Tag Archives: Columbia University

Notes from @STEMteachersNYC’s “Design, Engineering, and Maker Cultures” workshop at @CUSEAS this week. #MakerEd #STEAM #STEMed


I attended Design, Engineering and Maker Cultures this week which was hosted at Columbia University’s School of Engineering, organized by STEMteachersNYC, and led by Michael Katz and Frances Hidalgo (two volunteer teachers from the STEMteachersNYC community).

Here is the workshop’s description as per their registration page:

Interested in learning more about the engineering and design process, and how to incorporate it into your classroom? This workshop is designed to show how you can infuse engineering and design thinking into your curriculum. Drawing from the NGSS Engineering Design standards we’ll explore how students can use design and affordable makerspace technologies to ask questions and define problems; to formulate, refine, and evaluate testable questions; and design problems using models and simulations.

Throughout the workshop, participants will explore easy-to-deploy design experiences for a range of grade levels. Participants will have the chance to experience several hands-on projects like making paper circuits, while also troubleshooting strategies for setting up a Makerspace in your school and using this as a platform for curricular integration and development. Attendees will also spend time identifying areas within their curriculum that naturally lead to incorporating more creativity, innovation and collaboration. So whether you teach elementary or high school students, come learn and experience how fun and easy it can be to incorporate engineering and design in your classroom.

This was the first time this workshop has ever been offered, and I imagine the next manifestation might have less pre-activity lead-up discussions and more time for hands-on learning, group activities, and collaborative lesson brainstorming.  Here are some of my highlights from the three days:

    1. I loved meeting awesome educators from public and private schools who all have a shared interest in expanding their skillset, innovating, and sharing ideas.
    2. I worked with a group to build a prototype of a machine inspired by nature. Biomimicry is defined by the Biomimicry Institute as “an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.” My team considered how the blue whale’s baleen might inspire an amphibious coastal Roomba-like cleaning mechanism. Our design, Blue Whale Blue Crab (or Beach Clean Baleen) also included crab-influenced claws. Ideally, this amphibious machine will travel on land and sea, filtering inorganic material and sorting it into onboard containers. Metal could be further sorted by using a magnet on the claw and a more powerful magnet onboard near the sorting bins. I was really happy with our teamwork and proud of our protoype!
    3. Gail Sestito (aka @TheRobotFairy) totally blew my mind when she shared how a student of hers demonstrated how to merge two words into a fascinating mathematical parametric 3D shape using Onshape. She then took this idea and collaborated with an English teacher for a project that physically illustrates the concept of Doublespeak from George Orwell’s 1984. For example, they made word sculptures where one view of the piece reads Truth and one view reads Lies. Or War/Peace. Or Love/Turture. Such a great project!

      Here is Gail’s awesome merging of her name and my name!

    4. Bill Miller is the Makerspace manager, and he showed us two fascinating innovation centers. First we went on a tour of the Department of Mechanical Engineering’s extensive fabrication spaces. After, Bill showed us where the new community Makerspace will be — it is transitioning from a decent sized room on the 12th floor (which I visited many moons ago) to a huge facility on the 2nd floor. The budget to revamp and outfit this newer facility was $400,000!. 💰😳 Here are some photos:

After seeing their bank of Ultimaker 3D printers, I offered to connect Bill to @LizArum, Ultimaker’s Community Manager and an incredibly knowledgeable, generous, and brilliant friend. Yay for connecting people who may end up further collaborating in some capacity! Here are two upcoming and worthwhile events Liz is organizing:

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Photos and notes from Day 2 of #FabLearn #NYC hosted at @TeachersCollege this past weekend. #MakerEd #edtech #elemaker #ArtEdTech

Day 2 of FabLearn

Day Two of FabLarn started rainy and early (yet magically!) with a choice of workshops that required advanced registration. I was so glad to have a secured a spot in the sold out Reuse/Remix/Rethink: Exploring Mechanical Toys led by Christa Flores, Ryan Jenkins, and Joel Gordon. I am totally going to hack toys with kids at Brearley! Here’s a blurb from the program about the workshop:

ABSTRACT: In this hands-on workshop, participants will carefully dissect used mechanical toys and explore innovative ways learners of all ages can extend circuit and mechanism explorations using both analog materials and digital tools. This workshop will give participants ideas for how to use recycled materials in makerspaces and classrooms to support tinkering with science, art and creative coding. We’ll share practical tips on how to find and organize materials, share parts and tools lists and host a reflective discussion about how this type of workshop can contribute to a financially and environmentally sustainable making program.

