Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Create Make Learn early bird deadline April 15

If you are thinking of attending Create Make Learn Summer Institute this summer.. here's a tip you can't miss.

If you register by April 15 there will be a $100 Bonus Toolkit waiting for you when they arrive on August 1
The content of the toolkit depends on what strand you register for
Strands incude
-- Create with Chrome
~ Create with iPads
~ Steam Powered Learning (beginner)
~ Extend your Maker Skills (intermediate)

Here are just a few highlights of some of the fabulous local and global presenters who will be joining us

Back by popular demand is Kevin Jarrett who has a national reputation for transforming spaces and programs to amazing innovative learning spaces

New this year.. Lisa Yokana - who has a national  reputation for helping educators and schools integrate design thinking in ALL content area

Check out their introduction to design thinking at IGNITE last week via Google Hangout Out
and more global and local educators doing amazing things in their classrooms

Jill Dawson - leading beginning and ADVANCED Paper Circuits and exTextiles

Leah Joly - sharing her tips for using Makey Makey and Scratch in ways that intersects code, design, inventing, and making

Sarah Sutter from the American School in Japan..
Check out her recent presentation at FabLearn Asia
Go to http:www.CreateMakeLearn.org for more details or directly to
Registration Options

~ options for Create Make Toolkit
~ options for Recertification or Graduate Credit
~ Bonus Toolkit (Value $100) if registered by April 15

Monday, March 14, 2016

Create Make Learn Summer Institute - Early Bird Countdown

I just want to invite everyone to join us  the week of August 1 in beautiful Burlington Vermont  for the Create Make Learn Summer Institute where 50 educators will converge to experience a week of creating, making, and learning together.

This will be the fifth consecutive year of professional development aimed at fueling creativity and innovation in our schools by first experiencing it yourself in a very personal way.

What will you Make this Summer? 
Early Bird Incentive if registered by April 15, 2016.

1 Join the Maker Movement with STEAM Powered Learning 

For educators looking to add S.T.E.A.M. to their classroom and to get started with Maker-Ed by exploring a variety of topics including, design thinking, design challenges, 3D printing, soft circuits, eTextiles, Arduinos, Makey Makey, Little Bits, Cardboard Creations, Scratch, Creating Games, Coding Robots, Minecraft, and more. 

2 Extend Your Maker Skills 

For educators looking to extend their skills into specific topics via full day or two day sessions. Topics may include Creating and Making with 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, eTextiles, kinetic sculptures and robots, vinyl cutting. 

3 Create and Make with iPads, iPods, and iPhones 

For educators looking for new ways for students to CREATE using iPads. Choose from sessions on making high quality movies, green screen, using Garageband, making eBooks, making art, making games, making interactive eBooks and learning to code, 

4 Creating with Chrome 

For educators looking for new ways for students to CREATE using Chrome and Chromebooks. Choose from sessions on making movies and podcast with WeVideo, creating 3D models, and 3D prints, making games and interactives, making ebooks, coding on a Chromebook and more. 

PreConference Sessions  

Build a 3D printer
Google Educator Certification Bootcamp 
~ Build Foundational Skills with Your Chromebook
~ Build Foundational Skills with Your iPad

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Inspiration from an 8 year old maker

As we travel, Craig and I like to visit and blog about creative spaces and convergences.  I'm always looking for some ideas that Vermont educators might benefit from at Create Make Learn Summer Institute.

While in San Diego we got to visit two different makerspaces -- The Fab Lab and MakerPlace.

During our  my visit  to the Fab Lab,  I noted four female makers on the poster board that featured their Resident Maker Experts -- one seemed a little younger than the rest.

Yesterday  I got to meet this most amazing young maker at the San Diego Fab Lab - 8 year old Isabelle (also known as IZZI).   When I met her, I could see why she was part of the Team That Gets Things Done at the Fab Lab.  

Izzi knows her way around a maker space! As you can see in this video, Izzi is totally at home with the space, the tools, and supplies.  

When I asked her to show me what she likes to make, she darted towards a back room, stopping  by a box of jumpers, and told me that she was learning to code and then identified a numerical value for each color jumper.

