Jaw Snapping Pumpkin Tutorial

At 212 STEAM Labs, our October classes for middle school, high school, and adults we have been exploring how to write code for our Arduino. We have worked through a variety of projects and codes in the past two classes(find all tutorials here).

We are now to the point of carving out our pumpkins and wiring up the LED lights and servo.

I made a short tutorial explaining how to do this at home.

Here is a tutorial about how to carve and wire your pumpkin Arduino so you can experiment from home.

Enjoy! I cannot wait to showcase what we were making in class!

In our final class week I will have more pumpkins for us to carve. Additionally, we will explore some advanced coding using a remote control, ultrasonic sensor, noise sensor, and more.

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The Hidden Truth in Teacher Learning and Support

After spending two amazing days learning at the ITEC Conference and finding time to process all of my learning, new connections, and what my next steps in my learning path holds for me, I wanted to touch on an issue that stood out quite a bit this year.

In my makerspace session I shared with the audience that fact that my wife who I believe is an amazing educator(with or without my bias) has come home more stressed and exhausted than any other year in her teaching career. She is doing amazing work along with many of her colleagues, but the burden of teaching mixed with high expectations is taking a toll. This sentiment was expressed many times at ITEC with the educators I spoke with at the conference.

She is not alone in this story. This is not a bash to school systems as I know the issues all schools are facing. The pressures to perform. The pressure of test scores. The pressures of doing more with less funding. The list goes on and on. What I am referring to is a missing element taking place across the nation in schools everywhere. This element is one that I think is overlooked because it is not obvious to the general observation of schools, but I would bet that many educators can relate.

There is a fundamental issue happening in education right now and it scares me. The issue is the unintentional consequences of not supporting our teachers where they need it most. Here are some trends that I continue to see happen more every year:

  • The amount of work and time spent on developing ideas, framework, and systems around buzzwords that when the work finally reaches a stage of implementation it is replaced by another buzzword starting the process all over again.
  • The amount of pressure placed on teachers to perform miracles in the classroom increases every single year.
  • The amount of paperwork and papertrails on every single thing a teacher performs and a student exhibits is increasing at the rate of Moore’s Law, but instead of talking about transistors on a circuit board we are talking about the amount of data reported and collected in a smaller time frame of teaching. I like to call this Coffeechug Law
    • Coffeechug Law – the observation that the number of pieces of data collected in a dense overpacked school day doubles approximately every one year of service in education.
  • The expectation of educators to continue their “professional learning” to achieve all the latest buzzwords has become a mandate with very little support or empowerment(mostly due to lack of time, money, resources, and leaders who actually know the topic that they are demanding).
  • The guilt trip placed on educators when they do find a way to get out and learn to make themselves better.

Just this morning on Facebook I read a post where an educator was sharing how it is actually easier to stay at school super sick than to leave. Think on this for a minute. Is this the type of learning culture that we need our model learners(teachers) to be working in when they are sick and probably in no shape to continue to teaching, but have to stay because it is easier? Because there are probably not any subs? Because the guilt that is often placed on them is too much to bear(I think this is not intentional, but an unintended message).

While I was at ITEC I could not believe how many educators I spoke with between sessions were so excited to be able to have the chance to learn new ideas. They had an opportunity to relight their fire to continue in this job or perhaps just add a bit more kindle to their fire to realize that great things are happening. They had two days to connect with other educators who are in their same shoes working to figure out how to make it happen.

However…….

These same educators were having their learning impacted. They were stressed because they received an email from their admin that their students were not well behaved. They were notified that there were not enough subs(“Don’t worry we will figure something out! You just have fun at the conference!”). They were sent a text informing them to call a parent. They were reminded about the make up work they would have to do because they were not physically seated in a meeting that we all know probably lead nowhere except for another meeting.

They were given so many things to stress and worry about that were out of their control that I wonder how in the world could they possibly learn with eagerness and excitement when these things weigh them down?(Is this any different for the kids in the classroom?) I know that they had to spend countless hours writing sub plans, organizing the room, sorting out the materials, talking with other teachers about plans A, B, and C in case something happened.

