Tag Archives: 5th Grade

Fun with sewable circuits, Class 5, and @PietroEnnis at @BrearleyNYC #STEAM #MakerEd #elemaker


@PietroEnnis and I are wrapping up a Class 5 project on sewable circuits. These Brearley girls are so fun to work with! They are creative, funny, inquisitive, and passionate about whatever they set their mind to. For this project (which correlated with a study of electricity in Science class), students were tasked with creating a circuit using conductive thread, as many as 5 LEDs, a coin cell battery, and some sort of means of powering their circuit (a battery pocket or a LilyPad battery holder with switch). Projects included dog collars, wrist cuffs, neck ties, donuts, animals, ice cream cones, and a skateboarding taco.

Before anyone began threading needles or cutting felt, everyone was asked to draw a template of their project (to scale) on paper. This sketch included the location of the battery pack, location of any lights, and distinct paths for the conductive thread in order to connect the negative “legs” of the lights and the positive “legs” of the lights.

While I’ve used YouTube videos and various resources in the past to help students review how to sew a parallel circuit, this time I brought Jaymes Dec and Ji Sun Lee’s book to class. Make: Tech DIY has great project ideas, lovely photos, and clear instructions. I love supporting my friends!

Make: Tech DIY

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Class 5 #FunKeyFunKey cardboard @Scratch instruments! @BrearleyNYC #MakerEd #STEAM #musedchat

I feel so lucky and blessed to have joined the community of teachers and learners at The Brearley School this year. It is a K-12 girls school established in 1884 (a year before my beloved Bryn Mawr College), and as per their mission statement, Brearley “challenges girls of adventurous intellect and diverse backgrounds to think critically and creatively.” They embrace #SplendidNerdiness, and everyone is kind and brilliant. I’m surrounded by Doctors, as many of my colleagues hold doctorates in their fields, and I joke it’s like working in a hospital!

My colleague, Pietro Ennis, and I both teach Class V (aka, Grade 5). We have been brainstorming ways to infuse the curriculum with more STEAM, hands-on, and MakerEd opportunities. Our first project of the year is a variation of something I launched previously with  Emily Sticco and her 8th graders at The School at Columbia University. Students craft original creations in cardboard, design circuits, add conductive elements, program music in Scratch, and connect their cardboard “instrument” to their Scratch project with a FunKeyFunKey board.

(I’m running a similar project at the next Scratch Day on December 10th which will be hosted at The Computer School. It’s a great, free, family-friendly event for any ability level from beginner to advanced.)

My friend, Steven Lewis (@inventionlab), created the FunkeyFunkey as part of his Make!Sense line of reasonably-priced and accessible micro-controllers and sensors. It’s a pleasure to be able to purchase great tools from Stephen, as he also provides assistance, resources, information, and local delivery! The FunkeyFunkey Simple is only $9.95 and the FunkeyFunkey Sensor starts at $29.95 plus whichever sensors you purchase. We invested in class sets of FunkeyFunkey Sensor boards, Infrared (IR) breakbeams, hearbeat sensors,tilt sensors, three different kinds of touch sensors, and a bunch of his well-designed alligator clips.

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5th grade hacks Greek constellations in a circuitry project. @The_School #scichat #artsed #5thchat

I have enjoyed spending the last ten years  collaborating with intelligent, creative, and willing colleagues at The School at Columbia University. Though I mainly worked with middle school teachers and students, I was often asked for help, guidance, or partnership from teachers in  the other grades. I always assisted anyone (parents, teachers, students) which helped me build community, connect people and ideas to each other as a de facto curriculum coordinator, hone my craft, and simply share all the stuff I’ve gathered and learned from my amazing network and the ideas being shared via Twitter, meet ups, conferences, workshops, and casual conversations.

Yoshiko Maruiwa is one of my favorite colleagues. After hearing I was leaving The School next year to join The Brearley School as their inaugural K-12 Technology Coordinator, Yoshiko asked if we could do one final project together in her 5th grade Art classes. I knew the students had recently completed an electronics and circuitry unit in science with Monique Rothman, and they’d studied Ancient Greece in Social Studies (including participating in a grade-wide Olympics). So, it wasn’t a big stretch to imagine having the 5th graders use the existing stars of Greek constellations to re-conceptualize their designs. I had originally intended for LED lights to be connected via wires that students would cut to size and connect into parallel circuits, but there wasn’t enough time. Instead, we used a lot of expensive copper tape.

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