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We made lava lamps and levers at @PortfolioK12’s annual community Halloween party today. Here are some notes and pics. #MakerEd #elemaker #STEAM

I had a great time participating in Portfolio School‘s annual community Halloween event for both neighborhood families and children who attend the school! Here are links and descriptions of the two activities we offered for participants:

  1. Lever art inspired by @RobIves — Jeannette of Portfolio School kindly used their laser cutter to pre-cut cardboard into rectangles per Rob Ives’s template. We offered children the option to make a simple lever or lever with linkage and used construction paper, markers, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, and glue sticks to create their design. I made an example with a flying pumpkin over a pumpkin patch, but then a lot of children wanted to copy it, so I made another example with of plain cardboard lever ready to be decorated.
  2. Lava Lamps by SteamPoweredFamily.com — Jeannette and Katarina of Portfolio School went to town facilitating this activity! We had a popsicle stick with a line drawn across it to estimate how much water to first add to the jar. Then kids added oil, food coloring, glow in the dark powder, and a teaspoon of white powder (which was a mixture of 2 parts baking soda to 1 part citric acid — alternatively, Alka Seltzer tabs would work as well to jumpstart the fizzy reaction). I appreciated that Katarina and Jeannette encouraged the children to try different combinations of colors and different amounts of oil or mixture or UV powder. Prototyping!

Photos of the Lava Lamp activity:
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Photos of the Levers activity:img_5926

Movie of Amanda Grutza’s flame thrower!

Photos of Portfolio’s awesome learning spaces, Makerspace, and classrooms:

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‪Mustached pig, lightsaber, and crossbody purse, oh my! So many different designs in our Class V sewable circuits unit! #MakerEd #STEAM @brearleynyc @lectrifyit‬

Another year, another collection of super creative designs from these Class V girls at The Brearley School. This year, we used battery holders from Lectrify. Next year, I’m hoping to use the metallic thread in lovely colors (rather than the usual grey-ish color) which belatedly arrived.

I’m hoping to launch an afterschool activity, Wearable Wires, where we can spend a bit more time on wearable creations and include some kind of microcontroller (LilypadGemmaMicro:Bit), sensors (light, sound, temperature, heartbeat), fancy lights (Lily Tiny,Flora NeoPixel), and some programming (Arduino, MakeCode)…

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#Garageband and @Arduino light-up album covers in 8th Music at @The_School. #musedchat #MakerEd #STEAM

@EmilySticco and I spent the semester integrating Technology into her #BitsOfMusic 8th Grade Music elective. Our first project involved constructing cardboard instruments and making them play music with MakeyMakeys and Scratch. You can see posts about that project here.

Our second project entailed having students compose original music in Garageband. Students then designed and painted an album cover on a 12×12″ canvas and strung it with LEDs in parallel circuits – this required using wire cutters, wire strippers, an awl, and needle nose pliers. Lastly, an Arduino was attached to get the LEDs to light up in patterns that complimented their music. 

Each color of LED was connected in an autonomous parallel circuit – I described these as “tracks” – and I asked students to color code their tracks using the same color wire as the LED when possible for the positive leg (the anodes) and black for the grounded leg (the cathodes). 

These were inaugural units, and Emily are I are really proud of our plans and our students’ work. We’re hopeful it will be even better next year – for instance, we’d like there to be some sort of microphone or sensor input which recognizes particular pitches causing different color LEDs to light up. That would be awesome…
Here’s a video of my cardboard prototype with three colors of simultaneously looping flashing LEDs:

Here are photos taken while building my cardboard prototype:

Here is a student’s finished album cover with one color of LEDs:

Here is a student’s finished album cover with two colors of LEDs:

Here are photos of the 8th graders designing and wiring their light-up album covers:

Different Arduino programs or “sketches” were used in this project due to time constraints and the level of difficulty employed by each student’s design. Here are two examples below which students could alter with different numbers in order to blink lights on (HIGH) and off (LOW):

1. This first one has up to three LEDs lighting up one after the other rather than simultaneously using the delay command.

// the setup function runs once when you press reset or power the board

void setup() {
// initialize digital pins 11, 12, and 13 as outputs.
pinMode(13, OUTPUT);
pinMode(12, OUTPUT);
pinMode(11, OUTPUT);
}

// the loop function runs over and over again forever

void loop() {
digitalWrite(13, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(200); // wait for 2/10 of a second
digitalWrite(13, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(100); // wait for 1/10 of a second
digitalWrite(12, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(200); // wait for 2/10 of a second
digitalWrite(12, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(100); // wait for 1/10 of a second
digitalWrite(11, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(200); // wait for 2/10 of a second
digitalWrite(11, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(100); // wait for 1/10 of a second
}

2. This second one has up to three LEDs lighting up simultaneously without the delay command. (I found the code in this post here).

/* Blink Multiple LEDs without Delay
* Turns on and off several light emitting diode(LED) connected to a digital pin, without using the delay() function. This means that other code can run at the same time without being interrupted by the LED code.*/

int led1 = 11; // LED connected to digital pin 13
int led2 = 12;
int led3 = 13;

int value1 = LOW; // previous value of the LED
int value2 = LOW;
int value3 = LOW; // previous value of the LED

long time1 = millis();
long time2 = millis();
long time3 = millis();

long interval1 = 1000; // interval at which to blink (milliseconds)
long interval2 = 500;
long interval3 = 250;

void setup()
{
pinMode(led1, OUTPUT); // sets the digital pin as output
pinMode(led2, OUTPUT);
pinMode(led3, OUTPUT);
}

void loop()
{
unsigned long m = millis();

if (m – time1 > interval1){
time1 = m;

if (value1 == LOW)
value1 = HIGH;
else
value1 = LOW;

digitalWrite(led1, value1);
}

if (m – time2 > interval2){
time2 = m;

if (value2 == LOW)
value2 = HIGH;
else
value2 = LOW;

digitalWrite(led2, value2);
}
if (m – time3 > interval3){
time3 = m;

if (value3 == LOW)
value3 = HIGH;
else
value3 = LOW;

digitalWrite(led3, value3);
}
}

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