As the Innovation Lab program moves forward one of our most significant observations has been that most of the tools we have can be used from Kindergarten to Eighth Grade. Not that they are used in exactly the same way or to teach the same thing, but all students can pick up the same tool and use it for some purpose. Lately a focus for our middle school choice classes has been robotics. After some initial learning about what robots are and what they can do, our 7/8 choice class moved on to programming Ozobots with Ozoblockly Games. Interestingly enough, on the very same day, Our Kindergarteners were in the lab programming Ozobots using markers and colored lines. Check out the gallery below!
For the past few years Mrs. Mildrum and Mr. Hadd have guided students in an Independent Study Choice Class. Typically this type of student learning experiences produces many amazing and diverse projects. We always end with a project fair to allow students to share their work with parents, teachers, administrators, and fellow students. This event is usually a rewarding experience for the student presenters and serves as an appropriate conclusion for the class. This year our fair was expanded by including Mrs. Payne's Fashion and Technology Class Projects. In all, 26 individual student projects were on display stretching between the Innovation Lab and Enrichment Room. The event was very successful attracting numerous visitors and inspiring authentic conversations about the work. Projects ranged from jewelry and light up clothing to perpetual motion machines and robots made from tooth brushes!
In the last week of our 7/8 Prototyping and inventing choice class we have transformed the Innovation Lab into a open ended problem solving and invention space. Students were presented with a list of problems that exist right here in the lab, at school or in our community. Additionally students were free to add problems that they had identified. The one thing these problems had in common is that an invention could possibly solve them. Throughout the block students have been introduced to invention tools such as 3d design and printing, coding, Arduino microcontrollers, circuitry, soldering electrical components, and use of physical materials. Students have also experienced the design cycle and now understand that invention is a problem solving process that involves tinkering, trial and error, setbacks, and even starting over. This open ended inventing process has created such an atmosphere of energy and excitement in the lab! Check out the gallery below to see what the students have been working on.
With several upcoming green screen video projects, we desided to create a video about making green screen viideos. These fourth graders did an amazing job!
The Innovation Lab hosted several great projects during the month of December and here are some pictures from a few of them! Second graders used KidPix to create an poem and illustration which was printed out and enhanced by a glowing LED bulb! Our fifth grade focus group created drawings on paper which were converted to SVG graphics and 3d printed! The seventh and eighth grade Prototyping and Inventing class attempted to solve the problem of disorganized cords on our lab tables along with controlling their Scratch creations using Makey Makey! To learn more about Makey Makey be sure to watch the video at the end of this post!
Kidpix, Writing, and Lights (2 Christie)
Line Drawing to 3d Printing (5 focus Group)
Problem Solving, Coding, and Makey Makey (7/8 Prototyping and Inventing Choice)
The elementary faculty meeting on Tuesday, December 13th was a professional learning experience in the GEMS Innovation Lab. Teachers were invited to visit various interactive exhibits such as 3d design, paper circuits, robotics, green screen video, coding, and new multimedia creation software. Each exhibit contained the tools, supplies, and information available for teachers to tinker, explore, and generate new instructional ideas.
Collaborating with teachers is one of the main functions of the Innovation Lab program. Mrs. Payne and Mr. Hadd both work with GEMS teachers to plan new student learning experiences using a variety of tools and resources. The main goal of the open house was for elementary teachers to see what is avalable and to brainstorm possible future projects that can be supported by the lab.
Teachers were asked to complete an exit ticket indicating which exhibits they visited as well as their ideas. The tickets contained many positive reactions to the experience as well as numerous ideas.
"I didn't know what to expect - but very cool!"
"I am booking writing, I would love some time learning KidPix 3d."
If the success of this open house can be measured by interest and ideas, the event was a home run! The lab has already seen an uptick in scheduling and Mrs. Payne and Mr. Hadd have been meeting individually with teachers about upcoming projects. The new year is going to be exciting and busy in the GEMS Innovation Lab!
What does it mean to invent? How do inventors come up with ideas? These are some of the question that the Prototyping and Inventing 7/8 Choice Class pondered this past week. Students were given a challenge to design a better solution to organize the wires on the Innovation Lab tables. First students sketched out ideas on paper, then many followed up with Tinkercad , an online tool for creating 3d objects. A few students opted to use another 3d modeling program or physical materials. Students received feedback through a gallery walk activity and used the feedback to make changes. Finally the class voted and chose four designs to be 3d printed and tested. The final designs wil be included in a future blog post!
This week our 5th grade focus group became the first class to use the laser cutter. Each student created a simple design for our layout in CorelDRAW. Using the program we also selected which lines would be raster (engraved) or Vector (cut). We then loaded regular cardboard into the laser cutter and focused the machine by setting the appropriate distance between the cardboard and the laser. After adjusting a few settings in the printer setup such as the power and speed of the laser, we sent the print command and pressed the "go" button. We all watched in wonder as the laser began to engrave the shapes and cut the lines. The project came out as expected and each students got to take their cardboard object with them to share and spread the laser cutting excitement! We have big plans for the Innovation lab laser cutter especially in our upcoming prototyping and investing class. To have a machine that will cut and engrave a wide range of materials with precision is an amazing resource for our students.
GEMS Innovation Lab