I was immediately curious to know more because, I had never heard anyone assign a numerical value to jumpers before.  But then Izzi proceeded to pull out a set of resistors calculating the value of the resistors by the color bands and then explained that one of her fellow resident makers used the colors on the jumpers to ‘drill her’ about these values. That is totally brilliant!  Izzi has some smart mentors who understand both making and learning!

Izzi quickly moved on to what CLEARLY was one of her favorite rooms filled with black and yellow crates that contained lockable plastic pieces, wheels, gears, pulleys, and a remote.  She pulled down a bridge from a high shelf,  rummaged through the drawers until she found a remote and then became entranced with the structure and its moving parts.  It was obvious that the world of mechanical engineering was one that fascinated her.  

Although I’ve seen a lot of different STEM products, I had yet to encounter the Rokenbok STEM kits and what better way to learn about them than through Izzi’s eyes. This reinforced my beliefs that STEM does not have to be pink or girly  to engage girls, but it does need to have a variety of entry points. The Rokenbok STEM kits quickly went on my list of  products with low threshold, high ceilings, and wide walls which I feel are  key to engaging a more diverse population of tech-savvy creators, makers, innovators, inventors and problem solvers.

When I  learned that another area that fascinated Izzi at the FabLab was the sewing area. filled with different types of sewing machines for various types of maker projects, I shared with her my interest in using Arduino in eTextile projects and showed her my latest hat project -- a black hat designed to show off an Arduino Bean that controls blue and white LEDs sewed into embroidered snowflakes. She was particularly fascinated with the fact that the project included a sensor that triggered a buzzer to play Star Wars music and started dancing to set off the accelerometer.

I asked her if she’d like to do some making together with some of my supplies.  We broke out some sewable LEDs, a sewable battery holder, conductive thread and quickly created a felt bracelet.   Her  comfort with circuits and ability to problem solve shined as she dashed across the room to find a multimeter when our LEDs failed to light on the first try.  

True confession:  My comfort with a multimeter pales compared to Izzi’s.   But her confidence with the tool inspired me to use mine more often until it becomes as second nature as it was for Izzi.  After learning that she had given the mayor of San Diego a soldering lessons, I was tempted to ask her for pointers.    But alas it was time to go and I wanted to leave Izzi with some supplies that would help her move our project to the next steps.   

I pulled out a  LilyPad Twinkle, some conductive thread and  some more sewable LEDs to leave with Izzi so  that she could  experience the way microprocessors  can be used  in her next sewing project. Then I showed her how I was using a more powerful microprocessor called the LilyPad Arduino to control some multi-colored neopixels on a unicorn headband project I was working on.

I would so love to come back and show Izzi to code a future Arduino project.  But my guess, is that Izzi is not going to need me to learn to code.  Izzi is fortunate enough to be surrounded with fabulous mentors from the FAB LAB who have taken her under their wing -- including her mom (Joy) who serves as  Community Relations Manager for the FabLab - San Diego.

The joy I was feeling while hanging out and making with Izzi was slightly dampened when hearing that Izzi school environment doesn’t seem to provide the opportunities for Izzi’s passion to shine.  The strong confident voice I heard from this young lady is not part of the Izzi you might see at school.

It’s sad that more kids don’t get to bloom the way Izzi obviously has by being surrounded in a rich environment for learning like the FabLab.   

It’s sad that students with passions for creating and making often don’t find a place to use that passion as part of everyday learning.  

Thankfully more schools are integrating more STEM/STEAM opportunities for students, and many educators I  work with are building their own maker spaces in their schools.

Thankfully more and more products like the Rokenbok STEM kits are being created with thoughtful attention to engaging a diverse group of students to “think like engineers gives them the skills and confidence to change the world.”

Thankfully many places like the FabLab are offering outreach opportunities to help our schools create tomorrow’s innovators.   

I can’t wait to see what path Izzi will follow as she continues to learn -- but something tells me engineering is somewhere in her future.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Create With Code

Middle School girls Creating With Code at
Girls Make It Day
You Can Do IT TOO!
I'm pretty excited about teaching a new course I'll be teaching at Marlboro (totally online) for educators who want to go beyond an hour of code.  If getting more confident with coding is one of your New Year's resolutions,  why not join others and do it together (as well as get college credit for it).

