.
UPDATE 4-3-16: Session Times have been changed to afternoons to accommodate students who participate in neighborhood swim teams.
Do you live in the San Antonio, TX area? Do you have a child aged 7-11? Then this is the camp for you! I am offering an Undercover Robots Camp this June, 2016. We will be using the Dash robots from Wonder Workshop. (Robot purchase is not required, but bringing your own can result in a camp discount.) Here is the link to the registration page.
Click here for a PDF version of the above brochure!
This is a bonus post for those of you who keep track of my daily posts! Our Maker Club made some paper circuit Valentines, and here are some of the results. For instructions on making paper circuit greeting cards, you can check out this post. If you are interested in more Valentine ideas, here are many that I have collected over the years.
Thanks to my unquenchable Kickstarter addiction, we have a new addition to our classroom called, “Bloxels.” Bloxels will look familiar to those of you who have used the free Pixel Press “Floors” app on your iPads. For that app, you can design video games using paper and the library of symbols provided, scan your design, and play it on the iPad. The Bloxels kit (made by the same company who brought us Floors) makes this physical modeling even easier by providing a tray and colored cubes to insert to design your games. With the free Bloxels app, you can take a picture of your finished product and play your game.
Two second grade girls who come to our Makerspace each Friday got to be the first to try out my Bloxels kit. They absolutely loved dropping the colored blocks in and spent all of their time making their design, so they didn’t have time to actually play their game! The following Friday, they got to test out their masterpiece, and realized very quickly that they had made the game far too difficult to play. They turned to the included booklet of suggested designs, and picked the first one. That one, though, was way too easy, according to them. So they “remixed” it to their complete satisfaction. As the bell rang for school to start, they both cried out in disappointment, and informed me that they couldn’t wait to make new designs.
To get some more information for this post, I went to the Bloxels website, and was completely surprised to find a lot of support for using Bloxels in schools. They’ve already created some curriculum integration ideas, and it seems promising that there will be more to come as the site has a link for potential contributors. There are lesson plans based on the Design Thinking process, as well as recommended activities and a downloadable guide book. I also love the 13-Bit Builders section that features a diverse group of young game designers.
What I love about this kit is the potential it has for students in any grade level and with a variety of interests to immediately engage. Although my upper grade levels enjoy the “Floors” game, some of them got frustrated when their drawings weren’t recognized by the app because of imprecision, but that doesn’t seem to happen with Bloxels.
The Bloxels app is free, and available on most mobile devices. You can actually design your games in the app (without the kit), but I think the kit really enhances the experience. One set is about $50, and there are classroom packs available as well. Purchase orders are accepted, and you can find more information here.