Tag Archives: integration

#TurtleArt explorations with Julian Altschul’s Class IX Geometry students at @BrearleyNYC. #MathChat #ArtsEdTech #STEAM #STEM

I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations with Julian Altschul (one of the fabulous members of Brearley‘s Math Department) over the last two years. I wondered if he’d be interested in taking his tessellations unit into the 3rd dimension, and we discussed various tools we could use for a 2D to 3D transformation. He and I are both longtime fans of Geometer’s Sketchpad, Logo, and Scratch. I suggested trying out TurtleArt since it’s a clean and simple way to make Art while flexing their computational thinking skills. Julian offered a couple of days this week for me to join his Class IX Geometry students and tinker with them.

Yesterday, we began by examining the TurtleArt menus and blocks, constructing simple polygons, and then tessellating shapes. We talked about procedures and loops, and students were tasked with exploring and coming up with interesting designs for homework. Today, girls shared their designs (as PNG files) with the rest of the class, and we peeked at their code and considered ways to make their program as efficient as possible. Here are some initial doodles:

Here’s an example of the code powering the flower drawing below:

Then, something serendipitous happened, and a student shared the “rainbow thing” file below. After opening the file, I immediately hit the clean button to clear the screen in order to watch the drawing evolve before our eyes, but only one spiral popped up on the screen.  The student explained she had manually layered spirals — each with a different color and different radius. It was a perfect segue to discuss how to enhance her code with variables (and more math!) so her fully intended design would bloom automatically. Another student talked the class through how to use the box1 and store in box1 blocks to assign and revalue variables. It was super exciting!

I suggested that students convert their PNG to an SVG (using this website), import their SVG into Tinkercad, resize if necessary (including giving their design more height), and export an STL for 3D printing. Julian is thinking that will be their next assignment…

Here’s a link to an earlier post about a TurtleArt workshop I attended last year which was led by Artemis Papert and Brian Silverman: https://karenblumberg.wordpress.com/2017/03/11/turtleart/

You can get TurtleArt for free (!) by emailing Artemis and Brian at the bottom of TurtleArt’s home page: https://turtleart.org/


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Trying out @QloneApp 3D-scanning mobile app for a totem project in Class 5 next week. @BrearleyNYC #MakerEd


@LizArum, Education Community Strategist at Ultimaker North America, sent out information about the Qlone App by Eye Cue Vision Technologies. I just tried it out today, and it seems to be an incredibly powerful 3D-scanning app for my iPhone. All you have to do is print out the black/white checkered mat (which can be scaled and printed in different sizes), place your object (hopefully one without transparent or moving parts), and either slowly circle the mat with your phone or spin the paper until the augmented reality dome encircling the object reveals that your scan complete.

I’m about to launch a 3-D design project that integrates with Class V’s study of the Pacific Northwest. Last year, I noticed the girls painted enormous 2-D renderings of totem poles which hung on the walls (and ceiling!) of the 7th floor Art Department hallway at The Brearley School (I wish I could find my pictures of these awesome and huge panels). After seeing their paintings last year, I thought a 3-D version might be a worthwhile integrated project..

This year, I saw a bulletin board outside their homerooms where teachers hung totems made by the girls out of the cardboard tube inside paper towel roll. I was able to tell the girls that we’ll continue this idea by designing a totel in Tinkercad. I’m still thinking about the parameters of this upcoming 3-D design project:

  1. How many objects shall they include?
  2. Shall they be free to arrange these objects vertically, horizontally, or in some other shape (like in a circle for a wristlet)?
  3. Shall they locate objects online or scan physical artifacts that they bring in or both?
  4. Shall they have the option to scan their head/body to be part of the design?
  5. Shall we print these out? If so, shall we make small versions to be worn as a pendant or keychain?

I love offering student voice and student choice, but I don’t want the girls to be overwhelmed with possibilities. All I know right now is that I’ll have them sketch their designs on paper first. I’m just worried a little that this project will take too long, especially as I only meet with my Class 5 girls once a week. Fingers crossed!

Here’s a video from Qlone’s FAQ section of their website:

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Building water rocket launchers with @bendickraikes in 6th science at @The_School

@BenedickRaikes is the 6th grade science teacher at The School at Columbia University and an extraordinary colleague. He was inspired to build water rocket launchers this semester. In preparation for that, he purchased a book, Make: Rockets, and a Water Rocket Launcher kit from Maker Shed. (Update: these kits do not seem to be currently available…)

After assembling the kit’s prototype, Ben felt much better about asking 6th graders to build their own water rocket launchers as well. We purchased all of the parts using the supplies list from the book (also on the DIY project website). Most of the materials came from Lowe’s, and this process was made substantially easier as the book includes all of the parts numbers. Other bits and bobs were sourced from Amazon and the neighborhood hardware store.

Ben and I thought it would be fun if the students were to “place an order” at Lowe’s for the materials, so we shared the shopping list with them. Students were tasked with filling out a spreadsheet in math class that included space for them to insert an image of each part and an area for them to tally the cost of the project. See below:

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 2.17.18 PM.png

This week, 6th graders assembled their water rocket launchers using plans from Make Magazine: http://makezine.com/projects/water-rocket-launcher Students were divided into 4 groups of about 4-5 students. Each group had a faculty mentor at their table — 6th Grade Math Teacher Catherine Hildebrandt (@KKleinNYC), Math Associate Jazmin Sherwood, Intermediate Division Principal Kevin Fittinghoff, and me — which left Ben to float from group to group offering help and guidance. We had to saw PVC and wood, join pieces with epoxy or PVC primer and cement, assemble materials, work with drills, screwdrivers, utility knives, pliers, clamps, and more.

After two days of constructing rocket launchers, students were asked to fill out a self-reflection feedback sheet with the following questions:

  1. Did you enjoy the rocket launcher building project? Give reasons.
  2. What was your favorite part of the project?
  3. What did you find difficult or challenging?
  4. Did you learn anything new doing this activity?
  5. What are your thoughts about working in a group of 4 or 5 children?
  6. Would you be interested in doing a project like this again? What would you chose to build? (Realistic suggestions only please!)

Tomorrow students will have a soft launch (pun intended!) of their rockets. On Monday, the grade will gather together in the park for the official launch and to compare results.

After seeing my tweet about our project, Chris Casal (@Mr_Casal) shared a link to a wonderful video highlighting the work of Christine Boyer (@5boyer) and her 5th graders who launched rockets last year. Christine also provided a wonderful documentation of the project here, and she recently presented her class’s work at the National Science Teachers Assocation‘s annual conference!

LIFTOFF TO LEARNING from Ralph King, Hawkview Pictures on Vimeo.



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