Here is a really interesting initiative you certainly want to consider if you are interested in bringing coding to your school. A group of educators in the Ottawa area have come up with the idea of supplying every school in Canada with a robotics kit for students and teachers. There is no cost for the kit which is incredible when you consider how much it can cost to bring coding technology into your school.
To receive your kit, all you need to do is register on the website.
This project has the potential of opening up coding and robotics to students and communities throughout the country. Coding certainly qualifies as a true 21st-Century skill and all students can benefit from learning about and creating their own programmable robot.
The next big step in this project is getting the word out. If you are interested in getting kits for your schools, simply complete the registration form and your students can begin to learn about coding and robotics. After this, the sky is the limit!
This is the second in a series of blog posts written by Cathy Iverson, the library tech at St.Luke and St. Anthony schools – she is certainly the glue that has brought us together and made the MakerFaire happen!
As a follow-up to my last Blog post, St. Anthony Makerspace: Our Seven Top Tools!
I’d like to tell you about our incredibly successful, first ever, Mini Maker Faire!!!
On April 30th, we finally saw our much anticipated MakerFaire come to life. After weeks and countless hours of planning sessions, tweaking schedules, texts, Tweets, and emails, the day was ours and We rocked IT!
Our grade 5/6’s here at St. Anthony were asked to break into committees to help facilitate this epic day. Well, they certainly “rose to the occasion” and were instrumental in making this the success it was. Thanks to their teachers for all their patience and support during this time, the students outdid themselves on so many levels:)
As the buses arrived there was a buzz in the air. Both the Kitigan Zibi and St-Luke Ottawa students were welcomed at the main entrance by a giant banner and our Welcoming Committee, who led them to the gym where each student was given a lanyard with their name, school and top 3 activities for the day. After a few welcoming words from our Principal, Paul McGuire, one of our main organizers, Reg McCulley, gave the students instructions on how the day would proceed.
It was then time to start the Demos in the gym. Students were transitioned from demo to demo so as to not create any gridlock at one particular station. An amazing music Playlist, chosen by one of our student committees, added to the excitement and anticipation.
Here’s a list of what we had going on:
Jeff Ross/Raspberry Pi/ Minecraft servers
Minecraft Master Game Designer
Luc Lalande, 3D Printing/Minecraft “Creepers”
Minecraft and 3D Printing Station
Demo and Activity station
Marlaina Loveys Lego Bristlebots and Mazes
Rick Alexanderson (St-Peter High School) CARL Robot demo
Alison Evans Adnani Makey Makey
Luke Van Shaik and Brittini Ogden LED paper airplanes
At 12:30 all the students were sent outside to enjoy a pizza lunch under a bright sunny sky. (Thank you Tracey Crowe of University of Ottawa, you are fabulous!!) They stayed outside for an extra 15 minutes to get some air, shoot some hoops, play a little ball hockey and mingle.
After this nice break they moved on to the “hands-on” portion of the day and started on their pre-selected activities. Discoveries were made, “Wow” moments were plentiful and opportunities to collaborate with students from other schools were now a reality.
To add to my St-Anthony MakerSpace: Top Seven Tools. here are my Top Ten Rules for a Successful MakerFaire:
Network – Get out there and find like-minded innovators)
Communicate – Find a suitable platform. We used Asana or Google
Committees (Empowering students is a Powerful tool).
Delegate – Divide and conquer. (People WANT to help. Let them)
Find Sponsors to help with funding.
Know your physical space limitations.
Enlist your best organizer (Reg McCulley, you KNOW you are!!)
Always have a plan B
Food – Kids like food.
I would consider this event a monumental success. The students enjoyed it, learned from it and were empowered by it. There couldn’t possibly be more criteria for success than that.
Thank you Paul, for your innovative spirit, because ultimately, without you, this would never have happened.
It really does “take a village…”
Just had to add this little video – some of the highlights of the day
white-space: pre-wrap;”>St Luke Ottawa/ St. Anthony
We have been experimenting with our makerspace for the past six months. There is no question that the club we are currently running has been a major success with the students. Now it is time to take it to the next level.
We are planning our first school-based maker faire. This will involved several elementary schools, the University of Ottawa and some really innovative makers here in Ottawa like Maker Junior and other groups.
The maker faire tradition in Ottawa is growing. Last year, the first mini-maker faire was held and over 6000 people attended over the two days. The first full maker faire is now scheduled for next November 7-8 at Lansdowne Park the organizers are expecting 10,000 participants.
We work closely with another school – St. Luke. They have done some amazing projects including the construction of an entire city in their learning commons. At our school, we are trying to figure out how Arduino works and we are hoping to use Raspberry pi as a server to get Minecraft working in the learning commons.
We have yet to see a 3D printer or build any robots, but we are hoping that the school maker faire will move us all to the next level.
This project calls for lots of collaboration. We have developed an ‘innovation team’ that includes elementary school principals, high school teachers, university professors, Faculty of Education students and local makers. It is a group with lots of talent, resources and ideas and it will be this group that puts together the maker faire at our school.
