Northumberland Makers: Building Confidence through Teaching Electronics

The makerspace class at Northumberland Christian School is on mission to explore the world of technology and innovation. We seek to be part of ideas that collide with real-world opportunities. We don’t just want our students to create. We want our students to create with purpose. The things we make, the ideas we are exploring, and a little bit of chaos… All these will be part of our monthly student blog series. The goal is to let the students speak for themselves. Each post will include the work and observations of a student at Northumberland Christian School. They are the makers, reviewers, and tinkerers.

This post was written by Mia Epley.


I began working with littleBits at the beginning of the 2nd quarter. I’m a junior, so at this point I am looking into colleges or tech schools. I realized that I want to be involved with engineering. Taking up a computer programming class would look good on my transcript. However, it turned out to be more involved than I thought. I thought having a small class would make it a breeze. I quickly found out different when my teacher told us we would be presenting to the elementary classes. I found it easy to follow plans giving to me, but I struggled to make plans for these kids.

My teacher gave a presentation to the kindergarteners, while my class and I got to see an example of how we were gonna do this.

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I had little experience with littleBits, but I used this opportunity to teach other kids while learning myself. I started off my presentation explaining what littleBits are and the meaning of each color of the parts. The kids were very eager to play with them, which was exciting for me. After I explained how they worked magnetically together, I gave the kids one of each part and let them see what they could do. They were very excited to switch parts with their friends to see what they could create.

Here, two of the girls I worked with had switched parts with each other and were seeing how they could use their power to control their outputs.

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I had put the class into groups and this group of boys were working on how to make a circuit to make the fan go. They switched parts with other friends to find the right ones they needed to complete the challenge I gave them.

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It was so great to see how smart these kids were and how interested they became in these electronics. Introducing littleBits to this class was a learning opportunity for both me and the kids.

DHF Admin Make Night

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We are excited to announce our (almost) Spring Admin Make Night. Created for principals, assistant principals, and district administrators, the DHF Admin Make Night is designed to allow administrators to have fun and create with the STEM & Maker tools that are being made available to their students. Try your hand at 3D printing, program a simple device, and build an interactive computer game from Scratch. Get to be a student for an evening, and get ready to MAKE this semester great!

Bring Your Admin – Stay to Make!

We’ve had a couple of teachers ask if they could attend this administrator focused event, so we’ve decided that if you can bring along your Principal, AP, or county level administrator, you’re welcome to join! Be sure to RSVP for yourself and your admin guest at the link below.

DHF Admin Make Night: Tuesday, February 21st 6:30-8:30 pm

Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center,
1045 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21230
RSVP here: DHF Admin Make Night RSVP

If you have any questions, please email josh@digitalharbor.org

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Digital Harbor Foundation is dedicated to fostering learning, creativity, productivity, and community through education. In 2013 we transformed a closed-down rec center in Baltimore City into a vibrant Tech Center for youth. In 2014 we launched the Center of Excellence to train others how to incorporate making into their own learning environments. Check out DHF educator workshops and to stay up to date on DHF happenings, sign up for the monthly Maker Educator Newsletter at dhf.io/nws

Vinyl Logo Design by Youth

When you are a kid, you reach this point where you think you hold the barometer of cool. I know I thought I had it all figured out. “That kid is cool because he has those shoes….” “That girl is cool because she has that kind of backpack.” One group of people I couldn’t understand as a kid were the gear-heads. They talked engines, cc’s, rpms, and other things that were foreign to me. Since I didn’t understand, I mostly thought what they talked about was dumb and useless. When I caught the maker bug, I realized the fallacy in my pattern of thought. The unknown became more intriguing, and those who were wired differently became valuable.

Here at school, I recognize that many of those same judgments still happen. The sports people are esteemed. The smart people are criticized for doing too well. And the tech squad is treated with so much ambivalence. This is a post to give those guys some credit. They are makers as much as the next…

So Skylar in 12th grade is a metal guy. No we are not talking dark, loud music. We are talking about metal fabrication. The kid loves to weld. He is most at home working in the shop, tinkering with heated metal. He loves cars, and his crew of friends have been customizing vehicles.

The story comes together for me when Skylar asks about making a vinyl decal for their group. They are called the Misfit Mulisha. As Skylar says about their name, “Misfits cause we tend to have different taste and styles then everyone else.”

So Skylar sketched up a logo for their group. It was just a simple pencil and paper drawing:

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From there, we took a picture of the drawing. Then with a jpeg of the drawing, we transferred the image into Cricut. We cleaned it up a little bit, and within moments we were popping out vinyl decals for each of the vehicles. As Skylar says, “[We are a] Group of friends that hangout and help each other work on each others trucks and cars. [We] Like going to car shows and cruising around together.”

