Tag Archives: STEM

Collaborating with a #MakerCamp participant to design a fidget spinner in @BlocksCAD! @LuigiTeaching will be printing it on our @Ultimaker next! #MakerEd #STEAM #ArtEdTech @UMNA_education @BrearleyNYC

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#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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Making cardboard, #FunkeyFunkey, and @Scratch slot machines starring @brearleynyc’s class mascots for our upcoming Casino Night. #MakerEd #STEAM

Before Thursday’s Upper School performance of Guys and Dolls at The Brearley School, there will be a Supper Club Casino Night for the community with games led by faculty. I offered to help, though I was worried about being responsible for learning and facilitating Poker or Blackjack, so I offered to make some slot machines.

I figured there must be a bunch of programs shared by the awesome Scratch-user community, and they didn’t disappoint. I remixed this project generously offered by Jcg127: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/23156262/#player

I removed the Yay! and Jackpot! procedures and swapped in nine new costumes representing Brearley’s class mascots (camel, penguin, tiger, owl, duck, buffalo, elephant, bear) and the official school mascot (beaver).  I then found some cardboard in the recycle bin and built some quick yet sturdy casings for three separate laptops.

I knew I’d use some of our FunkeyFunkey boards for the project and was originally considering a physical lever with a tilt sensor. I imagined having a hinge or printing 3D pieces (similar to Makedo parts) to hold a long cardboard tube in place (I have a stockpile of cardboard tubes from wrapping paper rolls). A rubber-band stretched somewhere would allow the lever to pull forward yet return upright for its home position, and the tilt sensor inside the tube would recognize when the arm was lowered and “spin” the rollers in my slot machine.

However, I had four hours today to generate the Scratch program and mock up the cardboard cases, so I used our FunkeyFunkey arcade buttons instead. They are build like a nut and bolt, and they sandwich cardboard beautifully. Easy peasy! Also, Stephen Lewis (creator of the FunkeyFunkey) designed his sensors (tilt, touch, button, infrared, etc.) to work even without being grounded, so they are so much easier to incorporate into projects.

If I had more time, I’d definitely make my slot machines more attractive. These definitely look homemade. 🙂 Here’s a tutorial for a DIY slot machine I belatedly found: http://www.instructables.com/id/HOW-TO-MAKE-SLOT-MACHINE-DIY/


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