Here is the description - along with some notes answering inquiries about the course:

January 8 - April 16, 2016

The course is for elementary to high school educators with little to no experience programming, who want to learn enough about code to use it in their teaching. The information age, and activities such as Hour of Code, have revealed the importance of understanding basic programming in today's world. Students and educators are excited about learning to code and coding is finding its way into students' Personal Learning Plans. This course will give you the confidence to understand student's personal learning projects that may involve creating with code. It will also provide you with ideas for integrating basic coding into a variety of curriculum areas. Whether you decide to build a separate coding class, or integrate coding into your content area, this course will get you started using both graphical and text based coding platforms. We will combine graphical coding platforms (like Scratch/Blockly/SNAP) and Arduino's text based environment to 1: Create digital stories and games with code 2: Control physical objects with code. and 3: Examine ways to integrate coding and computational thinking into your learning environment. Participants will need access to an Arduino based microprocessor and one physical object that can be controlled by coding. These may be purchased, or borrowed via an optional $50 lab fee.

I have had several email inquiries about the specifics of this course,  so I thought I'd share my last email response to those inquiries in case it might help you decide if this is the type of course for you or one of your colleagues.

This is an online class.  WE will mostly be working asynchronously so you can work on it at your convenience, but there might be a few collaborative projects or options for synchronous Hangouts as schedules permits.

It will be very hands on and will introduce educators who have Little to NO coding experience to coding so they can  grow their confidence in Creating with Code and make better decisions about ways to integrate coding in their classroom.

We will be learning thinking routines and algorithms  that are key to success with coding and problem solving.  Computational thinking is not limited to coding and these routines align to both Common Core and Math standards of practice along with Next Gen standards.

We'll take a deeper look at what GROWTH mindset really means and how Coding can be used to develop a TRUE growth mindset.

We will be completing exercises that are available through many of the different coding curriculums along with other opportunities to determine which ones are best suited for your classroom based on grade level, content area, and goals. 

We will even be coding physical objects and exploring  pedagogical approaches that are researched based on the use of coding physical objects to help children learn and  develop creativity, problem solving, computational thinking, etc.

The class is NOT intended for those who want to become coders in industry but instead targets teachers who want to move beyond an hour of code.

Questions about cost of physical objects: Cost range from $30 - a few hundred dollars based on the objects.  Some schools may already have some of these objects.  I will have some for loan and will also introduce you to organizations that have a whole classroom set for loan.  

How much time per week?  That depends a lot on your learning style. 
Marlboro College along with other colleges have standards for academic rigor that are required by their collegiate certifications.  We will meet those.  

Yes, there will be readings and discussions  to help you make sound decisions about integrating coding in the classroom.   We will even do some virtual classroom visits.

Some of you may have some prior experience, others no prior experience.  NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE  is needed and the weekly lessons will be structured so that you can 'grow'  from your entry point.  If you do have prior experience, you will be encouraged to grow your skills using a variety of online resources.  As adult learners... you will be asked to gauge how much time you spend on problem solving if you encounter difficulty.  Hopefully you will encounter challenges that help you grow as a learner.  But there will be resources to help you so you don't stay stuck, and instead learn how to access resources that will GROW YOUR CONFIDENCE with code

Friday, February 27, 2015

Inspired by VentureLab in San Antonio

Here is post I just added to  my  Where the Girls Are series of posts from my TechSavvy Girls blog. 

As some of you know part of what we look for as we plan our travels is to be inspired by creative people and places.  Today's tour of VentureLab  was one of the highlights of our travels through San Antonio as part of our Living Learning Mobile Journey.   When I discovered VentureLab, one of the things that caught my attention right away was the 60% female participation statistic on the front page of their web site.

we're making a real difference

 724 students, 60% female participation,

Who are these people that are having such great results getting young women involved in high tech ventures?  I immediately started clicking around their website and discovered that not only are 60% of their student participants female,   but over 60% of their team are women -- SMART women!

And one of these women is their founder, Cristal Glangchai, PhD in BioMedical Engineering.   

Cristal is a scientist, professor,  entrepreneur , and mother of two girls who is passionate about teaching girls to become leaders in technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Spend two minutes with Cristal in this short video and you'll see for yourself  how the lack of women in her university program, lack of women CEOs, lack of women investors, all fueled Cristal's desire to get  more women involved in the innovation landscape.  And one of the ways she is doing that is through VentureLab  ~ an innovation academy that focuses on hands on learning and teaching youth about entrepreneurship.