Here are some great shots of the decals in place, and also some great shots of true makers.

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Ian Snyder is a science teacher and 3D printing coach at Northumberland Christian School. He also runs a makerspace at The Refuge. Ian is one of our 2015 Perpetual Innovation Fund recipients and will be sharing more updates throughout the year. You can follow him on Twitter @ateachr or catch some shots on Instagram at mriansnyder. Read more from Ian…

DHF Presents: Admin Make Night

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We are excited to announce our (almost) Spring Admin Make Night. Created for principals, assistant principals, and district administrators, the DHF Admin Make Night is designed to allow administrators to have fun and create with the STEM & Maker tools that are being made available to their students. Try your hand at 3D printing, program a simple device, and build an interactive computer game from Scratch. Get to be a student for an evening, and get ready to MAKE this semester great!

Bring Your Admin – Stay to Make!

We’ve had a couple of teachers ask if they could attend this administrator focused event, so we’ve decided that if you can bring along your Principal, AP, or county level administrator, you’re welcome to join! Be sure to RSVP for yourself and your admin guest at the link below.

DHF Admin Make Night: Tuesday, February 21st 6:30-8:30 pm

Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center,
1045 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21230
RSVP here: DHF Admin Make Night RSVP

If you have any questions, please email josh@digitalharbor.org

image-makereducation-gamedesign

Digital Harbor Foundation is dedicated to fostering learning, creativity, productivity, and community through education. In 2013 we transformed a closed-down rec center in Baltimore City into a vibrant Tech Center for youth. In 2014 we launched the Center of Excellence to train others how to incorporate making into their own learning environments. Check out DHF educator workshops and to stay up to date on DHF happenings, sign up for the monthly Maker Educator Newsletter at dhf.io/nws

Girls & Making: Meet Caitlyn

Digital Harbor Foundation is very passionate about having females in our space and involved in what we do. One of our main goals is to increase the number of female program participants and increase retention of girls in our programs. The Girls & Making Series is a way for us to share success stories and the important role that females can play in making and technology projects and careers. To see other posts from this series, click here.

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1. Why are you passionate about having female makers in our space?

I am passionate about female makers in our space because like anything, with diversity you get different view points, which means different ideas, in turn when we collaborate we can turn our ideas into better more efficient creations.

2. What is one of your favorite memories as a young female maker?
Growing up My Mom would let me cook/bake my own creations, using anything in the kitchen.  I remember trying my hardest to make cookies, thinking through the ingredients I knew went into cookies and being sure they would be the best cookies ever.  In reality after my mom baked them for me they never tasted that good, but it was my first time I really tried to problem solve and create.  Now, 20 some odd years later I can make some pretty darn good cookies.
3. How can we get more girls interested in making programs?
I’m not sure how we can get more girls interested in making programs other than getting the word out and really emphasizing “Making.” I think as humans we are programed to create.  Everyone has a need to create in some form or fashion, I’ve never met a kid that didn’t have an idea of something they would create whether digitally with a video game or computer or physically but more often what stops them from creating is either they don’t have the supplies needed or the support.  So emphasizing to both boys and especially girls that a program centered around Making will allow them to create.
4. Have you always been interested in making? What made you interested and what was the first project you worked on?
I would say I’ve always been into making but it wasn’t until about a year and a half ago that I starting incorporating tech into my making.  I honestly don’t know what my first project was but I can list off about a million projects as a kid I wish I had the supplies for.  I was the kid that when I could create a project to show my work I would.  In High School the best English teacher I had was Mr. Talley.  He would allow me to create a project for all of my book reports.  I made a paper doll for The Count of Monte Cristo where you could change his outfits to go with each of his disguises.  I also created a leather bond diary and wrote down entrees as if I were Buttercup.  I had quit a few more projects I created but I think why this class made such a profound impact was that my teacher gave me room to create.  I was the the one coming up with ways to prove I read the book, not him.
5. Why do you feel that girls shy away from making?
I would say that if they are girls like me they shy away because they feel it has to do with tech.  I would rather be creating with my hands than sitting at a computer.

Girls & Making Series: Meet Mary

Digital Harbor Foundation is very passionate about having females in our space and involved in what we do. One of our main goals is to increase the number of female program participants and increase retention of girls in our programs. The Girls & Making Series is a way for us to share success stories and the important role that females can play in making and technology projects and careers. To see other posts from this series, click here.

