Saturday, July 13, 2024

Cambridge Rotary Sponsors Girls and STEM Project

This June, I once again witnessed the amazing  support from  Rotary International to their local communities.   On their website, Rotary International is described as 

"Rotary is a global network of 1.4 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves."
Girls in STEM
Tech Savvy Girls Camp 2018

Through their support of Girls and STEM, our local Rotary clubs are indeed creating 'problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action".  For years,  the Rotary Club of Newport has made it possible for  young women like, Sydney (see video below) to spend a week with their peers creating confidence with technology through  creative and practical problem solving at TechSavvy Girls summer camp.

This June, the Cambridge Area Rotary Club sponsored a Girls in STEM event at Cambridge Elementary School that engaged 3rd and 4th grade girls with Circuits and Code.  The event, designed and lead by Faith Horton (Cambridge Elementary) and Lucie deLaBruere (Create Make Learn) provided the girls with the opportunity to express their creativity while creating confidence with computer science and circuits.

THANK YOU to the Cambridge Area Rotary!

We used Scratch (a coding platform from M.I. T) to start coding firefly stories. 

In no time at all, the girls coded a backdrop with blinking fireflies and learned how to animate firefly sprites that could tell stories as they moved across the screen. 

Soon, we turned our focus to batteries, led lights, and switches to build simple circuits.  Inspired by colored LED and empowered with a wire stripper, the girls  put together circuit assemblies that would become part of a firefly model.  


Using creative and practical problem-solving, we used our circuit assemblies in creative firefly models whose abdomens lit up.   Colorful paper and craft supplies assembled with tape and glue fueled by creativity yielded some amazing fireflies.

Watch Cambridge girls empowered with creativity, circuits, and code!

As our time together for this session came to an end, the girls left with light up fireflies in hand and a greater awareness of how creativity, code, and circuits can empower them with new tools for creative and practical problem solving.   Hopefully many will be back during our week long exploration of many different ways to play with circuits and code.   Here's a sneak preview of different ways we will play with circuits and code at Cambridge Elementary later this summer. 

Thursday, June 27, 2024

AI-Vermont - Playground Session: Creative Computing with Block-Based Code and AI


I'm super excited to be part of the AI-Vermont Playground where we will use an accessible block based platform for engaging students with creative coding: 

Use these slides to engage in our playground session.

Here is a DEMO of the project we will be making.  Although you can see the Demo without being logged into Creati-code.  The interactive chatbot will only work with CHAT GPT if you are logged into Creati-Code (for accountability purposes).  This connection to Chat GPT is filtered to school appropriate Feel free to make an account as a student to try it.   (Teacher accounts are also available, but are not immediately approved)

AI for Educators Discussion at MGI


I got the opportunity to lead a  discussion on AI at Middle Grades Institute this week. 

The goal for our conversation was to connect with thought partners on the topic of AI in education.

I chose to use the Compass Protocol from SRI as a framework for the discussion. We started by thinking about our own personalities and needs and formed discussion questions based on those 4 compass points.

As a person who identifies with the North Compass Point, you have probably already tried AI tools.  We shared AI tools that help us be more efficient and effective with instruction as well as AI tools that support constructionist practices. 

We considered some of the Big Picture questions that are being asked by those of us who align with the EAST compass point. 

And those who identified with the Southern Compass were eager to ask some important questions about diversity, inclusion and equity.

And we concluded our discussion with suggestions of how we learn more and the conversation about AI continues to evolve.

Here are a few ideas for staying connected to learn more. 

 Feel free to complete this Google Form if you would like to get notified as opportunities to stay connected about AI in education in Vermont you can. 

 If you'd like to use these discussion starter slides with your colleagues, you may use them or join our discussion. 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Dynamic Landscape 2024

 I'm looking forward to sharing with colleagues at
Dynamic Landscape Conference 2024
May 16 and 17 

Creative Computing using Turtle Stitch and Turtle Art

A hands on session where you will create with code you can touch using Turtle Stitch and Turtle Art.
and export your code in a format that can work with embroidery machines, craft cutters (i.e. Cricut), laser cutters, and 3D printers. Teaching computational thinking by programming Turtles using Logo was part of Seymour Papert's work more than 50 years ago and continues to be an accessible and pedagogically sound approach to including computational thinking in your learning environment. Let's create with Code!

