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Can MakerSpaces Invent the Future? (Video)

YouTube SpheroExoIt is incredible what kids can do when we believe in them, coach them, and get out of their way! Our students recently participated in a robotics competition that was invented from the ground up by staff and students.  We designed and printed 3D “exoskeletons” that fit over our Sphero robotic droids…and SpheroExo was born.  The rest is history.

Check out the 5 minute video below and prepare to be amazed at what kids can do.

http://tinyurl.com/SpheroExo

We are so proud of our students and all they are creating, engineering, and achieving.  Watch for our students next week as they present SpheroExo to teachers at EdCamp Eau Claire!  Students will be sharing their design process and how they’re inventing the future at #EdCampEC.

I’m not sure that MakerSpaces can actually invent the future, but I’m very confident that cutting-edge tools and a culture conducive to innovation helps.  A relevant and connected pedagogy empowers all kids to create, connect, and dream bigger.

 

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Are You the next MakerStar?!

Students showcase their Sphero Mobile MakerSpace cart.

Students showcase their Sphero Mobile MakerSpace.

Our school is looking for somebody to design the next Mobile MakerSpace cart at Greenwood.  We’ll supply the budget and pay for the materials, but we need kids, teachers, and parents to provide the creativity, voice, and ideas!  Who knows….your class or students just might be the next #MakerStar!  To submit an idea for a new cart follow the rules below:

Rules:

  • Be persuasive…WHY would your idea be great for our students?!
  • Stay on budget with supplies ($750 max.)
  • Stay succinct (provide a focused plan, drawing, or video)
  • Include costs, quantities, and any relevant ordering information
  • Your idea must fit inside (or on top of) the cart pictured below. Shelves are removable.
  • This design opportunity is open to students, groups of students, classrooms, parents, and educators everywhere.
  • Submit your idea to hashtag #MakerStar on Twitter by January 15, 2016.
  • We’ll be empowering our students to make the final decision and to announce the winners!

Maker Cart

Ready to Take the Design Plunge?!

Are you ready to dive in? If not, click HERE to see an inspiring motivational video by Steve Harvey! His “Jump” video applies to many things in life, but it gets me fired up every time I watch it.

Now that you’re ready to jump, just remember to post design submissions to hashtag #MakerStar on Twitter.  Submissions can be in any format (short video, diagram, photo, etc.).  If you don’t do Twitter don’t worry! Feel free to contact me and we can arrange a way for the design(s) to be e-mailed. The video below demonstrates how our students and staff are using some of the different carts, so be sure to check it out for possible design ideas.

Background Information

We currently have a fleet of carts capable of transporting hands-on, collaborative learning tools to virtually every classroom and hallway in our school.  Click HERE to see our carts in action.  A complete list of all our current carts is below.

Cart 1: Cardboard Construction – Makedo Kits

Cart 2: Circuit Scribe – Conducive Ink and Writable Circuitry

Cart 3: Edison Robots

Cart 4: K’Nex

Cart 5: Knitting – Yarn and Assorted Looms

Cart 6: Legos – Motors, Creative Tubs, Base-plates, and Education Kit

Cart 7: Legos – Simple and Powered Machines, Wheels, and Creative Tubs

Cart 8: Lego Friends Kits

Cart 9: MakerBot 3D Printer – with 14 colors of filament

Cart 10: Makey-Makey Kits and Bee-Bots

Cart 11: Modular Robotics – Cubelets

Cart 12: Sphero – 31 Robot Droids, Turbo Covers, and Accessories

**Special thanks to my summer administrative intern, EmaKate, for collaborating with me on this student design opportunity.  We’re excited to see what kids can create!

Why Mindset Matters

Maker Blog

It’s a funny thing.  All a child really requires to change the world is permission…and maybe a sheet of paper.  When we give kids permission to create we unleash a whole new world of possibilities.  When we provide kids tools (paper, technology, sticks, whatever) and the conditions to create their inclination is to do just that.  All it really takes is removing some of the compliance-based restraints we’ve systematized in our homes and schools.

Our family was recently enjoying lunch together on a local restaurant patio.  It was undeniably HOT outside, but the precious sunshine that makes a cameo each summer in Minnesota was too much to pass up.  There were also some regular gusts of wind that provided the perfect balance to the scorching sun.

After fielding a few initial complaints about the heat from our children we settled in and ordered some lemonade.  It wasn’t more than five minutes later that one of our children began tearing apart her kids’ menu.  My visceral reaction would normally include a reminder about restaurant etiquette, but I bit my tongue and proceeded to soak in the rays while enjoying my wife’s company.

It wasn’t long until my daughter produced the creative hat pictured above.  I’m not sure if the hat actually provided any semblance of shade, but it did include a chin strap to guard against the sudden bursts of wind that occasionally greeted us over the course of our lunch outside.  Needless to say, I was impressed.

Fast-forward to today, where I’m sitting inside listening to a summer rainstorm…

As I occasionally check the stream of tweets coming from the #ISTE15 and #NAESP15 hashtags, a part of me is really excited for what our kids can look forward to this coming school year.

