My kids and I really enjoy playing Minecraft together. There’s something magical about designing a 3D structure and getting to see it in a game world. Using my favorite 3D modeling tool for students, TinkerCAD, we tried importing stuff from Thingiverse into Minecraft. Here’s some of the results from our experiments.
I’m thinking about using this idea to motivate a future workshop on TinkerCAD.
A good friend of mine from our local makerspace enjoys teaching students about electronics by taking stuff a part. He has a talent for finding free or inexpensive pieces that students enjoy deconstructing. Through this experience, he has the opportunity to connect the theory of electronics/mechanics to real stuff. Inspired by this teacher, I decided to try it myself. My sons bought a broken RC car from Good Will for $2.00. With the car in pieces, we started playing with the components to see if we could get anything working. With bread board and batteries, we found that the motors of the RC car were function. After an evening of hacking using an Arduino, a motor driver, a Raspberry Pi, and Wifi connector, we cobbled together a Raspberry Pi controlled robot. (see below) Not bad for $2.00 of source materials.
Your Mission… Should you choice to accept it
So… I’d like to offer a challenge for this month.
1. Find something broken.
2. Take it apart, and figure out how to make something new from it.
3. We’d love to hear your stories of taking something broken and re-purposing it into something beautiful, fun or functional.
Post your entries to Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or Facebook using the hashtag #RepurposedCraft.
The best entries will experience awesome social media fame and glory. I’ll make sure to celebrate them on the blog too! 🙂
Thanks for sharing your work!!!
Are you passionate about DIY, tinkering, and crafting? We would enjoy hearing what you want to make in 2016. Thanks for taking this quick survey.
What went well?
Parents + Students = Win! In our most recent classes, we adjusted our space and class invite to welcome parents to learn along with their students. I enjoyed seeing the parents getting engaged in the material just as much as the student. For the students that were pair programming with their parents, it looked like they were having a fun time.
The following workshop order worked well
1 hour – Hour of code on code.org. This helps the students obtain the core ideas of programming: loops, sequencing, variables, decision making.
Many student just enjoyed building a Minecraft server. It was cool to see their excitement in learning that they could build and host a server for their own Minecraft building parties. In building a Minecraft server, the students had to follow steps a network engineer might do like installing java, putting file in a particular location on the computer, and using the command line.
What can be improved?
Learning from server crashes: Sometimes the students think too big! It’s really fun to see the students test the limits of software. It’s very common for students to try to make very large blocks of mushrooms or TNT. The server usually doesn’t handle this scale of work. So… the students learn a lesson in making sure that their requests of the system are reasonable.
Clarity of support scripts: We’re going to continue to increase the clarity of the scripts and lab instructions we’ve created for the class. For advanced students, they seemed to enjoy working ahead of the class using the instructions.
Reviewing sample programs: I think we could have generated more diversity of work if we created a tutorial where the students executed and inspected existing sample programs of a higher complexity. I hope this would help spark more ideas. It’s great that I have the sample programs built already! In DroidScript or Arduino, you can make tons of interesting software by combining code and ideas from well crafted samples.
I do want to give a shout out to my friends who help co-teach this workshop with me. I really appreciate their time in helping to inspire the next generation of game developers!
During a teacher meetup through we held last night, we mentioned ways that makerspaces and project based learning directed by student interest can inspire student curiosity, creativity, and personalized learning. We organized this meetup to listen for ways we can support teachers and students in our area. I really appreciate the time my wife and our teacher friends spent sharing their experiences in their class rooms across school boundaries. Teachers are always busy this time of year. So, we reallyappreciate their influence and time. I also want to say thanks to Geneva from Real Impact Center in Macon. As always.. we appreciate your leadership and time.
During the conversation, we shared the ideas and tools we’re using to design learning experiences in SparkMacon Makerspace. It was awesome time! It felt like we had a small “unconference” over coffee. I put together this post to aggregate some helpful ebooks, guides, and tools for bringing maker education into your class room. We hope you find these tools helpful in engaging your students.
You also might enjoy the following infographic from http://margaret-powers.com/. Margaret has awesome ideas and coaching on her blog serving educators. I enjoy following her posts on Twitter. Make sure to follow her content.
Building paper stomp rockets can be a fun way to engage students and your kids in learning about experimentation, designing by iteration, and aerodynamics. Let me put extra emphasis on fun!! My kids have really loved this build. In anticipation for a local arts, technology, and maker festival in Macon, GA, I wanted prepare a small project that would help engage my kids and other young makers. We first discovered building paper stomp rockets at the Atlanta Mini Maker Faire. We were instantly hooked!! As an added benefit, it’s pretty inexpensive and easy to build.
We can’t wait to share this project with our friends . If you’re in the Macon, GA area, make sure to join us at the Make End festival.
Middle Georgia Makers and Georgia makerspaces will be exhibiting their projects, art, and crafts on November 14th to 15th at Tattnall Square Park in Macon, GA. The festival seeks to inspire the next generation of creative tech professionals, creative artists and showcase the economic strengths of the region.
www.codecademy.com: This interactive tutorial provides a fun way to get started with python programming and many other languages. People learn best when you see a new idea and immediately apply it. Code academy was designed with this learning pattern in mind. You are coached to immediately apply every new programming concept in an online code edit.
http://www.diveintopython.net/ : This is another free book that I used when learning how to program in python. It’s probably more appropriate for experienced programmers.
https://www.raspberrypi.org/magpi/issues/: So… you’ve heard about this $35 computer called the Raspberry PI. But what can you do with it? Check out this magazine online for free from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It’s very well put together and shares tons of fun project ideas. Makers young and old will find the content engaging and fun.