Create an AI chatbot using

Scratch and AI code blocks

from Creaticode

Looking for a way to introduce AI to your students by putting them in the drivers seats as creators, designers, and coders of AI apps?  Then join us for this hands-on session where YOU will create your own chatbot using SCRATCH and AI blocks.  Creaticode is a Scratch-based accessible tool for middle and high school students that can help you design  project based learning where students are using and creating  their own AI applications that are fueled by wonder, curiosity, and inquiry. You will leave this session with a working Chatbot that can be used in any content area.


TEST chatbot

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

5 Reasons To Join Us This Summer

5 reasons to join us at 

Create Make Learn Summer Institute 
in Bellows Falls on August 5-9, 2024

Come and be INSPIRED
CREATE Confidence with new tools
MAKE a meaningful project
LEARN Design Thinking
& other ways to engage students with hands-on minds-on learning

Don't take our word for it.
Just listen to last year's participants who rated
Create Make Learn Summer Institute 5 out of 5! 

The Joy of Learning Through Creating and Making

Additional Comments from Participants (2023)

"Create Make Learn is a state of mind that really reinforces best practices in education while including inclusive practices".
"This experience will forever change the way I think and teach, and sparked an interest in me that I did not know I had."
"This has allowed me to design a whole new experience for my students. Without this I wouldn't have had the confidence to start to have students further explore makerspace activities"
"Great support, lots of choice, ability to make something meaningful"

"The flexibility of the instructor to switch and meet the needs of the group was spectacular. It feels like every person received what they needed."
"I love the way that this was set up. I feel that it provided a great balance of direct instruction, guided instruction and independent practice. We were able to bounce ideas off of each other and work collaboratively while also working on independent projects."
"I really appreciated the time to work at our own speed, and then the fluid choices of the day. Inspire, create confidence, make something useful"
"I accomplished a lot this week as I practiced and honed my skills, while also acquiring new ones. The class had a great balance of independent work and group discussions, which fostered a stimulating and productive learning environment."

Learn more at

Come and be INSPIRED
CREATE Confidence with new tools
MAKE a meaningful project
LEARN Design Thinking
& other ways to engage students with hands-on minds-on learning

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Create Make Learn Summer Institute 2024 registration open


Create Make Learn Summer Institute will be returning to southern Vermont this year on 

August 5-9 

at Bellows Falls Middle School

Download Flyer and Register at

What does it Look Like and Sound like when teachers

Get Inspired

Create Confidence with new Tools and Processes

Make Something Meaningful

Watch this 2 minute video to find out.

or watch this longer video where Sam describes her process with  in more detail.
to make something meaningful at Create Make Learn Summer Institute 2023 

Join the Strand that's right for you - from Newbie to more Advanced Learner

  • Getting Started with Creating and Making (for beginners)
  • Create Confidence with Creating, Making & Coding
    (for those with some previous experience)

Registration is now open. 

  • ~Creative and Practical Problem Solving with 
Cardboard, Paper, and Loose Parts
  • ~Designing STEAM infused Literacy Projects
  • ~Make Media: Podcast & Green Screen Video Projects
  • ~Create Confidence with Circuits & Code
  • ~Design Thinking & Identity Projects in 2D & 3D
    (using 3D printers, Laser Cutters, Vinyl Cutters, etc)
  • -Explore role of AI in Creating and Making

Options for Graduate or Recertification Credit

Complete and share a Meaningful Making Project applying your learning through design, creating, and making

Plan a curricular unit or school project where creating and making are central to learning goals and provide opportunities for students to develop growth or proficiency of Vermont Transferable Skills

Connect with peers that best meets your needs : PreK / Elementary /Middle School / High School


The first 10 people to sign up will receive a toolbox filled with supplies and tools you can use for creating  and making in your classroom.    

Get Inspired

Create Confidence with new Tools and Processes

Make Something Meaningful

Photos from 2023 Create Make Learn Summer Institute

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Creating with AI on Solar Eclipse weekend

What an exciting couple of days! 

Not only did I get to experience Totality during our April 8 solar eclipse, I also experienced creating my first AI chatbot  Scratch Project  I was introduced to the Creaticode platform during a recent Scratch networking event and was immediately intrigued when I saw the AI code blocks.  

Spending a few quiet days in northern Vermont just before the eclipse gave me the opportunity to play and explore the Creaticode tutorials. And in no time at all, I found myself creating a project with an AI chat-bot around the topic of the Solar Eclipse we were about to experience. 