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1. Have you always been interested in making? 

I’ve been making stuff for almost as long as I can remember. It’s entirely possible that I came out of the womb drawing. I have been really lucky to be educated in the arts from a very young age, so I never really considered paths that weren’t creative. Since coming to Baltimore to attend school, I’ve been exposed to a plethora of ways to connect art and technology. In particular, I think to a collaborative project that involved creating installations for sensory therapy spaces. It was really exciting to take technical drawings and turn around and fabricate these ideas with others. It also taught me a lot about how following my creative impulses can lead me to connect with people in a really profound way.

2. Why are you passionate about having female makers in our space? 

I’m passionate about the work I do at DHF because it’s important to me to connect and empower those who I can share a similar creative drives and passions. I think women have unique capacities for empathy and communication, which can set up ideal conditions for making. Some of the strongest bonds in my life have been with those I’ve created with, so I want to contribute to a world where women know they have a place in this process and can rely on each other along the way.

3. What is one of your favorite memories of a young female maker?

When I first got to DHF and started working with Maker Foundations, it really struck me how amazing the girls are who come here. They are incredibly driven, articulate and eager to learn on their feet. With the all-girls cohort it was especially clear how hands-on they were compared to the boys. Whereas their male counterparts generally started their projects with virtual components (designing Scratch games, mixing sounds in Soundplant), the girls started by making physical and building interactive elements into them. For instance, Violet built a stage and a really intricate drum set and then hooked it up to a Makey Makey and sound library, allowing others to play through the character she developed because she cared about them. Many of these kinds of projects stood out to me because they were strongly rooted in narratives which encouraged interaction and engagement in a really sophisticated way. At our showcase, I was overwhelmed by joy in seeing them bring others into the stories and worlds they’d created.

4. Why do you feel that girls shy away from making?

I actually don’t think that girls shy away from making. I grew up in creative environments my whole life and I’ve always been surrounded by women there. There’s a whole history and tradition of women in arts and craft that has supported this. Within the rapidly changing landscapes of technology, however, it seems that women are less recognized. While we are certainly the minority in STEM-based learning, I don’t think this is due to lack of interest or ability. Rather, I think that young women depend on social structures and interactivity within creative spaces. On the surface, technology often does not appear this way. It may seem cold, detached and rewarding to those who works independently and in virtual capacities.

5. How can we get more girls interested in making programs?

In order to increase female participation in STEM learning, I think it’s important to dismantle this perception. First and foremost, it’s important to build up a supportive community of women in both learning and leadership roles. At DHF, we introduced an all-girls cohort of Maker Foundations, which drastically increased retention among female makers. But it’s not enough to just get more girls in the space; we’ve worked hard to find and continue to look for ways to keep them here. In part, this involved revitalizing the Makerettes (our Friday making club for girls) in an effort to encourage young women to utilize the resources in our space together beyond the context of our courses.

3D Printing and Life Hacks

I confess that I get caught up from time to time in the world of life hacks. I find myself asking the question, “How can I manipulate or change this product?” I know this goes against the status quo of just consuming what I am fed… But I can’t help it. Chomp Chomp.

Because of my sickness (constantly needing to hack my life), I decided to try and infect (inspire) my students. Their job was to modify/change/hack an existing 3D design. The design I chose for them was the amazing quick shoe tie labled Klots by Kart5a on Thingiverse. All credit and props to their amazing design.

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(Photo Credit to Thingiverse and Tino Kaartovuori – Kat5a)

Since I loved the simplicity and bare-bone functionality, I just had to have my students do something with it.

Call it foolishness, but I assigned this in the last three weeks of school. Needless to say, I was frustrated when the students were dropping out of the challenge… #endoftheyear…..A terrible state to find your students in. But just when I was ready to hang it up myself, one of my students came through. Abbey L. (the always faithful and reliable) submitted her hack of Klots, printed it, and assembled her design on her shoes.

Abbey’s changes were to modify the closure to look like interlocking x’s. This was a change from the puzzle piece type closure on the original. She also added some triangle spikes on the outside. This fits well with Abbey’s love for the music scene. She also choose to lace with some vertical laces to break from the typical shoe lace pattern.

You can see her smiling face and design below.

Abby Klots

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*On a depressing side note, senior David M was in the middle of a interlocking fish design for the Klots Hack Challenge, but he graduated and faded into the bliss of summer.


