Sunday, October 22, 2017

Learning to mill PCB boards! Maker Fail & then Success!

My OtherMill CNC router (now called Bantam Tools) came in this summer right before TechSavvyGirls Summer camp.  

TechSavvy Girls 2017 and EMMA (mobile studio for creating and making)

I didn't have time to play with it, so I threw it in the back of EMMA (mobile studio) and brought it to camp. I was eager to show it to our cadre of young women and share with them the story of female engineer Danielle Applestone - the maker of The OtherMill

They were inspired and McKenna, one of my TechSavvy junior leaders who  has a real maker mindset and experience with 3D printing was eager to unbox it. She grabbed some friends and they ripped the box open!

They explored the machine and materials.

And read through the instructions carefully completing each step.

They especially  loved adding the Googley Eyes!

Unfortunately our HELLO WORLD project (our first CNC make) was cut short by a broken bit!  Unfortunately we didn’t have an extra bit to use and had plenty of other technology projects to explore, so we packed the Other Mill back up. Meanwhile   I ordered more bits!

Unfortunately, the summer was jammed packed and I was unable to get back to The Other Mill until last night!   Encouraged by a friend who has 30 years of experience in electrical engineering,  I pulled out the Other Mill and the new set of bits and we started to tackle the starter directions.  The first step was to reacquaint ourselves with the new website, since the Other Mill had been purchased by a new company - Bantam Tools.   I couldn’t find the Hello World Project I was so eager to make, but settled for the similar Rooster PCB starter project.

We  replaced the broken bit, downloaded the Other Plan software,  measured our materials, inserted the info into the software,  added the double sided tape to our PCB and followed the directions as close as we could!  

Unfortunately when it came to the last step -  START MILLING -- that option was greyed out.
We kept checking and double checking our settings and realized that we had confused where to put the z axis information (I’m thinking that  the software would be less confusing had they not used the word PLACEMENT twice in the interface.)  Perhaps they could call one Material Placement and the other Plan Placement.

Unfortunately, even after we corrected our errors,  the Start Milling button was still greyed out!

Scratching our head for several minutes,  we finally noticed that only 3 of the plastic safety guides were installed and there was a 4th one buried on the work bench.   Sure enough -- adding the 4th guide did the trick!  My engineer friend immediately started to examine the OtherMill more closely looking for the sensors!  ;-)

We were so excited to see see our PCB board cut into!  

But  much  less excited at the results!   Another broken bit !  
And this!   YUK!  We could see the toolpath which clued us in that the  Z axis was not calibrated!

We reinserted the bit and realized that there was no ‘stop’  to guide us,  so surely there must be another way to calibrate the z Axis.

After much more looking  through the directions I spotted the step we had missed!

To load the 1/32” flat end mill into the machine, if you've never done this before, refer to the Inserting and Locating a Tool Guide.
Next to "Tool" on our software, click the Change button, select “1/32” Flat End Mill,” click Continue, verify tool position (it should be above an empty area of the spoilboard), and click Locate Tool. The end mill will lower until it touches the spoilboard, pause, then retract upwards. Now the software knows where the 1/32” flat end mill is located in space.

This is a HUGELY important part!    I would certainly suggest that the instructions HIGHLIGHT this section!   The step makes a LOT of sense!   I’m not sure why we missed it!   Perhaps our aging eyes!

Fortunately I had ONE more extra bit.  NOTE TO SELF (order more bits!)
We secured another piece of PCB and followed the Locate Tool directions.
Watching the Other Mill calibrate the Z axis, we were convinced that this time it would work!  

Crossing my fingers, I hit the START MILLING button!

And this time - we were smiling at the results!

I’m so appreciative that smart experienced engineers are willing to spend their time with newbies like me when we’re needing a confidence boost!  

And I can’t wait to tell my middle school group of TechSavvy Girls - that we MADE the same mistake they did and to show them MY FAIL  and my SUCCESS…. And to give them an experience that will lead to their first successful CNC cut project

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Reconnecting with Sewing as Making at Art Hop at Generator

What  I thought was going to be a stroll through Burlington's Art Hop yesterday, ended up to be a HANG at the Generator (Burlington's maker space) reconnecting with SEWING as Making!

I love the fact that many maker spaces have sewing machines ranging from standard sewing machines to industrial sewing machines.  I had recently picked up a new portable sewing machine for EMMA - my mobile studio for creating and making,  but I had yet to hop on any of those sewing machines until yesterday.  