We also have a new partner – students and teachers from Kitigan Zibi school in Maniwaki. We have never had contact with this school, but it will be great to have them as partners in this project. We have just been introduced to some of their staff through the Faculty of education at the University of Ottawa.
What will the day look like? We are not entirely sure, but we know we want the students to have the chance to explore and make new things. We want to expose them to the best of maker culture here in Ottawa.
So far, we want the students to learn and actually use 3D printers. We will be getting a supply through Luc Lalande, the Executive Director, Entrepreneurship Hub at University of Ottawa and a real champion of maker culture here is Ottawa.
We have also discussed hands-on workshops involving Ardunio kits and Leggo and additional workshops involving Makey Makey kits.
Rick Alexanderson from St Peter High School will volunteer CARL the robot at the maker faire and bring the Robot and provide information on workshops provided free to students by Carleton University. Further CARL the robot will be then donated to the makerspace. This is a line following robot and can do a few tricks – it is also a kit so teachers can look at the parts and see how this easy snap together the robot. Rick works on really innovative projects with the Carleton University Department of Engineering.
The workshops will be an hour long and we hope to have five options for students to choose from. Each students will be able to choose three out of the five workshops.
The event will take place on April 30 and will probably be held from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
We are really looking forward to this, the maker faire will really push us to collaborate with many diverse partners and it will challenge all our students to really develop a better understanding of how to build, create and innovate.
We will use this blog to keep a running record of our progress as we work towards our April 30 deadline.
Our innovations center group continues to grow. We have several student teachers who are members – some of them will be in our schools next week and we hope they will be able to help us make progress on the development of our makerspaces. One of our members, Alison Evans Adnani of Maker Junior just put out this post – the things you need when you are starting a makerspace. It is such a great list I had to include all of it here.
One of the questions I often get asked is what would I put in a makerspace? Most of the making I do is with kids, and the age I most often work with is middle school, grades 5-8. So if I was building a middle school makerspace, this is how I would get started: * Planning. Pencils, erases, paper – often this is overlooked and I’m usually looking for these materials when I’m helping to sketch out ideas. A whiteboard is useful. A whiteboard wall is even better! * Art supplies. Paint, paintbrushes, paint pots or a palette. Markers. Glitter, sure, why not? Decoration is a valid step in making a project. * Basic sticky stuff. Masking tape, glue sticks, duct tape, and a hot glue gun. * Basic Circuits. Conductive paint, conductive thread, batteries (3V and double A), battery holders, wire, LEDs (flashing LEDs are always excellent), and wire strippers. Oh, and don’t forget a roll of aluminum foil. Always handy! * Building materials. Cardboard – boxes, tubes, lots of cardboard. Foam core is very handy. Bristol board is fun. Felt, fabric, and clay can also be used for construction. * Basic Tools. Sewing needles, hair dryers, screwdrivers, precision screwdrivers, and if there isn’t a hand held drill, maybe an awl or hole punch. Rulers and measuring tapes. * Cutting tools. Scissors, wire cutters. * Safety. A full set of safety glasses and a first aid kit. * Housekeeping. A sink or access to water, paper towels, hand soap and a garbage can. A broom and dustpan are also useful for picking up the pieces.
And more advanced tools: * Computers are important. As is an internet connection. It’s important to be able to look for inspiration. Chrome books are a good start, but eventually you’re going to want to set up IDEs and drivers for different microcontrollers. * MaKey MaKey’s are my favorite way to introduce the idea of integrating the physical and virtual. * Digital camera or web cam. Stop motion films are a great way to start creating. * Some sort of computer controlled cutting machine – I’ve heard great things about vinyl cutters, but I don’t have one myself. * 3D printers are instantly engaging. Be prepared for the upkeep. But what a great way to inspire learning! * Sewing machines are always fun. * Raspberry Pi – always fun to set up one as a computer. And have one available as a controller. * Arduinos. You don’t need lots – but having a couple on hand is a good idea.
Have I forgotten anything? What would you put in a makerspace?
I think this is a pretty good list. The important thing here is that your makerspace does not all have to be full of arduinos and littleBits, there are all sorts of other things you need to have to really make it a creative space for kids. We are finding now that once we explain to the teachers that a makerspace means making anything we had people volunteering to teach knitting or calligraphy. We also now have a supply of Connects and have just put in an order for some lego.
Last week I watched a wonderful Google Hangout on makerspaces from the ISTE Librarian Network. The hangout featured the work of Diana Rendina. I have included the entire segment here because it really shows how a makerspace can develop and flourish over time.
So this week we started our first makerspace with the grade 5 and six students. What I saw is what I always see. Students immediately engaged figuring out how to use the new tools and gadgets that have been put in front of them. They quickly figured out the Makey Makey kits and were soon figuring out what conducted a current and what didn’t.
The students were into the Makey Makey kits within minutes
They loved the littleBits kits and were able to come up with new interesting inventions very quickly.
we quickly realized that we needed more stations to keep everyone engaged. But as you can see from the video above, the students were soon experimenting with new ways to make currents to keep the Makey Makey keyboard running!
We has less success with the arduino and Raspberry pi kits, but to be fair, this was the students’ first exposure to any of this material. With time they will begin to learn how to use these kits as well.
