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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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Love this Lenape toy project at @BrearleyNYC launched by @LuigiTeaching and the Class II Teaching Team. #MakerEd #elemaker #elemedchat #STEAM #PBLchat

Last week, Class II completed their Lenape “buzzer” toy project. Luigi Cicala (@LuigiTeaching) is an amazing artist, teacher, and Director of the CoLab, The Brearley School’s soon to be launched makerspace. In anticipation of having an actual physical space dedicated to making, fabricating, and project based learning, Luigi has been developing creative, integrated, and thoughtful STEAM-rich projects with faculty across multiple grades and disciplines. With this in mind, Luigi ideated a variety of projects to correlate with Class II’s study of The Lenape. This year’s chosen project was to create a “buzzer” toy — I totally remember making these as a kid with yarn threaded through plastic buttons (or drilling holes in a wooden disk). Now that we’re well into the 21st Century, these students used an iPad to design the button shape that were 3D-printed for them.


Students talked about shapes and symmetry while creating paper designs with Luigi and their classroom teachers, Rebecca Chynsky (@rchynsky) and Betsy Warren. Additionally, girls could use paper divided into quadrants to sketch a design to gain a sense of symmetry and test for it by folding along the lines (or axes). While the concept of symmetry might not be readily understandable, folding a shape and seeing if it overlaps fully (either up/down or side/side) is a fun exercise. See examples of Marina Jackson’s folded sketches in the photo below.img_0012.jpg

In computer class with Virginia Avetisian (@vavetisedu) and Marina Jackson, students used Doodle3D on the iPads to sketch a shape with their fingers, give it some height, and include two cylindrical holes (like a button). These were exported as STL files and printed using our Ultimaker Original+ printers which were built from kits a few years ago by upper school students. I helped with the actual printing and spent many hours over the next few weeks ensuring each student’s digital sketch was transformed into a plastic “buzzer” for their enjoyment.


Here’s a video of one of our “buzzer” toy prototypes in action!

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