Fab@School MAKER STUDIO & Donors Choose 2016


Just this week FableVision Learning (Peter & Paul Reynolds) released its newest software for young thinkers: Fab@School MAKER STUDIO!  From the author and illustrator of The Dot, Ish, Sky Color, Going Places, Full Steam Ahead, and more comes an age appropriate design and construction platform for creating in 2D and 3D!  I’ve been waiting for this software since it was introduced at ISTE 2015!  Dr. Peggy Healy Stearns has shown great consideration for how our youngest makers learn to fabricate.  There are pre-loaded projects, instructions on making others, and a blank canvas for new projects.  The software even includes a 3D preview window for watching how the design will be constructed!


Our S.T.E.A.M. Club recently received donations from local dealerships – Washington Auto Mall and Mike Wood Toyota – in addition to having two DonorsChoose projects funded. The iPad mini will be loaded with apps for the ozobots, ollie, animation, coding, and more!  The Silhouette Cameo works in conjunction with the Fab@School MAKER STUDIO software and will be a great addition to our S.T.E.A.M. Club.  I can’t wait for S.T.E.A.M. Club to resume in the spring!  The students will be excited to work with new technologies.

Thank you to all who donated!





S.T.E.A.M. Club PRO

As a way to distinguish between students who had “graduated” from S.T.E.A.M. Club last year and students entering S.T.E.A.M. Club this year, I invented S.T.E.A.M. Club PRO.  In S.T.E.A.M. Club PRO, experienced students are able to decide what projects they would like to work on – this can be done in small groups or on an individual basis.  Students selected pre-made project kits like Little Bits, Tinker Crates, or Leonardo da Vinci Invention boxes.  Here are some highlights from the fall / winter semester.  S.T.E.A.M. Club & S.T.E.A.M. Club PRO will return in April!  Joining them (new this year) will be S.T.E.A.M. Club Junior – also beginning in April!


I consider myself to be quite lucky to have had the opportunity to attend the 2015 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Philadelphia.  This was the first time I had ever been to Philadelphia and I was excited to attend as many sessions as I could while at the conference.

The opening keynote was gigantic!


Soledad O’Brien, anchor of CNN’s In America, turned educators’ attention to Google’s newest technology: cardboard!0628151819a

From The Youngest Makers to The Knights of Make-a-Lot, I learned an incredible amount of information about how to design activities for learning and how to apply concepts in a makerspace.0630151139a0630151228

I was most impressed by the students and teachers who travelled far and wide to present their learning.  One group in particular caught  my attention.  The students from El Encino, Mexico combined a variety of arts experiences with technology.  They had painted their faces to represent Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead).  Their booth featured an altar decorated with student-made calacas (plaster skull masks), alfenique calaveras (sugar skulls), and papel picado (cut tissue paper).  The all boys’ school showcased a student-designed technology project: a video game based on this Mexican holiday and its traditions.  The students explained their project in great detail – many were eager to speak with me.  They gave me a mask print-out and some spicy candy to take home!06301511440630151145

Many of the other poster sessions downstairs were quite informative.  Teachers shared their projects and ideas – willing to answer questions, provide handouts and exchange contact information.




I even got to meet Peter and Paul Reynolds (author & illustrator of The Dot, Ish, Full Steam Ahead, and so many more)!  The Reynolds Foundation is a pioneer of art-centered classroom technology products.  They will soon launch software that fully integrates STEM concepts with the all important A = Art!  I was gifted a copy of Going Places & the accompanying creativity can.  The brothers graciously signed my book and posed for photos.  I can’t wait for their FAB@SCHOOL Maker Studio software to hit the market!!!  Check out www.fablevisionlearning.com for more info!



A conference wouldn’t be complete without the cool swag!  Here are some of the goodies I brought home.  I also want to thank the Arts & Technology PLN for their donation to the BF S.T.E.A.M. Club.  The remaining handouts, play doh, copper foil and conductive paint from the Creativity Playground will certainly aid student learning!  Thank you, Jamie Kasper!

0704151948And, finally, this experience wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the conference stipend awarded to me through the Sprout Fund of Pittsburgh.  Thank you, Thank you.  The knowledge I have gained from this conference will benefit my students greatly.  If you are interested in funding for experiences such as this one, visit www.sproutfund.org




S.T.E.A.M. Club – Week 5

This week was special to me.  I felt like it was the furthest deviation from what I am comfortable teaching.  I spent quite a lot of time researching electronics and circuits and programming this past year, yet only feel like I’ve “scratched” the surface.

