Tag Archives: STEMteachersNYC

Gathering my notes and tweets from yesterday’s mycelium workshop at @GenspaceNYC (organized by @STEMteachersNYC)… #STEMintheCITY #scichat #STEMed

Yesterday, I met up with Tracy Rudzitis and Don Buckley for a workshop at Genspace in South Brooklyn. Here’s some info about Genspace copied from their website:

Genspace is the world’s first community biology lab — a place where people of all backgrounds can learn, create, and grow with the life sciences.

Since 2009, we have served the greater New York area by providing hands-on STEAM education programs for youth and adults, cultural and outreach events for the public, and a membership program to support New York’s community of creatives, researchers, and entrepreneurs. Our programs demystify scientific processes, provide a platform for innovation, and cultivate the next generation of life sciences leaders in emerging global technologies, such as biotechnology, neuroscience, epidemiology, genomics, and many more.

The mycelium workshop yesterday was organized by STEMteachersNYC as part of their annual STEM in the City initiative. Here’s some info copied from STEMteacherNYC’s website’s About section:

STEMteachersNYC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting a community of STEM teachers across the NYC region. Our mission is to cultivate excellence in STEM teaching and to promote deep understanding and success for students through innovative, teacher-led professional development. Our weekend workshops are offered during the school year and multi-week workshop intensives occur in the summer, led by master teachers. We welcome and encourage teachers from across the globe, the US, and the local New York City area!

** Here is more info about the STEM in the City initiative and some upcoming opportunities: https://stemteachersnyc.org/category/stem-in-the-city/

I am totally grateful that STEMteachersNYC organized yesterday’s site visit! Tracy and I are self-proclaimed PD addicts, and while we have participated in many online offerings over the past two years, we much prefer being in-person, exploring together, and continuing the conversation at a local watering hole. When we entered Genspace’s lab, we were able to examine a bunch of materials and projects laid out for us. Don and I particularly loved the examples of leaves imprinted with artwork to highlight the process of photosynthesis(!!). I always appreciate an opportunity to explore a lab/makerspace to see how supplies and works in progress are organized — and I’m now considering ways to hack my tables to include storage below. Also on display at Genspace was the OpenTrons Project robot liquid dropper that began as an independent exploration in the lab but is now commercially available!

Mycelium is a biodegradable fungal material, and during a brief presentation before the hands-on portion of the workshop, we talked about how mycelium is used to create shipping packaging (in lieu of plastic or styrofoam), faux leather, building material, art objects, and more. I know many maker friends who have been integrating mycelium into STEM and STEAM projects (Corinne Takara, Erik Nauman, Chris Sweeney, Tracy Rudzitis…), but I have never experimented with the mushroom spores, and I’m excited to start! Tracy brought some 3D-printed plastic molds designed by her students in Tinkercad to fill with the mycelium mixture; She was inspired by Corinne Takara who has experimented with biomaterials for years and espouses growing materials rather than simply purchasing or consuming non-biodegradable materials. You can read more about some of Corrine’s work in this post: https://grow.bio/blogs/grow-bio-blog/giy-maker-spotlght-corinne-takara

Here is a tutorial for getting started (thanks for the link, Tracy!): https://grow.bio

Here are some tweets posted during yesterday’s workshop:

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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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