Feb 4, 2017

Piper Kits

I'm back from my maternity and so excited to be back in the swing of things! This year we have a new (part-time) STEAM TOSA, Sherry Burch, and I am thrilled to have partner to collaborate with!

One of the first projects that we worked on together was a Saturday STEAM Academy class with the Piper Kits! We had gotten the Piper Kits through Donors Choose, with the majority of the funding coming from Groupware. Sherry had her STEAM class build the laser-cut, wooden Piper boxes, which she said was both challenging and fun for the kids, as some of them had never used a screwdriver before.

As part of the introductory Minecraft programming lessons in the Piper Kit, students use a Raspberry Pi to build the controls for their computer. They first worked with a partner to connect jumper wires to buttons to be their up, down, left, and right controls. They also problem solved to create circuits operate buzzers, LED lights, and switches to truly bring their computers to life.

At the end of the class, students were so proud to have literally built their own computers!




May 25, 2016

3rd Grade Dash Robot Life Cycle Exhibition Projects

At Sherman Oaks Elementary School, all students in grades TK - 6 prepare an exhibition project to present to the community at the end of the school year. I was thrilled when 3rd grade teacher, Vanessa Diaz, reached out to me about planning their exhibition project around the 3rd NGSS standard of Life Cycles and incorporating programming with the Dash Robots. 
In groups, students researched a plant or animal and the different stages in its life cycle. Each student was then responsible for typing a paragraph about a particular stage in the life cycle in Spanish or English (since Sherman Oaks is a Spanish immersion school).
Students then worked with their teams to create a poster to organize the stages of their life cycle. We asked them to map out at least six different stopping points for Dash to stop and teach others about that particular stage. 
When programming, we also challenged students to have Dash always facing the audience when he is saying something. This proved to be quite a challenge as students had to calculate the extra degrees required to have Dash continue turning after arriving at a specific destination.
The 3rd graders can't wait to share their Life Cycle Dash Robot Projects with the entire school community at Exhibition Night later this week!
You can view the full lesson plan for this STEAM Project by Clicking Here. This lesson and others are also available on our Campbell USD STEAM Resource Website by clicking on the Dash Robot Button: http://campbellusdsteam.weebly.com/

May 23, 2016

3D Modeling and Printing Training, Bicycle Helmets, and Gold Rush Tools

We recently had four 3D modeling and printing trainings in our district to build interest and expertise around manufacturing and design. We had over 80 teachers, technicians, librarians, and parents throughout the district participate! The trainings were facilitated by myself and Sam Patterson, Technology Integration Specialist at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School.

During the training, we focused on using TinkerCAD and the Polar 3D Cloud. You can view resources from our training by: Clicking Here We also encouraged teachers to think about a project that they are currently working on and how they can incorporate 3D modeling and design. I also created several screencasts that teachers could use with their own classes to get started with 3D modeling:
As a follow-up, two of the classrooms that I've recently worked with are Anne Stephano's 2nd grade class and Brian Tamekuni's 4th grade class. The second graders had been learning about bicycle safety, so we had them use TinkerCAD to create a bicycle helmet. This was the first time that I had used TinkerCAD with second graders, but it went really well since we did the tutorials together as a whole class. Students also had to explain to us why they added specific features and how it helped to make the helmet safer.
Brian's 4th graders were just starting to learn about the California Gold Rush, so we had the students design a gold rush tool. We introduced concepts like scaling, creating holes, grouping, and duplicating shapes to create tools that were realistic. One of my favorite tools was the pick, since students had to problem solve to figure out how to create the curved metal head. The student below even designed a gold nugget!

May 12, 2016

2nd Grade NGSS Mystery Science Materials Unit at Sherman Oaks

The 2nd graders at Sherman Oaks Elementary school are hard at work learning about materials and their properties, one of their new NGSS performance expectations! Their teacher, Maria Guevara, is one of our new NGSS Teacher Leaders, and invited me to try out a Mystery Science Lesson with her. All 2nd - 5th grade units are currently available for a free trial on https://mysteryscience.com/ K - 1st grade units should also be available in the fall.
The students started by watching a few short videos and discussing the guiding question: Why do we wear clothes? Students were introduced to different material properties like, light, heavy, hard, soft, stretch, and staff.

Students were then given the challenge of designing a hat using different materials. They first tested all of the materials for softness, stiffness, and sweat-soaking (water).