We held our second meeting today in preparation for the development of Innovation Centers – now at two schools – St. Anthony and St. Luke – Ottawa. Our group continues to grow! Today, we were joined by four enthusiastic student teachers from the University of Ottawa. This project is really building up momentum – having the student teachers with us, ready to volunteer in our schools is wonderful.
The partnership between St Luke and St. Anthony is also a new development. We are linked by a very energetic Learning Commons coordinator who works at both of our schools! These projects really need staff champions to work and we have one now!
We have made some important steps forward:
St. Luke is looking for lego, robots and other components from Robo Dome staff – Robodome was a program that developed lego robots using Mindstorms technology. We will then put together a list of what components we have and what we need to purchase. We need to start acquiring these components now!
We are working our way through the steps we will need to create a makerspace or innovation center at our school. This week, I was asked to respond to a number of questions that may allow us to get some funding for this project. I am adapting my responses into a blog post to keep a record of the steps we will need to complete to come up with a successful model.
What you are trying to accomplish
We want to develop a center for innovation at St. Anthony School.
Every day more is written about makerspaces and the benefits these centers offer students. We have experimented with Makey Makey kits and littleBits in the past, but now we want to take a more comprehensive approach.
Our idea is to create a center for innovation in our school for the use of our students and the wider community. The components of this center are certainly up for discussion, but the important idea is to create a space for creativity and innovation in our school and a concept that can be shared with other schools in the years to come.
How will integrating “making” into the classroom contribute to developing a new culture of learning?
Over the past couple of months, the staff at New Milford High School has been diligently creating our own unique learning environments for our students. Building on the success of our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative and with the addition of a new, innovative staff member two noteworthy advancements have been made since September 2013. That new staff member is Laura Fleming and she has done nothing less than blaze a trail since joining the NMHS team. She embraced the autonomy that she was given in a position that functions as a librarian, media specialist, and educational technology integrator to push the envelop. Lucky for her, NMHS already had many innovative teachers on staff and students yearning for changes in how and where they can learn since NMHS is an ancient building (i.e. 1928).
Creating Our Own Unique Learning Environments
One of the most amazing transformations that has taken place at NMHS is the creation of the Makerspace in what was our traditional library. A space that could once be compared to a barren wasteland is now a thriving learning metropolis where students flock to tinker, invent, create, collaborate, work, and most importantly, learn. When I hired Laura I basically told her what her budget was and that she had complete control of how she wanted to use the money. I could never have imagined how quickly she could radically transform this outdated space, using money that in the past had always been spent on books, magazines, and electronic databases. Some quick highlights include the following:
Kids want to make an impact on the world and very often they are more motivated by contributing to the common good than to anything else. Many kids will design and build incredible things, but then put their templates online so someone else can improve on it. Those are the qualities educators should try to nurture in students. “All we have to do is open up the classroom doors a little bit and let them change the world,” Martinez said. “Because they want to.”
What is the value of the project to kids & community?
The most important idea is empowerment, this is expressed best in the Mind/Shift article:
“Perhaps one of the most inspiring results of the Maker Movement is the creative confidence young people are developing. “The best thing that happens is a student completely exceeds your expectations,” Martinez said. And when students do things they didn’t realize they could do, they feel empowered.”
Who are your partners?
This is one of the great joys of this project – we are bringing people together from many different sectors – there is a great creative synergy within this group!
The link to the University of Ottawa Faculty of Education is especially important as we are expecting to recruit student teachers who want to work on and develop the innovation center at St. Anthony.
One important idea – we feel we will need a Maker Week to introduce this concept to teachers and students. Our partners will help us to develop a ‘Maker Week’ where various aspects of maker culture are introduced to students and staff over a five-day period.
One of our partners, Marlaina Loveys has come up with a wonderful way to jump start our Maker Week:
I have been giving some thought to what type of fun event we could do to get everyone excited about the Innovation Centre. I would like to propose that we select a theme – LEGO Stop Action Movies.
I am envisioning each class have the opportunity to be inspired by previewing some LEGO stop action movies (I can pull together a bunch from You Tube) then the teachers/students (I would love to be there too 🙂 brainstorm to decide on a theme or ideas for their Stop Action Movies. I would provide all the LEGO for a hands on activity where they build the scenes and we could use the school IPads and either the LEGO movies, Stop Motion or Windows Movie Maker software (all free) to create the movies.
Then, we could have a school movie “night” where the whole school could watch the movies. We could incorporate a lot of other maker/entrepreneurial activities into the movie night event. For example:
Students create posters and tickets for the event
Make it a drive in theatre theme and use cardboard boxes for students to create cars. Goes with the idea Allison had about cardboard creation. I will send a separate e-mail with some pics I found on Pinterest of these types of creations others have made.
Maker Junior – maybe she could come up with some sort of wiring/lighting maker project to add to the movie night
Concession stand to sell popcorn/juice, etc. which could be an entrepreneurial project for the older students which links back with Luc
These are the kind of ideas that will make this such a special project!
I will continue to use this blog to record the progress we are making towards the innovation center. What, I wonder will be the next step?