But  it's not just Cristal's passion for raising the number of females who play a role in shaping the world around us that is driving the success you see at VentureLab;  it is the passion of a whole team and their belief in a shared vision. 

Click on the WHO ARE WE Link and listen to children, parents, community members, and other stakeholders join Cristal (cofounder)  and Director of Programs, Nick Honegger. passionately describe the shared vision of VentureLab.    As Dirk Elemdorf cofounder of Rackspace,  describes "this whole industry has been dominated by dudes who look exactly like me~ young white dudes."   VentureLab is filled with a team of supporters who are passionate in making changes in an industry that currently "cuts off women and people of color".  They understands that

"diversity of view gives us diversity of solution by keeping people not otherwise exposed to this stuff in the game we get a better shot of having them actually take these roles that we need to fill our future"

The shared mission of the team of VentureLab came through loud and clear as Program Director Director of Programs, Nick Honegger, described what happens at Venture Lab during our tour of the space today.

Start YOUNG! 

VentureLab wants to start with kids as young as 5 years old!


Using our ESTEAM framework, we provide experiential learning in Entrepreneurship,Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics, teaching students the key mindsets of entrepreneurial thinking, design thinking, creativity, and we provide hands on instruction in technology.  [VentureLab Website]

Let's Utilize our FULL WORKFORCE! 
Getting more women to participate in the STEM fields and take on entrepreneurial roles is not just about achieving gender equality; our entire country will benefit from this progress and development. To realize our full competitive and technological leadership as a nation, young women must be encouraged to achieve their full potential and receive more representation within ESTEAM-related fields. We want to ensure that our full workforce is being utilized, and that is why we strive to achieve gender parity within all of our programs.  [VentureLab Website]

Thank you, Hetali Lodaya and Nick Honegger  for taking time out of your day to show us around VentureLab today and fill us with inspiration that the world is filled with creative people doing amazing things. 

Cross posted by Lucie at

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Creating Collaborative Coding Garden Part 2

In Creating a Collaborative Coding Garden Part 1 I described how I created my first flower for my coding garden by hacking a votive LED tea candle and adding to it a beautiful flower made from colored stockings.

Once an emerging maker creates their beautiful creation, the next step is to add it to a collaborative garden and learn just enough code to give the flower its own unique presence in our collaborative garden.  I'm working on the premise that 'CREATING" something beautiful will lead to a high motivation to make it come to life.  And since learning some basic coding give your contribution to our collaborative garden the life you want it to have,  maker will have a very personal reason and high motivation to learn to code.   

We all know that motivation is the key to learning, and I truly believe that this collaborative garden will provide motivation to learn to code to a more diverse audience.   But enough philosophy -- let's get started with next steps to creating the garden.

In yesterday's post we hacked our flower, by removing the battery and switch from the votive candle and replacing the LED with a new LED with longer leads, making it more versatile. Today I took the remaining 5 votives in my six-pack and quickly hacked them all (removing the battery and switch and replacing the LED with one with longer traces).  

Now let's play with our new hacked votive candles and see how easy it is to control them with a a microprocessor and a little bit of coding knowledge.

The first step is set up an Arduino board so that it 'talks' to our computer.  I chose the LILYPAD  Arduino board  because it's inexpensive and once you learn some basic coding techniques, you can use it for all types of fun crafty projects.  Installing the drivers the first time  is the trickiest part to using this board, but Sparkfun provides some great directions on how to use a USB cable and FTDI (adapter) to connect the LilyPad to your computer, and set up the Arduino software  so it can talk to your Lilypad.

Once the drivers are installed correctly, you should not have to worry about them again, but you might need to double check that the Arduino settings are still configured for your LilyPad board.  (Check these AFTER the board is connected to your computer).

The next step is to use  alligator clips to connect the positive and negative lead  of one of your newly hacked votive candles.  I like to color code my negative and positive leads.  In this project I chose black and white alligator clips to connect the negative leads.

Take the alligator clip that is connected to the negative lead on your candle and connect it to the negative pin of your LILYPAD.