There is so much work to be done for a teacher to actually learn that I wonder if the work is worth the opportunity to learn?

And yet, they will head back to their schools and be told that they must be lifelong learners. They must be innovative. They must differentiate for their students. They must collect all this data and make real time decisions. They must join this book study or read this article or watch this video. They must, must, must, but are not given the time, space, and freedom to actually learn. All of this work spills over into their personal life. We often speak of work/life balance or how work and life just blend together.

I don’t agree. I think work expectations steal our time away from family, friends, and our personal life. This is has somehow been deemed acceptable. However, when was the last time that you were allowed to have your personal life spill over into your work life? Exactly, it never happens. There is no blending, only a stolen mentality disguised as “blended” by those in charge.

I think we are facing an issue that is not talked about enough. We must support teachers. We must empower them. We must give them the time to go out and learn. It is why we see less and less classroom teachers at conferences like ITEC because despite the fact that teachers are urged to attend they are really tied down to their classroom by the pressure and guilt placed on them for leaving the room for a day or two. And yet still expected to learn and grow and develop.

I believe that if we are going to place all these expectations on teachers to differentiate and empower students, then we must do the same for teachers. Let them attend conferences that benefit their teaching. Let them learn without guilt. Support them when they return. Let them know that everything will be fine when they leave. It is not different than giving a couple a weekend break from parenting for the first time. You have to help them realize that everything will be okay and to get out and recharge the battery.

My fear is that if we don’t start providing proper support for our educators mentally and emotionally, then we will continue to lose them. Lose them when they leave the field of work. Lose them mentally and we are left with a physical body burned out by expectations that has transformed them into a robotic data collection device instead of a fired up passionate educators ready to change the lives of students. Lose them when they feel like their life work is not important enough. Lose them to buzzwords that change every few years. Lose them because they don’t feel valued.

We cannot allow them to have their flame of passion for learning die out. We must provide kindle, warmth, and support. We have to continue to provide the support to get out and learn from others. We have to celebrate their attempts to try new things. We have to allow them to be the professionals that they were hired to be.

It is time that we pour the same amount of time, money, and effort into our teachers that we do for students. They are just as important for the learning process to be successful and I would argue even more important. Without them, education and learning cannot happen. They are the most important element we have in our schools and we must continue to help feel valued and loved and most importantly supported in their learning journey.

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ITEC 2017 Resources

If you are attending ITEC or not able to make it I wanted to share where my resources can be found.

Speedgeeking with Coffeechug 4.0

This will be rapid fire session of technology tips, tricks and productivity tools that I use in my job to help make life easier for myself as an educator, parent, spouse, and productive human being. I will share out things I use in education as well as tools for my own sanity and survival of trying to keep things between the lines in this profession. These ideas will give you time to enjoy that cup of coffee and have fun at the same time! The key here is simplicity and productivity. Come learn about tools that you may not have considered before.

Resources

Googlegeeking with Coffeechug 1.0

Come ready to explore all aspects of the Google Universe. In this session we will explore parts of Google not always shared in education. 54 tools will be showcased that are a bit off the beaten path. We will examine shortcuts, general Google tips that are overlooked, Google gems left uncovered, some of my favorite extensions, apps, and add-ons that are rarely shared and discussed, and a few good old Easter Eggs. These are all ideas I used to keep productive mixed in with a laugh to help make it through the day. These just might be your ticket to sanity. These ideas will give you time to enjoy that cup of coffee and have fun at the same time! The key here is simplicity and productivity. Come learn about tools that you may not have considered before.

Resources

Makerspace Culture for All

Come ready to make things happen. In under one hour we will dive into the importance of focusing on the culture of a makerspace and not the tools. We will look at the possibilities of bringing the makerspace culture into all classrooms. Additionally, the audience will undergo a hands on immersive challenge to experience the culture before walking away with your own set of LEGO pieces to get started. New builds, new thoughts, and challenging questions for you to find your own answers for the culture to take root back in your school. The audience will learn how to apply these ideas into any classroom and school.

