Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Create Vector Graphics


Graphics are used everywhere - from logos and icons to photographs and illustrations. Understanding the difference between vector and raster will help students choose the right format for their needs.  As more tools for creating and making (such as laser cutters, electronic cutters, 3D printers, etc)  become part of our educational. landscape, there is a need for learners to understand the difference between vector graphics and raster graphics. 

What are Vector Graphics? 

Vector graphics are made up of lines and curves defined by mathematical formulas rather than pixels - Common vector graphic formats  include SVG, EPS, AI, PDF 

.Vector Graphics are resolution independent; they can scale to any size without losing quality.  They have a very small file size and load quickly on websites.  They contain mathematical data that can be used to fabricate physical objects with laser cutters, electronic cutting machines,  CNC machines, and 3D printer.

What are Raster Graphic?

Raster graphics are made up of a grid of pixels.  Common raster formats include JPEG, PNG, GIF. They are very common and great for photo-realistic images.  You can engrave raster images, but raster files cannot be cut.

Here is an example of raster and vector graphics

Professional software used to create Vector Graphics, such as Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw, is often not availableto K12 students and teachers who want to create their own designs with maker tools. 

Most schools needs design tools that  

1) are affordable

2) work on Chromebooks

3) have a signed student data privacy agreement

Here are some options that can work for learners who want to design vector graphics that can be used in projects that use electronic cutters (i.e. Cricut or Silhouette), laser cutters,  3D printers,  or large format printers.

Option 1:  Search for and download an SVG graphic from the web.

 Download an  SVG file from web collection of  vector graphic. My favorite is  The Noun Project.     If you create a login you can download SVG files and use them with attribution. 
They have a paid option with teacher discounts for those who would like to use the files without attribution.  

Option 2:  Use an SVG converstion site to convert raster graphics into Vector Graphics.

 Design or find a graphic file using one of many common tools that can save as a PNG or JPG.  Upload it to a site such as and convert the file to an SVG.   

Option 3:  Use  Google Slides or Google Draw to create a SIMPLE SVG graphic.

UseWord Art and Shapes to create a simple SVG Graphic.  (Unfortunately you cannot merge overlapping shapes, but there is a lot you can create with simple shapes and many fonts you can use with Word Art)

Use the instructions in Slides 19 -33 to complete Challenge 1 below

Combine Options 1, 2, 3 above

Use Slides 34 - 61 to complete Challenge 2 Below.  

Option 4:  Use  a cloud based vector design program like 

Try creating an artifact using using parts of this slide deck

Play with some Cuttle Templates such as this SnowFlake Name Template

Option 5:  Use an AI Text to SVG generator 

 AI Text to SVG generators are starting to evolve. 
GlowForge Subscription model has one built in.

 Here are a couple I've tried (see me - if you want to try it during my session)

Full STEAM ahead at Vermontfest 2023

Did you see all the STEAM related events at VermontFest.

If you know anyone who is involved with Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, Mathematics or STEAM in any way at your school - have them check out the lineup   of STEAM related sessions at Vermontfest

AOE will share their NEW STEAM Framework
followed by a round table session filled with educators who are interested in networking around STEAM or makerspaces

And lots of STEAM related sessions featuring robotics - from using  LEGO Spike  robots with young learners to  playing with Edison Robots to advanced HS robotics 

and for those of you who like hands on sessions - check out the six Make and Take experiences - where the room will be set up with six centers for self -exploration and a series of 30 minute guided experiences in each of the STEAM disciplines + computer science.

and of course, AI and computer science sessions fall in line with the STEAM theme.

And don't forget the STEAM coming from Vermont's best outdoor hot tub experience! 

Vermontfest 2023 is going to be a stellar event for anyone interested in Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics!.

Thursday November 2, 2023

10:00 Make Math Move: Extending Lego Robotic lessons to incorporate math skills. (Spike Essential/Spike Prime Kits)  with Faith Horton

11:30 STEAM: AOE Framework Introduced with Lisa Bresler 

1:30 STEAM Educators RoundTable with Christina Smith and Lucie deLaBruere

2:30 The Power of Play; Letting student explore and play with Edison Robots with Jess VanOrman

Friday November 3, 2023

8:00 Make and Take STEAM Experience (1 of 3) - Science and Engineering  with Kathy Fechter and Meredith Wade

8:00 Robotics are STEAMing their way into the classroom and afterschool programs! (Tags: STEAM)

Scott McCalla

9:00 FIRST Robotics Exposition with Scott McCalla

9:00 Make and Take STEAM Experience (2 of 3) - Math and Computer Science 

Lucie deLaBruere & Christine Smith

10:30 Enhancing Education with Artificial Intelligence Image Creation with Rodney Batchelet

11:30 Make and Take STEAM Experience (3 of 3) - Arts and Technology Lucie deLaBruere &
Christina Smith

Saturday, October 7, 2023

STEAM and Literacy at Bethel Elementary School

Listen to this Create Make Learn podcast series created in collaboration with  Ms. Kathy Fechter and students from Bethel Elementary School

Bethel Elementary Students

Design Thinking Podcast

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3 

Bethel Elementary Students

Design Thinking Podcast Episode 3 coming soon.

