Tuesday, March 20, 2018

March 20: The Lighting Project - A Design Cycle Challenge

Today’s inspiration in our March is for Making Series  comes from Sarah Sutter.   Sarah is a design technology and visual art teacher at The American School in Japan in Tokyo. Sarah has been part of the Create Make Learn Summer Institute since 2014,  and last year led the advanced workshops for CML. She’ll be back this summer with more advanced Maker skills to share, and I know so many educators who are looking forward to learning even more from her this summer at Create Make Learn Summer Institute.   
Sarah spends her academic year working with students as a high school art and design technology teacher at The American School in Japan in Tokyo.  Her school has a Creative Arts Design Center, now 3 years old, which has 6 rooms dedicated to creative uses of design technology, engineering, computer science, robotics, basic electronics, etc. with a focus on design thinking, maker mindset, fab lab concept, empathy, user experience, project based and challenge based collaborative learning. 

For further inspiration from Sarah and her students, check out  sarahsutterteacher instagram   or her blog.

Guest blog post from Sarah Sutter
The Lighting Project is one of the Design Challenges we use with our grade 9 students to demonstrate their understanding of the Design Cycle, as well as their skills in using digital design, hand tools and digital fabrication processes to create a creative, functioning, lighting solution. We use Google Presentations as a portfolio tool, one per project, and provide a template for scaffolding the organization of the steps expected along the way. Below is a slide show that gives a basic outline for the project for teachers, and examples of a few of the steps along the way from students this past semester.

Our students have access to laser cutters, 3D printers, as well as a range of hand and power tools such as a band saw, scroll saws, router table, belt sander, drills, drill press, and acrylic bender. Materials typically include acrylic, plywood of various thicknesses, leather, washi paper, ABS & PLA filament, fabric, cork, and other odds and ends. We do have clock works for a few projects, and the lighting we use is LED strip lighting in white, blue, yellow, green, red or RGB with the capacity for 6v battery or 12v adapter power source. Occasionally a student will want to work with creating their own circuit and we have done that with RGB LEDs and copper tape for a quick and easy solution with fun results (see video below)

The LED strip lights and power source adapters that we order are through Amazon Japan, and here are the links. I’m sure your supplier or Amazon US will have these or something similar.

The LED RGB cycling bulbs we used with the copper tape circuits are here - link.

Monday, March 19, 2018

March 19 - 3D Modeling/ Printing on Chromebooks

I have had  the pleasure of watching Tony Galle teach middle school students communicate what they are imagining or would like to invent using 3D modeling software for over 10 years.  I would watch fifth graders become fluent in Sketchup in just a few class sessions with Tony (back when my desk happened to be in the back of his classroom) . What happened next was magical.  After just a couple strategically chosen tutorial style lessons, Tony would provide a prompt or two that had them using their new fluency with 3D modeling to communicate ideas that were in their head that blew us all away.  I've also seen him perform the same magic with teachers -- which is why I invited him to help teachers learn 3D printing at  the 3D printing bootcamp at the Create Make Learn Summer Institute this summer.  
Recently I asked Tony how he does his magic now that Chromebooks are the primary computer in our schools.  Tony (a long time Sketchup fan) shared with me that there is now a version of Sketchup that works on Chromebooks.  It’s not exactly the same as Sketchup Pro which is available to students with a Windows or Mac computer.  These students can use a variety of tools including 123D Design, Fusion 360, and SketchUp Pro.   But since his students have Chromebooks, Tony has adapted his lesson to work with two Chromebook compatible 3D modeling tools -- TinkerCard and Sketchup for Schools
And not only is he willing to come share his magic at the Create Make Learn Summer Institute during the 3D printing bootcamp,  he also offered to share his tips during our March is for Making series as a guest blogger.
Here are Tony’s  tips on how he teaches  3D modeling/ printing on a Chromebook.

