Wednesday, November 19, 2014

On the Road Again

For those of you who follow Lucie, you probably know that I  gave up my apartment on May 1, 2013 and started living mobile.  We moved into a 1983 vintage Bluebird bus and started to live and work mobile full time.   The bus stayed in Vermont for 6 months then started started traveling South where I began blogging about LIVING and LEARNING MOBILE.  The blog chronicles both our traveling when the bus is moving as well as lots of blog post about Lucie's new learning.

After 6 months, the bus looped back towards Vermont to spend time enjoying Vermont weather and landscape,  play with the grandchildren, and engage in professional development with the Vermont education community.  

This month the bus is moving again, so I'm picking up the blog.  If you are interested in following along, check out our blog which will be filled with stories of our living and learning mobile.  I'm crossing the first blog post from year 2 on the road below.

---------- cross posted from Living and Learning Mobile ---------------

On 11/11 at 11:00 a.m.  we hooked up the Saturn+car dolly to the bus, started her up and plugged in Savannah Georgia to the GPS which let us know we'd be there in 1111 miles.   Three days after leaving our campsite in Shelburne, Vermont,  we arrived at Skidaway Island State Park  just after dark (6:00 p.m. ) and boy was it dark.  So dark that it was impossible to tell where the campsites were, so we  are boondocking for the 3rd night in a row.

Our first night on the road we made it to New Jersey when we blew a tire on the dolly along the New Jersey Turnpike.  The good news was that the service area just a few miles down the road had an OPEN Tire Shop -- Talk about captive audience!  Wondering if that cement construction barricade that caught our tire was strategically placed?  Even though the service area was slated for 2 hour parking, there were plenty of truckers spending the night and the mechanic who hooked us up with not 1 (but 2) new dolly tires assured us that nobody checks and we'd be fine to stay the night.

The next night we made a planned overnight stop at a Walmart in North Carolina, and enjoyed a chance to stretch our legs as we restocked the fridge.  This morning I woke up and declared that I was moving my birthday forward one day so I could do something more exciting a little more exotic.  So for this year - my birthday will not be celebrated on November 13.

But I did do something I really liked on my birthday,  I created opportunities for teachers and students by connecting amazing people using
my very mobile office and the incredibly robust wireless network that my husband has hooked up to keep me connected  to the Internet while driving down the road.  I worked on connecting teachers and professionals interested in increasing the number of girls in tech to see if we could launch Vermont's first Girls Who Code Club;  I worked on connecting innovative educators through a project I started a few years ago (PROJECT IGNITE); I worked on connecting Google using educators through our newly launched  G+ Community of Vermont- GEG (Google Educator Group);  I connected with members of the  Maker Space of which I'm a a member of (The GENERATOR) using Google Groups; and connected with members of the ENable Google+ Community where I had a nice chat with a super smart high school senior girl  from New Brunswick who has just "3D printed an eNable hand that she plans on automating by using Servo motors and a programmed Arduino chip and a 5 button panel to individually control which finger is bent and to what degree it is bent"; and much more.   For those of you who read the signature line on my emails, you aren't surprised that this is how I like spending my days.  And for those of you who are wondering... this is the quote at the bottom of each of my emails.
Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.
- James M. Barrie
So on the first three days of our Year 2 journey, while Craig burned through about $393 worth of diesel during our 1111 miles, I burned through 4898 mb of data.  The good news is that we have purchased 70 gigs of data between (AT & T and Verizon's double your data October deal).   With Craig keeping his Verizon plan and my keeping my AT&T plan we hope to be able to connect to most places we travel. (Although I was not smiling when I first drove into  this dark forest to see no bars on my phones - which means no birthday calls --good thing I moved my birthday to tomorrow ;)

Tomorrow we'll walk around the camp ground and pick out a site to spend the next 6 days based on many factors (from cell signal to flat enough to keep our 35 Bluebird Wanderlodge level).  Craig will catch up on the service tickets that have backlogged while he's been busy driving and get his school in good shape for the upcoming end of the trimester learning showcases.  I'll post next week's modules in my two online classes and provide feedback on final projects.  And then my guess is we'll go find a nice place in Savannah for a belated birthday dinner.

Stay tune for this year's journey out of Vermont as Craig and Lucie continue to Live and Learn and Mobile as today's  technology provides us the opportunity to work from anywhere.  Hope its as safe and enjoyable a journey as last year.

