From naval gazing to action (or cranking out some mediocre visual assignments)

The weekend was spent in Roanoke, Virginia, where I presented a program on 3D printing at the public library.

flyer for 3D printing workshop

3D printing workshop featuring ME

I like Roanoke.  It reminds me of Charlottesville, but without all of the pretentiousness.  It’s got good food, good drinks, lovely people, and occasionally banjo-playing buskers will set up on the streets.

My mother-in-law was good enough to watch Jobot over the weekend so that Will and I could kick around town without having to worry about nap schedules.  We caught up with old friends, spent some time in the public library, and had some good beers from the Parkway Brewery.

Parkway brewing beers

Beers from Parkway — this is from the Facebook page. I didn’t take the photo.

There wasn’t a lot of time for DS106, which I regret.  There’s always next week.

I did do a handful of daily creates:

Introduction to the class

Introduction to the class


inside the Makerbot

500 daily creates

500 daily creates


Nothing says good times like cake.

old and Matchbox cars

something old and something new

So here’s what I’ve learned about myself over the past year:  I am less apt to do and more likely to read/watch/navel gaze.  In other words, I spend more time reading blogs about DS106 and watching videos about DS106 and less time actually doing DS106.  Why?  Doing is hard.  Doing is frustrating.  And doing is usually time consuming.  I’m likely to spend more time naval gazing and thinking over the philosophies of DS106 and maker education, and less time practicing and polishing my skills.  I’ve got a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino kit.  Have I opened them yet?  Nope.  It’s easier to read what other folks are doing with it all.

This is dumb.

Recognizing that action is not my strength–that I’m more of an ideas person–I started in on some visual assignments last night.  Actually, just one visual assignment.

I worked on the “My Favorite Lyric”  visual assignment.  The decided to work with the song, “Tallulah” by Allo Darlin’.

I probably heard it for the first time about a year ago.  There are two lines in the song that I find especially interesting.  I focused on the first of the two:

I’m wondering if I’ve already heard all the songs that’ll mean something
And I’m wondering if I’ve already met all the people that’ll mean something

I don’t feel the same way about music that I did when I was 16 or even 30.  I’m not moved by much.  Maybe it’s because everything sucks.  Most likely it’s because it’s too hard to ferret out the really good stuff.

Allo Darlin' lyrics

Allo Darlin’ lyrics

It’s not especially interesting, nor was it especially hard to do.  But it was practice, and it is a way for me to bookmark this particular song in some physical way.

The photo, by the way, is a cc licensed Flickr image by Bernard Benke.

How do you teach Makerbotting?

This past summer I got the go-ahead to purchase a Makerbot Replicator for school. Not only was it necessary for some 3D printing workshops hosted on campus, but I figured there would only be more interest in 3D printing from students.

the thing-o-matic and replicator

TOM and Replicator–BFFs

I was totally right about that.

There’s been a cadre of 5th grade boys visiting the library during study halls and activity periods to print something on the Makerbot.  What have we printed?  Creepers from Minecraft, a model of an iPhone, a Camaro.

These kids think the Makerbot is awesome and a little bit of magic.  It is truly endearing that they want a tangible object that represents their interests and passions.  But a transaction that goes something like this bothers me:

Kid:  “What can I print out on the Makerbot?”

Me:  “Have you had a chance to use Tinkercad or 3DTin yet?”

Kid:  “No.  What’s the site I can go to if I want to print out something from the internet?”

Me:  “You mean Thingiverse?”

Kid:  “Yeah, that’s it.”  [Runs off to find a file to print for instant gratification]

That’s not really how I want to do things, and it’s not the way it should be done.

Andrew tweeted this today:

It really hit on what I’ve been thinking about for a couple of weeks now.  The Replicator and Thing-o-matic really are the first exposure to 3D printing for most of these kids.  Thingiverse and the assortment of tsotchkes on display is an effective way to catch someone’s attention.  However, I feel like Thingiverse is in danger of turning these kids into consumers rather than makers.

Things made with the Makerbot

I was thinking about banning Thingiverse prints, but at the end of the day, that restriction doesn’t sit well with me.  Maybe having the kid take the time to reflect on a Thingiverse model would work.  What’s interesting about the design?  If the kid was designing something similar, what would he/she do differently?  It would be ideal if a student actually observed a print so that he/she could learn from some of the frustration and/or troubleshooting that goes into printing.  The structure of the middle school schedule doesn’t necessarily allow for that though.

Next week I’m usurping Carolyn’s 5th grade library classes to formerly introduce the Replicator, Tinkercad, and 3DTin.  I’ve been pushing Tinkercad and 3DTin with my 5th grade regular, but I’m hoping that this hands-on class time and opportunity to work with each other will really get them interested in designing their own things.


This conversation is being tape recorded

By the time Friday evening rolls around, I’m pretty useless.  Friday nights are good for a movie.  Friday nights are also good for DS106.

I’ve spent the work week cataloging a slew of new books.  It’s boring, soul-killing work.  I did reward myself with some Makerbot time today though.  I printed a companion cube (today’s Makerbot daily print).

Daily print for 9/7/12

As it was printing, a group of upper school kids came in and checked out the Replicator as it was printing.

Kid A:  “What are you making?”

Me:  “A companion cube.”

Kid A:  “OH MY GOD!  ARE YOU SERIOUS?  I’VE GOT TO MAKE ME A COMPANION CUBE!  Hey, she’s making a companion cube!”

Or at least it went something like that anyway.  Unbridled enthusiasm–that’s what it was, and it’s what was needed at the end of a tedious week.

I also rewarded myself with some DS106 tonight.  I caught up on videos, thought about movie scenes that I could use for GIFing, popped in Clue, and settled in to read some DS106 blogs while keeping one eye on the screen.  I stumbled across a blog post by Kelsey Matthews.  She also GIFed a scene from Clue.  Talk about your plate of shrimp.

I decided to use the cut-away to Yvette in the billiard room with the tape recorder.  She’s recording Tim Curry’s explanation as to why the guests (Col. Mustard, Mrs. Peacock, Mrs. Scarlett, etc. etc.) are being blackmailed by the party host.

In the billiard room with the tape recorder

It’s not as cool as I was thinking it would be, but that’s ok.  One day.  One day I’ll have something just as awesome and artful as this.