Watching some fellow Generator members gathered around sewing machines and fabric in the Learning Lab, I decided to join the fun.

I picked up a red T-Shirt, laid down the Pillow Body People pattern pieces that Adriana had for us, and started to trace and cut! It has been 40 years since I had used a sewing machine.   Since the sewing machine was 'ready to go', I didn't have to futz around with the dreaded threading of the needle!

The directions were minimalist, so I spent some time with 'close observing'  of the Pillow People in various stages of creation around me.  

As I was going through my 'making' I got to watch a magical process happen.  A young girl approached the sewing machine, but stayed at a distance.  Karen (one of the Generators sewing experts) invited her to join us and make with us.  The young girl kept her distant mumbling that she didn't know how to use a sewing machine.  

Within minutes, Karen had engaged her with the colorful upholstery samples and piles of available T-Shirts as they looked at some of the T-Shirt Hack bags on display!  She started to imagine and talk about the type of bag she would like to make.

It didn't take long for her reluctance to transform to fully engaged and then to confident maker!   By the time her bag was finished, she was begging her grandma to stay longer so she could make a a pillow person, too!

Again the magical maker formula of Inspiration, available Tools and Materials,   and inviting Mentors were at play in turning an observer into a maker.

Nice job Generator for setting up an inviting place to Make with just the right tools!
Nice job Adraiana for setting up accessible maker materials in a way that inspired!
Nice job, Karen for being the perfect welcoming mentor!

The whole process reminded me of a tweet I saw recently with a 3 questions to help you assess the accessibility of your maker space.  I forget where I saw this,  but the questions were spot on and are firmly ingrained in the way I look at maker space and access!

I've been invited to join the Generator members during some of the maker sessions around sewing. Yesterday I felt very welcomed (no matter what my skills were).  And suddenly I'm eager to find out when the next event is so that I can show up!

As for my Pillow Person?  Well.... I got it all cut and mostly sewed up.  I picked up a copy of the pattern and directions from Adriana to took the partially complete project  home so that I could add some e-textile components to it.

And as soon as I got home I took a recently purchased portable sewing machine, out of the box and made room for it on my home maker bench!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Finding your WHY during #makered professional development

EMMA - Lucie's mobile studio for Creating and Making
Last week  EMMA (my mobile studio for creating and making) and I had the pleasure leading a two day workshops for Champlain Valley Educator Development Center (CVEDC) for educators who might want to create a makerspace in their school.

I had just finished my annual  five day Create Make Learn Summer Institute  and I was filled with ideas of what I might want to include in this two day event.  The biggest problem was that I wanted to include TOO much!  Stepping back I reached into my teacher toolbox and used  a backward design approach to think about  WHAT I wanted them to leave with at the end of the two days!  I decided that what I really wanted them to be able to do is to “articulate WHY a Makerspace in MY School?”  or at least be ready to lead that conversation with their colleagues.

Video Summary of Two Day Workshop

Too many educators approach me with one question -
“Can you give us a shopping list of things that we should consider getting for a maker space and where to get them?”  

I try to resist answering that question until they can tell me their WHY. But the problem is that this is a chicken and egg situation. It’s hard to know your WHY if you have not experienced maker centered learning. You don’t know what’s possible. Of if you do, your understanding of what’s possible is limited to the areas you have experienced or what you have read. And since there is NO shortage of amazing materials about maker spaces (including shopping lists of resources) available online, educators are often feeling overwhelmed and confused. It was my goal that my two day workshop would provide teachers with a clearer understanding of some of the tools, technologies and materials often found in a maker space as well as WHAT type of impact having these available for students might have on learning.

This type of understanding does not simply come from looking at lists of maker space supplies.  This type of understanding does not just come from sitting around  talking about pedagogy.  This type of understanding does not come from creating a large collection of STEAM based lesson plans.  This type of understanding comes from from all of the above combined with experiencing the learning process that happens as you Create and Make.

It was my challenge to create a HANDS-ON MINDS-ON experience that left a group of teachers feeling empowered to have deeper conversations around maker spaces in their schools.

Generator - a community maker space
It all started with picking two great locations for the workshop.  We kicked off the workshop at the Generator  - a community maker space in Burlington Vermont, followed up with Day 2 in a school maker space - Studio B (the BTC maker space in Burlington Schools)  The locations of the workshops were instrumental to helping our group (mostly PreK - 8 teachers)  start to understand the possible WHY of a makerspace.   The locations for our workshop also highlighted how important that we examine our WHY as part of an interconnected system - a community of makers, educators, artists, inventors,  problem solvers,  and innovators shaping the future.  Our Why should be shaped by a greater understanding of how each of us contributes to the system and how we can help each other towards a greater collective impact.