Click here to open this project in CreatiCode. Press Green Flag to start.

Note:  I just learned that you have to be signed into CreatiCode for the ChatGPT connection to work. 
Sign in as a students for easy access.  This will also allow you to 'SEE INSIDE" and see the actual code. 

 How I approached creating my first AI chatbot project with CreatiCode.

If you are familiar with Scratch from MIT, you will find yourself right at home here.  There is even a DOG sprite that sort of looks like a CAT on the opening screen of a new project.  I immediately spotted the buttons I needed to add sprites and backgrounds. 

I started my new project by picking a new background that was somewhat celestial in nature.  

Then I added the closest thing I could find to an astronaut looking sprite named Ripley.  

I started by making the Dog welcome us using the SAY Block which is found in the purple LOOK section.   Remember to Click on the Green Flag to Run your program.

Now let's add some code to the Ripley sprite.
Instead of coding in a static response in this dialogue,  I started to explore the AI code blocks that allow you to access ChatGPT to make the character dynamic and interesting.  Here are some initial instructions to get you started if you are following along. 

Start by  creating a variable to hold the RESPONSE from ChatGPT

Using the orange set of blocks (Variable) click on Make a Variable, and name your new variable ‘response’.
If you add a blue checkmark, the variable will show up on your stage.  You can always uncheck the response variable later to hide it from your stage. 

Now its time to add some AI blocks (dark purple).

Let's start by analyzing the OpenAI ChatGPT block and its parameters.

Select the purple OPENAI ChatGPT: request block. Replace the word HI with a PROMPT or  REQUEST to ChatGPT. 

The reply or result  from ChatGPT needs to be stored in a variable.  We'll use the response variable we created earlier to store the results from ChatGPT. 

Keep the MODE on  "Waiting" for our first example.  

Mode: This dropdown controls whether this block will wait for all the response to come back before continuing to the next block.

  • If it is set to “waiting”, then the program will pause at this block, and when we get the full response from OpenAI, it will be stored in the result variable, and then the program will continue  to the next piece of block code.

Here is my initial attempt at using the ChatGPT block to control our Ripley Astronaut  Sprite

Let me walk you though the code.

Since my Dog  used '6 seconds' to say the Welcome statement,  I  added code for Ripley to 
WAIT 6 seconds. 

Now let's use the purple ChatGPT request block. 

Replace the word HI with the blue prompt below. and add the response variable to the drop down orange box right after the word result.    The response variable we created earlier will  store the ChatGPT reply.  Keep the mode "Waiting" and the length and temperature the same for now.
You are an astronaut getting ready to experience a solar eclipse.  You've never seen one before.  Tell us how it feels to be waiting for this event of a lifetime.   Keep your response to 50 words.

The next block code is for the RIPLEY sprite to  'SAY'   the ChatGPT's response for 6 seconds. 

Click on the GREEN Flag to RUN your program.  A different response from ChatGPT will be displayed each time you  RUN the program by clicking the Green Flag. 

At this point,  I would remove the RESPONSE variable from the screen.  To remove it, simply click on the Variable code block and remove the blue checkmark next to response.

Here is some useful info about the rest of the parameters in the  Open ChatGPT session code from the Creaticode knowledge base.

  • Length: This is the maximum number of tokens for the response. You can think of a token as a word or a symbol. ChatGPT will try to make sure its response does not exceed this limit, but it may not be able to give a complete response if the limit is too small.

  • Temperature: This is a number between 0 and 2. A higher value will make the response more random and creative; a lower value will make the response deterministic and focused.

  • Session: This dropdown controls whether we are continuing the previous conversation, or we are starting a new chat. If it is a new chat, the ChatGPT robot will not remember anything from the previous conversation (the “context”).

    • For example, if we try to ask 2 questions that are related using “new chats”, ChatGPT does not know what we want it to do for the second question, because it does not “remember” the first question is about calculating squares:

Then I started to play with my prompt a bit by giving ChatGPT more info.
Play around with your prompt by giving ChatGPT more info along with a role to play. Limit the number of words in the response it offers. 

It was so cool to hit the Green Flag and see my Astronauts share his feelings about the Solar Eclipse. 

Don't be afraid to experiment with your PROMPT and some of the parameters in your ChatGPT request block. 
I ran into trouble when I first changed the parameter to STREAMING.
But then, I followed instructions on CreatiCodes's tutorial  for Chat with Einstein  to successfully
create the streaming effect for the text responses from ChatGPT. 