Resources

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054: Living On The Edge of Chaos – Living Your Passion

Check out the show and episodes on iTunes

Another great episode speaking with my good friend Jen Goetz who is helping to change the education landscape as well as coaching landscape by living with passion.

Jen Goetz

Junior High Special Education Teacher

Head Varsity Girls Basketball Coach for Pleasant Valley

Show Notes

  1. How do define the word leadership? (4:15)

  2. What is the process to become a leader? (5:45)

    1. Self Confidence
    2. Self Motivation
    3. Lifelong Learner
  3. How do you create enrollment into the vision?(8:30)

    1. As a leader you are the front cover of the book for them to decide where they choose to read and continue on or not!
  4. How do you sustain the passion? (10:30)

    1. Balance your life
    2. Rest
    3. Get away from the passion
    4. Failure drives and fuels the passion
  5. What is your WOW project of the moment? (13:20)

  6. How to deal with haters and those who don’t agree (21:00)

  7. Difference between successful and unsuccessful leaders (22:30)

  8. How does someone get started with leading? (25:00)

  9. How does one cross the swamp without fighting all the aligators?(25:00)

Lightning Round

10. What are you reading right now

  1. Leaders Eat Last
  2. Grit to Great

11. Who is someone we should all follow and learn from?

  1. PJ Fleck

12. Gift one book to someone what would it be?

The Energy Bus

13. What is your spirit animal?

Lion

14. Final Thoughts or Nuggets of Wisdom

Love Tough

 

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Arduino Pumpkin Class 1 and 2

*This is a crosspost from my nonprofit 212 STEAM Labs*

So much is happening at 212 STEAM Labs that there is barely time to write and document. The last two weeks we have been running Arduino coding classes to help people learn how to code along with physical computing.

We started out in class one understanding the basics of Arduino and how it works. We started to explore how to code an LED light in a variety of ways – blinking, multiple LED, push button activation, potentiometer adjustments, and more.

During class 2 we refreshed our skills with the LED lights and added in a servo motor component. These two basic functions will be enough to begin to create, carve, and code our very own robotic pumpkins during the next two weeks of class.

We are learning that coding takes time. It does not come easy and like anything in life it requires practice and patience.

If you want to learn more about what we are doing, then check out these two videos.

Additionally, if you want to learn more we have created tutorials of the work we are doing in class to help guide you at home.

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 1: What is in the kit? https://youtu.be/Ph4ekQmqm0c

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 2: What is an Arduino? https://youtu.be/b4M7UmZBSOU

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 3: Download the Software https://youtu.be/r8PIuBxPlLQ

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 4: Syncing Arduino with Software https://youtu.be/GZZQ-uRnEJw

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 5: LED Light on Pin 13 https://youtu.be/0xnszPlK_vw

Code

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 6: Coding Variables for LED https://youtu.be/GtvWCwZse2k

Code

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 7: LED Challenge https://youtu.be/JLXhQZOc76A

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 7: LED Challenge Answer https://youtu.be/RevNRAddIx0

Code

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 8: Potentiometer Basics https://youtu.be/_j3UT-Ry9Y0

Code

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 9: Push Button https://youtu.be/aGun2ZVdBdA

Code

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 10: Multiple LED Marquee Style https://youtu.be/rQ475xOt0ZU

Code

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 11: Single Servo https://youtu.be/Yz786YvHZg0

Code

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The power of women in STEM

My AHA! Moment

Last week during one of my classes that I teach at 212 STEAM Labs we began working on coding with Arduino. In this class I have students from grades 5-8. It is a small, but mighty class. We have two girls and three boys who are in this particular class. Last week I had something very powerful happen that I believe is worth sharing that goes beyond any infographic, trend data, or research that is often shared about women in STEM.

Since starting this nonprofit, 212 STEAM Labs, I have had several people who have provided amazing work, dedication, and energy to making this vision a reality.

During class last week I had a young woman who has been helping me write grants and find resources come to class. She wanted to check things out and see how classes operate and flow. When she came to class the girls instantly transformed. They started hammering her with questions. They kept an eye on her as we worked on learning how to program a LED. They would go to her to show her their work. They wanted her to acknowledge them.

