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

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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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