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 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.
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!
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
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
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.
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.
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?
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!
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