Students in Mr. Butler's 3D Printing class have taken design projects to a new level. Students have now moved past stand-alone 3D printed projects, they are now incorporating programmable Arduino concepts as well. One group has taken on the challenge of a 3D printed robot that can be controlled using a smartphone. The project requires programming, modifying, and soldering...as well as complex 3D design skills. It seems new challenges arise daily, but they always find a way to overcome and solve them. Most recently, the Serv-o motors that will be used in the robot were completely modified to rotate 360 degrees, rather than the factory standard of 180 degrees. The motors were taken apart, examined, modified, and put back together again. The exciting thing is, these students didn't have the necessary skills to complete this project when they began the class. The programming, soldering, and design were skills that they learned while working on this project, skills that they can use for the rest of their lives.
Recently I had the pleasure of listening to Gever Tulley deliver the keynote at the American School Foundation of Monterrey Live Curious Go Beyond Conference. Tulley is the founder of Brightworks and the Tinkering School in San Francisco as well as the author of 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).
On an average teaching day, I may read Macbeth with my students, facilitate literature circles and teach the finer aspects of essay writing – why would a school focused on tinkering and using power tools be of interest to me? This question digs into some of the deeper issues within education. However to maintain a spirit in accordance with what one of my students said recently, “The secret stands in finding your area of influence,” I will focus on the English classroom.
The reason why Tulley was inspiring for me was his spirit of innovation and his really cool ideas, in particular this one:
Surely, this is a cringe-worthy moment for teachers, imagining what kinds of results they will get. I’m sure Gever Tulley had some moments of panic before handing over power tools to young kids. I had no idea what the students would produce or how far they would push themselves to learn and I don’t think the students did either; but, going back to Tulley’s talk, Idea No. 2 rang true.
The projects students produced ranged widely: from a chemical experiment in an elementary classroom to showing the effect of pollution in water, to art projects, to school poster campaigns (some ended up on the basketball nets) to students teaching students about topics ranging from conflicts to art to consumerism to Boko Haram to child slavery, to name a few. One group coupled their love for theater with their research by creating a series of short skits about refugees which they performed for grade 4 students.
The students were proud of the work that they had done.
Of course, the PBL wasn’t perfect. In the feedback from students they requested more time (of course), more check-ins (very important for every PBL), and a more structured system for collaborating with other teachers. The last one was especially tricky since schedule conflicts prevented students from teaching every section of a class, which would have certainly been beneficial for everyone involved.
However, the PBL was a success – the students had taken ownership of their learning and were pleased to have had the freedom to pursue their own research and present their findings in a way that was different from the usual essay.
I took a risk with my students, and at the end of the day, they didn’t let me down because I trusted them to take responsibility for their learning. The students weren’t using power tools, but they were certainly directing their own learning and that’s the tinkering spirit that can be found in any classroom.
This is a 3D-printed "whirly-bird" toy that was designed by Jian Song, an ASFG sophomore. The toy flies like a helicopter when the vertical axle is given a sufficient angular velocity by the sliding the palms of the hands together in opposite directions (see video).
Jian is currently working on modifying the toy blades to a standard NACA airfoil design so that the lift provided by the rotating blades will include two components of lift - one due to the angle of attack and one due to the lift force generated by Bernoulli's principle. Ideally, this will improve the aerodynamic performance of the toy and Jian will make a fortune.
What is the Google Innovator Program?
The Google Certified Innovator program is an energizing 12 month professional development experience for creative leaders in education.
Certified innovators help their organizations, each other, and Google push the boundaries of what’s possible in education. As ongoing participants in this community of educators, they transform the organizations they’re serving, advocate for change, and grow their own capacity as thought leaders. This program focuses on helping innovators launch a transformative project to help improve education in their schools, regions, or the world. Support includes mentorship, online learning activities, and an in-person Innovation Academy.
Our K-12 technology integration specialist, Jacob Bryant, was selected into this year's program. After a rigorous application process and unique project proposal, only 25 participants were chosen from all of Latin America and Spain. The program started with the Innovator Academy, held at the Google offices in Mexico City. Throughout this three day academy, innovators continued to work on the design of their unique project proposals. The participants were also fortunate enough to attend presentations by many of the leaders of Google's Education department, which is one of the world leaders in education technology. Over the next year, with support from Google, Jacob will work to bring his mobile MakerSpace project to hospitals here in Guadalajara.
Seriously...sumo robots! Mr. Fernando Guzman has always taught classes that are on the cutting edge of technology. The following video is a small glimpse into that world. It is hard to believe that high school students are the ones building and programming these robots. 21st-century-skills are being taught, learned, and utilized in high school robotics class.
This has to be celebrated. Three high school students were chosen to create a video for the Tri-Association Teachers Conference here in Guadalajara. While we may have offered some very general ideas, the project was fully developed, created, and edited by those three students. We can't say enough good things about the amazing product, which was inspiring to everyone that was at the conference. Please sit back and enjoy this amazing video from Tania Romero, Daniel Ousset, and Paulina Aragon.
Every year, 10th graders receive new laptops at our annual Laptop Night. Technology is changing the way we learn and the way we teach, so we wanted to develop a presentation that would reflect the ever-changing educational environment.
Working together, students and parents completed four learning tasks. These tasks were focused on the most important aspects of digital citizenship: online etiquette, responsible use, digital health and wellness, and digital footprints. The learning tasks consisted of powerful videos, custom-designed infographics, self-check questions, and a final task to be completed by both parent and student.
We would like to encourage you to explore the assigned learning tasks. None of the answers are required, so you don't have to enter information, but we think you will enjoy seeing what our students and parents were learning.
Click on the following link:
Students in Economics recently took on the role of lead analysts in a prestigious economic forecasting firm. In this project, students were hired to produce an infographic describing the current state of the economy and forecasting the next year’s economic performance of select countries. Students were required to collaborate to collect and analyze information from reliable sources of economic data. They also read articles about the different perspective on the country's