This Week in the Classroom: Build Your Own CO2 Rocket Cars & Launching System

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 Week in the Classroom: 2×4 Xylophone

I ended the year with an exploration of music.  I used xylophones, pendulums and windchimes to explore frequency, wavelenght, pitch, volume, etc.  I probably should have found a way to incorporate physical waves, but a trip to the beach was out of the question and I met disaster in my attempts at building a wave pool.  We did, however, create a pretty sweet 2×4 xylophone and frame. Make it safe & keep the rubber side down this weekend. Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: 2×4 Xylophone

Technology in Education: The Digital STEM Fair

You’ve been to a science fair, right?  Tri-fold boards, volcanoes and blue ribbons.  This month, my colleagues and I shepherded the “STEM Fair” into existence.  The STEM Fair is a showcase for any Science, Technology, Engineering or Math project our students produced over the course of a month.  My school produced forty to fifty blog posts, hundreds of digital pictures, a dozen two minute videos, thirty presentations and about ten individual physical showcases.  I have a room filled with Japanese art-chemistry, rocket cars, rockets of various propulsion methods, a small robot, a Lego-Branded robot, paper gliders, a seesaw and more.  … Continue reading Technology in Education: The Digital STEM Fair

This Week in the Classroom: Spring 2012

In the Spring of 2012, I began my third year as a classroom teacher.  I planned on teaching the courses below.  It didn’t happen.  Instead of a woodshop/technology resource, I became a project-oriented classroom teacher.  I taught 6th grade Math/Science & MS/9th Grade Math/Science and took part in two environmental education program periods.  The pace (four classes, no planning periods, co-teaching nearly everything) forced me to create or find flexible curriculum, taught me the value of three week (half a quarter) units and helped me become a stronger teacher.

The breakdown of what I wanted to teach after the jump.

Continue reading “This Week in the Classroom: Spring 2012”

Student-Built Seesaw (He see-d, he saw-ed, he fell down)

Yesterday, we completed a physics demonstration: The adjustable see-saw.  This seesaw has holes drilled into the balancing beam, allowing students/users to experiment with the capabilities of numerous levers.  You just shift its position along the beam and viola!  Instantly, a foolish grin hits your face as you try to balance anew.

More pictures after the jump…

Continue reading “Student-Built Seesaw (He see-d, he saw-ed, he fell down)”

Physics Carriages

In my MWF fourth period class, my students have been discovering and elaborating on the scientific method. I chose cars & ramps (aka pinewood derby car) as an opening project.  We spent two weeks learning the different parts of the scientific method and how to measure our results.  We create reports (I’m on my fourth week of school and the boys have created at least two science reports a week).  My lessons look something like this: Intro:  Pose a Question to Students.  What type of Hot Wheels cars goes the farthest?  How would we measure that?  How do we tell … Continue reading Physics Carriages

This Week in the Classroom: The Butterfly Bench & Butterfly Growers

I missed Monday and Tuesday this week – my wife was in the hospital with a parasite.  Luckily, the parasite left on his own and we’ve named him Jack.  Jack is our second son, born on Sun 13 at 5:30am.  A whopping 8 lbs.  A beautiful boy. But this blog is about woodshop & teaching.  Looking over the 3 and a half days this week, the students accomplished many things. First, they braved the cold – it’s 40 deg here in Houston and while it didn’t put me out much, my student’s had a difficult time with the weather.  Especially … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: The Butterfly Bench & Butterfly Growers