November 2103 - May 2014 in our 1983 BlueBird Wanderlodge
May - 2014 - November 2014 we enjoyed Vermont from our Travel Trailer at Mallet's Bay Campground. 

Monday, November 03, 2014

Our Vermont students are Making a BIG Difference with their 3D printer

Last week I was so honored to be invited to visit the STEM Academy at Essex High School to see one of the project inspired from the CREATE MAKE LEARN Summer Institute in full swing. As an ambassador for Creativity and Innovation in our school, I just had to write this piece for the eNable newsletter and post for the Create Make Learn blog. Create Make Learn Summer Institute was the third large scale professional development project I designed with the goal of inspiring creativity and innovation in our schools. When I see this type of authentic learning emerge, I become so inspired and leave re-energized to look for more ways to bring opportunities to teachers and students. 
------- cross post from Create Make Learn blog ------

“It seems so little but its making such a big difference”  described a STEM Academy student as he snapped together components of each finger printed from ABS filament off the uPrint 3D printer located in Room D-104 of Essex High School. He described that the 3D printed hand his team was assembling was going to help a 17 year old boy from Washington state.  

When I walked into the room, minutes before class was about to start, I noticed 4  lunch trays, some pliers, a hammer, and a few other tools  strategically placed on round circular tables. Each lunch tray contained 32 ABS parts that had been printed over the previous  few weeks.  “This one part took 22 hours to print” explained STEM Academy leader,  Lea Ann Smith,  as she held up the largest piece in the collection.  

Lea Ann Smith and Doug Horne,  dedicated teachers who have put in countless hours to make sure that the each part was  successfully printed and ready for the weekly advisory meeting time of the STEM Academy students greeted their 17 students with a look of anticipation as they walked through the door.

Although their teachers,  Mr. Horne  and Mrs. Smith,  were also learning the process outlined by the eNable community for assembling the hands, their years of experience brought many skills to the process, ranging from an understanding of technical 3D modeling software like Rhino to classroom management in a  project based learning environment. Mrs. Smith learned about the eNable community while attending the CREATE MAKE LEARN Summer Institute last summer and saw this as the perfect authentic project for her STEM academy students. Together with her co-teacher, Mr. Horne, they skillfully administered just the right amount of direction and scaffolding to guide the students successfully to the next step of the process -  not an easy tasks for a class that meets once a week for 30 minutes.

Just last week the students had used RHINO to scale the pieces and prepare them for the printer. One STL file had to be scaled to fit a 3 year old child, the other a 17 year old boy, and the last two were going to help a 58 year man who had lost fingers on both hands. The students were matched with their recipients by a community of volunteers collaborating to match those in need of fingers with 3D printer enthusiast called eNable. (Learn more about them at Enabling the Future)

Mr. Horne created a smooth transition from last week’s class by gathering the students quickly into their seats  facing a wall sized slideshow of the printed parts.  

With only 30 minutes of classroom time per week,  the students knew they had little time to waste if they were to stay on schedule with their plan to eNable each of the hand donors with a newly assembled 3D printed hand.  The students took a few minutes to review the instructional video from eNable volunteer, Jeremy Simon, demonstrating how to work with the snap screws and individual components of the hand.   

After  reviewing some key components of the video,  the students grabbed a set of clearly printed directions, and quickly grouped around the lunch trays and
went right to work moving their 3D hand assembly to the next level.   Meanwhile  Mr. Horne and Mrs. Smith answered questions and  encouraged each group to write a short paragraph providing the donor with an update of the progress of their eagerly anticipated hand.  

The 17 students taking part in these 4 eNable hand assemblies  are part of the Medical Advisory portion of the STEM Academy  at Essex High School in Essex, Vermont.  The STEM Academy  currently consists of 50 students and seven faculty members.  The purpose of the Academy is to give students an opportunity to experience STEM disciplines in a deeper and more meaningful way than is typically available in the classroom.  The major elements of the program are enrollment in the weekly STEM Advisory, attending STEM Lecture Series events, participating in an internship and creating an independent project.  Students in the STEM Academy will be exposed to a wide variety of new ideas and hands on projects.  They will meet people who share their interests, both in their high school peer group and in the community, and they will learn how work collaboratively and creatively with these people to solve interesting and relevant problems.

Communication,  collaboration,  close reads, technical skills, career education,  along with a feeling of contribution to quality of human life were all part of this powerful carefully designed instructional experience that aims to make a BIG difference from such a small but precious time slot in the week of these Vermont students. Follow them on Twitter @EssexSTEM