Show Notes / Blog Post

When you think about STEAM projects in school, it's easy to imagine Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; and in many STEAM projects, you'll find Art in the Mix.  But at Bethel Elementary School, ELA teacher, Ms. Kathy Fechter, and her students used their STEAM projects to practice and grow proficiency in skills from their Language Arts curriculum. 

Ms. Fechter was introduced to the Stanford  Design Thinking Process at Create Make Learn Summer Institute and knew she wanted to teach her students how to use design thinking  to become proficient with creative and practical problem solving one of 5 Transferable Skills from the Vermont Agency of Education).

Ms. Fechter adapted  this Create an Eating Tool Challenge for her 4th and 5th grade students which proved to be an engaging way to introduce students to Design Thinking.    Not only did the process integrate science and engineering standards, it also integrated English Language Arts skills such as writing, speaking and listening.  

The Empathy stage of Design Thinking provided opportunities for students to practice active listening as they interviewed a partner to learn more about their favorite foods and challenges that occur when eating this food.   The students used the information they gathered to Define the problem they wanted to solve based on the user's needs. 

The students began to Ideate by sketching 3-4 possible ideas for an invention that would address the challenge.  

In the next stage of Design Thinking, Bethel students used cardboard, tape, and recyclables to create a Prototype for an invention that would meet the needs of their user.  

During the Test stage the students got feedback from their partner and others and reflected on how to improve their invention.

Finally it was time to Reflect on the process of  learning design thinking  by writing and collaborating on podcast episodes.  

Listen to the first  two episode of their podcast here, and stay tuned for more episodes next week along with more information about how we collaborated to create the podcast. 

Bethel Elementary Students

Design Thinking Podcast

Episode 1

Episode 2

Bethel Elementary Students

Design Thinking Podcast Episode 3 coming soon.

Can you identify the Vermont Transferrable Skills that 
these Bethel Elementary students practiced during their project?

  • I can demonstrate organized and purposeful communication.
  • Use evidence and logic appropriately in communication.
  • Integrate information gathered from active speaking and listening.
  • Adjust communication based on the audience, context, and purpose.
  • Demonstrate effective expressions and receptive communication, including oral, written, multi-media, and performance.
  • Use technology to further enhance and disseminate communication. 
  • Collaborate effectively and respectfully.

  • Observe and evaluate situations in order to define problems. 
  • Frame questions, make predictions, and design data collection and analysis strategies.  
  • Identify patterns, trends, and relationships that apply to solutions.  
  • Analyze, evaluate, and synthesize evidence, arguments, claims, and beliefs.  
  • Generate a variety of solutions, use evidence to build a case for best responses, critically evaluate the effectiveness of responses, and repeat that process to generate alternate solutions.  
  • Identify opportunities for innovation and collaboration.  
  • Use a range of tools, including technology, to solve problems. 
  • Persist in solving challenging problems and learn from failure.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Adding the X-Tool M1 to my mobile makerspace

As many of you know, my mobile makerspace has been a very big part of the way I live, learn, and teach. It's been 10 years since we gave up our apartment and moved into our 1983 BlueBird Bus.   Although  Covid and loosing both of my parents last year brought about some changes, we continue to have a very mobile lifestyle. This requires constantly thinking about how my mobile makerspace can support  learning through creating and making.   For about a year now I've been keeping an eye on a new maker tool that seemed to have potential in a mobile makerspace by X-Tool.  This week I bit the bullet and ordered the X-Tool M1 - a hybrid laser cutter and blade cutting machine. 

If you're curious about this machine, I invite you to follow my journey as I explore my new maker-tool, share my thoughts and questions, and try out some projects with my new maker tool. 

Let me start with just a few thoughts about why and how I chose to add this maker tool to my mobile makerspace.  

First of all I really like my GlowForge C02 laser which I adopted while traveling through the southwestern deserts in 2018.   It still works for me and it has been moved around (A LOT).  It will continue to be my go-to laser cutter, but I felt like I needed a more mobile fabrication tool for on location use such as teaching a workshop on making where a laser cutter was a small part of many options for learning through creating and making.  I also saw a need for a mobile mobile machine that could add possibilities to a  project based learning experiences in a school.  I could imagine prototyping an idea onsite and getting quick feedback as you test your idea.  And then there's the fact that I continue to move back and forth between different locations and moving my Glowforge with me has been possible, but not always practical.   These thoughts has me keeping an eye on a more mobile solution like the X-Tools. 

