Mark Barnett is one of San Antonio’s true treasures. Known as @Maker_Mark on Twitter, Barnett’s passion for education and the Maker Movement has ignited our community. He is the genius behind “The Geek Bus,” a mobile maker space that visits schools and events throughout the San Antonio area, and has devoted his time and resources toward giving students access to STEM with cutting edge technology and project-based learning.
In Mark Barnett’s recent presentation at TEDx San Antonio, he notes the huge divide between the schools that have and those that do not. His goal is to “democratize” making, and his Geek Bus is only one of the many ways Barnett has contributed to this cause. Watch this video, and learn more about Barnett’s dedication to giving everyone access to STEM and Maker Education.
“The Making of the Maker” is an article in Parentage magazine by Sarah Virginia White. White interviewed 10 young people about the things they make, what inspires them, and how their parents help them. My favorite quote is from 8-year-old Annabelle Armstrong-Temple, “The secret sauce is time and space to let kids get creative: a lot of boredism.”
“Boredism” is officially my new favorite word.
My 3rd grade GT students and I were discussing why it gets harder and harder to think creatively as we get older, and how school tends to exercise the part of the brain that looks for one right answer. One of the students suggested that, to balance out the different types of thinking, “we should go home from school and brainstorm the restof the day!”
I think my student and Annabelle Armstrong-Temple should lead the world.
But that probably wouldn’t work because they would be too over-scheduled to ever have the chance to think creatively again.
The moral of this story is to let kids make.
And to stop letting grownups ruin everything.
Read White’s article and you will find more advice on how to make your very own Annabelle Armstrong-Temple.
For today’s Phun Phriday post I wanted to share some of the impromptu creations made by our Robotics Club yesterday. We took a break from our EV3 robots to explore Cubelets, and the students were incredibly thrilled when I showed them the Lego connectors and put out a bunch of bins with random pieces for them to add to their new bots. I was pretty impressed by what some of them were able to do with only about 20 minutes!
Suzanne Horan and her 5th grade class of gifted and talented students were recently showcased on our district website for an outstanding project they did this year. They each planned, researched, and developed products that could make a positive difference in the world. From a 3-d printed model of a staircase that collapses into a ramp for those who are wheelchair bound, to improved fitting for a prosthetic leg, these imaginative and empathetic students created an array of marketable products that could truly be practical and helpful.
The students dressed up for presentation day because they knew their work would be evaluated by an objective panel of judges who would score them based on, among other things, their research, passion for their topic, uniqueness of their product, and its usefulness. For the next stage, Mrs. Horan has invited a patent lawyer to speak to the class about the steps to take to market their products.
This is exactly the type of project that students need to be doing. It is relevant, based on student interests, and incorporates a multitude of thinking skills. I would like to bet these 5th graders will never forget this experience, and that it will inform many of their later important decisions in life.
To read more about the fabulous inventors in Mrs. Horan’s class, you can visit our district website, or their class blog for some great pictures from the presentation day!
I have zero vision. When I first heard about 3d printers, I thought, “Isn’t that what factory machines do? What’s the big deal?” (I’m also the person who thought drones were just fancy versions of remote control airplanes.)
If you are as skeptical as I was, here are a few articles and videos that might change your mind.
It’s always fun to see the progress of Kickstarter projects you’ve backed. I got one of the first batch of 3Doodlers way back when, and things have really changed: new filament colors, tons of project ideas, a 2.0 version, and accessories.
3Doodler is a 3D printing pen that requires no programming – just patience and imagination. I’ve had students who have loved using my original, and some who have given up quickly in frustration. After using it for awhile, I developed a wish list of features that would be ideal for a 3D printing pen – and it’s quite possible that my wishes have been granted.
The 3Doodler Start is designed with younger kids in mind. It’s wireless (HUGE plus – fully charged 3Doodler Starts can supposedly last up to 60 minutes), completely safe with no hot parts, eco-friendly plastic, and suitable for children 8 years and up.
You can pre-order a 3Doodler Start to be delivered in May. They are offering it at a slightly lower price than intended retail for 13 more days. Currently, it is $39.99 for one 3Doodler Start, and $79.99 for a starter pack that includes 8 packs of filament and 8 “starter blocks.” (You need to look at the web site to see what “starter blocks” are.) One warning: you will not be able to use current 3Doodler plastic or accessories with the 3Doodler Start.
I’m probably going to order one. Because that’s my not-so-secret vice, ordering things that are fun and aren’t available anywhere else 🙂 When they start offering class packs, I could definitely see this being utilized in a Maker Space, art room, or any other place that creativity is encouraged!
As many schools begin to realize the need to integrate more STEM/STEAM into the curriculum, those of us in elementary education who may feel a bit inadequate when it comes to lofty fields like engineering sometimes have a hard time incorporating it into our lessons. Novel Engineering is a project that aims to show how engineering and language arts don’t have to be in separate time slots on your daily schedule.
From what I can tell the Novel Engineering project is open only to a few schools at the moment. However, you can see what it’s all about in the video synapsis on the home page. Basically, certain books seem to pose engineering challenges which are just waiting for a skilled design thinker to solve. You can see several examples of novels that could be used here. For example, Tuck Everlasting offers two potential engineering problems – how to hide the water that gives eternal life, and how to help Mae Tuck escape jail before the town discovers that she is immortal.
Even though it would be nice to have access to additional program materials and examples, I think that teachers can certainly get many ideas from the novels and their corresponding engineering challenges that are shared on the site.