Tag Archives: design thinking

Grade 6 designing LEGOS with @Autodesk123D in math with @KKleinNYC. #mathchat #STEAM

Katie Klein (@KKleinNYC) and Jazmin Sherwood’s 6th grade math students are designing LEGOS in this third or fourth iteration of a project that we prototype and revamp each year. In the past, we’ve used a class account on Tinkercad to construct our 3-D shape, and this year students are working with Autodesk’s 123D Design (@Autodesk123D). Tinkercad is part of Autodesk’s 123D family of free apps for 3D scanning, designing, and slicing  apps and software.

In our math project, students solve for the surface area and volume of a one-bump LEGO. Time allowing, they also engineer either a larger traditionally shaped LEGO brick or design a LEGO that isn’t part of a set yet. We are ever grateful to Jeremy Sambuca of The Hewitt School for opening my eyes to this project years ago during a presentation at the now-closed Makerbot store in SoHo.

Here’s the updated lesson plan Katie shared with the children today:

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Incomplete notes & photos from an awesome day learning from @TheUnPd’s #EmilyPilloton & @jenksbyjenks!


I’m grateful to have attended today’s Test Kitchen with Emily Pilloton and Christina Jenkins of Project H Design! Emily and Christina have launched (and are still prototyping) a series of Unprofessional Development (@theUnPD) courses, and I was lucky to attend their inaugural New York Campfire back in January.

This Test Kitchen was a differently wonderful experience, and it was awesome to benefit from Emily and Christina’s vast collective experiences of designing and cultivating learning opportunities. The day consisted of a variety of activities including:

  1. Choosing and applying awesome temporary tattoos from Tattly, then explaining why we made our choices. I chose Now or Never for a bunch of reasons.
  2. Doing a quick exercise of “Before I leave the classroom, I want to ________” inspired by Candy Chang’s  “Before I die” project from 2011.
  3. Diving right into an ocean of possible projects, conversation starters, and thought-provoking activity prompts offered by Emily and Christina – all listed in the printed “cookbook” provided to participants and can be thought of as ingredients for a deep and/or dynamic learning experience. They ran the gamut and included things like: Powerpoint karaoke, the Fun Theory, Curious Terrain cards, Mythbusters, TD4Ed, live cams of animals as classroom background music, Buck Institute resources, Public Lab balloon and kite mapping, and a Wikipedia edit-a-thon among so many other ideas. Then each of us also shared an artifact that we hoped would inspire the group. I talked about edcamp and the power of this wonderful for teachers-by teachers grassroots professional development movement!
  4. Creating paper architecture inspired by Richard Serra’s action verbs. We were given the prompt “to hinge” for our green square of paper, “to gather” for our red square, and “to represent our temporary tattoo” for our orange square of paper.
  5. Reading and discussing Chapter 5: What’s Worth Knowing? of Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner’s Teaching as a Subversive Activity which inspired us to form and craft and rework our own questions that in turn guided the rest of the afternoon’s tasks. My question was: What is needed to survive?
  6. Going on a mini-field trip outside and drawing inspiration from our surroundings to help further evolve our question. Then drawing an image to represent our question.
  7. Thinking of a class activity or project that embodies the learning from this question. I considered that what each of us deems necessary for survival is completely subjective, and that maybe the pursuit of happiness (rather than just sheer survival) is a #firstworldproblem. Also, I often think about the folks locked up in Plato’s cave who believe that the shadows cast on the wall are real. (The venerable Frank Morretti loved comparing Plato’s Cave with The Matrix…) The people in the cave and the people in The Matrix were surviving, but they were also imprisoned physically and mentally even though they didn’t necessarily know it. Anyway, as per the intent of the exercise, I formed more and more questions which would ultimately guide a course of study if I were so inclined…

If you get a chance to attend an Unprofessional Development course led by Emily or Christina, I recommend you jump on it. Also, your school can opt to host Project H Design for amazing, thought-provoking, interesting, creative, and inspiring workshops. Thank you to the United Nations International School (UNIS) for hosting today’s event!

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Unprofessional Development #Campfire led by #EmilyPilloton and @jenksbyjenks of @theUnPD! #CreativeCamp

Emily Pilloton and Christina Jenkins of Project H Design have cooked up a new way to re-energize the creative forces of educators with their Unprofessional Development courses. I was lucky to attend their inaugural New York Campfire, and it was amazing to learn from/with Emily and Christina. Their goal is to get teachers to be comfortable getting uncomfortable in order to bring re-energized, freshly tapped creativity back to their craft and the classroom.

The Campfire (which will possibly be renamed a Creative Camp as they are still prototyping…)  included three activities which I particularly enjoyed, and the context for each was just mindblowingly awesome. Emily and Christina each know a lot (quantitatively and qualitatively), and it was great to hear how they couched each activity in interesting and cerebral ways.

  1. Get to know each other via speed dating using questions taken from and adapted from a New York Times article which was passed around my social media streams not too long ago, The 36 Questions That Lead to Love. For each question, locate a new partner in the group. Questions included: What are you really good at? What are you inspired by? What are you afraid of? What are you proud of? Who are you afraid of?
  2. Embark on a design challenge with your partner to craft a garment for a post-apocalyptic society using IKEA bags, yarn, tape, scissors, and an assigned “obstruction” in 35 minutes. Possible examples of obstructions included: You may not talk aloud with your partner, You may not use scissors, You must use all parts of the bag, You must use triangular shapes…
  3. Learn how to tie knots using any means possible (locate a mentor, watch a YouTube video, read a book…)

Each participant in the group left with a hand-screened poster with @TheUnPD‘s motto and a bound copy of a wonderfully curated reader full of awesome, though-provoking, and meaningful texts.

Check out the @TheUnPD’s site for upcoming workshops or contact Emily and Christina to host one at your school! More info here: http://www.unprofessionaldevelopment.org/courses/#collab


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Notes for “3D Designing and Printing” with @KKleinNYC at @Teach21c on 11/7/15. #MakerEd #STEAM

Here is the description of the workshop from the Teach21 website:
Let’s talk about the basics of a variety of design thinking protocols and explore how to create 3D designs using Tinkercad, 123D Design, and other tools. These 3D files can be exported to a 3D printer while discussing possible integrated project ideas in Math, Science, Art, Social Studies across Upper Elementary and Middle School grades. You’ll leave the workshop with more confidence about the 3D design landscape and how to build a network of teachers interested in designing and making.
This is a half-day workshop from 9:00 – 11:30. Please stay after the workshop and join us for a complimentary lunch.
Instructors: Karen Blumberg and Catherine Klein

Here are the slides for our workshop:

Here is the GoogleDoc of resources:


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