Join us at SparkMacon MakerSpace for
Building Web Apps using Python and HTML
Join professional web developer, Stephen Finney, to learn how to start making cool stuff for the web. This workshop will cover basic concepts, including building views using HTML and writing simple controllers/handlers using Python, and the Flask framework. This is the same kind of technology used in companies like Google and Stephen will show you all you need to know to get started.This session is scheduled for
In designing this workshop, I wanted the teachers to have fun and play, learn the basic ideas of puzzle based programming and make connections between common core standards and code. To help celebrate some of the benefits of making and tinkering in the classroom, I included a few elements of physical computing and digital fabrication.
Interested in attending this “Coding for Teachers/Parents” workshop? We’re offering this workshop again!
During the workshop retrospective, the teachers shared the following positive elements of the workshop.
The teachers enjoyed getting to play games and tinker. In the second half of the workshop, we did some detailed tutorials on scratch.mit.edu. The teachers enjoyed getting to see Scratch basics, how to use loudness as a code trigger, and how to use the web cam to interact with sprites. Inspired by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager from InventToLearn.com, teachers had the opportunity to play with Scratch, Makey Makey, Arduino, Servo’s, Lego Wedo, and Khan Academy. The workshop turned into a big party once we broke out Scratch and the Makey Makey’s . We had lots of laughs and silly cat sounds!
The teachers appreciated having the space to play with the technology. I tried to design the workshop so that most of the learning occurred through hands on experiences. Some teachers wished they had more time during their normal teaching week to do this kind of tinkering.
To our mentors/coaches for the weekend, please know that you have my thanks! I couldn’t have done it without you! I just want to give shout outs to my friends Monica Kearse who teaches CS at Veterans High School, Garrett Armstrong from SparkMacon MakerSpace, Joey Allen from Mercer University and Mercer Creative Computer Camps, and my brother Francis. The teachers appreciated all of your mindfulness and support.
I appreciate that Joey Allen shared some games that his students created during the Mercer Creative Camps. I think all of us were impressed by the complexity and fun factor of the games. Allen also showcased the power of open source software. We took some time to review the code for one of the games. He did a great job helping the teachers draw insights from the code the students had created and breaking it down.
I found it interesting to hear the connections teachers created from this coding experience to common core standards: problem solving, critical thinking, coordinate systems, motion, cause and effect, simple machines, creative storytelling, and learning how to write to document solutions. Here’s a related post from Edutopia.
Here’s some of the tools and resource links shared during the workshop.
If you’re interested in holding a coding for teachers workshop, feel free to drop me a line at Michael@InspiredToEducate.NET . We would be excited to connect with you and serve your teaching community.
An augmented reality sandtable is a playful technology for introducing kids to concepts of topo maps and fluid dynamics. It’s also ridiculously fun! Thanks to the time and effort of makers from SparkMacon makerspace, our team built our own implementation of the AR sandtable and showcased it at Atlanta Makerfaire 2015. We had an amazing time building it and sharing it with families across Atlanta.
So… what does it look like? Here’s a few videos.
The original AR sandbox was created through collaborative research of the following organizations.
UC Davis’ W.M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences (KeckCAVES)
UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center
Lawrence Hall of Science
ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center
In Sept of 2013, my family got to see a similar augmented reality exhibit at the Boston Science Museum. My kids spent hours at this exhibit and loved the experience. You can check out our post here about MIT’s Tangible Media lab work. From a technology perspective, the sandbox is filled with rice or sand enabling the kids to build mountains, lakes, rivers, and castles. A projector positioned above the sandbox renders a colorized map featuring topo map lines based on the height of the sand. Next to the projector, a XBox 360 Kinect senses the height and depth of the sand or rice. It has always been a dream to present at a MakerFaire and build this project. It was great to see this dream come true with my friends from SparkMacon. It was a wonderful community building experience for our members too.
My son’s favorite feature of the sandbox is the water simulation. By hovering your hand over a spot, the software executes a “rain” feature under your hand. The simulated water obeys the laws of physics that you would expect as water flows down the side of a mountain. The total experience feels like a dynamic piece of art. The experience was well received at MakerFaire. Our makers were awarded a “Maker of Merit” badge for our exhibit by MakerFaire. I know that our team enjoyed answering questions on how we built the structure, how it works, playing in the sandbox, and talking about how we might extend the work.
This experience would not be possible without our family of makers.
Garrett Armstrong – We had a few challenges early in development getting Linux installed on our workstation. I appreciate the hours of time Garrett spent debugging our hardware setup and getting the NVidia video card working.
Robert Betzel – Thank you for being our master carpenter on this build. His table size enabled a good number of families to enjoy the sandbox at one time. It was also modular so that it was easy to setup and teardown! We also want to thank Infinity Network Solutions who funded this build.
Stephen Finney, Glen Stone, Robert Reese, Nadia Osman, Brent Lanford – Thanks for all the support in setting up the software, helping to build the system, and volunteering to present it at Atlanta MakerFaire.
I also want to give a special shout out to Garrett Sisk from Marion Systems. He did a great job telling the story of the impact of 3D printing and the ways it can help people. We’re thankful for his time and support. We love his product in our makerspace. Interested in purchasing a quality 3D printer for your makerspace or educational institution? Make sure to check out http://www.marionsystems.com/.
From a software perspective, the AR sandbox is built with a few open source C++ frameworks on a modern Linux platform.
All in all, we had an amazing time at Atlanta Makerfaire 2015. I have posted some links, videos, and pictures below. If you’re interested in seeing the AR sandbox and other amazing maker projects in Macon, GA, make sure to save the date for Make-End!!