This Week in the Classroom I’m going to explore a variety of design challenges that I use in my classroom. I designed each of these projects to prompt students to explore the engineering design process, learn basic scientific concepts, such as forces and loads on structures, learn executive functioning and soft skills, and develop presentation skills in a variety of media. These projects are designed to be super flexible in practice. I can extend these projects, compress the time, develop thematic elements. None of these projects use expensive materials or electronics. Some of these project briefs I use nearly every year, in nearly every course. They are simply that good.
This Week in the Shop, I build a library book nook for my school. My school librarian came to me with her coffee bar theme for a renovated library and she wanted a circular book nook to take advantage of a certain space in the library. This book nook had to incorporate a column and reclaimed table top, be made under budget (roughly $500), have a professional look, design and materials. I looked at her requirements, looked at the space and said…yeah….I can do that. Follow along as I show you how! Installing a Laminate Countertop My toughest challenge was … Continue reading This Week in the Shop: The Library Book Nook
This Week in the Shop we build small cabinet. Cabinet making epitomizes fine woodworking, as it rewards accuracy, consistency, and attention to detail. Cabinets can be found in the workshop, in the kitchen, as furniture, as built-ins. Great cabinets add value to the home and definitely have the wow factor.
While cabinet making may seem like a inscrutable dark art, basic cabinets are a breeze to put together if you have a few select tools. This cabinet build relies on the table saw and the router and showcases the versatility of shellac as a finish.
This particular cabinet will hold my son’s growing fossil & gem collection. Shallow shelves with scoops hold common tool boxes. This would also be a great workshop project and the skills are transferable to other pieces.
This fall I have introduced a new tech platform into my practice. The FunKey unlocks tons of potential in a classroom.
Do you want a board that reads keystrokes and plays like a MakeyMakey but with at a size and price point for a real classroom?
FunKey does that.
Do you now need a board which takes different sensory inputs and outputs as light, sound or motion?
FunKey does that.
Do you need a board which can help you teach programming?
FunKey does that.
Want a kit that comes with a variety of sensors, so quick and easy to hook up, students can create medical devices in a class period?
FunKey does that.
What doesn’t it do?
Teach. But that’s what teachers are for.
Let’s set up a few projects with a basic kit and see how we can put it to work in the Maker classroom!
In full disclosure, I received a pair of FunKey Super boards in return for a blog review, but all opinions are my own. Innovations, on the other hand, those belong to my students.
My semi-regular column This Week in the Classroom is back! I have accepted a position in a small, mostly rural school district just outside of Northern Virginia. It’s great to be in the classroom again, bringing project-based learning to new audiences.
I am teaching middle schoolers, all levels. Middle school is a great age to teach, despite some of the unique challenges the students pose. Students can really make connections, find passions and dive deep into a project. They are about as creative as they ever will be and watching a kid’s creative power light up is just something cool. Middle school is also a fraught time for many young people, making the classroom a place of great promise and great worry.
Here’s my current greatest hits list of web tools, software platforms and services I like to use in my Tech Ed/Maker Classroom.
A number of safety posters for a variety of woodworking tools. Continue reading This Week in the Shop: Safety Posters
This is a scaled down, fun-filled air hockey table is a perfect summer project.
Two employees of Brunswick Billiards Co invented Air Hockey in the 1960s. The game field consists of a low-friction (usually by means of an air blower creating an air cushion under the puck) playing field with two goals. Each player has a striker, and smashes a puck at the opposing player’s goal. First player to a set number of goals wins. Air hockey tables are staples of entertainment in billiard halls, arcades, boardwalks, rec rooms and other places of ill-repute. Which is why I just had to make one.
I utilize a 5-gal shop vac as a blower, marker board, 1/4 plywood, one 10’ 1”x6” and some pin nails. A 3D printed part certainly helped with the fitting, but isn’t essential by any means. I also utilize 45 degree miters for a very clean look, but butt joints and screws might make a stronger, stiffer system.
Let’s play some air hockey!
Here’s a quick project to cut out on the scroll saw. Scroll saws are small, cheap, versatile tools that can cut through all sorts of thin materials, such as plastics, wood, plywood and cardboard. They have a very, very low … Continue reading Home #Makerspace: Paper Airplane Launcher
This week, we built a game board which you can customize to play marbles, skittles, carrom, billiards, pool, shuffleboard, crokinole and more!
My game board features two games, marbles and carrom. Marbles has been played for thousands of years in various forms. Carrom is a “strike and pocket” game that evolved in East India. Both games provide hours of entertainment for young kids during rainy days and family game nights. Carrom Company of Ludington, MI has a 100-in-1 version of this board that many, many grown kids remember.
This game board uses vinyl stickers for decoration, 45 degree miters reinforced with pin nails and grooves. This construction technique can be used to make large playing surfaces. I used the same technique to make The DIY Knock Hockey project a few weeks ago, and it will show up in next week’s project.
This week I will answer some of the most common questions about 3D printing I get asked as a Maker Educator by administrators and classroom teachers. Last summer, I published a similar guide for the Home #Makerspace!