They were excited to have a female lead(no pun intended) in this STEM field. As much as I talk about the importance of women, minorities, and basically just all types of people(do we really need labels?) I was watching with my own two eyes the power in having kindred spirits and the power in being able to relate to an adult who is like you.

As we were cleaning up and closing up for the night the one student just could not get enough of the fact that we had an adult female in the class. As she was leaving, the young girl asked if she could give her a hug.

This was when I realized the power and impact of having more than middle aged bald white dudes in STEM.

This same situation holds true in any situation. How would things change if my daughter had a chance to be coached by a female who played college basketball instead of men? How would things change if we had more women teaching STEM classes? How would things change in general if kids could see leaders in their passion areas who looked liked them?

When I spoke at the DALI STEM conference a few weeks back I shared an insight that is something we should consider – kids can’t be what they don’t see.

Kids often say they are going to be a professional athlete or TV star or musician because that is what they see all the time. What opportunities are we creating as educators and parents to help kids begin to see other options in life? Are we bringing them to businesses? Are we connecting their learning to what others are doing in the field now? Are we providing opportunities like the other night where we had an adult woman doing coding?

This is what we need to focus on. This is the awareness we need to be building. It is hard to set goals for things we cannot see in our mind.

I have not been able to stop thinking about this class. As I prepare for another night of class with this group this week I continue to think about how to make more of these opportunities happen down the road.

As you know as well as I do, all it takes is a spark. It takes a human connection for us to realize what is possible. When those sparks fly as they did last week nothing can stop a person from achieving what they put their mind to even if it is turning on a LED on a small breadboard. Creating that simple circuit is no different than the circuit between two people to realize the potential of what could be.

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053: Living On The Edge of Chaos – Hacking STEM with Todd Beard

Check out the show and episodes on iTunes

Another great episode speaking with my good friend Todd Beard who is helping to change the education landscape of STEM across the nation.

Todd Beard

MIE Fellow

He also works with Youth Spark and a host of other job details as part of the Microsoft Philanthropy.

Todd is also part of the Hack STEM team.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TeacherBeard

Show Notes

8:00 – How Todd taught grades k-12 Computer and adapted ideas to the real world

14:00 – As STEM is becoming more a buzzword, there are still many singletons trying to figure out what it all means. How have schools been able to implement successfully and not just another add on?

24:00 – Exciting stories from STEM in the fields.

“STEM solves the workforce issue”

“STEAM” is what makes America great!”

SAIL – Successful Attempt In Learning

32:00 – What is your WOW project?

Lightning Round

Current Read – Gary Paulsen Brian’s Winter
Follow these people

Join a group such as BreakoutEDU and Makered

Spirit Animal

Eagle

Final Thoughts

Be an educational advocate

 

 

 

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The Discovery in Learning via Ancient Engineering

“The scandal of education is that every time you teach something you deprive a child of the pleasure and benefit of discovery.” Papert, S. (1996)

This video showcases our final class of making trebuchets and catapults and more. Through discovery of tinkering, experimenting, prototyping, and asking “What if?” students were able to take their ideas from paper and transform to the real world.

This is the beauty of STEM and STEAM education and the core of makerspaces and learning that sticks.

Learn more about 212 STEAM Labs

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Awesome Ava & Addy Make Color Changing Slime

We are back at it making new slime recipes. This time we explored how to make color changing slime. While we thought it would be an epic failure when we started, it actually turned out really great! Check out the video for the results. We start testing around the 8 minute mark if you don’t care to learn how to make slime. Enjoy!

Materials

Thermochromic Temperature Activated Powder or this sample pack Thermochromic Temperature Powder

Elmer’s Liquid Clear School Glue or this brand works

Borax Powder or liquid starch

Food Coloring

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052: Living On The Edge of Chaos – Head Thoughts

In this episode I share the battle we all face with the voice in our head.

We speak to ourself more than anyone else so it is important what we say in these conversations.

And I challenge you to frame your words in a way that has worked for me to check myself before I wreck myself.

Check out the show and episodes on iTunes

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