After the workshop, Amanda Cox, Digital Editor of New York Times, delivered an amazing keynote! Here’s a brief bio from the conference program: https://nyc2019.fablearn.org/speakers/

After Amanda’s keynote, we heard from a panel discussing “Making around the world: Experiences and lessons learned“. Following this was a collection of various Project Demos and Educator Posters on view in the Ed Lab. Two standouts were:

1. Fernando Puertas, Eduardo Lobo and Edison Cabeza’s Animachines consisting of game cards to help kids learn about species (since species are going extinct at an alarming rate).

2. Roy Ombatti’s work with a for-profit start-up that launched a ‘Digital Design Fabrication Workshop’ which taught digital fabrication skills to unaccompanied refugee youth aged between 9 and 17 years old.

Next up in the program were Educator Roundtables. I attended Roundtable 3: Making Accross Curricula which included Connecting Curriculum to a Meaningful Learning presented by Paula Oliveira and Diego Thuler, Connecting the Disciplines Through Collaborative Problem Solving: Interdisciplinary Design
from Kate Tabor, Anthony Shaker and Adam Colestock, and Rebuilding an 18th Century Town: Math, 3D Printing, and Historical Empathy presented by Heather Pang.

After the roundtables, there was an Educator Panel moderated by Jaymes Dec back in the main theater. On stage, Erin Riley, John Lynch, Nalin Tutiyaphuengprasert, and Roger Horton shared some of their project ideas and experiences.

After this, I had to get home to decompress and spend some time getting ready for the week ahead. Unfortunately, I missed the final session where presenters shared their Full Papers about Tools for capturing learning in making and Designing maker implementations. I will console myself by trying to recall all the innovative, thoughtful, and inspiring things I saw and heard and all the people I reconnecting with or met for the first time. Can’t wait for the next NYC event! Check out all the upcoming FabLearn conferences including FabLearn Thailand happening January 10-12, 2020…

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Photos and notes from Day 1 of #FabLearn #NYC hosted at @TeachersCollege this past weekend. #MakerEd #edtech #elemaker #ArtEdTech

What a thrill to finally attend a FabLearn conference! While there have been other global events, the mostly annual USA gatherings have always been held at Stanford University in California during the fall — never an auspicious time for me since the beginning of the school year is pretty intense.

Paolo Blikstein, co-founder of FabLearn, migrated from Stanford to Teachers College, Columbia University this year, so the event was hosted in my backyard! Friday night, there was an informal gathering of attendees and presenters; It was great to reunite with friends and former colleagues and get introduced to folks who are makers, coders, community builders, and influencers from all over the world.

Day 1 of FabLearn

FabLearn 2019 began on Saturday with a full line-up. (Here is the program of events: https://nyc2019.fablearn.org/program/) The day began with an awesome keynote by the inimitable Sylvia Martinez, “Making the Future: The Future of Making” — her bio and a blurb about keynote can be found here: https://nyc2019.fablearn.org/speakers)

Next up on the program was a panel, “Making without destroying the planet: is it possible?” full of awesome women including Christa Flores and Corinne Okada Takara.

After the panel, the Short Paper authors and Young Maker posters presenters took the stage to give a brief description of their presentations. I loved seeing Nancy Otero (FABulous human and co-founder of the Portfolio School) support her small students as they presented first in a really long line-up of first-time and seasoned showcasers.

Following the poster session, there was a Young Maker Panel moderated by Sean Justice. I was totally inspired by Corinne’s daughter and friends who formed The Living Leather Project! After their presentation (and Corinne’s awesome work), I too want to make/explore kombucha leather and grow/use mycelium with the girls here at The Brearley School!

There were two more panels of , Full Paper presenters, Full Papers A: Building content knowledge through making and Full Papers B: Teaching and mentorship in maker contexts. Following these presentations was the first workshop opportunity. I wish I could have attended all the Saturday workshops! As I could only pick one, I chose, Making with Machine Learning led by Devin Dillon and Rebecca Anderson of Curiosity Machine. Here’s a blurb from the program about the workshop:

ABSTRACT: Learn about making with AI in this interactive session. This session is geared to educators and leaders working with students from 3rd-8th grades or working with family groups. In the workshop, you will uncover some basic machine learning processes as you build an AI model to explore how machine learning systems use data to make decisions, and will consider how you would modify or apply your experiences with your students or groups. We’ll be using Machine Learning for Kids and Scratch to create a bot that reacts to new situations you introduce.

Following the workshop was an Artificial Intelligence (AI) meetup hosted by Nancy Otero and Stefania Druga.


