#ITEC14 Speedgeeking with Coffeechug Backchannel Q and A

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During one of my presentations Speedgeeking with Coffeechug Version 2.2 I opened up a backchannel for the audience to pose questions while I present. I ran through almost 100 slides in 50 minutes so it moves fast. Below are the answers to their questions.

As always I am so grateful for everyone who attended my session(s).

Many have asked for the 3D Powerpoint Museum. This website is where we found the idea and it contains the file to download if you don’t want to make your own. http://blog.simplek12.com/education/downloads-3d-powerpoint-museum-plus-more/

How do you display the 3D PPT Museums?During our exhibition night we have the museums set up on laptops. As students take their parents around to their work that is on display students are able to show their parents their work and the parents can go through the museum.
How do you pick your student panels for teacher project pitches? You can see our work here, but we started with one group of five girls to launch the idea. We needed teacher buy in so we wanted to make sure it was done right. This year we have over 20 students from a  list of about 40 students nominated by teachers. About half were interested. We are now currently working on ways to incorporate our students who are in trouble and serve time in ISS to help them find their voice in a positive light.

What was the name of the app/site for the paper design own video game on grid paper, scan on iPad, creates game in app/iPad? Floors. Find all links here http://coffeeforthebrain.com/speedgeekitec/

What was the devise called that you quoted from Sparkfun? 

Here are the parts needed. You can order more depending on how many options you wish to have.

Button Pad Breakout

Button Pad LED Breakout

Button Pad Top Bezel

Button Pad Bottom Bezel

MP3 Player Shield

LED lights for buttons(Choose your own colors. I would buy off eBay as they are cheaper)

I would like to know more about Zentangle and the chips as well.

Hallway exhibits showcasing staff

Loved using Kilikaklu on the first day to visit our school.
People were asking for PC options for screensharing. Here are suggestions shared.

Screen-o-matic (up to 15min)

Jing (up to 5min)
Love the LEGO idea – here is the search for all things LEGO on my site

Our teachers like having a choice of workshops/ instructional sessions during PD (similar to Tinker Time)

What a fun idea to video the hallways. Had Ss do similar w/Google Glass & our library. So great to see their point of view.

Here is my slidedeck I shared with staff when looking at our school

Love Student Voice–is it for curriculum projects or more for school climate/policy? Or both?

Great question! It can be both. Our current student voice group meets in the morning and during lunch. However, we are incorporating student voice into many projects in many classrooms through action, podcasts, websites, etc. Essentially, it can be both! See our #BettPassion project which was done in the classroom as well as our Student Voice work

Love the idea of Tinker Time as a way to get our minds thinking like kids again.

Teacher tinker time…. how did you get started with this & get resources? 

I just started with things I knew would be fun and cheap. Here are all my posts in regards to Teacher Tinker Time

I think the “graph paper” look of the sketch book helps promote creativity, drawing, & thinking

Stimulus notebook. Great idea. Get all ideas down, even if they seem bad at the time.
Yes, just start writing!


Those are the notes and answers to the questions everyone shared. If you have more please let me know. Reach out and ask away.

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The World is a Makerspace, Not a Classroom

We carry inside us the wonders we seek outside us.

 — Rumi

I have wanted to write about this idea for a few weeks, but just was not sure how to properly format the thoughts and still not sure I am going to do it justice. Here is my feeble attempt before I lose all my thoughts.

I love making. I am an avid tinkerer and have the typical coffee juiced brain where I have a million projects going on and typically don’t finish half of them. I love to create and my brain is always going. I am not sure what would happen if my brain actually slowed down. I have massive LEGO sets and pieces that we build at home and at school(see school challenge), I love Arduino, Sphero, and lately 3D printing.

Naturally, I am working on developing a makerspace in my room. I feel like we need a space like this since the days of industrial tech are no more in our schools. It does not replace the class, but it is something more than desk in rows reading textbooks.

As I have worked to develop this culture of making in our school I realize that not only do I have a long way to go, but I keep missing the students I want. I want more girls involved, I want the athletic kids, I want the kids that don’t believe in themselves.