Note that the green checkmark appears as the last character of a ChatGPT response.
So if you want the streaming affect you need to use the REPEAT UNTIL code block to loop until you get to the end of the reply. 
Use the link below to copy the green 'checkmark' that signifies the end of ChatGPT's response.

By now I was hooked, but it was time to go experience TOTALITY. 

Sometimes there are no words! 

I spent a good part of the next day or so thinking about the universe! So many questions came to mind.
And I immediately got an idea for where I wanted to go next with my ChatBot project!  

What if I could create a storyline with a chatbot astronaut that allowed students to enter the many eclipse related questions that were sparked from their solar eclipse experience.  I felt like my brief exploration of CreatiCode  provided me with just enough skill to bring this  idea to life.   It's not perfect, but here is a tour of my coding journey. 

Most the skills I needed were covered in these 2 tutorials from CreatiCode Knowledge Base. I strongly recommend reading through both of these. 

ChatGPT AI: Chat with Einstein (Difficulty: 3)


Don't let the Difficulty ranking scare you,  I found them quite accessible.   Not only do they explain the code quite well, they also help you understand how to use Prompt Engineering  to get the result you want.

It was so much fun to play around with Creaticode to create my own AI Chatbot project about the Solar Eclipse. 

Let me give you a tour of what I came up with.  You can do this by clicking on the SEE INSIDE button of the project.  (You'll need to be logged in to your Creaticode account to see this button) 

Click on the sprite named Ripley, and let's take a look at the Code associated with our little astronaut. 

You'll notice that I added music to kick things off with 

But the key code for Ripley looks like this: 

The first part of the code makes sure that Ripley shows up  on the Screen in the correct location and the  right costume.  He then SAYS "Welcome everyone ..." and waits 2 second.  I liked starting with a predictable static welcome message. 

 Then we dragged over the purple OPENAI ChatGPT request block and added a prompt that gives it a ROLE and instructions to create a dynamic response from Ripley. 

You are an astronaut getting ready to experience a solar eclipse.  You've never seen one before.  Tell us how it feels to be waiting for this event of a lifetime.   Keep your response to 50 words.

I used the following parameters for my ChatGPT requests.

The next few lines of codes were needed to display  the chat streaming effect.  Check out the Einstein Chat  tutorial for a very thorough explanation of how this works. 

The rest of the code sequence tells Ripley exactly what to say and makes him float around the screen while changing costume for visual interest.  I wanted the instructions to be static and the same each time, so I coded those into a sequence of SAY blocks. 
In this Sequence of SAY commands, Ripley introduces the idea of a chat bot where you will be able to ask questions.

The final command in this sequence is the BROADCAST Command 

This will send a message to the Rocket Sprite.  
You'll need to go and look at the code of the  Rocket Sprite Code to see what happens when it hears the BROADCAST 'Show Rocket". 
But before we go,  review the Rocket code below and try to imagine our Ripley Sprite following these commands. 

Now let's take a look at the Code associated with the Rocket Ship. 
You'll notice two sequences. 

When we press the  Green Flag, the rocket will hide and make sure its size is set to 100%.
This will happen  each time we start the program.

Next the Rocket ship LISTENS and it RECEIVES  (or hears) someone broadcast "SHOW ROCKET"
it will: 

-Appear or SHOW itself on the screen,  move towards Ripley, 
-Start  a sound
-Then glide off the screen, and "disappear/hide'
- Finally it will  switches the Stage Background to STARS.

Before we continue, let's  go back to Ripley's code to see that the code that makes him  disappear (HIDE)  off the screen as soon as the Rocketship touches him.  (This is to simulate him going into the rocket before it takes off)

Stay with me as I explain the final sequence of code, that I chose to associte with the Stage.
Click on the Stage, then examine the code.  

We start by making sure the Galaxy background appears everytime we start the program. 

Then we  provide ChatGPT with a Prompt that includes a  new role and some instructions for our Chatbot.  Our goal is to create a telecommunication device to chat with Ripley after he blasts off. 
The Chatbot Widget is the perfect solution. 
But I don't want it to appear on the screen until after Ripley leaves in his rocket. 
I triggered this by having the last command of  the Rocket Code be

 As you can see in the Code that belongs to the STAGE, there is a TRIGGER or EVENT that will only happen when the background gets switched to STARS.  