But just as I was considering making  the X-Tool purchase, Glowforge came out with a similar machine - The GlowForge Aura - craft laser.   I must admit deciding between the two was not easy.  I joined  a few Facebook groups of users of both the XTool M-1 and the Glowforge Aura and listened to members share their success and challenges. I watched several YouTube videos and online articles that compared them. 

Although both machines could have met my needs, I was swayed to purchase the  X-Tool M-1 for a few different reasons. 

  • I felt like it would give me insight into more than one company and I might be able to share my experience with both these companies to teachers and students who are looking at entry level laser cutter.   
  • I liked that the XTools did not need WIFI to operate the machine.  Getting a laser cutter on a school network is not always easy, especially if you are a guest teacher and not part of the staff.  I've also tried to make projects in locations that don't have wifi access at all.  I liked the idea of learning new software that was not subscription based
  • I liked that the software was free to download and did not require a subscription for features that allowed you to make small changes to a design, especially the ability to combine shapes by subtracting and or merging compound shapes.
  • I liked the fact that I could cut vinyl and potentially show up to a training with one tool (instead of two).  
  • I was also intrigued by some of the accessories such as the rotary cutter or the risers.
Before making my final decision, I watched a great series of video of Monkey Woodworks learning about and documenting his learning about laser cutting using the X-Tool M1.  I loved the integrity and transparency behind this series and would highly recommend them.  The pace was great and the explanations were helpful. 

There were some things I was concerned about such as the speed of the machine, and 10 watt power limitation. or the fact that  cutting clear acrylic or certain colors doesn't work with a diode laser cutter, but I always had my GlowForge C02 laser when I needed more speed, more power, or selected materials.  But I'll be sure to share how I worked through these constraints as I learn more about the XTool M1 - which just arrived today! 

Stay tuned for more learning! 

Thursday, August 10, 2023

FabLabs in Paris (Part 1)

 A  couple weeks ago, I arrived in  Paris, and have enjoyed discovering the city, with my husband, Craig. 

The first few days we had the privilege of having our five year old grandson and his parents (my son and daughter in law)  with us, so we sought out experiences that a 5 year old would also enjoy. 

The next few days, Craig and I continued to explore museums, sacred places, gardens, art galleries, eateries, hot chocolate shops, neighborhoods, and "FAB LABS".

I put FAB LAB in quotes, because I started to refer to these as maker spaces, but learned that the word maker space usually refers to 'for profit' ventures, while Fab Labs tend to refer to non profit spaces who reinvest any profits back into the vision of creating  a culture or community of makers learning and collaborating together.   Fab Labs in Paris belong to a network of Fab Labs each with their own culture and purpose.  

Our first visit was quite serendipitous.  We were visiting le Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie (a wonderful science museum) in Paris. We noticed the word "Fab Lab" on some of the signage.  After our visit to the Robot Exhibit, the Bio-Inspire Exhibits, and other exhibits, we decided to see if we could find the "Fab Lab".  Every staff member we asked gave us a puzzled look.  Eventually we ended up in the basement "Level -1" and spotted the Fab Lab Door in area named "Carrefour Numerique" .  You do not have to purchase a ticket to the museum to access the spaces on the lower (-1 Floor).   

Unfortunately the Fab Lab was closed for a training and we were told it would be open to the public again tomorrow afternoon.  But just looking at all the maker projects on display from the outside was enough to leave me feel inspired as a maker educators. 

The Fab Lab was closed for a private event or training.

The projects on display and visible from outside the locked door were inspiring.

I could tell from the projects visible in the display case outside the locked door, that this is a place where I would enjoy to spend time learning, creating, and making. 

So of course I came back the next day, and was greeted by Francois who gave me a a tour and lots of information about the space. Since the info was in French, I'm not sure I understood all the details correctly, but here were some take-aways.

First of all the Fab LAB is open to everyone at NO Cost! 
But its open hours are limited.  At the time I visited, here were the open hours. 

The FabLab is open to everyone :
Tuesday ->Thursday 15h ->18h30
Friday / Saturday 14h -> 18h30

Other days are reserved for private events, for maintaining the tools, and for training of staff. 
You can learn more about the hours and how to participate on their website.

It's mission seemed focus on raising awareness and understanding of the maker movement through 
 (1) TRAINING:  Learning how the tools work
 (2) EMPOWERMENT:  Getting certified that you are ready to use the tools independently
 (3) CREATING:  Booking slots to prototype, experiment, and create.

I found the strategy that you are not allowed to BOOK more than one slot at a time, but you can book your next slots after you have completed each slot you book an interesting strategy. 

