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Notes and pics from #TurtleStitch meetup at @TeachersCollege thanks to @susanettenheim @back_face @JaymesDec @TurtleStitch! #MakerEd #STEAM

Thanks to Susan Ettenheim () for knowing that Michael Aschauer (@back_face, Lead Developer of TurtleStitch) was going to be in town from Vienna, Austria! Susan gathered a bunch of educators and technologists to meet today both in-person and virtually — on the Google Hangout were folks from Kenya and Brooklyn, and also Andrea Mayr-Stalder (@turtlestitch, TurtleStitch’s Project Lead) in Austria. We were able to chat about TurtleStitch and talk about their growing community of people worldwide interested in sharing patterns and projects. Thanks as well to Jaymes Dec (@JaymesDec) who offered to have us hang with him at the Thingspace at Teachers College, Columbia University and hosted us during his office hours.

Here are some links:
1. The TurtleStitch website:
2. TurtleStitch cards for beginners which can be download (they remind me of the wonderful TurtleArt cards!):
3. Michael also shared StitchPad which allows you to sketch a picture with your finger on your phone and exported the design as an .svg or a .dst/.exp file to be embroidered with a digital sewing machine
4. Here’s a detailed blogpost by @RichardMillwood about using TurtleStitch:
Screen Shot 2017-12-10 at 9.29.19 PM

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Scenes from another cardboard, @Scratch, & #FunkeyFunkey music workshop! #ScratchDay #MakerEd @TeachersCollege

Here’s the program listing all the sessions from today’s 7th Scratch Day NYC event:

Here’s the description of my specific workshop (which I’ve led at previous Scratch Days as well):

Scratch, Cardboard, and FunkeyFunkey Musical Instruments
Karen Blumberg, The Brearley School

FunkeyFunkey is a microcontroller board – just like Makey Makey – that allows you to use every-day objects and materials such as aluminum foil, playdough, and bananas to interact with your Scratch projects. We’ll construct cardboard shapes, add conductive elements, connect them to FunkeyFunkey boards, and program different instruments, sounds, and notes using Scratch to play music and form a band! Audience: People of all ages (children under 8 years old should bring a parent or older sibling to help out). No prior Scratch experience is needed.

Here is a pic of Michael Tempel at the opening ceremony:​
And here are some photos and videos from my workshop:

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Zen and the art of 3D printer maintenance redux. @BrearleyNYC #MakerEd #STEAM

Over the years, I’ve learned a fair amount about maintaining (or coddling) a few different models of 3D printers: Makerbot (Cupcake, 2, 2x, 5th Gen), Printrbot (Simple Metal), Bits from Bytes (3D Touch and Cube), and Ultimaker (2+, Go, and Original+). Like the book about maintaining motorcycles, you can either buy a top of the line printer with awesome customer support and expect it to work amazingly, or you can get to know one intimately because you built it from a kit or from scratch and/or you found yourself elbow deep in a machine trying to troubleshoot with the help of Google, user forums, willpower, and luck. Desktop 3D printers are not “plug and play” — I have almost never been able to simply turn on and use a 3D printer without any frustrations.

I’ve spent the past two weeks in close proximity with two Ultimaker Original+ kit printers (built by Brearley students a few years ago). For better or worse, I removed and rebuilt the feeder assembly on both printers, and I’m still not satisfied with the feeder on the one sitting on my desk right now. I feel like I need to either remodel the students’ designs, change the Ultimaker’s settings, buy newer filament, and/or only print one thing at a time, as having the extruder “retract” during the print is causing problems with an already problematic feeder. I think I’ve narrowed it down to possibly needing a new ball bearing on the feeder clamp. When I notice filament isn’t advancing properly, I manually apply force to guide it from the spool to the opening of the feeder. It’s beyond tedious, and I’m sure the fumes (even from PLA) are making me stoopider.

I’ve taken to making tick marks on the filament with a permanent marker and anxiously staring to see if the filament advances properly. Essentially, I’ve learnt that the trick is to continually glare at it. As soon as I convince myself it’s working and walk away to attend to something else (or gloat), it fails. Every. Single. Time. I’m officially naming this one Christine.

But, oh, the satisfaction when it works…

(​I wrote a similarly titled post about 3D printer nerd-ery in 2013 here:


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