In the spirit of backward design, the location helped these teachers of younger learners understand where their young learners COULD end up in just a few years.  It’s an incredible responsibility to be charged with creating the next generation of inventors, problem solvers,  and innovators.  What do we do to help teachers prepare for this daunting tasks?  

One of the best things you can do is to hold workshops in locations filled with inspirations and examples of what their YOUNG LEARNERS might be CREATING and MAKING in THEIR future.   

Too many teachers ask that a workshop give them something they can DO TOMORROW in THEIR CLASSROOM.   We need to think BIGGER than this!   Yes,  the workshop should also provide that practical thing you can use tomorrow,  but more importantly it should leave you inspired to prepare students for THEIR future.  

As we toured the Generator, I asked teachers to take as many pictures as they could of INSPIRATION that they could use to better understand what their students might be able to create someday.   I also suggested that they take pictures of tools and materials that might be useful in a makerspace.   This would be the beginning of the LIST of tools and materials they asked for in our earlier conversation.  THEY would build this list together from their experience over the next two days!   Trying to model that a teacher’s job is not to provide a ready made solution, but to help students ask the right questions and  design a solution to questions like (How do I create a makerspace in my school), I was determined not to provide a recipe but to help them create their own individual design that matched their WHY!  

It was my goal that their question would move from “What should I buy and where do I get it?”  to “How do I set kids on a journey to create and make amazing artifacts or solutions to problems.”  

Educators inspired by Generators Member Projects

The locations of our two day workshop set the stage perfectly for this to happen.

After our tour of the Generator,  we jumped into a Make and Take that not only left teachers with their own IDEA Journal where they could flesh out their WHY, but also with a clearer understanding of the process of learning and making with tools like vinyl cutters, CNC machines, laser cutters, 3D printers.   The consensus was that even though many of the teachers might NOT USE THIS TOMORROW, they NOW UNDERSTOOD the difference between each of these technologies. They knew the difference between additive technology and subtractive technology.  They knew the pros and cons of choosing a laser cutter vs a CNC machine to solve a problem or create an artifact.  

Creating and Making our Idea Journals

Using a Laser Cutter or a Vinyl Cutter  
Or a 3D Printer

Or perhaps a CNC machine

So many choices!  So much fun to explore the possibilities as we learn new skills.

By the end of the first day, this group of educators agreed that they knew which tools were more accessible to their learners and which ones would require students to develop  pre-requisite skills. They could design experiences in their classroom that helped build those skills.  They started to see connections between some real world applications to content in their curriculum (i.e. X, Y, Z axis) They started to understand tools and processes that their students might have available in the not too distant future.  Even if some of the teachers did  NOT have these technologies in their classroom, they knew they were preparing students to use tools that might be in their school soon (if not already)   or might be accessible in their community through partnerships with community maker spaces like the Generator.

On Day 2 we moved to a school maker space Studio B - a school maker space ( at the Burlington Technical Center.  Too few teachers are aware of the changing role that Career and Technical Education can play in the lives of our students.  The 16 Career and Technical Education Centers that serve ALL of Vermont’s students are not the “vocational programs” that many of us experienced when we were students.  They provide amazing opportunities for students who thrive in hands-on minds on environment using some of the most advanced technologies in the industry. They prepare our students to succeed in college and post-secondary training and have several dual enrollment college opportunities built into them.  

As Vermont teachers help advise and mentor students in developing personal learning plans for their educational journey, both our teachers and our students need increased awareness of the Career and Technical Center opportunities available in their school district.  Our Day 2 venue did this in so many ways, including the long walk to the bathroom as we passed classrooms labeled Welding or Aviation.  Having spent 15 years teaching in a Career and Technical Center, I can attest that the students who are filling our current school makerspaces absolutely need to know about these opportunities; and as teachers we can help increase their awareness by increasing our own awareness to better mentor them through their personal learning plans.

Courtney welcomes us to Studio B
We were welcomed to Burlington Technical Center by Courtney Asaro who had helped design and set up the Studio B makerspace just last year.  We had the added bonus of having Courtney talk to us about her work with younger learners at Flynn Elementary.  Courtney described how SHE and her young students would be collaborating with the Burlington Technical Center in the upcoming school year.  She also shared examples of how Flynn Elementary students had collaborated with Generator members, driving home the importance of understanding the power of leveraging the community as you develop your maker education journey.

