EDET677 Mechanical Applications in Technology with Dr. Lee Graham
by Aleta May
Even since writing my initial blog in response to the EQ above, I have thought about resources for paper technology. I now have a book about making paper inventions (Ceceri, 2015). The book is divided into sections and definitely uses electronics for maker projects. There is a general paper inventions supply cabinet on one of the front pages. One example of what to add to my cabinet is copper tape. Later on, I would like to add conductive thread and figure out what LilyPad does.
Just thinking about all of the possibilities of what to have students make, a whole new world has opened up to me. I feel that I have finally been given permission to add creativity to teaching core subjects in order to engage students and tap into their ability to think deeply; to problem solve. I have a lot of intermediate skills that I have not used in a while—in music and sewing. This is a point to which I arrived when I homeschooled our daughters. Being so concerned about meeting benchmarks, standards, I ordered prepared curriculum kits. This was a great way to start, but we had the most fun when we expanded on those geography projects or went to the library to snag that science experiment picture book. It was messy and sometimes we failed, but we learned and had fun learning. My wording then was to “make that textbook come alive.” I did not have internet early on in teaching, but we had computer programs (like MathBlaster) by the time our third daughter was born. And by then, our annual test scores were in the high 80th to upper 90th percentile—so I figured, our thematic and multilevel support methods were working! It helped that we were simultaneously building our own house—so our daughters knew what was inside those walls. We had farm animals and watched carefully (and later talked and wrote about what the veterinarian did and how she saved a cow).
Reading WordPress posts, I learned that Sara and I are in the same school district and coincidentally were both involved in massive cleaning up the school efforts. Looking back on this, I truly don’t know why a village to village river barge was not set up to take away unwanted items from schools and communities alike, for recycling. I know there is a cost involved, but there is an environmental cost to tossing massive amounts of books into tundra style landfills or trying to burn it all, not to mention old equipment of all sorts.
Gerald inspired me to think more deeply about 3D printers and games that do not require computers, yet teach coding skills. Anastasia inspired the idea of incorporating cultural aspects to teaching fractions (beaver hats) across the year in maker spaces. Catherine detailed how making can be used (along with electronics and science) to teach students who are preparing to take the driving test(s) as they turn 14. Finally, I was especially happy to see that Kate gave me valuable input as well as opening my eyes to how many places in Alaska are indeed remote, though they may not be in villages, so to speak. Planning ahead for projects, therefore, is a must until that MakerSpace is already set up and underway.
Ceceri, K. (2015). Make: Paper inventions—Machines that move, drawings that light up, wearables and structures you can cut, fold, and roll. Sebastopol, CA: Maker Media, Inc.
I helped clean major areas of the school in Quinhagak, then have continually weeded out unnecessary things in my tiny room in Tuntutuliak. Since we are in the same school district, I believe we need to send a barge to each village to place items in huge recycling bins for the city. Our library is in exactly the same condition! The new principal does intend to clean a lot of unnecessary junk out of the small space left in our library. I know a lot of what I talked about was having major equipment in one area, unsafe equipment for high school students up stairs in a newly cleared out space, and the piece of the library.
Did you create that beautiful inventory form? It is categorized after Martinez and Stager (2013), but did you create this in Excel?
I think with district support, we can get grants since creating Makerspaces now has an official week dedicated to it via the Obama administration. Being so rural is a good way to request help in the form of grants.
There are a lot of jobs that are not considered to be Computer Programmers’ jobs that do utilize the skills of students who can use such skills to create apps or design an idea that is easy for co-workers to envision in computer 3D. There is also an area of art and music where computer programming can bring in that exact timing of the repetitive pattern so the artist can visualize more concretely their own vision for a canvas art original.
I like the idea of a board game that teaches coding without a computer, but the hope would be that actual computer connections would be made soon. If for limited other reasons, students can better comprehend the coding in the apps and devices they use on a daily basis if they better understood how these apps work.
What a great idea—combining culture and math to make things. The Makerspace as a place to gather to express learning about fractions sounds like a perfect way to bring fun to math, makes it seem like a way to gain their attention to think about what fractions mean. Adding in making a beaver hat and sewing is cultural expression. I know our new principal stated that he would like to see culture week happen across the school year—rather than just one week set apart for this. That makes sense to me. I think the plan you have in mind may be more likely to draw in parents and elders to come help where the environment is based in a smaller classroom environment rather than our current one week per year having adults manage groups that rotate in and out of their sessions—this seems to overwhelm some volunteers and people paid to come in.
I was thinking about playing around with paper and/or fabric circuitry when I get back to Alaska—at home first. Then I can try it out with a small group and display their projects—as applied to some common core standards in reading, writing, science or math.
Many years back when I was in high school in Anchorage I remember taking an afterschool class for driving. I visualize how you could teach velocity, for stopping distance at different speeds while at the same time considering variables such as curves, ice or bald tires, a moose stepping out in front of a car, as well as the effects of impaired reactions. Maybe some students have an older Wii program with steering wheels and driving games that could be borrowed as part of the project.
Your idea is so inspiring. The list / inventory is so well thought out too!
Aleta, you have done a nice job of not only looking at what you might want to have in your space, but also the challenges of having such items. Rural Alaska poses such an array of different challenges to setting up a makerspace. Even though Sitka is urban by Alaska standards, ordering simple items such as button batteries has posed a challenge because of delivery issues. Repairs and support for equipment is a consideration I hadn’t considered as well.
Your ideas for funding are excellent. Local corporations have a vested interest in their future employees, so providing quality educational experiences to students benefits everyone.
Thank you, Kate. Although I have not been there, only to Juneau in SouthEast AK, I’m sure Sitka has a variety of small stores for necessities, but not for those unique electronic items that will be used in a Makerspace! Isn’t Sitka even more remote and smaller than Juneau? And delivery issues must be similar to my village–the plane is too full with people and their items to add mail this trip, the weather permitting mail delivery, and whatever else comes up (some unique and laughable deterrent to receiving mail in a timely fashion). Maybe pre-planning one project at a time, and gradually building the space is a better plan for both of us. It is difficult to describe the unique issues of places in AK that rely on planes and barges–weather permitting. So our style of building Makerspaces in a “tight budget” era will need to be creative for sure.