3D Modeling on a  Chromebook with  Tinkercad & SketchUp for Schools

Middle school students at St. Albans Town Educational Center (SATEC) in northern Vermont spent some time learning how to 3D model.  The students began their experience with Tinkercad, a free, cloud-based modeling tool that works right in your browser (which is handy in a 1:1 Chromebook school).  Students can link their GAFE accounts and sign-up for free.
This software features an easy-to-use interface and a number of practice lessons that teach kids how to work with the tool.  With almost no learning curve, kids are introduced to solid modeling.  Using Tinkercad is like manipulating digital lumps of clay.  There are many premade assets (called primitives in other software), including geometric and organic shapes.  There’s even a text tool for rendering words and symbols as 3D models.  
Students typically build a name tag as their first project.  It introduces them to the interface, and gives them a quick “win” when it comes to having something printable in the end.  If engineered correctly, anything you model in Tinkercad can be exported and 3D printed.  
This year, a few kids took the skills they learned from the intro project, and asked if they could 3D print artifacts to use as part of a response to literacy project.  They modeled the items in Tinkercad, and then learned how to export and print them using our Makerbot Replicator +.  
Once students learn the basics of modeling, the next tool I teach is SketchUp.  The full offline version of the software works on Macs and PCs, and, thanks to the State of Vermont, all students and teachers can have access to the full pro version with a license.  
In contrast, SketchUp for Schools is available as a cloud-based modeler (a good Chromebook alternative) as well, and can be connected to your school Google accounts, just like Tinkercad.  
SketchUp is similar to Autocad, where it’s a drafting program at the core, not a solid modeler  .  Students can draw their models as lines and shapes in a two dimensional plane, and then extrude them (Push/Pull) into the third dimension.  They can add or subtract geometry by adding cut lines and extruding or extracting by push or pulling the faces of the model.  Organic shapes are harder to manipulate, but not impossible.  But, what it lacks as a sculpting tool, it more than makes up for in precision.  If you want a cube that’s 1” square aligned to the center of a cylinder, you can do this in SketchUp.  Such a task is much more difficult in Tinkercad, because you are doing it all by eye.  
SketchUp is an excellent tool for rendering architectural models, and a handful of SATEC students are using it to participate in the 3D Vermont: Town History in 3D Competition hosted by the Vermont Agency of Education.  You can make precision measurements, and draw to the actual dimensions of a door, window, or stairway.  

The most exciting part of this whole adventure, has been when students come back after learning a certain tool, or working on a specific project and ask if they can make something for a different class.  This year, I’ve had students make a covered wagon for a social studies project, and mock-ups of solar panels, geothermal, and hydroelectric dams  for science project about alternative power sources.  They wanted more than screenshots and photographs of these items: They really wanted a physical model to help augment their presentations, and their knowledge of 3D modeling allowed them to create it.  So when they had to teach their classmates about their power source, they had the model in-hand to help them out.

3D modeling using these free tools can make abstract concepts come to life.  It allows students to try things out in real-life, not just on paper.  The engineering required to bring some of these objects to life forces students to look at their designs in a new way, and there’s value in struggling to make these things.  
Thank you Tony Galle for sharing the following challenges to anyone interested in learning or teaching Tinkercad or SketchUp on a Chromebook.  

Sunday, March 18, 2018

March 18 - Designing with Younger Learners using the Cricut Maker

Who travels with maker tools in their luggage!  Patricia Aigner, that’s who!  And that’s how the two of us ended up with dual Cricuts during an unplanned popup maker space at our VermontFest 2017 - Vermont’s Fall educational technology conference.  

When I saw Patricia unpack her Cricut maker,  I knew I had a maker ed sister. If you don’t know Patricia, she serves as Director of Technology for Rutland City Public Schools and President of Vita-Learn. She teachs a course for the Castleton Center for Schools, The Cricut in Education.   