Our morning conversation was rich and had a natural flow to it as teachers debriefed the previous day and prepared for our second day of making.  Listening to what surprised them, what was challenging, and what inspired them revealed that they were really starting to understand their “WHY” and how  a makerspace might fit into their school.  Seeing similar technologies in a school maker space as they had seen earlier at the Generator, (laser cutter, 3D printer, vinyl cutter, CNC machine, power tools, hand tools, and more) our group of educators were less interested in the ‘tools’  and more interested in the process of making.  The shift in the conversations was a perfect set up to the experiences I had designed for the day.

Our Day 2  workshop design revolved around the multi-disciplinary Transferrable Skills that Vermont teachers are being asked to design their own learning around.  

By the end of the morning, our teachers had experienced how increased confidence with circuits and code  could equip students with tools for Creative and Practical Problem Solving,  Mathematical Standards of Practice and Science and Engineering Practice found in Next Generation Science Standards.

They had experienced the fun and joy of creating their own inventions using a Makey Makey.  I shared  stories with concrete examples from classrooms around Vermont of students demonstrating Self Direction,  Responsible Citizenship, and Integrated and Informed Systems through Creating and Making in their schools.   Their understanding of where coding fit into the big picture grew as they experienced an unplugged coding activities that set them up to a successful experience using  the Scratch coding environment to control their own  inventions and physical objects with a Makey Makey.  Laughter and joy combined with persevering through challenges lead to discussions about growing MINDSET as well as  SKILLS in our students.  

The workshop ended with another MAKE and TAKE that used Paper Circuits to expand the possibilities of  Clear and Effective Communications.  Equipped with new skills (from designing closed circuits to soldering) and examples of how various teachers and students had used these skills in their curriculum, our teachers started to imagine ways they could integrate creating and making with circuits in their own learning spaces.  

The conversations about pedagogy happened naturally through our making,  through our questions,  and through our sharing of ideas that emerged throughout the two days.  However, the experience did not stop them from asking one more time -- “Do you have a LIST of supplies for us?”  I pointed to the supplies we had used over the two days and also to a few great resources online that included such lists and I smiled when I heard one of them exclaim.. “Now I know what this stuff is.  I would have had no idea what a jumper cable was and why I might need it before.”

I encouraged them to keep taking and collecting picture of materials, to keep sharing tools, materials, processes they discover, but mostly to keep asking WHY as they looked over each item in a pre-populated makerspace list of resources and to look through these lists with a LENS that included their WHY!  Yes, there WHY would change over time and should not be static, but hopefully these two days helped to create a lens by which they could continue the journey of creating a makerspace in their school in a powerful and meaningful way.

And hopefully I left my participants more curious and hungry for more.  Perhaps we’ll even see some of them at next year’s 5 day Create Make Learn Summer Institute.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Innovation Lounge at Dynamic Landscape 2017

I just realized that I haven't posted anything in this blog since April - can that be?  Thinking about the past few months,  I realize why.  I've been immersed in planning what turned out to be one of the most rockin' Innovation Lounge experience yet for Dynamic Landscape Conference sponsored by  Vita-Learn and VSLA.

and OMG did it rock! Vermont is filled with the most amazing innovative educators!

If you weren't there.. here is a glimpse into the two days in the Innovation Lounge.

Our students are so lucky to have such  wonderful folks guiding them.  One of the best parts of this year's innovation lounge was that it was filled with student presenters.  We had over 100 teachers and students exhibiting innovative practices for teaching and learning over the two days in the Innovation Lounge alone.  Add that to all who presented in regular workshop sessions and you will soon realize why the 2017 Dynamic Landscape conference was an amazing event focused on  authentic student voice.

I'm also so thankful that Vermont has developed a relationship with amazing ed-tech partners who were so eager to support our Innovation Lounge Challenges this year, including WeVideo,  BirdBrain Technologies with Finch,  Therapin Logo w Blue-bot,  Cardboard Tech Instantute with Pinbox 3000.

And if two days just wasn't enough for you,  you might consider grabbing a friend and take a deeper dive at Create Make Learn Summer Institute. 

This year we have
-- a two day Intro to Making  option in Rutland on July 13 - 14
-- a two day Media Making option in Burlington on July 31 - Aug 1

along with our signature 5 day hands on Institute in Burlington July 31 - Aug 4.