They then used what they had learned about each material to design and create a hat that they could wear outside. We added that they should think about all of the reasons why people wear hats, and if their hat was providing protection from the sunlight and rain and was comfortable!


The second graders can't wait to test their hats outside!


May 9, 2016

4th Grade 3D Printing Jewelry Factory at Blackford

Our 4th graders at Blackford Elementary School have been busy starting their 3D jewelry design and printing factory! 4th grade teacher, May Liu, was part of our 2015 Advanced STEAM Cohort and was excited to work on a project with Blackford's new 3D printer. We recently purchased a Polar 3D printer for all of our elementary and middle schools through a K - 16 Manufacturing Grant that we are part of with our local high school and community community college. We selected the Polar 3D because of its ability to send prints wirelessly through the Polar Cloud (great for sharing with multiple classes), its included live video capabilities, the ease of preparing the build plate (only a layer of hair spray is needed), the safety and environmental impact of using recycled PLA filament, and its relatively low cost of $599 (with educational pricing).

We first had students do the first three self-paced tutorials on TinkerCAD.com (using their district Google Accounts to sign in) with their Chromebook and a 3-button mouse. Students were then presented with the engineering design challenge of designing a pendant for their mom for Mother's Day. They were given the criteria of an original pendant no larger than 25 mm in length, 25 mm in width, and a total height of 10 mm. We suggested a base height of 7 mm, and allowed them to decide how high to make their attachments (letters and other shapes). Students were also reminded that a pendant should have a hole for the string or keychain, so either creating it with the hole tool, or using another shape like the tube to attach a loop. It was really interesting to watch the students create innovative solutions to stay within these parameters.

Students then saved their finished pendants as .STL files on their Google Drive, which could then be shared with their teacher. We then taught some of the students how to load the prints to the Polar Cloud so that they could help us start the prints and retrieve them from the printer (which is housed in the school library). We printed all of the pendants using white filament so that students could use sharpies to create multi-colored designs.

Ms. Liu also had the brilliant idea of using recycled plastic containers and post-its to keep track of the progress of each student. Using their student numbers, we could easily see which pendants still needed to be printed, colored, or tied into a necklace or keychain. She also exercised a lot of patience as she spent over a week getting a pendant printed for each student in her class!

The finished pendants were beautiful and the 4th graders were so proud to give them to their mothers!

May 7, 2016

8th Grade NGSS Project-Based Learning "Science Behind the Music" Unit

Josh Pizzica and Anne Sanderfer, 8th grade teachers at Monroe Middle School just created and facilitated their first NGSS Project-Based Learning Unit! Their unit on Waves and Musical Instruments allowed students to discover frequency, pitch, amplitude, and how sound waves travel in an authentic way. The entry event was having a San Jose State University visit their classes to bring musical instruments and to allow students to see how particular instruments were engineered and created different sounds. Students then had about 3 weeks to choose and build their own instruments out of recycled materials. This also gave students a hands-on experience using woodworking tools like saws, drills, and hammers. With their groups, students also created a presentation to teach others about their instrument and the "science behind how it works" at their Musical Showcase. Magnificent work Anne, Josh, and your musical 8th graders!

May 5, 2016

3rd Grade Dash Robot Polygon Party at Marshall Lane

As part of their geometry unit, the 3rd graders at Marshall Lane Elementary School have been learning about polygons and angles. Teacher, Meghan Snelham, incorporated the Dash robots by having her students create giant polygons on the floor using blue painters tape.

In teams of 2 - 3 students, students drew a model of a polygon, labeled each side, calculated the perimeter, and came up with at least four facts about it.


They then used painters tape, rulers, and protractors to create their polygon on the classroom floor.





Students then began programming the Dash robots to travel along the perimeter of their shape and to say a fact at each corner. It was really interesting to see them problem solve with their partners how to measure the angles that they had created, in order to be able to program Dash to turn that many degrees to the left or right. Students also had to measure the polygon sides accurately so that Dash could travel along each side. 

Students also programmed voice recordings so that Dash could teach other students about their polygon. Some students even composed songs and had Dash sing them!
Finally, groups presented in front of the class and we video-taped each performance. We have learned that having a final video recording has worked really well, since our schools share Dash with multiple classrooms. It lets the students have a final copy of their project to share with their parents, and there are no hurt feelings when other classes use Dash and record over their work. Awesome work Ms. Snelham and Marshall Lane students!