Educators Can Make Engaging Learning If You Just Let Them!

A reflection of Maker Yourself PD

WOW! That is about all I can say after an amazing and powerful two days of learning and making with 15 passionate educators, coaches, and administrators for the Make Yourself Into A Maker: Builds 1-3 Workshop.

This was my first official two day workshop on making that I put together as part of my new job at the Mississippi Bend AEA 9 as STEM Lead. I was excited. I was nervous. I doubted my ideas. I worked tirelessly and stressed on every single detail more than I ever care to admit, but in the end of two days my heart was full, my passion fueled, and I am ready to continue to journey of helping to bring making into all classrooms and to continue to work to empower educators to tap into their inner superpowers, combine forces like Captain Planet, and make learning engaging and exciting for all.

As I posted online yesterday

This was my biggest takeaway. Educators are critiqued, analyzed, talked down to, and judged every single second of their professional careers.

They are often told to do more work

for more children

at deeper levels

with less support, PD, and resources every single year.

After spending two days with educators where they were given space, time, and materials to grow and learn I was reminded once again that people need to get out of their way and watch them work their magic.

While two days seems like a lot of time it really is not. We learned how quickly time flies when we are in our learning zones making our art come alive.

The goal of these two days was very simple. I wanted to empower educators to believe and trust in themselves that they are indeed Makers. They can make. They can create. They can bring their ideas to life.

I avoided templates. I avoided worksheets, packets, theory, data, research, etc. Everything that is usually thrown at them from the land of education theory I avoided. I wanted them to experience making. I wanted them to experience learning. I wanted their senses to be invigorated in their learning. I wanted them to be in the middle of it and not on the outside reading about it.

We had three different build cycles that we attempted to work through over the course of two days. These three builds were designed to have them work through the MIT Lifelong Kindergarten Learning Spiral. As they worked through their ideas, prototypes, and final products I wanted to build their own self awareness of their skills and thinking. I wanted them to feel empowered that this type of learning is not only possible, but essential for helping to ensure that the learning sticks.

I could not believe how AMAZING these teachers were with their ideas and creation. We allowed them the freedom to work at their own pace, collaborate with others as needed, to work on their own when they needed a minute. We were able to experience the learning and not just read about it. We took the feedback and adapted accordingly. We ebbed and flowed with the needs of the space and the learning.

We spent time during the morning of day 1 thinking about some longer term planning around the space itself. We worked through the book The Space by Dr. Dillon and Rebecca Hare. We were super lucky to Skype with Dr. Dillon and dropped some serious knowledge on us as we grapple with our spaces and what we can do with the spaces we have.

Besides the great questions and making that developed, many questions were brought to the forefront that we just did not have enough time to cover. This is why this PD is just the start. I have the framework for at least four more workshops where we will begin to dive into their questions in greater detail. The framework is built around the 4 P’s of Lifelong Kindergarten so that we can begin to help them infuse making and hands on into their current practices. This work cannot be one more thing or it will never take hold. It has to be part of a cultural shift where support is provided to help educators see how this type of learning and wonder can address standards and help with all the paperwork teachers face.

This is the real work and we will get there. However, this first workshop was all about mindset and empowerment. And we achieved this goal.

For example, check out the builds from the two days. We had everything from a marshmallow gun to a leaf bag holder to a baby toy to a cardboard city for preschool to a LED Coded tree to a trebuchet to a dog bed. The list goes on and on.

Teachers walked away with their creations. They walked away with some simple material projects ideas they can drop into their spaces this week. They were given a container of $100 of materials for them to use in their space. More importantly starting the first week of December we will be posting weekly creative challenges using the materials. You can join us by signing up for the newsletter.

These challenges will be used to empower teachers as well as for them to use in their spaces with students.

If you want to learn more about the two days you can access our website here. This is an organic site that will grow and develop over time. It will continue to be developed as more materials and ideas are created and shared by the group. If you have something to add, then simply reach out.

We have another cohort in December and then in January we will launch Builds 4-6.

In the end all I can say is THANK YOU! Thank you educators for inspiring me to continue to work in a profession that I believe with all my heart has the biggest impact on the world. Thank you for taking this journey with me. Thank you for stretching yourself like a rubber band to explore new areas of your own self discovery. Thank you for going back to your schools to lead the change for more engaging learning. Thank you for being you. Thank you as someone who believe in education. Thank you as a parent of three children who need you every single day to lead them to greatness. Thank you as a spouse to a teacher who reminds me of how hard the job can be some days.

Thank you.

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3D Print Your Very Own Cookie Cutter

I am happy to announce that after all this time I have finally published my first Instructables. I won’t even begin to go into how many drafts I have developed over time or how many tutorials I have made on YouTube where I thought I should post to Instructables…..and didn’t.

As I continue to share the message of sharing our work, being proud of our work, and sharing for the sake of helping others and not attention, I finally can check my box off my list.

For my first project I posted a simple TinkerCad tutorial on how to make a star cookie cutter and 3D print the design.

This is something we are doing in my nonprofit classes with the hopes that it serves as a baseline to individual innovative creative designs and more importantly some awesome looking and delicious tasting cookies.

Here it is! Enjoy and I hope you make something great and share with me and others. If you make cookies please let me know.

Onwards to the next project!

Designing 3D Print Cookie Cutter in TinkerCad 

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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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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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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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051: Living On The Edge of Chaos – Don’t Compare Yourself

In this episode I share an insight I gained while running bright and early one morning last week prior to the grand opening. It is an important lesson for all of us to remember as I am sure at some point we have compared ourselves to others.

Don’t do it.

Let me know your thoughts. I would love to hear from you.

Check out our 212 STEAM Labs website

Check out the show and episodes on iTunes

 

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Coffeechug Catapult 1.0 Crowdsource Maker Challenge

This video is a challenge to see how to make Coffeechug Catapult 1.0 even better for version 2.0

The goal here is to promote thinking, problem solving, prototyping, and experimenting within the makerspaces to enhance our learning. I thought it would be fun to crowdsource the journey and discover how others would solve the problem.

Feel free to share with your students and classes the challenge and look forward to the comments for me to test out in the next prototype.

 

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212 STEAM Labs Is Ready!

I cannot believe this is happening. I have been working like crazy in all my free time at night and weekends to bring to life a vision for STEAM education that I have had for many years. After being inspired by the students I have worked with over the years who have taken a leap to reach their goals and dreams I realized that I need to do the same. Just because I am balding and getting older doesn’t mean I cannot leap as well.

With much support from so many people who have kept me going and not giving up on this vision when it has proven difficult, I am happy to announce the grand opening event of 212 STEAM Labs.

I hope you come visit. Come see the space and learn what we have to offer. I still have much to do, but the date is set and we are ready to be one degree of separation that pushes our learning to the next level.

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047: Living On The Edge of Chaos – Fear and Excitement are Confusing

In this episode I am sharing a big learning moment I have had as I attempt to launch a non-profit STEAM Innovation Hub called 212 STEAM Labs.

In this particular episode I am finally able to announce that we are actually moving into the space. The dream is becoming an official reality and it makes me sweat a bit as reality is setting in for my vision.

  1. When doors don’t open, all is safe and not risky
  2. Open doors means you have to put your money where your mouth is!
  3. Fear and Excitement – when these emotions catch you off guard!

Let me know what you think. How does this connect to your life and your thoughts? What questions do you have? What do you think about sharing the behind the scenes podcast episodes?

Check out the show and episodes on iTunes

 

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