The Home Makerspace: The Museum Display (Dioramas To Win the Science Fair)

Here’s a cool project that takes an old standby, the diorama, and adds a little Maker flair to it.  The diorama incorporates a MakeyMakey, laptop and Scratch programming environments to turn a stand alone display into something interactive and easily modified.  I developed this project for my school’s eSTEAM Fair (environmental, science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics).  It was a huge hit with parents and kids alike.

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This summer I repeated the project with pretty cool results with my two sons.  Let me take you along for the ride!

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This Week in the Classroom: A MakerEd Pathway Into Computer Science

This year, I invested more time than ever to developing a pathway into coding for my most reluctant learners.  I also researched extensions for the handful of young people who can really stretch my teaching capacity inside the STEAMworks Makerspaces.  Many of my students begin their coding journey with small, concept-oriented courses and explorations, such as those found at Code.org and other sites.  I then move to visual programming languages (Scratch and Mindstorms) and finally, end up with flexible, high-level languages such as Python and JavaScript.  Let’s take a closer look after the jump.

screenshot of code.org via http://www.robirving.com

 

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This Week in the Classroom: DIY Wood Covered Lab Notebooks

This fall, I opened the classroom with a very simple (sort-of) multi-media project for my students.  Last year, I piloted a number of different end-of-project reflection formats (long form, short form, written and typed) as well as online and offline versions.  I lacked a reasonable and effective in-process journaling format.  This year, I wanted to combine the paper lab report/maker journaling process with the final reflections.  So my students and I made custom lab notebooks. These notebooks are made with the following materials:   Materials: 1/4” Plywood Letter-sized paper with a combination of reflections, graph paper, etc. 2” wide strips … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: DIY Wood Covered Lab Notebooks

This Week in the Classroom: 3D Printed Pinhole Camera

Last spring, I had the opportunity to teach one of my dream units:  Light and Waves.  We completed three projects during this time: camera obsuras, cajon drums and a pinhole camera. This 3D-printed pinhole camera combines three centuries worth of … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: 3D Printed Pinhole Camera

This Week in the Classroom: Cajón Drums

Cajón drums are wood drums native to South America with deeper roots in the Africa.  The cajon is a wood rectangular prism, with two thin faces.  One of the thin sides, usually the back, has a large hole to allow sound to travel out.  The front face can be struck with the hand, mallets or brushes to create different sounds. Construction couldn’t be simpler.  Cut out four sides of a box using whatever means you have from a sheet of plywood.  I use a table saw now, but my students and I have used jig saws with guides, circular saws … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Cajón Drums

This Week in the Classroom: The Camera Obscura

The camera obscura is a old, old project which illuminates the nature of light.  Students can discover some major scientific principles: light travels in straight lines, transparent surfaces allow light to travel through while translucent surfaces let some light through, the principles behind photography, scale, proportion and a whole host of other things.

cc wikipedia

 

Essentially, a camera obscura is a black box with a very small hole piercing one wall.  This hole allows a small amount of light to enter the box.

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Now here’s where it gets funky.  We need to know two rules about light to understand what happens next.  First, light travels in a straight line.  Second, light reflects off all objects – it’s the reflected light which our eyes process into visual images.  So what happens if light is made to travel through a extremely small space?

An illustration of how a camera obscura works. cc wikipedia

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Top Five Maker Projects for the Beginning Maker Ed Teacher

Do you want to get into Making and Maker Ed? Don’t know where to start? Don’t have a makerspace? No problem! Here’s five ideas, classroom tested, which can be built using a minimum of tools for students in the K – 8 grade scale.

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If you are wondering how to connect these projects back to standards, check out PBL Through a Maker’s Lens and a free webinar at www.woodshopcowboy.com.

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This Week In the Classroom: How to Build Electromagnets!

Hans Christan Orsted’s discovery that electricity generates a magnetic field led to the development of electromagnets.  Electromagnets are bundles of wires wrapped around a ferrous core.  When electricity flows through the core, the iron magnetizes.  When the electric flow ceases, … Continue reading This Week In the Classroom: How to Build Electromagnets!

This Week in The Classroom: The Simple Coffee Table in Spalted Red Oak

Earlier in the year, the great folks at Canyon Mesquite donated a number of spalted red oak boards to make furniture out of.  It took a while, but we finally made some great use of them.  Finished with Howard’s Feed-N-Wax. … Continue reading This Week in The Classroom: The Simple Coffee Table in Spalted Red Oak

This Week in the Classroom: Build Your Own CO2 Rocket Cars & Launching System

When I look at the popularity of CO2 rocket cars in STEM programs, its ubiquity and age hide a lot of potential for makers and project-based learning opportunities.  The biggest drawback, as I see it, is the high cost of entry.  Launching systems cost somewhere in the hundreds of dollars, tracks take up teaching space (60 linear feet for a good one) and wind-tunnels impress upon me the fine line between awesome and inappropriate.  At a basic investment of $1000 to $3000 from the big companies.  We still haven’t covered the cost of a classroom pack of car building supplies.

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Betcha I can do it for less.  What’s a makerspace for, if not developing your own infrastructure?

In order to incorporate CO2 racers into your Maker curriculum, you need three things:  cars & parts, the launcher & track space.  I’ll tell you how I made mine after the jump.

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