Sunday, February 12, 2017

Makerspaces and You #MakerEd

If you want to know a bit more about Making and Makerspaces, this is the post for you! I wanted to share just a few tips with anyone out there that is interested in exploring the world of Making for themselves or their students. 

1. If you want your students to Make, you need to Make.

You have to be ok with trying new things and seeing where the adventure takes you. I've learned to code a Raspberry Pi and Arduino. I've made some very cool, crazy things, and practical things as I honed my Maker skills. You do not need to be an expert in all areas, but start to dabble and learn alongside your students if they are trying something new. It's a great experience to learn something brand new from scratch. Start Making to create new Makers. 

2. Create a Safe Place for Failure

The biggest thing I've learned about Making is that you are going to mess up. Things are not going to work the first time and some things might not work at all despite the hours put in. Students need to know that it is ok for things not to work right away. If you are Making with the students, they will see that failure is part of the process. People say, "You have to fall down a few times before you ride a bike successfully". In the Maker world, you are going to burn a few finger tips before the solder is in place. 

3. Have some fun

When it comes to choosing projects, have some fun. Go out there and find something that just looks neat. You will learn many valuable skills along the way no matter what you choose, so you might as well choose something interesting and fun to you. Make: and Instructables are great places to start looking for fun projects. If you are not having fun Making, something is terribly wrong. 

These are just a few things I've learned over the course of my time Making. I'm always learning something new and exciting. You can keep up to date on my crazy Making projects on Twitter or Instagram. If you want to dive deeper into Makerspaces and want to set up a space in your school, check out my book, Your Starter Guide to Makerspaces. It's perfect for someone who is just getting started in the Maker world and needs a good "how to" guide to get them started. 

My book has also been used by schools and districts as a book study. If this is something you might want to bring to your school or district, send me an email so we can set up a time to chat and make it happen. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Solving Everyday Problems #MakerEd #Make52

I have often been asked about the "need" for 3D printers in school. Most people think that it would just be better to just order what you need instead of trying to make it. That is where I disagree.

I like to challenge my students with projects that force them to consider everyday problems. In my technology class last year, my favorite assignment was asking students to identify an issue in their life and design a solution. This project allowed for students to work on something meaningful to them and to create a viable solution. It gives them the drive to really tackle the problem.

Here is my example:

Swinging Baby-Gate Problem

Here is a baby gate door we installed on the second floor to keep my little guy from going down the stairs. It also keeps the two little dogs from going up and getting stuck behind the gate trying to get back down. It has been a minor annoyance, but one that I wanted to address. 

I could have went out and purchased a door stop, but I thought it would be the perfect project for me to design something and print it using my Dremel 3D40.

Took my measurements and started designing on Tinkercad.


I spent some time getting the measurements just right and tweaking it over and over again as I learned to become more proficient using the program. It was a decent amount of work to get the angle just right on the triangle. My high school Geometry teacher would be proud.  Once I got the shape just right, I wanted to personalize it.

 I thought adding my initials to the doorstop would be a simple way to personalize it. I used the letter features and was able to use them to carve out my initials on the doorstop. Once I had it in place, I was ready to print.

It was not good. Not long enough and just didn't look like right. So, back to the drawing board.

Thinner and longer was the key. A couple of measurement adjustments and I was back in business. 

After a short print of about 35 minutes, the doorstop was ready for action.

I added a little tack to the bottom of the doorstop to keep it in place and place on the wall when not in use. This was a fun project that would be perfect for the classroom or Makerspace.

Step 1: Ask students to identify a problem that could be solved with the proper design.

Step 2: Have students work on the design.

Step 3: Print a prototype.

Step 4: Solve the problem.

I can't wait to see what you and your students can come up with to solve your problems.