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Getting ready for TEDxYouth@TheSchool this Saturday! Follow @TEDxYTheSchool for info


(I’m retreaching myself InDesign in order to edit this year’s brochure for TEDxYouth@TheSchool…)

TEDxYouth@TheSchool is Nov 19th, 2001 (this Saturday)! A group of faculty members and I gathered speakers that I hope will inspire and empower our attendees (middle schoolers, siblings, parents, teachers, guests). There are over 100 events happening worldwide this weekend as part of TEDxYouthDay coinciding with Universal Children’s Day

Our website: http://tedxyouth.theschool.columbia.edu
Our Twitter: http://twitter.com/TEDxYTheSchool
Our Facebook: http://facebook.com/TEDxYouthTheSchool

Our speakers are listed below and their talks will be live-streamed and viewable from the TEDxYouth@TheSchool website:

Ben Hirschfeld
The Lit! Solar Lantern Project

Ben Hirschfeld founded the Lit! Solar Lantern Project as a high school freshman in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. Lit! provides solar lanterns to students without electricity in the developing world, replacing their kerosene lamps. Kerosene smoke contributes to diseases like asthma, pneumonia, and even lung cancer, and contains carbon dioxide that leads to global warming. Lit!’s research shows that children receiving lanterns are better prepared for school, while their families can buy much-needed food now with the money formally used to buy kerosene. By providing solar lanterns, Lit! is preventing global warming at the same time as helping children gain literacy, better nutrition, and better health. Ben is passionate about the Lit! Project, flannel, and the outdoors.

Charles Colten
Aikido in the Schools

Charles Colten is the founder and chief instructor of Aikido in the Schools, which is dedicated to bringing the benefits of Aikido into public and private schools. After decades of practicing Aikido and working as a classroom teacher, he brought these two streams together, and has been sharing Aikido in schools for the past four years. Charles began his Aikido training in 1986, currently teaches Aikido to adults and children in New York City, gives seminars around the USA and has also taught/practiced in Asia, Europe and Latin America. He earned a Masters Degree in Organizational/Educational Leadership at Columbia University Teacher’s College and sits on the Board of Aikiextensions, an international organization dedicated to applying Aikido principles in business, law, mediation, health-care, arts, education, play therapy, and international development. Charles is passionate about learning, play, Aikido, and the “places” where they all happen together.

Charles Wilson
co-author of Chew On This

Charles Wilson is the co-author, with Eric Schlosser, of the #1 New York Times bestselling children’s book, Chew On This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Economist. He is the collaborator with the Milwaukee urban farmer Will Allen on The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People and Communities, a book to be published by Gotham/Penguin next May. Charles is passionate about reading, his friends and family, and long-distance running.

Dr. Dickson Despommier
Vertical Farm

Dr. Dickson Despommier was born in New Orleans in 1940, and grew up in California before moving to the New York area. He earned his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Notre Dame and conducted laboratory-based biomedical research with NIH-sponsored support at Columbia University for 27 years. An Emeritus Professor, Dickson has always been interested in the environment and the damage we have caused by the simple act of encroachment. At present, he is engaged in a project to produce significant amounts of food crops in tall buildings situated in densely populated urban centers.  There are now five vertical farms up and running: Korea, Japan, Holland and two in the U.S.A. Dickson has received numerous teaching awards and has lectured on the subject of vertical farming to engineers, professors, and government agencies all over the world. He has given a TED talk, and three TEDx talks (Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Bermuda). Dickson is passionate about fly fishing, teaching, and photography.

Don Buckley
The School at Columbia University

Don Buckley has transformed learning spaces so they work for teachers and students and not just architects, he has transformed textbooks so that they work for students and teachers and not just publishers, and he has transformed new media resources so that they work for students and teachers and not just programmers. He has advanced degrees from leading European universities, is a former industrial chemist, published photographer and consultant to MOMA. As well as teaching a graduate course at Columbia Teacher’s College in Educational Technology and directing the Communications Technology program at The School, he is an author for Pearson’s Interactive Science Program (a K-8 Science series for 21st century schools). Don is passionate about Travel, Architecture, Design, Change, The Future, and Innovation. He is a scientist, technologist, educator, author, traveler, futurist, innovator, and dual citizen of Ireland and the United States. Don is passionate about architecture, travel, and design.

Lucas Ward
8th Grader

Lucas Ward is an 8th grader at The School at Columbia University. He writes music as well as recording and producing his own songs and music videos. He created the music group Ninjaz Entertainment, which already has three songs on its YouTube channel, but more are coming. He enjoys using Flash to draw, design graphics, and animate. He also draws freehand and especially likes to draw cartoons. He hopes you enjoy his presentation. Lucas is passionate about music, drawing/cartoons, and animation.