When school resumes in the fall educators will bring back a mindset that has been impacted by a community of educators that will not rest until student creativity is celebrated.  They will return to their schools armed with the understanding that the transformative power of technology is something that can actually bring people together.

I know that the educators who are connecting and spending time together at ISTE and NAESP will ultimately bring something more valuable than any device, tablet, or initiative back to their respective schools.  “Best-practice” doesn’t start with a tool or tablet, and it’s certainly not a program.  Our kids are counting on us to embrace a learner’s mindset.  In doing so we may need to unlearn approaches we once held dear.  We need to give our students permission to create, make, engineer, paint, invent, tinker, connect, collaborate, and grow.

Our kids are counting on us. This is precisely why mindset matters.

Mobile MakerSpaces

Click picture to link to cart ordering options.

Click picture to link to cart ordering options.

This year we introduced Mobile MakerSpaces at our school.  A team of Greenwood teachers and I collaborated on the concept over the past year, and I earmarked some funding in our budget that we invested into the Mobile MakerSpace fleet and supplies.  Our goal was to create an ethos of innovation and design-thinking.  We wanted students to have the opportunity to create, build, tinker, fail, and think critically from any classroom or hallway in our school.  At our summer teacher workshops we embedded the “welcome back” content into a MakerSpace approach to demonstrate how learning and sharing through creative construction was possible.  Fast-forward to today…

Student-led Professional Development using our Sphero Mobile MakerSpace cart.

Student-led Professional Development using our Sphero Mobile MakerSpace cart.

Our Mobile MakerSpace fleet is one of the many things our students LOVE about school!  Combined with the Genius Hour time that many teachers are doing…I sometimes catch myself wishing that I was an elementary student again!  Students are creating mini-golf courses using coding and Spheros. They are knitting, building, drawing, constructing, collaborating, and communicating their way through the school day.  Students have world-class opportunities and they are learning right alongside a dedicated team of teachers that continues to learn as well.  We even had a group of students lead professional development for some teachers and their principal (me). The student-ownership was AWESOME!

We’ve also had some classrooms start their own MakerSpaces and MakerSpace challenges to continue providing students opportunities to unleash their passions and creativity throughout the day.  During observations, I’ve observed firsthand how teachers are seamlessly integrating Mobile MakerSpaces into the student learning experience using clear learning targets and standards.  The creative materials and opportunities for student design-thinking have taken student engagement to levels I had not previously observed while students were completing worksheets.

Students have responded with a tenacity for learning.  One of our grade-levels schedules MakerSpace time 1st thing each morning, and our students can’t wait to get to school!  You do NOT need fancy supplies or expensive carts to create an ethos of innovation in your school.  (You can use everyday objects and miscellaneous supplies from home.)  However, I am including a list of our Mobile MakerSpace fleet supplies in case you’d like to bring any of the opportunities to your classroom or school.

Cart 1: MakerBot 3D Printer

Cart 2: LEGO

Cart 3: LEGO

Cart 4: K’Nex

Cart 5: CircuitScribe (Writeable Circuits)

Cart 6: Knitting Looms and Yarn

Cart 7: Sphero Robotic Droids

Cart 8: Modular Robotics Educator Pack

Cart 9: Edison Robotics (compatible with LEGO)

Cart 10: Bee-Bots & Makey-Makey Kits

Cart 11: Makedo Guided Kits & Creative Construction Bundles

Please feel free to view the videos below showing our students in action.  To see more of our students’ work, you can go to our school’s hashtag on Twitter #GWgreats.

I’ll Never Forget

Our teachers have been doing some truly ground-breaking work. The level of innovation and passion in our school is palpable.  We have classrooms participating in Genius Hour, coding, connecting with other schools, 3D printing, green-screen video production, flipped instruction, team teaching, augmented reality, and re-imagining learning spaces. I thought that I had grown accustomed to the general level of “awesomeness” in our school…but I’ll never forget what happened last week.

This past week Mrs. Kirchner’s 4th graders had the chance to take one of our “Mobile MakerSpace” carts for a test spin. The cart was loaded with Circuit-Scribe kits that enabled students to draw their own working circuits.  As you can see from the short video clip below…student engagement was off the charts!

The most inspiring part of the lesson was the process that Mrs. Kirchner used to introduce the new technology to students. Students were assigned partners and given time to experiment, collaborate, and fail. That’s right…FAIL.

They talked about why their circuits were not working, compared notes, wrestled with frustration and tried again. It was beautiful. When the guided inquiry time was over every single group had successfully created their own working circuit from scratch. Students drew the conductive lines themselves and created unique battery configurations to power their projects.

I was fortunate to be a part of the experience and it was absolutely amazing. I’m talking jaw-dropping amazing.  It’s one thing to be issued a science kit full of wires and directions. It’s another to see a group of kids wrestle with failure and overcome it using skills like collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.

I will never forget the power of failure in the learning process!

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