It was obvious from the centers set up that this space was focused on fabrication tools.  
I loved that the embroidery center was so prominent.  I was surprised to learn that this center attracts more men than women.  

The FabLab tools also included vinyl cutters and heat presses which allow for multiple approaches to work with textile. 

Of course the space provided access to several tools for  laser cutting and 3D printing. 

On the way out I spotted that someone was experimenting with 3D printing
on mesh which is something I've wanted to experiment with and right in line with all theme of working with textile that I saw in this space. 

During my conversation with Francois, I learned that this Fab Lab seemed to be a hub to several other fab labs in France.  They are the main location for some of the Fab Lab network events, conferences, and maker faires.   My guess is that the Cite de Science is the main funding source for keeping it staffed and keeping the lights on.    What an amazing service to the community to offer a space for learning, creating, and making at no cost.  

One of my favorite things about maker spaces is meeting such creative people, and this visit provided a chance to learn not only about the space, but also about the maker passion of Francois creating and making skateboards customized with amazing sand art.  I'm thinking I might just need to get one of these as a gift for some of my favorite skateboarders (my son and grandson).   Check them out here.

Stay tuned for more post featuring Fab Lab visits from my visit to Paris.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Make Something Meaningful with


As an edtech leader in K12, I try lots of edtech tools.  And once in a while, you come across a tool that sweeps you off your feet. This year, that tool was

When I first was introduced to,  I immediately felt hopeful that it could end my long-time search for a great tool that students and teachers in the K12 community could use to design and create with digital cutting machines and laser cutters.  The more I used,  the more  I became convinced that belongs in every school's digital toolbox.

If you want to give it a try, stop by my session at the Dynamic Landscape conference. 

Slides from my Session

In this session we will:

  • Discuss Why Cuttle?
  • Create an SVG file using for an Identity Artifact that can be fabricated using a laser cutter, digital cutting machine, or even 3D printed.
  • Explore Cuttle’s Template Collection
  • Brainstorm way to use Cuttle for Meaningful Making Projects
  • Cut out your Artifact using Cricut Cutter (as time permits)

We will start with a little inspiration from the students at Hyde Park Elementary School.

Then we will dive into a hands on skill building activity where you can start to create confidence designing your own Identity Artifact using

And finally we will challenge you to plan your own  meaningful making project or integrate meaningful making in your instructional design.

Here is a few  meaningful making project I've worked on recently.
You can find  my guide to making the SnowFlake Project here.

I've approached this project using several different tools, from Google Draw to Gravit. 
So why am I so excited about 

1. provides students with tools for creativity and innovation by allowing students and teachers to design Vector (SVG) files needed to create and make using digital cutters and laser cutters.   Learning to work with SVG files is key to creativity and innovation.  If we want to create the next generations of problem solvers, we need to give them the right tool for the job and help them build fluency using these tools.

2. works on Chromebooks!  It's easy to say we have reached a point where every students has a device. But when looking at education through an equity lens, its easy to spot there are still huge equity gaps when it comes to access to digital tools.  One way the 1 laptop per child goal has been reached is by providing students with Chromebooks. But Chromebooks do not allow students to use industry tools for creating SVG or vector files like Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, or Inkscape (open-source).  The fact that works on Chromebook can help bridge this equity gap. 

3. has responded to educators' need to protect student data privacy. When faced with the request for a Signed Student Data Privacy Agreement, CEO & Co-founder, Toby Schachman, worked with members of the Student Data Privacy Alliance to get signed agreements on file with schools in Illinois and Vermont.

4. is working to make accessible to students in K12 schools by providng affordable pricing.  The free plan allows for 5 design projects, while the school pricing set by provides two options 1) access for 30  active accounts  per week or  2) unlimited accounts per domain. 

5) can be used to teach students computational thinking.  It took me a while to discover that provides students the opportunity to CREATE with  CODE.   The LEARN section of website provides more detail about this often overlooked feature.

 "Cuttle’s scripting features allow you to write JavaScript code that can modify your shapes or generate new shapes.

All of Cuttle’s built-in modifiers, like Rotational Repeat, Outline Stroke, etc. were created this way. That is, we built Cuttle using the same scripting features you have access to. You can see the code of any modifier by clicking the pencil icon on the right side of it in the inspector.I'm a big fan of tools that allow us to create with code.  

I hope to see for. yourself during my session at  Dynamic Landscape.

 Making with for Cricut and Laser Cutters


Session Description

Are you looking for a tool that your students can use to create projects with your school’s laser cutter, Cricut, or other maker tools? Does it need to work on Chromebooks? Cuttle.xyzdoes just that and they have a signed Student Data Privacy agreement in Vermont! Come and play and leave empowered with your own fun IDENTITY artifact and lesson ideas you can use tomorrow.

If you can't make it, feel free to check out  the Slides from the session.