Ian Snyder is a science teacher and 3D printing coach at Northumberland Christian School. He also runs a makerspace at The Refuge. Ian is one of our 2015 Perpetual Innovation Fund recipients and will be sharing more updates throughout the year. You can follow him on Twitter @ateachr or catch some shots on Instagram at mriansnyder. Read more from Ian…

Young Eyes on a Young Field

This post is written by Luke Fisher, one of DHF’s Program Specialists. This was originally intended as Luke’s presentation for the Progressive Ed Summit, which was, unfortunately snowed out and rescheduled for a time when Luke will be living in Japan. We thought everyone should hear his thoughts any way. Enjoy! 

 

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No one is going to be shocked when I say this next statement: students today are used to having an endless supply of information and entertainment via their cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc. But I am not here to complain, in fact, I think it’s a really wonderful thing and I am happy to be apart of this generation. What I am here to talk about is the disconnect that I see with students when they talk about school as they are walking into the Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center. Everyday I ask kids about their experiences at school and, as to be expected, the replies are generally a mix of “It was fine,” “Alright,” “Boring,” and the list of unenthused adjectives goes on and on, until I stop asking them questions and they can start telling me about the thing they are really excited about: whether it be, architecture, a new anime series they are watching, or their latest play through of Five Nights At Freddy’s. With an entire world of information out there that students are excited about, talking about studying the same 5 subjects for 12 years is the conversational equivalent of watching paint dry. I love learning and I plan on expanding my noggin’ until the day I die, but that kind of excitement is difficult to translate to youth. This is a sentiment that has to be learned on one’s own.

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STEM education is in a special place. It’s a field of eternal change and growth, therefore, making it a subject that requires constant tweaking and understanding. And much like the rest of education, it has no boundaries. You can apply STEM education to history, or english, or mathematics, etc.  but. . .  THAT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING TO KIDS.  Kids don’t care that you can make a program that helps them remember historical dates, or that they can create a game that is based off of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. Why? Because every interaction that kids have with technology is in the realm of their interests, not what the government sanctioned necessary to become a functional adult in America. If you tie STEM education back to the subjects that they are already forced to know, educators all over are missing a powerful learning opportunity.

I’d say about 2 times a week I have a conversation that follows this similar pattern:

*Student Sitting Behind Computer Looking Discouraged/Frustrated/Tired etc*

Me: Hey, what’s up?

Student: I don’t know what to do.

Me: Well, what do you like? What are you interested in?

Student: (Insert Anime/Video Game/Fan Fiction Title Here/Subject/Culture)*

Me: Oh, well then just make something about that then.

It’s interesting to see how students react to this suggestion. Some are skeptical, some are hesitant, others are overjoyed. I think this suggestion takes so many off-guard because in the traditional education system, students are seldom taught that they can use what they care about to aid their education and not be something that’s distracting them from “an education”.

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We’re at a special time in education. While it’s not necessary to know historical dates or who is the Id, Ego, or Id in Lord of the Flies (although I think it will benefit you as a human) as time moves forward it’s becoming more and more clear that it is necessary to be technologically literate. We, as educators in the tech field, are wielding an incredible amount of power. Are we going to revert back to the tired ways of education’s stale formulaic past? Or are we going to take charge, push ourselves to learn as much as our students, and reshape how we teach in the classroom?

 

DoodleFab at Northumberland Christian School

 

As an educator, I am always excited about the potential of crossing over subject material. 3D Printing has become the universal connector for me. How can I connect 3D printing with science? Math? Geography?

Lately my students have been enjoying turning their art into 3D objects. Thanks to DHF’s (Shawn’s) creation of DoodleFab, we are taking our 2D doodles, drawings, and sketches into the 3D environment. Two of my senior students love art (the art room their second home). When they approached me about turning their classroom doodles into 3D objects, I jumped at the opportunity.

Kyli had sketched a fox running through the forest on an index card with her pencil during class. (I am pretty sure she was still paying attention).

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Then, her best friend Gabby wanted to do the same. She also used an index card to create a drawing of a deer skull adorned with a flower-like pattern. Gabby then created an a 3D replica of her drawing with Doodlefab.

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Both girls are using their objects on their quilt blocks for our 3D printed school quilt project. An update on our school quilt project will be coming in the near future.

(Awesome Doodlefab idea…3D Print famous art pieces for the visually impaired. Feeling Van Gogh’s Starry Night?)