Patricia has a big WHY for the Maker Movement.  She shared, “Making, creating, designing, inventing and tinkering are quintessential American activities.  Consider that the American patent system is the backbone of our innovation economy and Americans patent more new ideas than any other country except China. Alexander Graham Bell,  the Wright Brothers, Henry Ford and many other Americans tinkered and invented. Without opportunities to Create, Make and Learn our students may not ever have the chance to use tools, develop design thinking or engineering skills. That would be a huge loss to our economy and limit our students’ opportunities. "

Recently we received an email from an educator who had been inspired by the dueling Cricuts at our pop-up space, but wanted more ideas about how she might use it with younger learners.   Kudos to her for asking WHY before purchasing a new maker tool!    I asked Patricia if she would help us out with a blog post that could inspire teachers of younger learners with ideas of how they might use such an accessible tool like the Cricut Maker or Explorer in their classroom.
Thank you Patricia for being our Guest Blogger in today’s March is for Making Series.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

March 17 - Acrylic Bending + Design Thinking = new Phone Stands

Yesterday's post in our March is for Making Series (30 post in 30 days to inspire you to keep on making from our #makered community) showed you how to make an acrylic bender for your classroom.  In today's post we take look in a classroom where this new maker tool was put to use.

Caty Wolfe (Pre-Tech teacher at Center for Technology in Essex, Vermont)  was eager to put her new acrylic bender to use.   In today's post, Caty shares the lesson she designed for her students!

During this lesson her students experienced the stages of design thinking,  built new skills with design tools,  and had a opportunity to document proficiencies in math and communication.

From  @WolfCatVT

Friday, March 16, 2018

March 16 - Feeling Maker Empowerment - Making an Acrylic Bender

We’ve all heard and probably experienced the feeling of empowerment that happens when making.   If you want to amplify that empowerment feeling - try making your own maker tools.

For a fun and inspiring example of this, check out where Thomas Thwaites documents his attempt at making a toaster from scratch -- including mining raw materials.
Building your own tools does not have to as daunting as Thomas Thwaites searching for copper mines in  The Toaster Project,  (a fun read)
It can include finding a kit like the 3D printer kits that Ellen and Lucie used to build their 3D printers. Or it can mean scouring the Internet for DIY videos and tutorials until you find one that will work for you.

In today's  March is for Making inspiration  (30 #makered inspirations in 30 days)we’re going to share how a group of teachers got together at the Generator for an empowering maker session and built their own acrylic bender.
Video: Teachers building maker tools at Generator - Burlington's maker space
After being inspired by Sarah Sutters workshop - Amazing Acrylic at Create Make Learn Summer Institute 2017,  where we learned to bend acrylic to create fun maker projects, many of us wanted our own acrylic bender for our school.

So we stopped wishing we had one and picked a date to come together  at the Generator (Burlington’s community makerspace) to  make one, or two or three!  

Vermont Educators ( Leah Joly, Caty Wolfe, Lucie deLaBruere, Jill Dawson, and Jean Cherouny) feeling empowered after a fun evening of making our own acrylic benders. 

Here’s some notes and pictures of our build
(Special thanks to Jill Dawson for documenting our build)
First the research:
Honestly, many of the DIY videos out there on making an acrylic bender were downright scary.  
Who wants an exposed nichrome wire  at 800 degrees in their classroom?
Finally we found a  a build video from BriskHeat   which used some of their heat tape and a control dial to  help regulate the temperature.  
Reassured that we could create a safe tool for our students to use, we proceeded to order and organize the materials.
A little more research on safety
Since we were planning to use these with students, one of our biggest concerns was safety. Special thanks to Tyler Feralio, for helping us find, modify, and test this acrylic builder plan from Brisk Heat.
And many thanks to  Generator member and leader in the electronics lab, Leisa Fearing, who helped us better understand  how the Brisk Heater worked and whether it would indeed be safe to use with our students.

Video: Leisa Fearing helps us understand our build

Step 1:  Prep Tools & Supplies
To get started we assemble your tools and supplies.

Lucie and Jean  headed to the wood shop where we cut the plywood to size.
We modified the dimensions of the Briskheat build to make our acrylic bender more portable and easier to store.  After doing a little math we decided we would need
  • 1 piece of ¾” sanded plywood, cut 1 foot wide by 3 feet high
  • 2 pieces of ¼” sanded plywood, cut 5.5” wide by 3 feet high

Step 2:  Assemble the Base

Our next step was to position the two smaller ¼” plywood to the top of the ¾” thick leaving a 1” gap in the middle to house the strip of silicone heat tape.  