I’ve always acknowledged that students will be more advanced than me at any new technology.  I am not afraid of it.  I welcome it.  I accept that students have a stronger entry level knowledge of contemporary devices and play to their strengths.  I love observing what that looks like in the S.T.E.A.M. Club setting.  Sometimes students have “seen that before.”  Other times they are able to easily apply their knowledge to new concepts.  And yet, on the lucky occasion, I have found something they’ve never seen before!  They attack these learning experiences with eager abandon.

This week’s stations were broken down into: Circuit stickers, Squishy circuits, Programming, and RC Robotics.

Students explored circuitry with: the Makey Makey (and bananas); Squishy Circuits (and conductive / insulating doughs); Snap Circuits Jr.; Cool Circuits (puzzle game); TinkerCrates (paper circuits and doodle bot); and made a light up greeting card with Chibitronics Circuit Stickers & the Electron Inks’ Circuit Scribe Pen.




Students also explored programming and RC robotics with: Scratch Jr. (animation software); Ozobots; AirHogs Helicopter & Atomosphere Axis; Sphero Ollie (with iPhones, Droids, and iPad mini); and made Bristlebots (motorized toothbrush robots)!




S.T.E.A.M. Club – Week 4

This week we took a different approach… It was challenge week!  Teams competed against each other at four stations: Anything that floats; Anything that flies; Anything that rolls; and Marble Run!

To begin, each team selected a member to get their materials.  They had 3 minutes to gather materials for their station.  Then, the challenge began!

Float Station




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Marble Run Station


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While the rolling station didn’t get much attention…

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…the Flight station got everyone excited!

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The best part was the test flight!

S.T.E.A.M. Club – Week 3

Things are going really well!  I am getting great feedback from the students and their parents.  This week we dug a little deeper into: Stop-Motion Animation, Paper-Slide Animation, Shadow Puppet Theatre, iMovie with the iPad, Chroma-key (green screen) Effects, and Kaleidoscopes!



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Up Next: Construction!

S.T.E.A.M. Club – Week 2

We decided that we were having so much fun learning about optics the first week that we wanted to spend more time at each station.  So I extended the station time to about half an hour each.  That means we only got to explore two stations instead of four.  This week we got to explore the other two optics stations.

Magnification and Reflection:  At this station, students experimented with lenses and mirrors.  There were binoculars, telescopes, periscopes, microscopes, magnifying glasses and spy glasses.  They got to make their own periscope!



“Eye” see you!

Illusions & Distortions:  There were books and cards with hundreds of optical illusions for students to decipher at this station.  There was also a 3-D mirascope, a pair of rainbow diffraction glasses, and a bee-eye teleidoscope.  Students made drawings on special 3-D paper and got a pair of glasses to take with them!


The Ames Room

The Ames Room



Animation:  At this station, students experimented with “old time” animation machines.  There were thaumatropes, zoetropes, praxinoscopes, phenakistoscopes, and flipbooks!  Students selected which of these animation toys they would like to make and take.


Light & Color:  And at this station, students experimented with flash lights, LEDs, fiber optics, color films, black lights, and glow paper.  They got to make their own color spinner!



Next week students will pick a station to delve deeper into.  Then we’ll move onto Construction & Destruction!  Look for lots more to come!

Our first S.T.E.A.M. Club meeting!

I haven’t spent much time blogging this school year and there are some things that I wanted to share with you that I haven’t yet had the time to post.  It’s because I’ve been researching, planning, and launching my Arts Education Collaborative Leadership Academy action plan.  That action plan focuses on the development and implementation of a S.T.E.A.M. Club.

At our first S.T.E.A.M. Club meeting, we studied optics.  I had set up four stations for students to rotate through: Magnification & Reflection, Light & Color, Illusions & Distortions, and Animation.  We got so caught up in the activities that we decided to only explore two stations at the meeting, leaving the other two for next week.

Light & Color



Magnification & Reflection



Illusions & Distortions





We had so much fun learning about moving images, color mixing, and lenses.  I can’t wait til next week!