Monday, August 11, 2014

And Then She Asked Me To Get My Kid A Lab Coat...

We're just about two weeks out from the Big Day and I am excited to share some pictures of our fledgling makerspace!

It has been fun organizing and pulling all of these materials and resources together with the students in mind. I'm also learning a lot about space requirements, building codes, and storage solutions in the process! Speaking of that, I'll take this moment to give a shout out to our amazing new Principal, Betsy Knox, for being a wonderful ally of this space and my dreams for it. She will surely be an asset to the kind of creativity we hope to achieve, as well as making sure the students and I have what we need to be successful in these new and heretofore uncharted waters.

Our Donors Choose project is still hanging out, waiting for the last $360 needed to get all of those goodies shipped here. It occurs to me now that you might not know what we're asking for, so here's the mega list:
CanaKit Raspberry Pi Ultimate Starter Kit (Over 35 Components: Raspberry Pi + WiFi Dongle + 8GB SD Card + Case + Power Supply and many more)Amazon$74.991$74.99
Gardner Bender GSW-18 Medium Duty Toggle Switch 8A 125V DC / 10A 125V AC, Single Pole Single Throw, ON-OFF (includes faceplate), Stripped 6-Inch LeadsAmazon$6.9910$69.90
Small Solar Panel 5.5V 40mA with wiresAmazon$6.9510$69.50
1700-7300RPM 1.5-6.5V High Torque Cylinder Electric Mini DC MotorAmazon$5.8010$58.00
Arduino Uno Ultimate Starter Kit -- Includes 72 page Instruction BookAmazon$54.991$54.99
SE MZ101B Helping Hands with Magnifying GlassAmazon$6.265$31.30
20ga 25' Red/Black Hookup Wire 12V DCAmazon$5.625$28.10
Soldering Station Features Continuously Variable Power Between 5-40W, a 1.5mm Pointed TipAmazon$23.951$23.95
Electronix Express - Hook up Wire Kit (Stranded Wire Kit)Amazon$20.001$20.00
Raspberry Pi User GuideAmazon$17.221$17.22
Elenco Electronics ST-12 Soldering Tool KitAmazon$14.951$14.95

The Raspberry Pi is the big ticket item here and this piece of equipment is essentially a programmable circuit board. Watch a quick video here to see what you can do with it. We do have a MaKey MaKey, which I purchased, and a basic Arduino kit, which was donated to our classroom after I made contact with Terry and Mary Alice King of the Vermont-based company YourDuino. Adding some Pi--as well as another Arduino and some motors and other bits and pieces--to the mix will give our kids even more opportunities to get creative. We like that!

It has also been awesome hearing from families who are in Garage Sale and Grandparents' Attic Raiding mode on behalf of our makerspace. Enough people have asked about this endeavor that I have pulled together a one-pager, the donations list portion of which is here, so that you can see what we're going to be looking for not just now as we build, but all year as we sustain. The prospect of everyone being represented by the makerspace via material and financial contributions is amazing on so many levels, right down to the fact that we will be talking a lot about community-building both in the context of the start of school and of our initial Humanities study of the immigrant experience on the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The fact that everything about this room and much of our makerspace is a literal "melting pot" is wicked cool.

Check Out The Website!

Our classroom website is a giant resource and I have been working on a new page that's a clearinghouse of policies, procedures, and other how-tos. Think of it as your hitchhikers guide to this galaxy! View it here and let me know if you have any questions, comments, concerns, input, or ideas. We will build this resource together for sure.

Supply Shopping

I have been seeing tons of great deals on school supplies, things like 1-cent pocket folders and 17-cent notebooks. Please take advantage of these awesome buys if you can! Here is a link to the letter that was sent home at Step Up Day with the things every student will need. You should be able to outfit your scholar for under five bucks if you can make it to Staples, or a similar store, any time in the next week or so.

Bwaak! Bwaak!

Those of you returning to The Gang know that we keep chickens at our home up in Starksboro. You might also remember that I'm a vegetarian! Even though Mr. Gagner is an omnivore, we don't eat a lot of chicken (it just feels weird!), but I did see an awesome project idea that fits right in with our Ecology study and I wanted to alert you to something new you could save. Rotisserie chicken containers make excellent terrariums and water cycle models (a least that's what the Internet told me in an article I read) and I thought it was worth a try. If you eat rotisserie chicken now and again, such a container might be worth washing and stowing until later in September. If not, please remember to set aside a plastic two-liter soda or family-sized juice bottle for your student to use for our ecology project.

And Then She Asked Me To Get My Kid A Lab Coat...

How could I not finish with this one? It made such an intriguing title for the post, after all! You might have heard the expression "Dress for the job you want"; it's often told to people new to the workforce so that, even though they might be starting small, their aspirations never wane. 

Along those lines, I started thinking that our makers, creators, artists, engineers, designers, and general scientific and scholastic tastemakers might want appropriate attire for these endeavors. So, I welcome you to scour the closets or thrift shops (Macklemore might have been on to something!) for a lab coat that can be worn during makerspace time (or whenever, really!). Recall in a recent post where I talked about playing assistant to mad scientist and nerd extraordinaire John Cohn at a recent conference: John's lab coat, which he dons for his public engagements, is tie-dyed and very much a part of his personality. Mine, which you can see to the right in my picture with Blinky the e-Origami Shrimp, is DKNY and a nod to the label hound behind the nerd glasses. When I put it on, I feel pretty official...

But then again, why not have a little fun while we're at it, am I right?

See you SOON!

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