Category: 2016 Fellows

Simple Parts – Part I – Reiteration and Defining the Problem

  Introducing the Materials Show students the materials and explain classroom procedures for getting them, and also clean-up expectations. (eg. 1 person from each group come up, or 1 group at a time, or distribute buckets of materials to each group, etc.) Have the students in groups. CHALLENGE Build the tallest freestanding structure you can… Read more »

Design Lessons Using Simple Parts – Introduction

Introduction I have been experimenting this year with teaching concepts like empathy, reiteration, creative thinking, communication and collaboration, through a series of activities that use simple parts (or what my kindergarten colleagues often call “loose parts”). These activities lead nicely into an exploration of technical drawings and 3D design. They are written as if they… Read more »

Real Tools – Real Life – Real Learning

Don’t Run With Scissors There is a lot of discussion in the FabLearn community about tools, not only new tools like 3D printers and CNC machines, but also about finding great hand and power tools for children. As I have been pondering tool use in the classroom, I have come to several conclusions: Tools need… Read more »


Role-playing Games as Petri Dish for Whimsical Tinkering “I like to think of play as the art of world-making, and that play is about inventing invented realities. It is about creating a world, physical or virtual, inhabiting that world, and then eventually becoming inhabited by it.” – Edith Ackermann, “Playful Inventions and Explorations: What’s to be… Read more »

Snow – A Great Maker Material

We’ve all done that classic maker activity at one time or another: the paper cut out snowflake. Most makers would agree that paper is one of our most basic, essential materials. For me, many of my earliest “Making Memories” are from time spent playing out in the snow! Therefore I would like to suggest that… Read more »

Trendy, Educational, or Creative? Solve the robotics kit dilemma!

In 2015 an association of local businesses asked me and some colleagues to organize a robotics after school lab for five different first-grade classes in the Bologna area. Our committee had seen the milkBot, a little robot that combines the  open-source Arduino microcontroller with scrap material, and they wanted to offer a similar creative experience… Read more »

My maker identity. A maker educator manifesto?

I am not a maker. I am a maker. I am not a maker. I am a maker. I fear making. I feared making. I fear making new things. I feared making new things until I made them. I wasn’t good at making things when I was a kid. I didn’t know that what I… Read more »

In Depth Project: Animatronics

Materials: 2-speed 12VDC Windshield wiper motors, PVC pipe, bubble wrap/foam pool noodles, various connectors/motor arms, various hand and power tools, props and costumes, iPad or mini projector This unit was designed to explore the possibilities of how far into the world of animatronics students could go in our makerspace. Animatronics is a unique and mostly… Read more »

Teaching SolidWorks to Young Children

SolidWorks is a CAD program, stated to be the world’s most popular, used widely in the manufacturing industry, and it’s a program I teach to Kindergarteners. You might be wondering, Why teach SolidWorks to young children at all when free programs such as Tinkercad exist? Well, initially I had a very specific purpose for teaching… Read more »

Fostering creativity in classrooms

During the past years I’ve been deeply interested in creativity. In this post I’ll try to condense some strategies aimed to stimulate children’s creative expression in the classroom that I’ve tested in my physical programming classes, and analyzed during my master’s research. Most of the strategies presented here are not based merely on personal insights,… Read more »