Then take the alligator clip that is connected to the positive lead on our candle and connect it to any PIN on your LILYPAD (except negative).  I chose PIN 5.

Let's load the sample code called BLINK.  We are going to change the code a bit  by changing PIN 13 in the sample code to PIN 5. (assuming your colored alligator clip is hooked up to Pin 5)

It should now look like this .

You'll want to click on the Verify button to make sure your code works.  This process compiles the code and checks it for syntax errors.  It's easy to accidentally delete a comma or make a syntax error when working with code. Verify is the first step to making sure you have all the "syntax" correct to that the microprocessor (LILYPAD) will understand our instructions.

If no 'orange' error messages appear at the bottom,  you're golden and can now hit the SEND button to send your code (instructions)  to the LILYPAD microprocessor.  You'll see some lights blink quickly on the microprocessor as the instructions are transferred from your computer to the LilyPad's microprocessor.   Then if all worked well your votive candle (the one connected  to your LILYPAD with alligator clips)  should start to blink.  

Now blinking might not be all that exciting (YET).  But once you start to understand how code works, you'll be able to add other effects like blink and fade.   And once you can control one flower, you'll be able to apply your new coding skills to control a whole garden full of flowers.  Imagine what you'll be able to do then.

In the next post we'll take a closer look at the code so that we can start doing more than blink a flower.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Can MAKING a Collaborative Garden teach us MAKING and CODING skills? Let's find out!

Many of you know that I love finding new ways to introduce kids to coding.  Many of you know that I love getting girls involved with technology.  Well ever since last fall, I have been dreaming of a project that will do both get girls involved in Making and in Coding.  I'm planning on using it for our next Girls Make IT  Day.

Here is Part 1 of CREATE a COLLABORATIVE GARDEN with CODE  project.  When I first started to think about this project,  I was thinking we might create a 3D map or a Village where we all make structures of buildings that have LED's inside the buildings.  This was inspired by +Leah Joly  Christmas village project and the 3DVermont project.

From MIT News
Then +Mara Siegel posted this  a link to  a Robot Garden from  MIT  aimed at making CODING more accessible.  That's exactly what I was thinking, but with  less complexity. After all they are MIT!  Instead of 100 robots and distributed algorithms,  my idea was to start with a half dozen flowers designed to include a programmable LED and then have the garden slowly grow with each iteration of the workshop.

So I combined all these ideas and in the next few days I'm going to blog about my journey into making my 'simpler'  version of creating an accessible Collaborative Coding A Garden Project.

Here is Part 1 of a series of blog post I will use to document my journey during this new Maker project.

I loved the garden idea. If everyone involved created something for the garden that they could code, what a fun dynamic intersection of art and technology we would have.  I immediately started looking around for some fun ways to MAKE flowers that could have a programmable LED.
I was inspired by this video of creating Flowers from stockings and could easily see a way to work this into our idea for a Collaborative Garden.

I looked into two fabric stores, neither of which had fabric that was stretchable like Stockings, so Off to Walmart.  Finding colored stockings turned out to be harder than I thought,  but I eventually found some colorful somewhat sheer tights in the children's department.

I picked up different gauge craft wire and ended up using the 20 gauge wire.

With a little practice wrapping wire around an toilet paper roll, stretching fabric and securing the fabric by wrapping thread and tying knots, I soon had 10 petals ready to go.   

The next step was to assembling the petals around the flame of an LED powered tea candle that I found at Walmart (6 for $2.50)

So far so good... Now for the geeky part.  If you've ever done a toy hacking project, you know how much fun it can be to tear things apart.  When I took apart the tea candle votive, I discovered a 2032 battery,  and LED and a switch.   This was so perfect.  Not only did I have all the supplies I needed at less than 40 cents per flower,  I had a great opportunity to include 'hacking'  in my project and to also review the circuits and switch concepts we introduced in our last Girls Make IT DAy.

At this point the girls could change the LED to a different color and have a stand alone light.  
Or they could change the LED to one with longer leads to open up a whole array of options for using their new flowers in a project.  

Here a short video preview of what the flower hack looks like (Sorry about the 3D printer noise in the background, I was printing parts for version 2 of the flower)

Ah the possibilities... Come back tomorrow and see what I come up with.