Friday, March 31, 2017

March is for Making #31 - Toy Hacking

This is the last post in the series March is for Making
which included 31 sequential post to inspire you to create and make as a way of learning in your school.   It's also the last  scheduled day of the early bird discount for this year's Create Make Learn Institute -- maybe!    If you are reading this post  and thinking about joining the fun at Create Make Learn Summer Institute 2017,  we've got a surprise for you.  As a thank you for reading this series, we've include a special code that will get you access to the early bird incentive until April 15.  You can find the code at the bottom of this post.

Every year Toy Hacking is one of the favorite workshops at Create Make Learn Summer Institutes. Who would have thought that taking apart and remixing the components of old toys to make something new would be so much fun!  

This workshop is filled with laughter and new learning!

The first part of the new learning is OBSERVATION… looking around for good candidates for the toy hack.  Toy Hacking has changed the way I look at yard sales!  Sunday afternoons are the best for negotiating a whole box of toys at minimal cost!  

Visiting GoodWill stores or asking for donations usually leads to come creative and unexpected products to hack into.

Taking Toys apart is a whole learning process in itself. Learning how to break into toys in a way that leaves you with components you can reuse also requires observation and introduces new tools and techniques for how to use tools.

Identifying the different parts and what they do is a good way to apply your knowledge of circuits and how they work.

Toy Hacking can inspire the imagination, meet a child’s need,  teach you to use new tools,  help you develop systems thinking, and prepare you for more advanced making!  

Check out some of the Toy Mashups that teachers created at the
2016 Create Make Learn Summer Institute 

And here are a few more....

To add a unique sense of purpose to your toy hacking session consider creating design thinking challenges that ask students to design a toy hack that would meet a child’s need who can not use the toy as currently designed.

Check out some of the resources on DIYABILITY such as this resource for adapting a remote control car so that it can work with a SWITCH that is accessible for a special needs child.

John Schimmel and Holly Cohen started DIYABILITY with the goal of creating  “a community for people who believe that technology is world opening. The tools and software available today can let anyone implement and make their own devices and make almost anything else. DIYAbility is not just about assistive technology and all that orthopedic looking stuff - it is about acting on an idea whether it is for personal fun or assistance.”

What a perfect way of combining design thinking and  toy-hacking to create empathetic makers who understand the process of design thinking.

As a thank you for reading our March is for Making series of post to inspire making in your school, here is a special code you can use to extend  the date for the early bird incentive until April 15. 
Use the code when you  register for Create Make Learn Summer Institute 2017 at 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

March if for Making - Student inspiring teachers

Last night I was inspired by the presentation of two middle school students from North Country Junior High at the Vita-Learn Northeast Regional Meeting of how they use Makey Makey to share their learning.

A group of educators first listed to McKenna share how her carrot windchime and how she came up with the idea of making musical wind chimes with Makey Makey and some carrots.

Molly followed McKenna demonstrating the interactive poster she had created with a makey makey as a history day project.

Both projects were quite different and proved to the group of educators that a Makey Makey is an open ended tool with many possibilities for all types of curriculum areas.

Listen to Molly share her project

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March is for Making #29 - HANDS on MINDS on Learning

EMMA- my mobile studio for creating and making had the privilege of visiting Shelburne Community School yesterday.  where I saw so much evidence that making enables you to think with your hands!

Thank you to everyone from Tarrant and Shelburne Community School who were part of this experience.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March is for Making #28 - Student making solves problems in Alzheimer community

In their book  Maker Centered Learning ( Clapp, Ross, Ryan, & Tishman (2017), “Maker-Centered Learning.”), the authors  spend quite a bit of time examining the primary and secondary benefits of Making in School.  One of the primary benefits of making in our school is that it is the perfect vehicle for developing student agency and building characters.

Student agency can come from making something that is meaningful to them personally,    but when they get involved in opportunities to make things that are meaningful to others in their community, they move from Making Stuff to Making Community.  

In his class, Make IT  101,  Michael  Fricano II from Iolani Schools provides his students an amazing opportunity to MAKE Community

Students designed a product that would help solve a problem that the patients and facility workers of a local Alzheimer's Center faced on a daily basis.

The projects included a texture ball to help calm the patients and provide entertainment;

a language communication box that served as sort of like a connect 4 board where patients could drop in communication cards with pictures and word translations for things they wanted, this was to help with those patients that spoke other primary languages (japanese & korean) which made it difficult for the nurses to communicate with them;

and the third project was a light box that also was meant to help calm and reduce stress and anxiety.

These student project touched my heart so much, I just had to share it as inspiration during March is for Making series.

Monday, March 27, 2017

March is for Making #27 - Interactive Posters and Galleries

Today's inspiration comes to us from Rutland City Public Schools.Our guest bloggers, Patricia Aigner, Director of Technology. models for us how to create curricular connections and  deeper learning experience with one of everyone's favorite maker tools - Makey Makey.
Guest blog post by Patricia Aigner
Director of Technology, Rutland City Public Schools

Interactive Posters and Galleries
Have you ever visited a museum and interacted with a display?  It may have been a diorama, wall map or image.  You pressed a trigger and the combined music, voices and imagery created a story for you that helped you process the information using all your senses.
What started as a challenge from my colleagues has turned into a great project for students and teachers.   Lucie de La Bruere had introduced me to the makey-makey and scratch through an online course.  I was immediately excited and stormed the lunchroom for an afternoon with a makey-makey banana piano.  I encouraged students to play.

