Tag Archives: prototype

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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Repurposing a flatbed scanner to take photos. #MakerEd #STEAM #artsed

Tish Webster is one of my new colleagues at Brearley. She’s a fabulous photographer and artist, and we are looking for way to collaborate on fun STEAM projects. First we built a Bigshot Camera together and considered having an afterschool activity where students assembled their own cameras as well. Then I mentioned that I saw a post from Josh Burker about making a camera out of a flatbed scanner. A quick search on Google yielded these instructions via Make Magazinehttp://makezine.com/projects/simple-scanner-camera/

I acquired a scanner, and we gathered some girls from Tish’s afterschool photography elective to begin assembling the foam parts. The directions from the website were a bit sparse, but I suggested we forge ahead and improvise as needed. These days, I often ask aloud, “What’s the worst that can happen?” And if the worst that can happen is we fail, I know that the next step is to try something else in order to find another solution. I also often say, “We’re prototyping!” which lessens the sting of failure and hopefully helps to foster a culture of innovation, creativity, perseverance, agency, and entrepreneurship.

Yesterday, Tish and I took our first images. They pretty much stunk. Though I was disappointed that we weren’t able to immediately capture quality pics, I knew that the next step would be to figure out what we need to do differently — how to focus, how far from the camera to stand, how to stabilize our lens boxes… Tish and I are excited to further prototype after Spring Break!

 

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Great #designthinking and @littleBits prototyping workshop led by @lesheepo at @beamcenternyc tonight! 

I had a great time participating in a 2.5 hour design thinking exercise that included a rapid prototyping experience with littleBits (@littleBits).  Special thanks to Nancy Otero (@LeSheepo) for leading the free event and inviting educators to attend. http://beamcenter.org/connectedteaching

The Beam Center in Red Hook, Brooklyn is a large Makerspace which boasts woodworking, laser cutting, tools, and experimenting facilities with space for classes and instruction.  Tonight’s plan was advertised as an introduction to the Stanford University/IDEO method of design thinking. Participants will engage in a project-challenge using the tools and attitude of d.thinking and build their prototype with littleBits.

The problem we tackled was to rethink the gift-giving experience. First we interviewed and re-interviewed each other using questions to gain empathy with our subject. We used a d.school worksheet, Interview for Empathy, to inspire our queries. The purpose is to understand “a person’s thoughts, emotions, and motivations, so that you can determine how to innovate for him or her. By understanding the choices that person makes and the behaviors that person engages in, you can identify their needs, and design to meet those needs.”

Next we brainstormed with our group an ideal user with a specific need based on our insight. This is the Point Of View Madlib that reframed the design challenge into an “actionable problem statement that will launch you into generative ideation.”

We crafted a user who is a “mild control freak who wants to give/offer gifts that she could enjoy with the recipient as a shared experience.” To that end, our prototype consisted of a machine I dubbed GIFTR which allowed both parties to decide if the experience would be mutually appreciated before moving forward (a little Tinder, a little Pinterest, a little Love Connection). We used a “double and” bit, two dimmers, a synth but, and a servo motor. Thus, both people could decide how much a particular activity appealed to them. Only when they were both at a 3 (on a scale of 1 to 5) did the synth bit light up and power the motor to clink together two bottles, as in the act of toasting or cheering each other.

Per the Beam Center’s website:

Beam Center is a Brooklyn-based community of learning where artists guide young creators aged 6 to 18. Our hands-on programs in technology, imagination and craft help young people build their character, courage to think for themselves, and capacity for collaboration and invention.

The Beam Center grew out of the Inventgenuity Festival, which we first held in 2010 at Brooklyn’s Invisible Dog Art Center to introduce families to Beam Camp. The popularity of that event led us to build a set of interconnected programs in New York that all share the basic philosophy of Beam, which celebrates the special alchemy between instructors who are passionate experts in their craft and young people who are given space and encouragement to invent and create.

Beam Center’s core programs are Inventgenuity Workshops, after-school programs for young people in grades 2-6; BeamWorks, in which teams of high school students collaborate with master practitioners of design, craft and engineering; and the WindowShop Residency, which offers artists both a high-visibility storefront space and an opportunity to share how they make things with the kids of the Beam Center community. We also host community events where kids and artists learn from each other.

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