I did a double take at my calendar. Second semester started January 6th, which means the DIY/Maker senior seminar started January 6th. It seems like we’ve been going for both weeks and weeks and just days.
That makes no sense, does it?
We’ve managed to get so much done, but we really haven’t had that many class meetings when it comes down to it.
What have we done so far:
- Started class with a design sprint, which involved the building of a paper airplane. The plane had to have a flight time of six seconds. Students can only uses scissors, paper, and staples. To make it even more interesting, each team has a $40 budget. Paper is $1, each fold is $1, cuts are $2, and staples are $4. We did our design sprint in a 45-minute class period. No plane flew for six seconds. However, a couple of days later a group of boys did discover some gliders on Thingiverse. which did fly for 6+ second. Perhaps printing gliders from Thingiverse isn’t all that impressive; but having a group of kids who have never touched a 3D printer figure out how to download a file, prep it for printing, and then actually print it was very cool to me.
- Introduced the class and the ethos of the maker movement through Mitch Resnick’s “All I Need to Know (About Creative Thinking) I Learned (By Studying How Children Learn in Kindergarten” and a couple of chapters of FAB: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop
- Purchased domain names and installed WordPress through Reclaim Hosting. Maker students will use their space to reflect on their work, projects (iteration after iteration), the creative process, etc. Sure, they could’ve gone with a free WordPress account or created a Weebly site. However, there’s something very DIY about managing one’s domain and digital space. All student sites, by the way, feed into (or will be feeding into) Makerawesome.
- Held a Tech Zoo, where students played around with paper circuits, Scratch, WeDos, Makey Makeys, 3D modeling, a Leap Motion, Google Cardboard, e-textiles, and even some knitting needles and yarn.
- Started projects! We are 2-3 days into actual projects. It’s completely insane. The class flies by for me. Hopefully it flies by for the students too. There are 18 kids working on 18 different things for the most part. There are some amazing ideas circulating out there too. I’m especially impressed with Clair’s list of ideas and Emily’s thoughts. It’s that kind of wild imagination that I hope can be nurtured by the time and space this class provides.
Some random thoughts/highlights:
- Sam (he’s going to start blogging. Oh, he is.) has been working on an Omniwheel Robot after learning to solder Tuesday. He was wiring the motors today, and was frustrated by the instructions. By the end of class he exclaimed that he had things working. I asked what he did. His reply, “I thought about it for a little while and applied some physics.”
Maybe that’s insignificant for you, but it’s what I’m aiming for. I want students to apply what they’ve learned in other disciplines to their projects.
- Andrew, thanks to some discussion with an active Hack.RVA member, is very interested in building a reverse geocaching box. As soon as a part or two arrives, he’s on it.
This is my third semester teaching the DIY/Maker course. Last semester I had a group of kids that were (so I thought) unmatched in their enthusiasm and curiosity. My current class is diving right in too. My first class stared at me a lot, but I’m pretty sure that it had a lot to do with the fact that we weren’t in a makerspace, and I didn’t know what I was doing.
What’s challenging is managing 18 different students with 18 different projects. I think this will get easier as the students get used to searching for tutorials, using forums, using each other, etc. However, right now it’s too easy for a student to slink off to hang out with friends or for the quieter students to get lost in the chaos. I need to improve the dividing of my attention.
Sometimes I’m sure someone will cluck, “And where is the academic value in all of this… this knitting… this magic wand making… this sewing of LEDs?!” There’s a valid defense, of course. But that’s a post for another day.