3d Printing Club

I have wanted to run a 3d printing club for middle schoolers for a while now (since I discovered BeetleBlocks).  I specifically wanted to have a 3d printing club where we focused on jewelry making in hopes of getting MS girls interested in STEM. I have a 3d printing business and sell my 3d printed jewelry on Etsy and at the Lebanon Farmer’s Market. I see many of my students at the market and know that 3d printing jewelry might be the hook to get more girls interested in 3d printing.

Screen Shot 2019-07-17 at 9.10.43 AM

My earring design ready for sale – a shared project on BeetleBlocks

Yesterday my dream of having a 3d printing club became a reality at the Lebanon Public library and with the collaboration of two librarians. We were able to borrow two 3d printers from libraries around New Hampshire and schedule a couple of summer sessions.  We met a week prior to the first session, when we had the printers, to make sure we could run them and change the filaments, etc.  We have an Ultimaker 2 Go and a MakerBot Replicator.  This is a bit complicated as they take different size filaments and use different programs to prepare the models.  We have some jewelry findings and different color filaments – silver, gold, bronze in 1.75 mm for the MakerBot and blue in 3 mm for the Ultimaker.

We were hoping to get 3 printers and have 3 students per printer for a group of 9, but only 5 had signed up so we opted to go with just 2 printers as the third was at a library on the other side of the state.  When I got there on Monday, there were 9 students.  The librarians had decided to let the drop-in students stay and I was fine with that.

Screen Shot 2019-07-17 at 9.14.52 AM

My notes for my intro to the 3d design & printing process.

After a brief introduction where I wanted to make sure that they understood 3d printing was an iterative process not unlike the engineering design process, I showed them a jar full of bad prints from my jewelry printing business.  Then we got started.

Screen Shot 2019-07-17 at 9.09.47 AM

For the first of the two sessions, I introduced BeetleBlocks and we created simple rings by measuring and using a tube shape (Here’s my video tutorial). In just three lines of code, the rings were created and we were able to have them export and save to a flash drive/sd card.  We loaded half onto one printer and half onto the other and started printing them. Rings take about 5-9 minutes each.  The goal was to have something to take home by the end of the session. Then during the week they could drop in and print another, bigger, individual print like a pendant or a pair of earrings, etc.. The librarians had a list of times when they would be available during the week to help the students print another ring or a pendant.  I thought this would alleviate the problem of having enough class time to get everything printed.

I created a second video tutorial on how to code a pendant or earring from a squiggle. There wasn’t time to go over the whole tutorial during the session and anyway students were busy exploring BeetleBlocks: adding their names to the rings, looking at community projects, playing with extrusions and other shapes. While some just wanted to watch the printers for a while.

Screen Shot 2019-07-17 at 9.09.02 AM

Extrusion pendant by a middle school coder

Next week we are going to explore TinkerCAD as another application that I know that makes it easy to create 3d designs.

Advertisements

Scratch Alternative Presentation

In one fourth-grade class students had a US state presentation project as one of the last assignments for school this year. I received the okay from the teacher to allow a student to make his presentation using Scratch.  He was a Code Club member and I knew he had the programming skill and drive to complete all the requirements for the project using Scratch.

While the rest of the class used Google Slides, he made this great Scratch interactive project to share.  He worked hard and I was impressed with the results.Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 1.30.49 PM

He set the project up like a Chatbot project and used broadcast to change the backdrops. He also asked questions to keep the audience engaged.

I was available to help with the coding, but he worked pretty independently.

Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 1.47.13 PM

I would have liked to see more picture Sprites. We also discussed recording some audio for a portion of the presentation but ran out of time. He made a bibliography backdrop but it didn’t get included in the version we uploaded. Before he presented this to his class, he made some last minute changes that are saved in his account offline and not published.

He has his own Scratch account now and I know he will continue to code and create in middle school.  That makes me really proud.

Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 1.39.38 PM

He had a rough end of the year within his classroom and with the dynamics of some of the other students so I was glad to be able to give him some flexibility with this assignment and let him do something he enjoys and show his coding skills.

I would like to think that Scratch would be an acceptable presentation format for other school projects like this.  I have been thinking along these lines for a while and now have proof that it can be done and can show teachers what the results look like.

Code Behind the Game

Sometimes when I have a Kindergarten class in the computer lab and I’m introducing a new online activity – like a connect-the-dots game or a drawing program, a fourth grader will come in to the lab to do some independent computer assignment – typing up a paper or picking up a print out – and get distracted by what the Kindergarteners are doing. Occasionally, if the 4th grader is a code club member, I’ll wonder out loud to them  – do you think we could write a connect-the-dots game in Scratch?

I want them to see beyond game play, behind the app and think about it’s mechanics – the code – the logic that runs it. This is a goal of mine.  I enjoy thinking about how apps work.  How decisions were made to make the user experience. How someone coded different features. I want my students to think about these things, too. When you think about how some tech thing was built or created you become more than a technology consumer.  It becomes less like magic and turns into something they could do.  The students become technology makers.

I think Scratch is helping with this goal. A weeks after writing their first game project in Scratch, one student remarked that he now looked at games differently. He sees the characters in the games he plays as Sprites.

Another student, in fact, asked me later, when we were going to write that connect-the-dots game in code club.

No code club last week, but we’re on again tomorrow!