And then I realized my whole though process is wrong. My mindset was skewed.

Let me try to explain. This summer like every summer Amanda(my wife) has a list of home improvements. We did not get to half of them, but we did get our bedroom done and moved and changed things throughout the house. One thing that she is amazing at doing is drawing inspiration from her hours on Pinterest and converting the ideas into our home. She can see a bit of an idea here and another idea there and see a wall in our house and transform it. It is a gift. I cannot do it. I see what is in the room and cannot see differently.


She has done three little projects that hit me like a ton of bricks this summer. She does not give herself any credit and really does not think it is a big deal. She is actually not too happy that I took pictures. I always tell her she needs her own board on Pinterest so she can inspire others.


Here is the key idea: She is a maker. She has taken ideas which is basically the MIT Remix concept and instead of just thinking about it and pinning it on her page, she moved to action. This is the pivotal step. Moving to ACTION and not just THINKING about it. She goes to work. She takes this and that, paints this, moves this, transforms this, and in the end we have this whole new display and decoration. It really is great.


As I was watching this unfold I came across a great post by Rafranz Davis –http://rafranzdavis.com/the-undefined-makerspace/ where she talks about makerspaces and how we don’t need this defined makerspace to make. We make all the time.

Watching my wife work I realized that we are indeed all makers. Just because it does not include a soldering iron and robotics does not mean it is not “maker”. It is sad that we have to celebrate makerspaces to draw attention to the lost art of being a kid and instilling that spirit to continue to play and tinker to see what happens.

I draw inspiration from my wife because I could probably do more ACTION. Her home is her makerspace. It is great. It is amazing and beautiful.

In education we need to take off the lens in which we view our students, our classrooms, and schools. I think we get pigeoned holed into a tunnel vision where we miss out on the amazing things that students are doing. They are making a difference. They are learning outside of the school day even if they did not turn in your worksheet. They are volunteering and helping others even if they push their friends in play. Sometimes we must remove the veteran mindset and try to see things again as if it is the first time. When we do that we will see that the world is a makerspace and we can all make amazing things. I have changed my view of makers and I hope you do too.

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Need Guidance and Feedback on Next Big Project in Education

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 7.39.20 AMI have decided to post my idea to the masses in hopes of gathering a few final insights before launching. I am stuck on a few items and need some help. I have been working through a new project idea and I need some feedback……honest feedback. Feel free to hammer it, tear it up, and let me know what you think. Tell me what you like. Tell me what sucks. I want this to work and I know it still needs some work.

Below is a link to a project that has started last year with our school and village in Africa. I am ready to crank things up a notch and move to a more massive scale and challenge not only myself, but teachers and students.


I realize I have to start small which is why we will focus on our friends in Africa(read our whole journey here , but I have a vision of more schools, more connections, and powerful projects.

If you have time please check it out and give me your honest feedback.

I am hoping to get the site launched next week and begin. I have started to post books on eBay to get the ball rolling, but it is time to go all in before school starts and this gets left behind.


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Coffeechug Experiments With DJi Phantom 2 Quadcopter Back Home in Hoosierland

Just this past weekend we went back to my home in Indiana to pick up my kids after they spent a few days with the grandparents. My parents live on several acres so I brought back my quadcopter to get some flying in and more importantly I knew my dad would love to fly it around.

We flew for about 3-4 hours of flight time which is not too bad considering the batteries last about 18-20 minutes. During this time we test many features that I will have to go back and shoot some video for at a later date.