Here is a list of the Innovation Lounge exhibitors I've been working with over the past few months!  LUCKY ME!  and Lucky YOU if you got to interact with them at Dynamic Landscape and even more Lucky students if you were inspired by this year's Innovation Lounge to try something new in your school.

Mon MorningExperience...
Mon May 22Design Challenge with Pinbox 3000Create Make Learn & Cardboard TechPete and Ben from Cardboard Instantute
Mon May 22Create AnimationsRice MemorialTony Galle
Mon May 22Making Media Challenge & Showcase Create Make Learn Community
Mon May 22Hero's Journey with PinballHunt Middle SchoolLee Slocum-Orlando
Mon May 22MVU Library MakerspaceMVUKim Hamel
Mon May 223D printing Fractal TowersMissiquoi Valley HSRichard Ballard
Mon May 22Paper Circuits Hands on ExplorationJill DawsonJill Dawson
Mon May 22Circuit Project using TouchboardsWilliston SchoolLeah Joly
Mon May 22Making KaleidoscopesEdmunds Middle SchoolDaryl Kuhn & students
Mon May 22Lego Design ChallengesShoreham Elementary SchoolAbby Adams
Mon May 22Learning to Code with Robot Rodeo & Robot Rodeo ChallengeMills RiverJoe Bertelloni & Students
Morning AfternoonExperience...
Mon May 22Pinball Design Challenge with Pinbox 3000 Cardboard Tech Instatute & Create Make Learn Community
Mon May 22Experience Augmented RealityRutland City Clarena Renfrow
Mon May 22Making Media Challenge & Showcase Create Make Learn Community
Mon May 22Experience MinecraftSt. Albans City SchoolCathy Cameron Muscente & students
Mon May 22Virtual Reality and Game Design Center for Tech EssexLorand Moore & students
Mon May 22Crossett Brook Library MakerspaceCrossett Brook MSJen Hill + students
Mon May 223D Printing & Finishing + VR and 3D PRintsBenson SchoolRodney Batschelet & student
Mon May 22Robotic CompetitionsRichford SchoolKris Hoyt
Mon May 22Learning to Code with Robot Rodeo / BluBot DemoSVSU SchoolsSally Bisaccio
Mon May 22Lego Design ChallengesShoreham Elementary SchooAbby Adams
Tuesday MorningExperience...
Mon May 22Design Challenge with Pinbox 3000 Cardboard Tech Instatute & Create Make Learn Community
Mon May 22Low Tech Design Challenge with Center for Tech at EssexCenter for Technology EssexCaty Wolfe and students
Tue May 23Experience 360 VideoRutland CentralErica Zimmer
Tue May 23Making Media Challenge & Showcase Create Make Learn Community
Tue May 23Tangible Learning With OsmoFletcher SchoolMC Baker + student
Tue May 23Bristol Elementary Library MakerspaceBristol ElementaryKyra Ginalski
Tue May 233D Vermont Williston Central SchoolEllen and Aaron & students
Tue May 23Wifi Connected Book Demo (IoT)Jill DawsonJill Dawson
Tue May 23Making Community/ Burlington Schools/ GeneratorFlynn Elementary / GeneratorNick Mack and students
Tue May 23Burlington Tech Center MakerspaceBurlington Technical CenterCourtney Asaro and students
Tue May 23Lego Design ChallengesShoreham Elementary SchooAbby Adams
Tue May 23Learning to Code with Robots Rodeo / Blu Bot GamesOrchard SchoolDonna MacDonald Steven Schmidt & Students

Tuesday AfternoonExperience...
Tue May 23Make Green Screen Movies with WeVideoSouth BurlingtonLauren Parren
Tue May 23Making Media Challenge & Showcase
Tue May 23Creating Games in Math ClassSouth Burlington High SchoolKristine Harootunian + students
Tue May 233D Design for AnimalsMilton HS / GeneratorCourtney Reckord & students
Tue May 23Pinball Design Challenge - Enchance with CircuitsCreate Make Learn / Cardboard Instantute/ Center for Tech Essex
Tue May 23Lego Design ChallengesShoreham Elementary SchooAbby Adams
Tue May 23Learning to Code with Robots Rodeo Richmond SchoolDarcie Rankins & Students
Tue May 23Essex High School Library MakerspaceEssex High SchoolMartine Gulick
Tue May 23Play to Learn/ Learn to Play & Design ChallengesCenter for Technology EssexCaty Wolfe
Tue May 23Vermont Robotic Teams Return from World CompetitionMill River Schoo Karen McCalla

You can also find more information from them on our Innovation Lounge Handout.