Maker Journal Post #7

In the webinar, “5 Ways to Supercharge your STEAM program with littleBits,” issues of STEAM education are addressed. Some of these include kids being consumers of technology but not necessarily creators, and that it doesn’t reach all learners. The A in STEAM stands for art and design, which impacts creative confidence and deeper thinking within STEAM-reated activities. There were two guest speakers, Dave Sharp and Michael Wilkinson, who both have much experience with STEAM education.

As Sharp introduced littleBits, he mentioned the construction of the product being low floor, or easy to understand, but also being high ceiling, or complex projects. This relates to our work at Barrow as we continually explore and create different Makerspace ideas that the students can actually benefit from. It is important that the students know the task at hand that also challenges them, requires them to tinker, fail, and try again. Sharp also discusses STEAM education as a way for students to express themselves and explore ideas. I see so much this concept at Barrow as students express what they like, dislike, and what they feel confident making. It’s important for students to try a wide variety of activities and then make it something they can explore and enjoy. For example, some students were shy when it came to building with duct tape because they haven’t ever really experience with it. When I asked them what was interesting to them, they suddenly tried to make a purse or a wallet and further expressed themselves in the process.

Below are the 5 Ways to Supercharge your STEAM program.

1. Instill a Growth Mindset in Students (continue to strengthen a creation)

2. Provide scaffolding for teachers and students– (invention cycle). We usually experiment first so we can better understand what the students are asked to do at Barrow.

3. Build STEAM projects around real world issues- (see a greater purpose to help the world). One activity at Barrow could be to use recycled materials to build, or to create something that someone else would benefit from. Students could design and sew pieces of a quilt and provide it to someone in need of a blanket within the community.

4. Connect with Curriculum/standards- (journaling/reflecting)

5. Ensure that teachers have support and training.

When planning for a STEAM activity, it’s important to have materials with various uses and to create an environment for students to fail and try again. A teacher should also use the power of choice and always support students as they build. In the video, Wilkinson, a STEAM teacher, said that he always discusses student creations and gives them challenges that they can then branch off of. When students at Barrow made straw mazes, I walked around and gave the students a chance to tell me about their creations, and the responses were full of excitement, uniqueness, and greater knowledge.

Wilkinson gave various examples of STEAM projects that serve many purposes. For example, using lights teach students about shadows, sunlight, and seasons all in a puppet show. STEAM projects support science procedures, in which students investigate and conduct trials to figure out conclusions. Since Makerspace is centered more on making, students don’t have worksheets and don’t write procedures or conclusions, but they verbally express their procedure every time they build. At Barrow, students are challenged to build towers. They analyze questions they might have, build, discover something new, re-build, and draw conclusions from their creation. Students take into account balance, weight of objects, sizes, and much more within this one challenge. Overall, this webinar helped me better understand STEAM education and its relation to Makerspace.

Maker Journal Post #6

My group went to Barrow Elementary on March 22nd for Makerspace in the media center. Today we had students construct their own straw mazes. They used materials like straws, tape, pencils, and paper. The paper served as the base or board for the straw maze. The main materials used are the straws, which are cut and placed according to the students’ idea of their maze. Some students had to begin by drawing a sketch of where the straws will be placed, while some students visually had an idea in their head and went straight into placing straws down. Other students pre-cut all of their straws and knew exactly where they would place them, while others had to imagine and plan a little bit more. It is very interesting to me to see how each individual student thinks and learns.

The kids were so excited to be doing straw mazes today! They enjoyed seeing the examples of previously-made straw mazes, but some students simply copied the examples. Many of the students didn’t have time to finish, so my group members ended up helping them tear tape in order to give them more time to build. I noticed that the younger-aged students built a maze on one sheet of paper, while the older students had more elaborate, two-page mazes. For example, one older student made a straw maze pretty quickly, and then made another that would be more of a challenge. I loved seeing that!

A few of us went around and asked students about their mazes and they explained with such excitement and creativity. Some would border the base first, and some would do a design based on a particular shape. The kids also enjoyed testing out other student’s mazes. If there was a section that was too thin for the marble, students would improve their mazes. They each voiced their imagination, better explained their plans, or visually showed us their creation. This hands-on STEM activity challenged students to using problem solving and creativity, while also using the engineering design process.

Overall, this activity has been my favorite so far at Barrow. The students loved to invent and tinker using only a few materials given. The directions weren’t difficult for the student to understand, and most importantly, the kids seemed to be having a lot of fun. I definitely will save this easy-to-setup activity for my future classroom and also have students do lab tests based on how their marble test with the maze they built.

Maker Journal Post #5

PERSONAL PROJECT #1:

I’ve been working on my personal project, an Origami Garden, for the past few weeks. I chose origami because my friends growing up had a great interest in it, and I would always try to build with them, but never had the patience. Using paper to construct a beautiful origami piece relates to Makerspace in the way that I have to tinker and play in order to successfully build, using my creativity. This personal activity increases hand coordination, strengthens my concentration skills, and improves my overall ability. It is also a calming activity for anxiety, which then builds patience. It improves skills such as geometry, problem solving, art, and 3D creativity.

The first thing I did was explore the website below in order to research and discover which flowers to create. I chose an easier flower to begin with since I needed some initial practice. The yellow flower below is called a cherry blossom flower. The pictures included are placed in the order that I created them in. Before I could begin any of the flowers, I had to cut each paper 6×6 inches. This ties in basic measuring skills into origami. I carefully followed step-by-step instructions and my first flower turned out pretty good! I used construction paper instead of origami paper, so occasionally my paper would tear.

Next, I created two roses; the first one being a simple rose, and the second being twisty Omuta rose. The second flower was still pretty basic, but I liked the unique look of it and the stem included in the directions. Some of the steps used origami terms that I had to look up in order to better understand. For my third flower, I had to watch a few videos before even starting in order to construct the right base. Next, I formed different shapes and angles and then flipped my paper over and did the same for the backside. Lastly, I had to twist my flower (picture below), which made this one the prettiest.

My plan is to make at least one flower every week, and move into more complex flower designs as I go. I hope to be more patient while I do this project so I can avoid the tearing and small mistakes. I’m going to save all of my flowers, and by the end of the semester, I will have a beautiful, colorful origami garden of all my creations. Origami is a hands-on activity that strengthens my overall STEM learning, creativity, and building. I want to use this activity in my future classroom if students finish early or have extra time.

Website used: http://www.origami-instructions.com/origami-flowers.html