  • turned off the controller to see if it would fly back home and it did
  • we kept it in the air until the battery died and watched it land itself
  • worked to understand the various color lights underneath
  • learned how to basically control the quadcopter
  • tested how it would hold up against crashing into a tree
  • felt the panic of a low storm cloud pass and lose complete sight of the quadcopter
  • understand depth perception while chasing hawks
  • learned how to scan the field for deer
  • learned my parents have an M on their barn

This video is just a short compilation of various pieces of photos and video


I hope to get back soon so we can run some new tests and capture better video

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#TIC14 – Speedgeeking with Coffeechug Version 2.0 – Reflection and Notes

15 minutes after I presented a new presentation I have put together where the audience makes BrushArtBots, I launched a new presentation. Last year I crafted this presentation and it was my most successful and popular presentation by far. The challenge I made for myself for this summer and upcoming school year was to not duplicate any material and try to be a bit outside the normal zone of ideas that are typically shared. One thing that I am starting to see at conferences is the same ideas being spewed over and over. I want something fresh. Even if you don’t know what I am talking about or you have no idea how you could apply what I am sharing it is at least getting you to think differently. You can see what I shared in version 1.0 in the link above or check out my Presentation page here on the site.

Here are my slides that I crafted for #TIC14

I needed another 30 minutes. As I was planning these slides I did not think I had enough, but my audience was awesome. They talked, they asked great questions, and shared some important ideas that were good for me to think about as well as the rest of the group. When launching a new session you never quite know how it will go. My audience was a great turnout so I had to deliver.
My goal was to not only deliver websites and apps and toys, but to also have them think about ideas in education. I weaved in a lot of past blog posts and short presentations I have done during the past school year to my school and so forth. I have some things to tweak, but overall I received a lot of positive feedback which means I am on the right track.
I also have created a page on this site where all sources are listed. I am in the process of revamping the page as I  lost everything I put on the page. Please give me some time I will have it looking nice soon.
If you attended I would love to know what you plan on using and what stood out to you. For me, I was so pumped once I got going. I already  have ideas for V3.0
Thank you to everyone who attended. I always appreciate presenting to more than an empty room.

Below are the questions and ideas shared on Todaysmeet.com during the presentation. I always take time afterwards to respond to them all. If you have further questions, ideas, suggestions, etc. please contact me and let me know. My responses are in bold.
Your room sounds amazing! I’d like to hangout at the nerd room! I love the Coffeechug Cafe. The key is just like we talked about in the beginning. Create your own mood and atmosphere that makes your room YOU! Every classroom should have its own flavor.
Ready for v2.0 !  By this statement I am assuming your attended V1.0 so I would love to hear your ideas between the two.
I need to create my office with this type of atmosphere. Thanks for the ideas already.  Please share pictures of how you transform. I love before/after pictures. They tell so much.
Great reflection questions for us to think about!  I am glad you enjoyed them. I wish I could record all conversations so I could hear all the amazing ideas.
Love the pirate (#tlap) references @burgessdave would be proud.  He is the man! Or should I say pirate!
Give teachers time to play!  If you search my website for Teacher Tinker Time you will find all sorts of posts and examples of what we did this year. 
LOVE Tinker Time!

I want to do this, would love to create this for our teaching team. Here is a list of blog posts on Teacher Tinker Time http://coffeeforthebrain.com/?s=teacher+tinker+time&submit=Search
Dissecting owl pellets!  This activity never gets old!
I wish we had it at my school 🙂  Make it happen! Let me know how I can help.
Will share with our new Instructional Coach
What would you do without technology? How would people deal with that?  Great question. I am starting to find that I am reverting back to activities that are not so technology based. Making things and taking things apart to remix are so much fun. It can be done. Like anything it is all about mindset.
Where do you get your ideas from for teacher tinker time? I look for things on social media. I also am a book nerd and read all the time. I will post on the main page a list of books I refer to all the time.
Do you do the project planning for every project a teacher does? Just about. I like to be part of it all so I can help see where teachers are overlapping, where I could connect different teachers and subjects, and help problem solve. I love it!
How long doe the project tuning usually take? One prep period. We have it down to about 37-40 minutes. Ideally, I would love to have an hour, but we don’t have the time. Here are some PBL posts and here is my wiki where I house all the documents you need to get started
Brilliant “Key point!”  One of my favorites. And yet it happens all the time.
Which tuning protocols do you think work best with students? with teachers? Check our our protocols here They work awesome as long as you follow the rules.
Legoland gives time & allows relations/conversations & learning begins/we have to capture their hearts before we can capture their minds.
Love all of your ideas to transform the atmosphere of your school by showcasing your students’ projects and work! 
Fabulous resources!

