Unit 4: Project Specializations
This unit introduces future maker leaders to popular project areas, including: circuitry, robotics, control and programming, and fabrication. These specializations highlight what happens in makerspaces and different technologies that makerspace leaders should know about, but they are not all-inclusive of everything that is possible. To get a feel for the full range of makerspace projects, visit these general project pages by Design Squad Nation, Make Magazine, Curiosity Machine, Creator's Studio, and Adafruit, and peruse these general readings on maker projects:
- PDF Chapter, Pages 24-26 on "Content," Makerspace Playbook. These pages note that maker leaders often start with "skill builder" projects to get beginners up to speed with core skills, building to more student-defined projects. Nineteen domains of maker projects are presented with a concept map illustrating how they interrelate (i.e., the big picture). Is is noted that these domains could be used to build a comprehensive maker "course" or maker leaders could choose projects to emphasize specific skills, tools, or materials.
- PDF Chapter, Chapter 8: Projects, Makerspace Playbook. This chapter recommends new makers get their feet wet with starter projects and provides related resources. It provides additional resources for makers to brainstorm their own projects and encourages maker leaders to promote diverse persons/skill sets and project types in their space to better exhibit/showcase what is possible. The chapter mentions eight categories of makers that can be found in most communities. Strategies for overcoming "maker's block" are recommended.
- PDF Chapter, Designing for tinkerability, Design, Make Play: Growing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators. This chapter begins by endorsing tinkering and play as important skill sets, and describes example projects (makey makey circuits, scratch programming) that encourage tinkering. The chapter gives excellent principles to guide project design--plan for immediate feedback with visible results and process, fluid experimentation where it's easy to get started with manipulable/inter-connectable materials, and open exploration where different materials and genres can be incorporated into designs.
A large number of maker projects involve circuitry, from paper projects with conductible ink and copper foil to wearables with conductible thread and soft circuits. These resources will help future maker leaders understand the components of circuits (e.g., power sources, conductors, working devices, etc.) and different types of circuit structures (e.g., parallel, series) to make original designs function as intended.
- PDF Article, Electrical Fundamentals, Toyota. This highly visual guide introduces some basic electricity concepts and graphically depicts, series, parallel, and series-parallel circuits.
- PDF Article, Electrical Circuits, Toyota. This guide also graphically describes series, parallel, and series-parallel circuits, and describes the relationship between voltage, current, and resistance. Includes discussion questions.
- Online Article, Alternating Current (AC) vs. Direct Current (DC), Sparkfun. This article differentiates between alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) with a historical view of their emergence and application.
- Online Article, Series and Parallel Circuits, Sparkfun. This article describes series and parallel circuits and presents experiments to examine the related concept of resistance.
Related Software and Apps:
- Circuit Boards Activity Guide, Exploratorium Tinkering Studio
- Soft Circuits Facilitator Guide, Emily Lovell
- Soft Circuits Guides, Instructables
- Sewn Circuits Activity Guide, Exploratorium Tinkering Studio
- Sample Wearable Projects, How to Get What You Want
- Simple Paper Circuits, Makezine
- General Circuitry Projects, High-Low-Tech
- Paper Circuits with Copper Tape, High-Low-Tech
- Paper Circuits Activity Guide, Exploratorium Tinkering Studio
- Paper Circuits, Inside/Out
- Paper Circuit Switches, Parsons
- Paper Battery Holder, Fine Art of Electronics
- Build a Simple Circuit from Pizza Box, No Soldering, Instructables
- PDF Article: A day at FIRST Lego League, ISTE Learning & Leading with Technology. This article describes one mentor's work with the FIRST Lego League (FLL), a competition involving teams of ten middle schoolers who build Lego-based robots (Lego Mindstorms NXT) to address a common challenge.
- Web Site, Robotics technology, Electronics Teacher. This Web site describes five common parts found in most robots--sensors, effectors, actuators, controllers, and arms.
- PDF Slides, Robotics 101, ABB Technology. This introduction to robotics provides: background history; a comparison of robots to humans, machines, and computers; a description of different types of robots (i.e., cartesian/gantry, cylindrical, spherical/polar, SCARA, articulated, parallel; and a rationale for using robots.
- Online Article, Types of robots, All on Robots. This short article classifies types of robot by their function or application (e.g., industrial, household, medical), and by their locomotion or kinematics (e.g., cartestian/ganry, cylindrical, spherical, flying).
- PDF Article, Let's dance the robot hokey-pokey: Children's programming approaches and achievement through early cognitive development, Journal of Research on Technology in Education. This research study examines kindergarten students' usage of the CHERP programming language to control lego-based robots, and how their cognitive developmental ranges (pre-operational, transitional, concrete-operational) influence programming. Pre-operational students may benefit from exploration/expressive activities, while concrete-operational students are capable of managing defined activities such as making a robot dance the hokey pokey.
- PDF Article, Robotics as a means to increase achievement scores in an informal learning environment, Journal of Research on Technology in Education. This article investigated the influence of the 4-H robotics curriculum based on Lego Mindstorms on elementary/middle school students' understanding of related science, engineering, and technology concepts, with more gains reported for a treatment group compared to a control.
