Thursday, February 17, 2022

Breaking A Few Eggs #MakerEd

One of the things that I have always loved about MakerEd is the mistakes that are made along the way. Mistakes are an important part of the learning process, but grades have made them feel way worse than they should be. The best metaphor for this is the egg drop project my 6th graders work on for Innovation and Design. 

Students are given a bag of supplies and are tasked with making a vehicle that can protect an egg from a one story drop from a balcony. Students work to design and build their vehicle and are even given some plastic eggs to use a test dummies for practice drops. However, when it comes time to drop the real egg, some students are scared. They do not want to see a broken egg. Even though they will not receive a bad grade for a broken egg (my class does not have grades) and they will be given a chance to redesign and drop a second egg, some of those students are hesitant to drop because of what failure will physically look like; a destroyed egg. 

Some students love the idea of dropping an egg and seeing a very real success or failure. The binary way of looking at it works for some students. If it broke, they need to figure out how to fix the mistake so the next egg doesn't break. If it is unbroken, they are reassured that their design worked. While not every assignment or project is as clear as this, it is a nice way of looking at work students do in school. 

If the egg breaks, just have another go at it and try to get it right. That approach works for every assignment. I ask students to not be afraid of a broken egg. Just go for it as long as they commit themselves to finding out why the egg broke and work to make sure the same mistakes do not happen again. With that approach, a few broken eggs will be expected and students will not be so hesitant to try. 

Mistakes are how we learn and we want students to be more comfortable with them. Sometimes is takes a few broken eggs for them to see this. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Recovery with #MakerEd

It's been a bit since I have shared anything on the website and that is because I have been recovering from a cardiac event. 

tldr; Had a serious heart event. On the mend now thanks, in part, to the calming nature of making.

Over a month ago, I experienced right chest pain and arm tingling after a workout. Decided to go to ER, but almost turned around because it felt better.

Decided to go in since I was there. I was able to be seen right away and they did some tests. Blood tests showed high Troponin levels. These are high if you’ve had heart trauma. 0-80 is normal. I was at 800, then 3,400, and then 32,00.

They called in the cardiac team and rushed me to the Cath lab to stick a line in my wrist to my heart to figure out what was going on because other tests showed I was supposed to be ok. Turns out I suffered a rare SCAD event.

These events are extremely rare in men. It’s why all of my symptoms and tests were confusing. I was placed on blood thinners and other meds to prevent clots and other nasty things. I stayed in observation for a few days before another Cath visit to see if I’m healing.

The 2nd Cath showed things were going in the right direction. My Triponin levels were dropping and no signs of clots. I was able to go home after 5 days and I saw my cardiologist. I was given two weeks of bed rest to heal. During that time, I spent lots of time making things. I did lots of doodling and spent time with LEGO kits. I needed to do something, but also keep my blood pressure down. I fell back to the things that I loved. Playing with Python code, exploring Raspberry Pi projects, designing in 3D, and other maker outlets was a great way for me to keep my mind active, be creative, but also take it easy. There are great studies out there that support creativity and its positive impact on mental health issues. Here is one by Connor, DeYoung, and Silvia "Everyday creativity activity as a path to flourishing". There are others worth reading if you are interested in going down that rabbit hole like I did. 

I will have missed 3 weeks of school by the time I came back. I will be on blood thinners for the next three months and I could not come to #FETC22 or #TCEA22. I have been looking forward to these events because I have missed seeing so many of my friends in person. My mental health took a major hit when I realized what I was going to miss. Making helped me deal with my emotions during this time.  

I started cardiac rehab last week and look forward to a return to normalcy as I build back endurance.

I look to be right as rain by the Spring and I’m excited about my Summer opportunities that have started to emerge. #ISTE in NOLA will be great. I can't wait to see all of you after a couple of years away. 

The last thing I want to share is to tell you to listen to your body. Get that thing checked out. I was lucky the ER was not slammed for the first time in 9 months and I was seen right away. If I had to wait, I might not be here. Take care and I hope to see you soon.

Hugs and High Fives,