All 800 students loved it, but administrators were unimpressed (although it was one of the quietest lunches they had experienced in years).  I was informed that until I made a curriculum connection I was wasting our time. I accepted the feedback, started brainstorming and inspiration struck.
I decided to create my first project about the Women’s Rights Movement.  I researched and located images from the time period at the National Archives.  I then printed the images on cardstock and stenciled them with conductive paint to create a touch point for each sound.
In scratch I recorded my voice with a short narrative about each of the images and the history behind them.   I connected a makey-makey to my chromebook running the scratch project.  Then I attached an alligator clip to each of the stenciled areas of my images.   Here is a quick product video I made that day using my phone.

I presented the idea to our social studies department.  Two RMS teachers decided it was a good fit for their Renaissance Unit.  Each middle school student conducted research and created an interactive poster about an important Renaissance figure.   

Suddenly the room was filled with an “art gallery” of important figures from that time period.  Each poster had text, images and student narrative courtesy of scratch and a makey-makey.  You can learn more about the experience when RMS teachers present the project at Dynamic Landscapes 2017.

This was good, but I was scouting for something that did not need a chromebook!  I had played around with a SparkFun MP3 Player Shield and had success.  That was the inspiration for my next project.
I wanted to create a beautiful project that could stand alone and was easily reproduced by students.   I was inspired by images from a series by American’s for the Arts and contacted them for permission to reproduce.   I then designed a graphic about Louis Armstrong using the images and Microsoft Publisher.  To get the poster scale I wanted, I printed it on our large plotter printer in color.   
I stenciled notes in conductive paint onto the poster and ran copper tape to a Bare Touch Board. I added Louis Armstrong music and voice to a micro SD card that can be inserted into the board.

In the image below, each of the conductive paint notes triggered a different electrode and played a sound.  I started with a small speaker, but quickly realized that I needed something more powerful.  
A battery is wired to the back.  Here is my first attempt.

The demo poster was well-received. RHS students are currently creating an interactive stand-alone poster for the upcoming Global Issues Network Conference.  We recycled the Interactive Art poster shown above in order to create something new.  And that is the best part of these projects.  The bits and pieces can be used year after year to create new and inspiring ways to communicate through a mash-up of technology, paper and electronics.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

March is for Making #26 - Making a Statement about Human Rights with Paper Circuits

Today’s March is for Making inspiration brings us to The Crossett Brook Makerspace-- an amazing space that was thoughtfully designed around the following tenets!

I recently had the opportunity to work Crossett Brook  Maker/ Educator/ Librarian  Jennifer Hill, Tech Coordinator Lynn Pollock and Tarrant Coordinator Life LeGeros to design a maker centered activity that would introduce the teachers and students at Crossett Brook school to ways that their makerspace could be integrated into curricular and project based learning.

Our challenge was to create an experience that would help teachers consider the makerspace as an option for instructional design around the curricular topics they are responsible for.

After some preliminary planning with teachers by Life and Jennifer,  we came up with the idea of using Paper Circuits to introduce new materials and skills to students in connection with their current topic of study - Human Rights!  

The students arrived in the makerspace prepared to make a statement about one of the human rights they studies in the form of an illuminated card/poster.

Due to some thoughtful planning pre-teaching by teachers,  and preparation of materials,  we were successful in introducing paper circuits to over 100 students  who used their new skill to express their understanding of human rights!

Check out some of the creative ways students found to MAKE a statement around Human  Rights!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

March is for Making #25 Taking Apart and Remixing in the TBES Makerspace

During today’s March is for Making blog post we get to check out Makers in Action at Thatcher Brook Elementary School - in Waterbury, Vermont.

Thatcher Brook provides many opportunities for students to interact with STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics) including a fantastic art program,  Project Lead the Way, and now makerspace in the computer lab with  a mobile maker cart that contains coding and circuit bins.

The kids  who come to the computer lab section of the makerspace  have had a great time with hacking different electronics and toys and creating new things with them.

They have been taking apart all types of things including Keurigs, sewing machines, phones, remotes, laptops, video cameras, VCRs, toys, and creating something new with them.  The kids have been learning about circuits through using motors and batteries and LED light

The Thatcher Brook School Makerspace concept design started at the Create Make Learn Summer Institute.  Teachers attending the Institute participate in hands on workshops that help them build their own maker skills, explore possibilities for making, and create a custom kit for a center for creating and making back in their school.

After attending Create Make Learn Institute in 2015,  art teacher MK Monley came back   with a team of educators to experience makings first hands in hopes of adding a makerspace to the rich options that the school was providing for students to engage with h STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics).  Not only were students creating with technology in MK’s art program, they also had opportunities to to code and learn about engineering in Project Lead the Way.

During the Create Make Learn Summer Institute,  educators  MK Monley, Lynn Pollock, Brenda Ververis, and Heather Morehouse started to plan and envision additional opportunities for students to become makers.

Their  plan was to transform one section of the school’s computer lab into an area for making and to add a mobile cart that contained tools and resources for making.  They carefully considered how various resources would best meet their needs as they selected which tools to include in the  custom maker kit from Create Make Learn.   After some initial planning at the institute, they knew they wanted to engage their staff and students in the design of the space and purpose.

By early October, the Makerspace had its own space as part of the computer lab and a mobile cart was equipped with coding robots and circuits bins.

Students and educators drop into use the makerspace before and after school, during recess, and during choice time.  The mobile maker bins are signed out by teachers to use in their classroom.  The Coding bin with robots is one of the favorites.  It allows students to extend the coding unit they have completed from Project Lead the Way. Teachers have also started to create centers for making in their own classrooms.

Their  next goal  is to add more tools that would allow students to drill holes, hammer nails, and further extend their maker projects.