Tag Archives: 8th Grade

3D designing & printing Xingming Yin (personal name seals) in Class 8 Mandarin. @BrearleyNYC #MakerEd #NYCISTk6

I’m currently working with Yue Tang and Yusi Gao, Class VIII Mandarin teachers at The Brearley School, on a Xingming Yin (personal name seals) project. Historically and currently, a yin is a seal or stamp used to “prove identity on documents, contracts, art, or similar items where authorship is considered important.” After learning about Ian Klapper’s medieval seals and “moveable type” projects at Construct3D conference, I was inspired to suggest this to the Mandarin teachers.

Yue and Yusi allotted three class periods for students to design a seal in Tinkercad, print their stamp on our Makerbot printers, and try using the finished product. The steps involved are:

  • Create a hand-drawn design
  • Use Photoshop to isolate the ink
  • Flip the image horizontally
  • Export as JPG
  • Convert JPG to SVG (with online converter)
  • Import SVG to Tinkercad
  • Place SVG onto a box
  • 3D print

Here are the slides I shared with the Brearley girls to help them navigate the Photoshop and Tinkercad steps at their own pace:

Today, I’m going to run to a stationery store to purchase sealing wax (which melts via an embedded wick like a candle) and wax glue sticks that can be heating through a glue gun. With better planning, I would have ordered these three items below via Amazon:

Here are my slides from a presentation about this project at a NYCISTk6 meetup with other technology teachers from NYC independent schools:

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Thanks, @techlearning! Sneak Peak with @EmilySticco of our #ISTE2016 poster session “Bits of Music”!

Kevin Hogan, Content Director of Tech & Learning, invited me and @EmilySticco to offer a Sneak Peek of our ISTE 2016 poster session Bits of Music, Lots of STEAM. We’ll be sharing two projects that Emily and I led in her 8th grade music mini-course at The School at Columbia University:
1. Cardboard MakeyMakey Jam band
2. Arduino light-up album covers

You can watch our video below. Don’t forget to marvel at the comically bad screen capture. I look like I’m eating a hamburger.

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Lesson plan from @MattGusto’s Algebra @BreakoutEdu game at @The_School! #mathchat

It was so much fun planning a mini BreakdoutEdu game with Matt Guastavino (@MattGusto) and Arana Shapiro (@aranalee) for today’s Algebra class! Pics from our activity are above. Below is the plan (including the clues) that Matt, Arana, and I designed for the lesson. Now the students will spend two days working in groups to make their own games for each other and for next year’s classes.

  1. Matt introduced the activity by saying he had two boxes (virtual boxes) dropped off for him this morning. One box opened with a 3-digit combination and one opened with a 6-letter combination.Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 10.08.26 AM
  2. Matt said all he had were the boxes and a QR code he projected on the board. He could have printed out the code and taped it to the wall, but every now and then we like to save paper.Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 10.08.06 AM
  3. Some students offered to scan the QR code using their phones, but we didn’t want the distraction, so we provided a few iPads. The code took them to a YouTube video of a performance of John Cage’s 4’33”Students were able to quickly figure out that 433 was the combination of the first box.
  4. Matt pulled out 6 envelopes and quipped how he found them inside the virtual box with the virtual lock. Students separated into groups of three and solved word problems which incorporated digits of important years from their 8th grade curriculum. The problems are in the slides below…
  5. Once a group solved their word problem, they were presented with another envelope. This one contained a number and an image of “hello” written with digits on a calculator from the image below.calculator_hello It took them a while to figure out that the 6 digits of their clues (3-7-9-0-0-9) could be similarly arranged and plugged into an older calculator to spell out G-O-O-G-L-E. IMG_5178
  6. Matt “opened” the combination lock and revealed a bag of Starburst. Everyone chewed happily while we deconstructed the puzzles and the solutions. Matt then split up the class into groups, presented them with a list of Algebra concepts studied during the year, and asked them to design their own BreakoutEdu games. He used the following instructions…For this project, you will work with a small group to design a breakout game similar to the one we did in class. Your game must include the following:
    • An objective – What are you trying to break out of/into? What is your ultimate goal?
    • At least 5 unique puzzles.
      • At least 3 of these must include algebra problems. See below for a list of topics.