 


Ian Snyder is a science teacher and 3D printing coach at Northumberland Christian School. He also runs a makerspace at The Refuge. Ian is one of our 2015 Perpetual Innovation Fund recipients and will be sharing more updates throughout the year. You can follow him on Twitter @ateachr or catch some shots on Instagram at mriansnyder. Read more from Ian…

DHF, Make Studio, & 3D Printing

One of the most exciting and engaging aspects of living and working in a city like Baltimore is having the opportunity to be involved in so many amazing and inspiring organizations. Over the past couple weeks, two organizations that I hold very close to my heart, both of whom inspire and enrich the communities that surround them through making, came together for a brief but awesome new collaboration.

Make Studio is a community-based art center and studio located in Hampden that provides programming, studio space, and exhibition opportunities to artists with disabilities. Artists involved in Make Studio make and use a wide range of materials and processes and exhibit their work throughout the Baltimore and Mid-Atlantic region. Make Studio is celebrating the aesthetics and concerns of artists commonly typed as “outsiders”, and bringing visibility to their observations and points-of-view, and essential asset to the vibrancy of our cultural sector.

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DHF staff members Amber, Jonathan, and Darius joined me in a visit to Make Studio to introduce a Tinkercad and 3D printing as a new form of making that potentially could be a new and inspiring process for artists to experiment with. Several artists got their feet wet exploring 3D modeling and how it translates to the ideas and imagery they use in their studio practice.

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Jerry Williams, also known by his alter-ego “Partyman” is a long time member of Make Studio and an avid painter and sculptor often working with found materials. He is inspired by WWE, the circus, as well as superheroes, and for a long time has been developing a series of Batmobile inspired sculptures from styrofoam and found materials. Tinkercad was an interesting new opportunity to see how these designs would translate onto the computer with 3D modeling and into a 3D print. “This was my first time using Tinkercad, I could see this as a special feature on the Batman DVDs. I really enjoyed doing the tutorials in Tinkercad. I like working with new technology, this might be something I use to create a logo for my future art organization Williams Art Enterprizes. I would be interested in making more models of the Batmobile!”

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Aimee Eliason originally began her artistic pursuits in oil painting and has since explored a wide variety of mediums including painting sculpture, crocheting, digital art and photography.  She is fascinated by textures and can be inspired by something as subtle as the wrinkles on a piece of paper. Much of Aimee’s subject matter involves animals and/or anime, in Tinkercad she chose to develop (princess??) which not only turned out awesome, but also floored DHF staff members with how quickly she was able to pick up 3D modeling to create complex forms. “I loved Tinkercad and will use it again, there are so many exciting things to make!”

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Similarly, Dasha Kalumuck who joined Make Studio in 2015 picked up Tinkercad very quickly and was able to make some really fantastic characters. Dasha likes to take ideas and concepts and put her own spin on them in order to give the viewer a different perspective and as an artist is often using these skills to create character designs. Dasha uses many two-dimensional mediums including watercolor, acrylic, markers, sharpies, colored pencils, and collage but through the workshop was very inspired by 3D modeling as well. “I enjoyed Tinkercad a lot, it was super easy and fun! I am definitely doing this again, definitely! I was happy to just jump in and try something new. Seeing things I designed turn into real 3D things I can hold is amazing!”

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Louis Middleton often is found painting at Make Studio, but also has had a lot of experience working with computers. With the support of his family, Louis operates his own photo restoration business and has long enjoyed taking his own photographs, and now at Make Studio he is working to advance his computer skills, digitally manipulating photographs and original imagery, discovering new ways to express himself. Louis has many interests, but is often inspired by architecture and buildings he sees around Baltimore and that he finds online. After getting familiar working with Tinkercad, Louis tried out creating his own building based upon a painting he was already working on in the studio. “The experience was pretty good, I made a building from a painting that I have been working on and I had fun doing it”

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Margie Smeller knew a little bit about 3D printing before from her uncle who runs a makerspace in San Antonio however this was the first time she had the opportunity to try it out herself. Playing around in Tinkercad it was interesting to see how the colors and shapes drew similarities to the colors and patterns that can be found in her work. She was also able to create a 3D printed keychain for herself.

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Margie Smeller Wonderland Tea Towel Collection $155

Gary Schmedes is a big fan of animation and is inspired by animation classics. In his work he primarily uses pen, ink, and watercolor and therefore was a little skeptical about any 3D modeling or computer based work. Despite this, he dove into Tinkercad, learning how to create different forms and ultimately produced this awesome print based on a character he has been working with. “Tinkercad was a good website, designing on it was neat. I designed a toad named Mr. Toad, although if I were to do this again I would have given him arms. It was really fun to create my own character in 3D, maybe for future projects I will use Tinkercad again.”

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