Would you share your google community again?

Here is a link to the Google Community Group: http://buff.ly/LHdIp5

Here is a link to my Play PD on my website if you want to read some thoughts of my own: http://coffeeforthebrain.com/category/play-pd/

I would recommend joining and back reading. If you can check out the panel chats. They are really good!

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#TIC14 – Tink Tank 1 – BrushArtBots

After battling bronchitis and feeling very under the weather the last couple days, I am glad I decided to make the trip to Dubuque to present. I was up late finalizing slides and packing everything. As I shared with so many educators at the conference what I love most about presenting is not so much being up front, but I love working and networking with so many awesome educators. I have met more people who have inspired me through presenting as opposed to sitting in audience. Today I had one hour to have educators make BrushArtBots. It is a great hands on activity getting them to think about how to incorporate this lesson or something similar in their classroom. Even more it reminds us how to think and be a kid again. We started with a few slides because I wanted this to be interactive and chance to play, tinker, design, hack, and explore.

Here is a link to the lesson plans if interested

Below are some images from the session today as well as from a few previous trial runs. Today I was amazed by the variety of designs. Some crafted some really cool looking bots like the butterfly. Some focused solely on designs to make them go straight. We had to work through types of paper, weight of the bot, amount of paint to use, etc. Educators were constantly in a problem solving state of mind. It was so great to watch. It was even better feeling inspired by all the new ideas. I was so pumped watching them come up with ideas I never thought of before. I chatted with some great people. It was so good to connect and hear about their schools, projects, and ideas. So a few things I learned specifically today. 1. I need to pack wax paper or a smoother type of paper to help bots move. 2. I need to pack string or dental floss. So smart! 3. Must find something besides Play-Doh as temporary glue. It works, but not as good as I want it to be. 4. I want to develop an obstacle course for the bots. 5. I LOVED the 4H idea of Eco-challenge of bots sweeping up debris using Dixie Cups. 6. Create piece of art and cover with sand. Bots brush sand away to see if students can clear enough away to identify work.

Last, here are comments and questions posted in the Todays Meet group. I have eliminated names and want respond to concerns. My responses are in bold.

Brush Bot Awesome engagement activity for students I agree. What I want to know is how teachers can use this in different classrooms and age groups. Would like to develop specific challenges.
Lots of applications.
How do you work around the frustration factor?(those that just give up ~ or won’t try) This is going to happen. The key here is to know the child(relationships) and check out their bot. Look at what is causing the issue and start asking them questions where you are guiding them to the solution, but they feel like they came up with the answer.
How do you store your materials? (Are they portable or placed on an established makerspace?) I have a large bin where I house the materials for this activity. The art supplies are just part of my room that are on tables and shelves for anyone to use for any projects. I am working on a new file system where all pieces are in one big storage unit, but for now they are organized by activity in tubs.
Love the fact that students can create a bot to take home and continue their creativity. This is the key to this activity. It is cheap enough to allow them to do so. What I would love to do and am working on are new activities that are cheap and allow students to take more projects home.
Great to just sit back, have a convo and really think about how this could b used w the 4 Cs… thanks! I would love to know more about ideas connecting to the 4 C’s. I really like this mindset and would love to develop more.
hardest part was stopping. Wanted to keep tinkering… How do you get the kids to move on when time is up? I think you keep up a timer or counter on the board so they know that at x amount of time we have to stop and clean up. The bonus of this activity is that those kids that want to keep playing will be able to take it home and keep tinkering. If they come up with something great, then they can bring it back to school to share out and possibly teach!


Loved the hands on and try it!

Thank you to everyone who took time to come to my session. I really appreciate it and hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed working with you all. Thanks for a great start to the conference.

Created with flickr slideshow.
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BrushArtBot Presentation Reflection

Today I traveled to Johnston Middle School in Johnston, Iowa to present as a Master Teacher for Iowa Public Television. This was a small conference as this is something new for IPTV.