Note:  If you are using a BriskHeat model with a wider strip of heat tape, you will need to adjust the dimensions of your ¼” plywood boards. This may be easily accomplished by measuring your heat tape at its widest point, adding a little to accommodate for the fact that you will also be adding fiberglass and aluminum in the groove to protect the wood from being scorched.

Once we were comfortable with how our boards were to be laid on top of each other, we applied some wood glue with a paintbrush.

We grabbed any wood clamps we could find to hold our project together while we went on to the next step.

Step 3:  Add Aluminum and Fiberglass to the Channel to Support the Heat Strip

The next step was to lay some  heavy tool aluminum and some fiberglass tape in the groove  to prevent the heat strip from scorching the wood when it heats up.   The hardest part was finding the right size of fiberglass tape.  We eventually found this in a marine shop that carries boat supplies.
We ended up using a little more than 2 feet of heavy tool aluminum 36 gauge, cut 4” wide and approximately 5 feet of 6” wide boat fiberglass or fiberglass tape
To determine the exact dimensions of the 36 gauge aluminum tooling, we took a measurement from the free tip of the heat tape to the start of its rectangular counterpart next to the power cord.

Using scissors, we cut a piece of aluminum that was 4” wide and 25.5” long.  We wanted the aluminum to be long enough to support the heat strip, without extending much beyond that.

Center the width of the aluminum along the channel between the ¼” boards.  We chose to position the aluminum about 2 inches from one end of the board and 8 inches from the other end, to give ourselves more room to house the control dial for the heat strip.

Use your thumb or the hard end of your paint brush to press the aluminum into the channel.

Secure the aluminum into place with the staple gun.
Here’s what your build should look like so far!  See how the strip heater fits neatly in the groove.

Step 4:  Add Fiberglass
Our next step would be to cut some fiberglass to add an extra layer of protective insulation.
This proved to be one of the harder step. Fiberglass is not easy to work with.  It unravels like crazy.
Note:  Please read this before cutting your fiberglass
To determine the dimensions of the 6” wide fiberglass (or fiberglass tape),  we took the length of our aluminum (25.5”) and added another 4 inches or so.  This left us with close to a 30” strip of fiberglass.

We then neatened up the edges by trimming them with scissors and reinforced each end of the fiberglass with electrical tape.  Duct tape would also work.

After we’d done this, we  realized that we should have DOUBLED the length of the fiberglass, to add more insulation.  

As a result, we simply cut another 30” strip of fiberglass and repeated the process, using more electrical tape to connect the two pieces of fiberglass at both ends.
If you’d prefer to cut one piece of fiberglass and double it (and then apply electrical tape to only one end, that is another option).
Position the fiberglass so that it completely covers the aluminum channel.  Press the fiberglass into the channel (with the heating tape nested inside of it), and use the staple gun to secure it into place.

Step 5:  Attach Zip Ties to Secure the Heat Tape

At this point we noticed that our heat tape didn’t stay in our groove the way we had hoped.  After lots of brainstorming solutions to this and experimenting, we finally came up with a way to keep the heat tape from slipping around.
First  we wrapped the free tip of the heat tape with one piece of electrical tape, and then used another piece of electrical tape, wrapped around the center of a zip tie, to attach it to the heat tape.  
We repeated this with the rectangular end of the heat tape closest to the power cord.
 Lastly, we used a staple gun to secure the zip ties in place.
You might engineer your own solutions to keep the heat tape in place.
Step 6:  Power it Up and Bend Some Acrylic
It was finally time to power up our newly assembled acrylic bender and test it.
Lay down a strip of Acrylic and hold it there until the crease becomes soft enough to bend it to the desired angle.
We found that a temperature gun came in handy to test where we had to position the dial so that the temperature would be around 200 degrees.  It also let us know when our acrylic was just the right temperature to easily bend.
Remove your piece of acrylic from the heat  source and hold it still while it cools to the point where it will keep its new shape.
And Voila!
In tomorrow's  post,  we’ll take you into Caty’s classroom to see how she and her students used the new acrylic bender that their teacher made herself!