The blog is renamed “the therapist’s couch”

The blog isn’t really renamed the therapist’s couch.  Maybe it should be though.  These personal web spaces are not so much about library/school-related issues and successes as they are about my feeling insecure or unsettled about this or that.  I guess it’s all connected at the end of the day.

The spring semester started January 8th, and I kind-of-sort-of invited myself to sit in on the Physics 2: Electronics class.  In all fairness, I was talking to the physics teacher back in the fall about soldering or something, and he said I should sit in on the class–that it’s a work-at-your-own pace/independent project class.  I said, “OK!”

And here I am.  Spending my very small amount of free time trying to learn physics.  I’m still trying to solve complex circuits from last week.

It shouldn't be this hard.

It shouldn’t be this hard.

This would probably all make a little more sense if I had taken physics at some point–any point–in my life.

I’m frustrated, and I’m very much reminded of my math/science experiences in high school/college.

I’d like to give up, and I would if this idea of making–more specifically making IN THE LIBRARY, A COMMUNAL SPACE–wasn’t so unbelievably spot on.  I don’t want to be an armchair maker.  I don’t want to be just a cheerleader for making.  I don’t want to research the whole DIY/Maker movement and just write about how it needs to happen in schools.  I want to know how to do.  And yeah, making is more than just soldering and programming and cool tech projects.  It’s filmmaking and writing and photography and all of that stuff too.  The differences are: (1) I can at least fumble my way through the latter and (2) I know the campus experts who can help out with a film project or a photography question.

I at least know something about filmmaking, and literature, and photography to be a legitimate part of those communities.

A pile of resistors, capacitors, and wires…. well, that’s slightly paralyzing.

bits and bobs

CC licensed Flickr photo shared by Nick Ames

Why has learning the tech end of Making become a personal crusade?

Because if these videos doesn’t move you, you have lost your soul:

But just plugging things in based on a set of instructions isn’t enough.  I want to know how it works.

What does this have to do with the library?

There’s a sixth grade girl who visits the library several times a week to say hi, to find a book, to, on occasion, show off the latest invention she made with a lamp from Family Dollar, electrical tape, and other odds and ends.  Last week she came in and said she was suffering from “inventor’s block.”  She didn’t know what to make.  She had reached the limits of what she knew about electronics.

I had nothing to offer except, “I know how you feel” and my Radio Shack Electronics Learning Lab.

Librarians know things, and we’re pretty good about shepherding people to the right books, databases, web sites, or human beings.  I’m going to talk with the student’s advisor about finding her an electronics mentor.  Maybe even one of the students in Physics 2 would be willing to help.

Exploration of interests need to happen in the open.  I can’t think of a more open space than the library.  If you put a 3D printer in the science department it becomes a science thing.  If you put a large format printer in the art department it becomes an art thing.  If you put these tools in a community space, they belong to the community.  The community see what’s being made.  They become inspired.  They start to make too.

<hippiespeak> And that’s effing beautiful. </hippiespeak>

 

 

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.

 

Rules for teachers and students

Kids come back tomorrow.  I’m ready to see them, ask about their summers, fall into the reassuring rhythm that is the school year.  I’m also nervous.  My librarian colleagues and I are dividing the current shared middle and upper school library.  An academic commons, which will house the upper school library will open in 2013.  The middle school students will return to school in fall 2013 to a renovated library just for them.  It’s exciting, but it also means there’s lots of weeding, evaluating, shifting, cataloging, and whatnot to be done.  The process involves spending a lot of time with our library management system and dusty books and that bores the s**t out of me.  But that professional existential crisis is a story for another time.

This spring I’m teaching a section of senior seminar.  My topic: the DIY/Maker movement in politics, art, technology, etc.  I’m looking forward to it.  I’m also nervous.  What if it bombs?  What if no one other than me thinks the DIY/Maker stuff is fascinating?  I glanced at my student roster.  There are a bunch of smart, talented kids in that class.  Here’s hoping I can engage them for how many weeks?!

The 10 Rules for Students and Teachers circulated around Camp Magic Macguffin this summer.  After my first reading, I knew I wanted to incorporate the spirit of this list into the DIY/Maker senior sem.  I’m pretty sure that my kids and I should get “There is no win and no fail.  There is only make” t-shirts.

Oh, that’s totally going to be a project.

Cage's 10 rules for teachers & students

(BTW, here’s a bit of background info on the above list from Brainpickings.)