Mauricio Salgado
Artists Striving To End Poverty

As the Director of Domestic Programming for Artists Striving To End Poverty, Mauricio Salgado handles volunteer recruitment, training and coordination, program management, and curriculum. Originally from Miami, Florida, Mauricio graduated with a BFA from The Juilliard School of Performing Arts. Mauricio has been invited by organizations around the world (the Dominican Republic, South Africa, Peru and India) to teach the ASTEP methodology of using the arts as a catalyst for mentorship and education. In 2005 and 2006, Mauricio was hired as a teaching artist for Dreamyard to work with New York City public school children. He currently teaches annual Social Justice through the Arts workshops at Santa Clara and Juilliard Universities. In March of 2009 Mauricio was presented with the prestigious Martin E. Segal Award in recognition of his outstanding work with ASTEP. Mauricio is passionate about story-telling, compassionate service, and his wife.

Monica Louie
Engineers Without Borders

Monica has been volunteering with Engineers Without Borders NY Chapter (EWB) for 3 years. EWB is a non-profit humanitarian organization that provides engineering services to developing communities. Monica’s involvement brought her to Cambodia with the design and construction of a dam that provides water for irrigation to 9000 residents, and Kenya, for a clean water distribution system. She has actively been involved in promoting the organization’s vision and mission as a member of the executive board. The recently formed EWBNY-Education Committee promotes engineering and global development to students K-12 in NYC. Monica is passionate about international development, travel, and food.

Namgyal Wangchuk Trichen Lhagyari
High School Junior

Born and raised as a Tibetan exile in India, Trichen is currently at boarding school in the United States. Last year, he made his first documentary film about his life as the descendant of the Great Kings of Tibet and the struggle of the Tibetan people in exile. His film, My Country is Tibet, was made through BYkids and has screened to critical acclaim at film festivals around the world. The film will be distributed by Discovery Education to half the schools in America. The Dalai Lama has recommended he go to college in the United States, so Trichen is passionate about studying, teaching people about Tibet, and rowing.

A cappella group from Columbia University

Nonsequitur is an a cappella (without music) group from Columbia University. Founded in 2000 by five Columbia students, the group was originally formed as an all-male group specializing in alternative rock. Nonseq (as it’s popularly known) quickly grew to include all genders and genres, eventually becoming Columbia’s hippest group. Students come together to combine awesome vocal harmonies and killer choreography. Over the last eleven years, they have toured Canada and the East Coast, and performed with renowned a cappella groups from across the country, and in 2009, took first place in the quarterfinal round for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. Nonsequitur has also enjoyed great success off the stage. In 2007, they won the Columbia Organizational Achievement Leadership Promise Award for being the student organization with the best potential for positive impact on Columbia’s campus.

Sharon Unis
Pop-Up Adventure Play

Sharon Unis co-founded Pop-Up Adventure Play and serves as the Managing Director of Business Development. Pop-Up Adventure Play is a US/UK social enterprise advocating for children’s hands-on and self-directed play within communities of supportive adults. Working internationally to catalyze free play opportunities, her team operates both globally and regionally, promoting low-cost, place-specific solutions for optimizing community organizing on behalf of children’s play. Sharon’s other recent experience includes work with the New York Coalition for Play, the Children’s Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the NYU Child Study Center. She earned a BA in Economics and Environmental Science from Barnard College at Columbia University. Sharon is passionate about children/youth, nature, and playing/laughing.

Shannon Durugurdon, Kate Scheuermann
8th Graders
Shannon and Kate are part of a group of 8th graders at The School at Columbia University participating in JR’s InsideOut Project as an Art elective. They will explain the project and their inspiration. They are both scholar-athletes and integral members of The School’s community. Shannon is passionate about sports, acting, and taking care of others. Kate is passionate about lacrosse, training wild mustangs, and skiing.

Conrad Milhaupt, co-host
8th Grader

Conrad is an eighth grader at The School at Columbia University, and is currently the President of the Student Government. As President this year, he hopes to empower the students of The School and prove that students of all ages can make a difference in their communities. He is an athlete, learner, and devoted community service volunteer. He is looking forward to co-hosting the incredible TEDxYouth@TheSchool event this year. Conrad is passionate about baseball, math, and smiling.

Brandon Bell, co-host
8th Grader

Brandon is an 8th grader at The School at Columbia University, and is Vice President of the Student Government. One of Brandon’s campaign promises was to work on the need for additional community service projects in his school so that kids can make a difference by helping those in need. He is looking forward to co-hosting TEDxYouth@theSchool. Brandon is passionate about swimming, running, and reading.

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