This Week in the Classroom: The FunKey Super #MakerED #STEM Review

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.DSC_7606

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.

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Home #Makerspace: A Young #Maker ‘s First Saw Kit

3 Saws and a Miter Box. A beginning woodworker needs enough equipment to make only two types of cuts; the cross cut and curve.   For cross cuts, I suggest a Japanese-style “pistol grip” carpenter’s saw for older makers, age 7 & … Continue reading Home #Makerspace: A Young #Maker ‘s First Saw Kit

#MakerED Book Review: 3D CAD with Autodesk 123D #makerspace

Update: On Dec. 16th, Autodesk announced they would be shutting down the 123D App family in “early 2017”.  Most apps will become incorporated into their 3 powerhouse apps: Tinkercad, Fusion 360, and ReMake. As I detailed in my most recent … Continue reading #MakerED Book Review: 3D CAD with Autodesk 123D #makerspace

Tool Primer: How to Select and Use a Router

The router can do an incredible number of tasks: cut grooves and dados, used with guides to make parts, do complex or simple joinery and create edge treatments for wood.  The router can be mounted on a bench or table top or it can be manipulated by hand.  The router is the single most versatile tool in the woodworker’s power tool box.


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Tool Primer: How to Select and Use a Circular Saw

Invented in 1923 by Edmond Michel, the circular saw remains a basic portable tool for any homeowner/woodworker nearly 90 years later. Skil77

The Model 77 hasn’t changed much, but worm-drive saws such as the 77 have become the realm of framers, carpenters and other tradesmen and women who make a living with the tool.  For a weekend warrior like myself and many others, we use  a sidewinder.  The sidewinder came about from  Porter-Cable in 1928.  In the next post, we’ll walk through selecting ourselves a proper circ saw and I’ll point you in the direction of some internet resources which show you how to use a circular saw.

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Gear Review: SKIL 7-1/4″ Circular Saw Mo. 5480

If you are in the market for a 7-1/4″ circular saw for light homeowner use, I don’t see any reason not to buy a SKIL 5480.  It’s cheap, durable construction, dead simple set-up and with a decent saw guide, can create clean cuts all day long.  The hard plastic casing has held up to three years of abuse, the metal foot plate hasn’t rusted and kept its smooth action.  It has a metal blade guard.  It’s big enough to get the job done.  Buy it.  Skip the laser. Continue reading Gear Review: SKIL 7-1/4″ Circular Saw Mo. 5480

Tool Review: Marples’ Japanese Style Saws

Some new gear found its way into my home-shop.  I’ve recently bought the Marples/Irwin-branded version of this saw by Shark: The manufacturer patterned this saw after Japanese ryoba saws.  Some quick thoughts – it has two saw blades.  The larger teeth (the 8ish ppi) side seems to excel at ripping, while the 17ppi side excels at cross-cutting.  I have no idea whether the saw was designed in this way, but that’s the way she works for me.  It’s two handed design allows the saw to cut quite fast and straight.  Bench hooks seem to be completely useless though, so to … Continue reading Tool Review: Marples’ Japanese Style Saws

Tool Primer: Painting A Room

In February, I learned the necessity of insurance, family, cash-in-your-pocket and good-quality plumbing.  My house flooded – and I’m talking spectacular water-from-the-ceiling, I-hope-this-never-happens-to-a-house-I-own flood.

Every room in my house received flood damage.  We moved out for a month and the landlord gave us a new house (ok, his insurance did).  I will say this: we got lucky and it could have been worse.  I saved our expensive things from harm, my landlord had insurance.  This could have gone worse.  I count my blessings.

As the contractors worked tirelessly to fix the damage (new lighting fixtures, new kitchen, new floors, new carpet, new tiles, new paint, new drywall…..), I painted my boys’ room.  Some results:

The Tool Primer for Painting a Room after the jump!

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The Things they Carried (Cool Tools Everyday Carry Contest)

Kevin Kelly, editor of Wired magizine, runs an interesting blog on Cool Tools.  He recently held a contest looking for tools which are carried everyday.  This year, I’ve been refining my tool belt to carry the tools that make my job run. So let’s start, shall we?  From right to left: Canvas Tool Pouch:  It’s light, rugged and cheap.  An obvious catchall, I often put the small tools of the day in the various pockets.  A few tools reside permenently inside its pockets – #2 Phillips drivers, a hex wrench which tightens down the miter box, Moleskine notebook, digital camera, … Continue reading The Things they Carried (Cool Tools Everyday Carry Contest)