- PDF Article, Impact of robotics and geospatial technology interventions on youth STEM learning and attitudes, Journal of Research on Technology in Education. This study compared a short 3-hour robotics activity to a longer 40-hour robotics/gps/gis camp and found the longer camp led to more gains in STEM learning, while the shorter activity influenced only attitudes and motivations, which was seen as a positive if these improvements led students to pursue further STEM activities (untested in the study).
- PDF Article, Using introductory programming tools to teach programming concepts: A literature review, The Journal for Computing Teachers. This article describes seven different programming tools that have been used to teach novices to program, including: Alice, Jeroo, Scratch, Raptor, JHAVE, GameMaker, and Baltie. Tool environments and features are compared briefly (e.g., narrative-based, drag-and-drop interface, manipulable code segments, etc.).
- Online Article: A 12-year old's quest to remake education one Arduino at a time, Popular Science. This article spotlights a young student, Quin Etnyre, who has learned to program Arduino microcontroller boards to perform simple tasks like sensing methane. He teaches Arduino programming classes attended by adults. Another 12-year old maker is highlighted, Super Awesome Sylvia, with a popular YouTube show on making.
- Online Article: Thirteen-year-old Quin Etnyre schools MIT graduates in electronic programming, Boston Magazine. This article and 3-minute BBC news clip spotlights a young student, Quin Etnyre, who teaches electronic programming to adults and manages his own Web site (Qtechknow) with project ideas and programmable electronics for sale.
- Online Article: Epic win: Inspire engagement through online competitions and collaborations, ISTE Learning & Leading with Technology. This article highlights the motivational and educational benefits found among students programming video games and animated music videos with the kid-friendly Scratch language. The facilitator's role is discussed for inserting content knowledge into design activity. Nine separate online STEM competitions that students can participate in are referenced.
- Online Article: Google bringing Scratch computer programming to boys and girls clubs, Education Week. This article describes Google's CS First program for elementary and middle school students and its expansion into boys and girls clubs to help educate the next generation of computer scientists and promote increased representation of underserved persons in the field.
- Coding Games and Courses for Kids, Code.org
- Infographic on Main Programming Languages and Benefits of Learning Each, Code.org
- Course Unit, Programming Simple Animations with Scratch, Lynda.com (free unit)
- Course, Foundations of Programming: Programming for Kids, Lynda.com (not free)
- Course, Up and Running with Arduino, Lynda.com (not free)
- Kodable Programming Curriculum for Kids (not free)
- Tynker Programming Courses for Kids (not free)
- Arduino programmable boards (works with Arduino software)
- Little Bits programmable modules (works with Arduino software)
- Online Article, How to get started DIYing anything with LittleBits, LifeHacker
- Raspberry Pi programmable mini computer (works with Python, Java, C, C++, Scratch, Ruby software)
- Qtechknow, Reseller
- Online Article, Free Software for Making (Programming)
- Online Article, Great coding and 3D design apps are now free, Educational Technology and Mobile Learning
- Online Article, Teach kids how to code, make apps and 3-D models with these tools, The Digital Shift
- Online Article, The next dimension: 3D printing, Tech & Learning. This article describes sample 3D printing projects created in schools to tackle real-world problems, and gives a good list of 3D printing opportunities (e.g., personalized, expandable) and concerns (e.g., expensive, hot, fumes).
- Online Article, Computers and fabrication: Revolutionizing the art world, Edutopia. This article endorses new art forms made possible by fabrication technology that have evolved from older technologies and tools.
- Online Article, 3D printing heats up on campus, Campus Technology. This article describes some applications of 3D printing by different universities and references associated research projects and community partnerships.
- PDF Chapter, Digital fabrication and 'making' in education: The democratization of invention, In FabLabs--Of Machines, Makers, and Inventors. This chapter praises democratizing technologies such as fabrication that allow the masses to participate in processes previously only undertaken by experts. A rationale for fabrication in schools is provided (e.g., supportive of projects and creative design), and four project cases are outlined (i.e., personalized keychains, roller coaster design, historical monument design, and robotics-driven music).
- PDF Article, Educational implications of the digital fabrication revolution, Journal of Research on Technology in Education. This article draws parallels between the democratization of personal computing which went from large mainframes to personal computers, and the democratization of manufacturing which is in transition from large machinery and factories to small 3D printers and printing services. Fabrication activities are suggested to align well with many science, math, and technology standards, thus integrating well with the classroom curriculum.
- PDF Book, Low-cost 3D printing for science, education, and sustainable development, ICTP Science Dissemination Unit. This book gives an introduction to 3D printing hardware and software with a useful glossary and description of the design/printing process, then presents multiple cases of 3D printing application in science, math, and art.
- Web Site: Design, Make Teach, Josh Ajima. This Web site contains informative visuals depicting what is possible with 3D printing and describes one instructor's grant application to fund a 3D printer for his school.
Related Software and Printing Services:
- Online Article, Great coding and 3D design apps are now free, Educational Technology and Mobile Learning
- Online Article, Free Software for Making (3D Design)
- 123D Design Software for Download, Autodesk
- Project Shapeshifter Online Software, Autodesk
- Tinkercad Online Software, Autodesk
- Maker's Empire, 3D printing software
- Shapeways, 3D printing from your designs, sell designs in their marketplace
- i.materialise, 3D printing from your designs, sell designs in their marketplace
- Sculpteo, 3D printing from your designs, sell designs in their marketplace
- UPS Store, 3D printing at select locations
- Ponoko, laser cutting and engraving from your designs