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?
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)
As a parent, I know that art projects can be a mixed blessing. Some are breathtaking. Most should go in the circular file. Worse still are things my kids build – they fall apart and break. They take up space. God save me if my sons bring home noise-making pieces of art they have built. As a teacher, I conveniently ignore my own good sense. I present wind chimes built in preparation for Mother’s Day as part of our “building music” unit. Make it safe and keep the rubber side down. Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Why Mothers Hate Me On Mother’s Day
In my middle school/junior high class, we’ve been exploring the relationship between sails, force, momentum, foam boats and area. I’ve used the unit to assess the graphing labs we conducted last quarter and introduce non-linear graphs. I began the unit by asking students to research old sailing boats and draw conclusions from the material they gathered. The students completed a K-W-L chart. I then introduced the question: what is the most efficient sail? After some fits and starts (we have been doing some standardized testing practice to get ready for this week’s Stanford tests) we realized we needed to ask … Continue reading If I Had a Boat (Sailing Curriculum Unit)
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