Tag Archives: 5th Grade

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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Photos of 5th grader scientists taking apart electronics with @MoniqueRothman at @The_School. #scichat #STEM

At the end of the electricity unit, which coincides with the end of the school year, Monique Rothman’s 5th great scientists take apart machines. This project is inspired in part by an awesome post about Todd McLellan’s Things Come Apart series: http://www.toddmclellan.com/thingscomeapart

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