Before we Add the Chat Window, we will use the purple OpenAI ChatGPT: SYSTEM request block to give ChatGPT a role with some rules for how it responds.  Notice that this is the  SYSTEM REQUEST code.  This is the perfect code to use when you want to give ChatGPT instructions, but don't want an answer back.  

After some experimentation with different PROMPTS,  I found this PROMPT gave me the results I wanted. 

You are an umpbraphile who was a great understanding of solar eclipse who helps students understand what will happen during a solar eclipse. Your responses are limited to 150 words or less.  Do not respond to any questions that are not related to eclipses.

Now that you have given ChatGPT instructions, we are ready to add a Chatbot that simulates a
communication device between the user and Astronaut Ripley.

The greenish blue Add Chat Window block makes a Chat Widget appear on the screen. 
I had to play around with the size parameters.  I also played around with the  STARS backdrop graphics by adding some TEXT instructions and a little rocket icon. 

The last command (APPEND TO CHAT)  in this sequence populates a message in the chatbot widget.
 I decided to start the chat conversation with a message from Ripley. 
Note that the Chat message appended will include an icon of a  Robot and say it is from RIPLEY

Okay - HANG In There!  We just have one more CODE SEQUENCE to look at. 

The next piece of code is triggered every time the user adds something to the INPUT box of the Chat Widget.   

 The sequence of code beneath When Widget Chat1 is clicked
 is triggered every time the user types something into the chat.

The sequence starts with the APPENDS to the CHAT code and adds whatever the USER typed in (VALUE OF WIDGET Chat 1) 
Note that we decided to use the word "ME" with an icon of a USER in RED every time to user types something into the Chatbox.

The next steps (purple) is to Open Chat GPT and send it the words the user typed in (value of widget Chat 1) and add the response from ChatGPT to the Response variable. 

Finally you need to add/append whatever is in the RESPONSE variable to our Chat Widget
as a  Chat message 
Note the changes that will make this appear as if it is from Ripley using the Robot icon in green.

And VOILA, with I had now created my first iteration of an AI Chatbot project. 

According to CreatiCode "this is a strongly moderated version of ChatGPT, which will not respond to any request that’s not appropriate for a school environment."
And yes, I tried a few just to test it! 
Did you notice the part of my prompt that made it so this Chatbot would redirect the user if they try to chat about something else than solar eclipse.

I'm already thinking of some ways to make it better, but wanted to leave my first iteration 'as is' so you can see how easily I was able to start using Creaticode to integrate AI into a block coding project after looking over just a few tutorials.

If you're new to Scratch, I would suggest starting with this tutorial

This tutorial is great for learning the basics of Coding with CreatiCode
2D - SDG 3 - Care Bots for Older Persons (Difficulty: 1) | CreatiCode Scratch

If you're already familiar with Scratch,  you can quickly learn the basics of the AI Chat functions  from these two tutorials

ChatGPT AI: Chat with Einstein

ChatGPT AI: An Improved Chat App

You'll have to Join and Sign In to see  the code inside.

Why I'm so Excited about this! 

So many reasons!  

This platform  is an accessible  and school friendly way for students and teachers to start to understand AI.   According to Creaticode, it uses "a strongly moderated version of ChatGPT, which will not respond to any request that’s not appropriate for a school environment."

I love that it works on a Chromebook and uses Scratch (a truly accessible way for even younger students to CREATE with CODE). Many of our students have experience with Scratch, so the interface and codes will be familiar to many. 

I truly believe that Media Literacy should be included as an integral part of a child's education. But, too often, media literacy and digital citizenship are taught in a passive way.   AI is rapidly becoming part of our world. Telling students about AI is not going to prepare students to live in that world.  Creating projects with code that integrate AI using an accessible tool like CreatiCode and Scratch can help students better understand how AI works in the technology they are already using.

Douglas Rushkoff's message still holds true today.  - Program or be Programmed.

Another reason that I'm excited is thinking about how this simple application of creating a AI Chatbot Project can add more hands-on tools for students to learn with and demonstrate their learning. I'm imagining project based learning where students are using and creating AI applications that are fueled by wonder, curiosity, and inquiry. 

For those of you who design learning with UDL (Universal Design for Learning) principles,  I think you'll agree that this application can fall in all 3 UDL categories (Providing multiple modes of representation, engagement, and expression). 

I could go on,  but I think I'll stop here for now --  Stay tuned for more reflection as I continue to explore and play.