What are you making this weekend? Here at Woodshop Cowboy, we are making cutting boards and slab tables at Nova Labs, of Reston, Virginia. Nova Labs is offering two premier woodworking classes at the premier makerspace in the DMV area. … Continue reading Learn #Woodworking this weekend! Two Spots Left!
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.
What are you making this summer? Here at Woodshop Cowboy, we are making cutting boards and slab tables at Nova Labs, of Reston, Virginia. Nova Labs is offering two premier woodworking classes at the premier makerspace in the DMV area. … Continue reading Learn to Make Slab Tables & Cutting Boards
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.
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!
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!
Every winter, millions of families prepare for serious bonding time at kitchen tables, in garages and in workshops across the country. We enter with dreams of speed, beauty and glory. With a little luck and skill, we leave with pride, joy and a completed Pinewood Derby Car.
Here’s how to generate that little bit of luck and skill for your family so you too can guide your young maker with confidence.
The Pinewood Derby is a race between small gravity-powered model cars. Each official Scouting kit contains a solid pine block, four nails and four plastic wheels but specialized kits are available online. Official rules vary from organization to organization, and in Scouting, district to district.
This guide will show you how to support and help your young maker design, make and race their derby car.
TinkerLab: A Hands on Guide for Little Inventors by Rachelle Doorley is a beautifully photographed and curated set of experiments for the toddler to 2nd grade set. While her main focus is art prompts and experiments, she has sections on construction, Maker explorations, take apart sessions, chemistry, and more. Rachelle’s book has given me tons of inspiration and insight into the playful mind of very young children. She walks through the process for setting up an art space, with tool & material recommendations. She also spends a lot of time and space discussing the teaching philosophy behind arts education and why its important. Her habits of mind and interviews with experts are fantastic distillations of the Maker ethos. Continue reading #Makered Book Review: Tinkerlab by Rachelle Doorley @TinkerLabKids
This week in my home shop I finished up a new bench project I developed for class at Nova Labs in Reston, VA. While simple in design and execution, it does involve the full suite of woodworking tools and a custom jig to complete. This great intermediate project uses the Fab Five of a powered woodshop: table saw, band saw, miter saw, jointer and planer.
I built the entirety of this project at Nova Labs, Inc using their woodworking tools.
Nova Labs is a membership-driven all-volunteer makerspace based in Reston, Virginia that was founded in 2011 with the purpose of empowering everyone to Rediscover the Joy of Making Things!
The current 10,500 sq. ft. facility located at 1916 Isaac Newton Sq West houses classrooms, workspace, incubator offices and a shop that includes both common tools and advanced fabrication equipment. Members enjoy 24-7 access and help co-manage our space by teaching classes, maintaining equipment, and promoting making in the community.
I cannot say enough good things about the membership and openness of the culture they have built up. It’s rare to find a makerspace that has such a grassroots structure and active volunteer culture.
If you are interested in learning woodworking, you can join me in class in 2017.
Nova Labs members support a wide range of open source development projects that benefit both the local community and the world! Consider joining today to learn how and meet the people behind these projects!
Sometimes, a teacher needs to court a little controversy. This week, Things 1 & 2 & I build a device which was banned in New York City from the 1940s until 1976, and can be found in high quality dens of iniquity and vice, such as bowling alleys and boardwalk amusements.
Pinball. I’m talking about pinball. Cue the Who!
This project is most appropriate for older makers in 5th grade and up depending on their skill and available supervision with box cutters. Makers in grades 3/4 would benefit greatly from guided adult supervision. I estimate 10 work-hours for young makers to build this machine. Simplifying or eliminating the mechanics will greatly reduce the time necessary.
While not difficult in terms of physical execution, this project involves a lot of cutting and gluing. The mechanical complexity can be daunting for younger makers. My 5-year old lost interest building the mechanical parts, but thoroughly enjoyed assembling and decorating the game. I have included plans in SVG & DXF to help you build your own baseball pinball game. Just print out full-size or copy the dimensions!