    Grading this project:

    • Objective is clear and obtainable – 5 points
    • Required puzzles are included, directions are clear, and the puzzles are solvable – 50 points
    • Puzzles all help to achieve the objective – 45 points


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Planning a @breakoutEDU game for 8th Algebra with @MattGusto & @aranalee! #mathchat #edchat

BreakoutEdu was developed by @JamesTSanders and involves an empty box  (or boxes) secured by a bunch of different locks (combination, letter, directional, and more). From there, teachers design “Escape the Room” type activities and students discover the various solutions to each lock. Many teachers have shared their BreakoutEdu games via their website: http://www.breakoutedu.com and a Facebook group:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/breakoutedu.

Someone brought a BreakoutEdu kit to the NEIT conference at Mohonk in January, but I didn’t really experience a sample game until the Edcamp Organizers Summit in April. James Sanders, Founder of BreakoutEdu, was a keynote and I participated in one of his games. The overarching theme of the game was Communication, and we solved puzzles using Morse Code, hieroglyphics, Incan knots, and other means of conveying information.

I sent an email about BreakoutEdu to the faculty, and both Arana Shapiro (@aranalee) and Matt Guastavino (@MattGusto) responded immediately so we met and collaborated. Arana is one of the founders of The School at Columbia University and launched, collaborated, developed many awesome curricular projects with the faculty. She went on to found other schools including Quest to Learn, the famed game-based public 6-12 school in NYC. Matt is the 8th grade Algebra teacher at The School at Columbia University and enjoys prototyping and innovating. He was super excited to integrate Bootstrap into his curriculum so that his students learn Algebraic concepts while designing a video game – this has become a legacy project.

We had an initial meeting a couple of weeks ago where we established that it would be awesome for Matt’s 8th graders to design games for each other to showcase their learning in Algebra this year. We met again today and realized we should set up a quick game for Matt’s students in order to scaffold the idea of BreakoutEdu (before they are tasked with creating their own games). I wanted the “clues” to integrate as closely as possible with things they’d discussed and learned throughout the year. Arana knew we had to visualize a plan, so she located a large notepad and we started brainstorming…

Arana, an amazing instructional and game designer, suggested starting from the final result and working backwards. I knew I wanted students to end up spelling something out on the calculator (as I found this hilarious in middle school), and figured GOOGLE would be a harmless enough word signified by the upside-down number (379009). From there we figured there could be 6 groups, each would have an envelope inside with a number (either 3, 7, 9, 0, 0, or 9) and the following image which would hopefully inspire them to arrange all of the numbers into 379009 for GOOGLE.

So, to get to 3, 7, 9, 0, 0, 9, they have to correctly solve 6 different challenges. This is where we looked over Matt’s extensive list of topics covered throughout the year in Algebra and thought up possible problems – multiplying binomials, graphing functions, solving polynomial equations, graphing inequalities, calculating circumference/area/volume, and finding equations from plotted points.

To launch each problem, we decided to have 6 different groups solve a problem which incorporates a key number based on important events from their integrated curriculum:
1863 = Gettysburg Address
1883 = Atticus’ birth year from To Kill a Mockinbird
1936 = Berlin Summer Olympics (I was excited to find a perfect square for Matt!)
1945 = Little Boy and Fat Man bombs dropped on Japan
1968 = First Special Olympics
1998 = Lion King won a bunch of Tony Awards (this was their 8th grade musical)

We figured students could self-select into these six groups in order to collaborate on one of the problems. In order to gain access to the envelope with the problem, they need to open up a box with a three-digit combination, and the six envelopes will be in the box. In order open the box, they’ll scan a QR code which will take them to John Cage’s 4’33” — this also integrates with their year of study as some students explored John Cage and Music of Chance. Thus 433 could be the combination to the initial box.

Matt is prototyping this project on Tuesday, and Arana and I are psyched to see how it goes!

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