Friday, July 18, 2014

How I'll Make A Classroom Makerspace This Year

This is my third post in my series on meaningful choice time, and reflects more of what I talked about in the first of this series

The Makerspace station that I will make will have components added on to it incrementally as the year progresses. The first components will be a laptop, a Makey Makey set, and conductive ink. 

1) Makey Makey & Conductive Ink
I've talked about Makey Makey before, but with the advent of conductive ink pens, I think the projects that can combine art and electronics will really start to open up. You can use a pencil led with Makey Makey, but it's not super easy. Often times my students had to reapply the pencil drawings to get Makey Makey to interact with it. That's because graphite is not a super conductor. I'm hoping that conductive ink will be much, much easier for Makey Makey to form a circuit. 

Out of the handful of conductive inks out there, Circuit Scribe looks the most promising. It won't be on the market for another month though:

While I'm waiting for Circuit Scribe to be ready, I went ahead and bought a couple of Bare Conductive pens. 

They seem a little more messy, but I think they'll work well with Makey Makey, and fit into what I want this station to be; a creation station that blurs the line between art and technology.

Here is the TED talk that shows off Makey Makey:

Before students are ready to design their own Scratch projects with Makey Makey during the second semester, they can use this Scratch resource page of Scratch projects specifically designed to use Makey Makey to interact with projects that have already been created.
Makey Makey also has their own gallery of projects, including a few that use conductive ink

2) Little Bits

During the second half of the first semester we have a unit of inquiry that focuses on electricity and magnetism. During this unit, I'll introduce the second component of the Makerspace: Little Bits

These are way too expensive! 

Even with the educator's discount, they are just way too much money. 

As much as I wanted to get a Pro Library of 252 modules, it costs a cool $2,999 with the discount (without it's $4,500). 

Then next best thing is the Workshop Set of 100 modules. This is $999 with the discount, $1,870 without it. Having played with Little Bits, those 100 modules would be perfect for a classroom. But I can't afford it. 
I'll never have this problem (1)

So I sprung for the "student" set. It used to be called the classroom set, but I can only assume that with only 26 modules, that would mean for many classrooms a single module per student, and you can't really build anything with that. The student set is more appropriately named because despite the claim that 4 to 8 people can create with it, the more accurate number is one. One student. Maybe two. But probably one. It runs $232.90 with the educator discount. But these are so fun... I really wish I had a spare $3000 in my left sock. Here's how they work:  

Each module has a specific function, and they're introducing new modules all the time. Like Makey Makey, I can only imagine a fraction of the possibilities. But again, they're too dang expensive. 

3) Squishy Circuits

During our electricity and magnetism unit, the students make their own conductive and insulating dough. We figure out first how to light an LED with the dough, and then with parallel and series circuits. 

After that, Squishy Circuits will be an addition to the Makerspace, where they can again combine their knowledge of science with design.
That LED in his chest is keeping him alive.

Here's the TED talk showing off Squishy Circuits.

Those are the high tech resources I'll have for my Makerspace. I will need to see what I can bring in (cardboard, felt, clay, etc.,) to help students create in the Makerspace as well.  


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