When I look at the popularity of CO2 rocket cars in STEM programs, its ubiquity and age hide a lot of potential for makers and project-based learning opportunities. The biggest drawback, as I see it, is the high cost of entry. Launching systems cost somewhere in the hundreds of dollars, tracks take up teaching space (60 linear feet for a good one) and wind-tunnels impress upon me the fine line between awesome and inappropriate. At a basic investment of $1000 to $3000 from the big companies. We still haven’t covered the cost of a classroom pack of car building supplies.
Betcha I can do it for less. What’s a makerspace for, if not developing your own infrastructure?
In order to incorporate CO2 racers into your Maker curriculum, you need three things: cars & parts, the launcher & track space. I’ll tell you how I made mine after the jump.
Continue reading “This Week in the Classroom: Build Your Own CO2 Rocket Cars & Launching System”
This fall, I move into a brand-spanking new classroom. As part of this move, I’ve been heavily involved in the planning, organizing and logistics of moving my school’s Math & Science program into our new digs. In the words of a close colleague of mine, what a great problem to have! Long term readers of this blog have probably noticed a distinct drop off in posts over the past year – well, this massive move has been the main focus of my long-term planning and energy, leaving little left over for blogging or new projects.
That’s about to change. This is the first of a series of posts on how I’m transforming an empty 20′ x 20′ room into a Makerspace. I will be posting progress reports throughout the Fall 2013 semester, so keep checking back. This post will focus on planning out the Makerspace, which I’ve named the STEAMworks. Continue reading “Making a Makerspace: Planning the Steamworks”
Eight students, six boxes built and finished. It was a long day in the shop – nearly seven hours with only a few breaks for liquids. I can think of a number of great moments: the first box getting nailed together, the last coat of shellac being applied, the look of what-have-I-got-myself-into as the students tackled nearly 40 linear feet of hardwood for the first time. We captured the moment which stands out most for me in the picture below. Take a good look at the boy in the white shirt. Take a good look at his smile. He didn’t get … Continue reading Community Watch: Build A Box!
The good folks at TX/RX Labs invited me back for another weekend of teaching woodworking. This year, I’ve asked to build some Christmas gifts. We are building the Simple Tea Box – and I’m sending one to the winner of my “First to 30” likes raffle on WoodshopCowboy’s Facebook Page. So like WoodshopCowboy on Facebook, sign up of for a class at TX/RX Labs… …and make it safe & keep the rubberside down. Continue reading Come Build the Simple Tea Box @ TX/RX Labs Dec. 1st
My school is undergoing a little bit of construction…and by a little bit, I mean a cool of five mil of construction. We just needed a little documentation of the facts. I’m going to use this photography stand (and yes, I walked around with my shirt like that all day)… I put a 1/4 coarse threaded bolt through a board, flipped it around and stuck it into the post. You can see the crossbeams at the bottom giving the piece a little stability. …and the results are pretty spectacular. Make it safe & keep the rubberside down this week. Remember … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: The Poor Man’s Tripod (For Taking Panoramic Outdoor Pictures)
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
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)
Make: Projects has great instructions on how to build your own diddley bow. Make it safe & keep the rubber side down. Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Diddley Bows
…soon. For those you in the Houston area, join us at the Art Car Parade on May 12th. More info at http://www.orangeshow.org. Make it safe & keep the rubber side down this weekend. Continue reading Art Car 2012 is coming…
The textbook is now digital but students still encounter it as they always have: wisdom to be received, perhaps highlighted, annotated, and memorized, but not created, constructed, or made sense of. Teachers still interact with students as they always have. The platform doesn’t offer them any new insights into the ways their students think about mathematics. As far as I can tell, the iBook doesn’t establish any new link between the student and teacher, or strengthen any old ones. — Dan Meyer, On iBooks 2 and iBooks Author In my classroom, I have very few textbooks. They have their place … Continue reading On Kindles, iPads, SmartBoards, Prometheans and Apps in the Classroom