Community Watch: Ponoko Online Webinars

Ponoko is one of the premier “making” companies on the net today.  Here’s the pitch:  you design it in CAD, you upload it, they make it.  In whatever material they have and you want.  They do 3d printing and laser-cutting.  I’ve been looking at various ways to create a “prototyping” lab in my classroom and these guys have been high on my to-checkout list. Seems they’ve been reading my mind (or blog).  I’m currently listening to the Google SketchUp & 3d Printing online webinar.  I won’t be asking any questions during the Q&A on audio, but I’m pretty sure I’ll … Continue reading Community Watch: Ponoko Online Webinars

This Week in the Classroom: Block Printing & Stamps

As my students have become more competent with tools in the past few years (and cripes, does it feel weird to say years…) I’ve gotten the chance to think:  what would be really cool to do next?  What would be just flat out awesome? Here’s my answer:  wood & lino prints designed by the student, for the students work.  My summer crew churned out about 30 different wood projects and many pieces deserved something special.  In the third week, I took the plunge and bought $80 worth of tools.  We spent the next few weeks cutting as many designs as we could and experimenting … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Block Printing & Stamps

This Week in the Classroom: Swingin’ Chalkboard Signs

Here’s a few shots of a project build I did a few months ago.  The challenge was to build a recycling container from completely recycled materials.  I picked up some nice crepe myrtle branches and immediately saw a V shaped stand with a small basket to collect recyclable goods. To bad we never did finish it.  We got all the way to the crossbeam.  Spring break came with all the lassitude of a wilted Texas flower in August.  We never stood a chance. Eventually, I snookered a student into repainting an old cabinet door into a chalkboard sign.  Then I parked … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Swingin’ Chalkboard Signs

This Week in the Classroom: The Conversation Bench

Students with autism, people with neurological disorders and people with two eyes and ears and a brain often need a place to talk.  For my students with autism, the act of conversation can be harrowing, heartwrenching and terrifying.  On a … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: The Conversation Bench

This Week in the Classroom: Boomerangs and Chalkboard Slates

Two projects really took off this summer – chalkboard slates and boomerangs.  The boomerangs, of course, took off a little bit more. Back in the fall I built a bike barn.  It’s more of a third-world shanty, but it housed the bikes and kept them sort of organized.  Either way, I picked up a large number of cedar shingles as a roofing material.  Time got away from me – I never roofed the barn.  Instead, I used the shingles to create these cool little chalkboard slates.  I used an exterior paint as primer, then covered them in green chalkboard paint. … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Boomerangs and Chalkboard Slates

Book Review: One Block of Wood by Nina Tolstrup

This spring, a sweet little book fell into my hands.  Nina Tolstrup, an UK designer (she owns studiomama, a design firm).  Her projects include lamps, scooters, wall planters, book ends and card holders – all out of One Block of Wood. Ms. Tolstrup’s eye for function and style dovetails nicely with her habits of simplicity.  While not every project is truly made from one piece of wood, each project involves a minimum of cuts and a maximum of flexibility.  As a woodworker, I appreciate her style – as a teacher,  I appreciate her clear directions, beautiful visuals and simple construction.  I’ve used … Continue reading Book Review: One Block of Wood by Nina Tolstrup

This Week in the Classroom: Up-Cycled Shutter Coffee Table

A few shots of the shutter table project.  My students & I created these (there were four completed tables) tables using up-cycled window shutters & salvaged fence posts.  Finished with spar urethane.  Pocket hole joinery throughout. Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Up-Cycled Shutter Coffee Table

Making A Makerspace: Top 10 Tools in a Maker’s Classroom (2012)

This year was a big year in the STEaMworks (STEM focus, art driven, work/project centered: the STEaMworks), my self-styled Maker classroom.  We (and the Math/Sci Team) built a lot of projects: rockets, rocket cars, derby cars, catapults, simple robots, box-making, bench-making, bridge-building, sail-testing, music making, spirographs, pendulums, 3D prototyping, CAD models, Arduino projects, Alice computer programming, Art Cars, shed construction, a digital STEM Fair and more.  I’ve just typed that up and still can’t believe it!  Nine months and so much sweat, math, science, art and tears.  How did we (my co-workers and rock-solid team, my students and my very … Continue reading Making A Makerspace: Top 10 Tools in a Maker’s Classroom (2012)

This Week in the Classroom: 2×4 Xylophone

I ended the year with an exploration of music.  I used xylophones, pendulums and windchimes to explore frequency, wavelenght, pitch, volume, etc.  I probably should have found a way to incorporate physical waves, but a trip to the beach was out of the question and I met disaster in my attempts at building a wave pool.  We did, however, create a pretty sweet 2×4 xylophone and frame. Make it safe & keep the rubber side down this weekend. Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: 2×4 Xylophone

Build a Bench This Weekend

My very first class for TX/RX Labs (or any other place non-school) is completed.  Six students (adult, this time) built benches with me for two half days.  We were a little crunched on time, but we stayed late (or showed up early) and completed our benches. I want to thank my students for coming and sticking with me, my teaching assistants (Oleg, Jim, Oz and Roland) and TX/RX Labs for having me.  Most of all though, I want to thank my brother Jim.  I think I’m good at this stuff – but I taught him how to build the bench … Continue reading Build a Bench This Weekend