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.
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.
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
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. This week I took some time to … Continue reading The Home Makerspace: The Autodesk 123D Suite
It has been a while since I’ve shared a completed project from my bench. I haven’t been particularly inactive, just an inactive blogger. Recently, I completed a queen-sized platform bed for my wife and I. I completed the footboard over last winter break, and this summer I took on the headboard.
The headboard and rails are put together with pocket hole joinery. The headboard, made out of solid birch and poplar, is way too heavy for the light rails. Instead of raising the height of the bed and creating thicker rails, I used a french cleat in my wall to hang the headboard. The bed is rock solid now. Finished with amber shellac and wax. Check out the Sketch-Up drawing for more info. Continue reading “This Week In the Shop: Queen-Sized Bed”
In the late 1800’s and into the early 1900’s, a number of furniture makers, craftsman and artisans reacted against the massive mechanization and industrialization of (their) modern world to create a type of furniture called Arts & Crafts, Craftsman or Mission style furniture. Gustav Stickley in New York, the Roycroft community and others created furniture, which to my eyes, can’t be beat by anything that’s ready-to-assemble.
While I find my heart and soul called by Mr. Morris’s chair, other artisans were getting in on the action. With so much intellectual rebellion running about, some energy had to flow into pottery, right? I’m not a big pot fan (yep, that reads differently than it did in my head) but I do appreciate the art tiles. I just had to find a way to make one without using actual clay. I don’t have the sculpting skills, tools, a kiln or materials for such work.
So how did I do it? I used some of the latest and most innovative prototyping methods known to man.
Are you in the Houston area? Ever wanted to get started woodworking? Maybe you just enjoy benches as much as I do? Join me for the Wood Workshop at TX/RX Labs on Sat. & Sun. May 25th & 26th (5/25 & 5/26) from 9am-5pm. The Finished Bench I will be walking you through how to build the simple bench project, start to finish. As TX/RX so elegantly put it: Build a simple bench using both hand tools and power tools. A perfect intro to woodworking, we will cover basic tool usage both hand and power along with learning the basics of … Continue reading Community Watch: Build a Bench this Memorial Day Weekend!
Last week, I showed everyone the biggest project sitting on my workbench. This week I completed the footboard just in time for Valentine’s Day. I celebrated its completion by buying my wife a dozen roses, and taking her on not one, but two, dates in one weekend. But I’m back in the doghouse, I mean, woodshop now. I hope you enjoyed the pictures. I designed the footboard with dovetailed (and splinted) carcass, rear panels from birch ply floating in dados, solid wood support beams on the ends. Finishing this guy was an adventure in and of itself. I discovered a rule about … Continue reading This Week in the Woodshop: Footboard, Pt. 2
In my Applied Mathematics class, woodshop has put the shop in applied. During a unit on fractions, I asked students to build a number of these try squares, all different shapes and sizes. In order to assess my students ability to read a ruler and calculate fractions, I made all the dimensions wonky. No 8″ cuts for my students! Dimensions looked like 8 3/4″, 4 3/8″, 5 “1/16 and all sorts of foolishness. Once I felt my students had mastered the build process, we took our show to Houston’s Mini-Maker Faire! The construction process for a tool like this can … Continue reading Classroom Project: Try Squares
You may have noticed a distinct drop off in the frequency of posts here on WoodshopCowboy since the beginning of the year. In that great crucible of life, demands of life has reduced my shop time. Mostly, though, a majority of woodworking time has been caught up in a commission from my wife: a bed. I’m chasing the look of Crate and Barrel’s Atwood platform bed in a queen size. It looks something like this: And here’s what I have so far – racked in clamps. I’ve dovetailed the corners of the case. The back panels and frames float in … Continue reading This Week In the Shop: In-Progress Bed Design and Build