I decided to challenge myself by presenting in a new way. I did not use any slides and I did not use my computer or any tech. What I wanted to do was create more of a hands on workshop. I have sat through enough sessions and keynotes and PD where we sat, listened and walked away with intention but not IMPLEMENTATION.

I had 40 minutes to present my project BrushArtBot which is a page here on the site(see top menu)

This was a bit tough because I was not sure how many people were going to show up. In the end I had probably around 20 of the 30+ people here at the conference. What I wanted them to do was play, tinker, and experiment. In order for that to happen I had to talk less and let them do more.

I briefly talked about who I was and what I do. I then explained the materials in their baggies. Very quickly I explained how to assemble the brushbot.

Keep in mind they all had access to my lesson plans as well as the page on my website to see everything if they wanted.

What I found interesting was that like our students in the classroom the audience was quiet and bit hesitant to experiment. However, as soon as one guy had his bot moving everyone decided to move. They all wanted their bots to move as well.

Cheaply, I set up some board to create a short little racetrack so they could race their bots. They loved this. During this time I talked about the various extensions and connections about how we could connect these to any subject, any grade, and any learning from circuits, electricity, art, design, wiring, science, math, etc. I told them how they could create challenges about fastest by moving the motor, the battery, weight, etc. This really got their gears turning a bit.

Next, we had about 18 minutes left so I challenged them to the true design of converting their brushbot to an artbot. I had everything laid out for them to play. It was great to watch them try and make it happen. We had some success of bots painting some patterns. It was so fun to watch them go.

One thing that I was bummed about was having enough time to share with them how to connect the dots to true learning and standards. This is more than just a “fun” activity. True learning could occur with adding elements of a design notebook and the specific content you teach. This is something I will have to do a follow up video on to help with those that continue to use this project.

Additionally, I need to create a database of bots created. Some really wonderful designs were created. Also, I need to add more layers of challenges and post those videos online as well. I have several videos to add and finish editing.

In the end I was satisfied more than what I thought I would be. It was a great test run for this idea with many things for me to think about, fix, enhance, and improve upon.

I present at a conference next week and was not thinking about using this project, but I might change things to add this as part of my Tink Tank because the interest of the audience was high. To prepare is not cheap, but if I can excite teachers to add new ways of teaching, then it is worth the cost.


Created with flickr slideshow.


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New LEGO EV3 Book Idea – Want To Help?

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 7.37.56 AMThis week and last week I have been helping students learn how to program with LEGO EV3 software. They work and work and along the way I show them tips and ideas. What amazes me is how much the software has to offer and how many times students don’t take time to explore.

One of the ideas that came to me this week is that students don’t know what the program is capable of and therefore they don’t explore. If they knew the power of the programming I think they would dive deeper.

Which lead me to my new book idea.

I am working through some details of a new book idea I came up with while teaching LEGO EV3 during my camp. One thing that I think is missing to helping students take programming to a whole new level is a manual that contains every single block. The book would break down the software block by block. Each page would contain an overview of a block and then a breakdown of each mode and parameter for that block. Finally, there would be an example of code to show them how the block could be used. As I work with students they over complicate things by not realizing the potential of the programming. Basically, a whole catalog of every option available with the software in a book format so they could search and find what they need.


I think this would be a great book idea where I would love to collaborate with anyone who would be interested. I started sketching a template that we could use for each block and would love to get moving on this before FLL season begins. I really think it could be a powerful tool for students and teachers to learn more.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Interested in joining? Shoot me an email at aarmau (at) gmail.com or respond here.

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Young Engineers of Today: Information Slides

Here are the slides shared out to parents and students about YEOT that I will be starting up in Iowa this fall.

You can read more on this site using YEOT tab and you can go to the main website to learn more


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PLC Training Mid Morning Thought

How great would it be if teachers could create their own teams that they work with to make change?

Would that radically shift the operations behind the scenes to help the learning of students?

Just a thought. If we are professionals, can’t we choose our own squads?

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