Hello all... does anyone know if the page we used for the class was taken down?  I tried accessing it, but got a "404" error.  

Day 2 Reflection:

"Young Americans are being Educated out of Creativity" (from the "Science and Art go Hand in Hand" reading). This article forced me to face a reality that I feel like I have been ignoring since I don't really know what to do about it. When I first got in to my education program, I remember reflecting on my interactions with students thinking that I was so impressed with their creativity in problem solving and I remember telling myself "I hope I never forget how to think like a kid." But now I feel like if I'm looking to be inspired by young minds, I almost need to go back and back to younger grades to find students who haven't lost their ability to think critically. I see this as being a problem with the students in my engineering club. When I give them an open ended challenge to complete with their teams, they were very self doubting, and really wanted me to tell them what to do and how to do it.  I'm happy to report that by the end of the year, they had grown tremendously in their confidence to try a new idea, but not every student at my school can be in my after school club. What is the most confusing to me is that teachers at my school consciously think about how to get kids to think more critically and to embrace multiple strategies, to learn collaboratively, and to persevere, and I make efforts to encourage these skills in my students, but I don't see my efforts as being effective until I give them a real authentic problem solving environment after school.  

When I read the article about Kindergarten becoming more like the rest of school, I'll admit, I started to feel a little hopeless.  If that is the case? Then where do we go from here? By the time kids are in Kindergarten, they know how to use a smart phone or a tablet better than I do, so they already are learning that things are a certain way, and that all the creativity in the world is delivered to them, not inspired by them. If their kindergarten classes are becoming more about rote memorization and just a recollection of knowledge, then they will perceive the world in a way completely different from how I see it, and I'm not sure how to connect with them.

 I think I'm hopeful when I think about how humans are far more intelligent than we give each other credit for. When students come to me with single track minds and they don't know what to do when they arrive at an obstacle, I have found a strategy that is kind of like a reset button and almost always works to get them to think outside the box.  I tell them "you're thinking too much like an 8th grader.  I want you to approach this problem as if you were a kindergartner. What would you do if you were only 6 years old and you didn't know all the fancy formula's you've acquired over the years?"  They always laugh because they think I'm just being silly, then they start throwing out really sarcastic ideas because they think its a joke, but then they humor some of those ideas and begin to work like real problem solvers.  I got the idea from a show I saw on the discovery channel about people seeing the world differently when they try to see it through the eyes of a small child, and it can really revive their creativity.  In conclusion, I don't think that all hope is lost, just because kindergarten is changing. We just need to take a break from our curriculum maps every once in a while and encourage them to play while learning, just like all the children who are learning from cardboard arcades. At least that's what I think.

I found both the chapters from Invent to Learn and Cain's Arcade interesting and further evidence that the maker movement is good for education.  Both resources point out as Piaget and Vygotsky discuss, the importance of play ones pathway to learn.

As Invent to Learn Points out, students all too often experience engineering/design and science as a step-by-step process, with cookie-cutter pathways for solving problems.  This approach takes out the sense of exploration, creativity, and real rigor of problem solving.  The process behind Cain's Arcade is the antithesis of  this structure.  It flies in the face of the traditional "lab notebook", which is filled with prescribed problems, arbitrary expectations, and spoon-fed variables by the teacher. 

I particularly like the simplification of design in Chapter 3 of Invent to Learn.  TMI- Too much structure, intervention, and direct intervention...  The model of Think, Make, and Improve is a great mantra for a middle school design studio and I'm considering adopting it.  It keeps design at the forefront and promotes a platform for rapid prototyping, a process continually left out of school. 

I will purchase the rest of Invent to learn, as it believe it may help improve our Maker Space at Wy'east Middle School.  I already shared Cain's story with my colleagues, as I believe it is a powerful example of the types of learning we need in schools.        


Day 2: Reflection

Caine's arcade video and the reading both emphasize the importance of learning through doing; connecting learning inside our heads with external products of our own creation.  Caine came up with an idea for something he wanted to create and he (presumably) tinkered until he built what he wanted.

During class, we had time to explore ideas that we had already seen as well as push forward with our own ideas.  We were able to test and extend our learning through experimentation/tinkering.  Once I was able to get one design to work, I immediately wanted to push it further and see what else I could do or if I could make the same physical setup work using a programming method.

The biggest overlaps between class and the assignments seems to be the idea that students need time to tinker, process and learn in whatever way works best for the individual.  The biggest difference is that in class we were given specific background information before moving on to tinkering.

Sidebar:  Caine's arcade video made me realize what one of my son's school projects was really about this year.  My son's teacher didn't share with the families what the point of creating an arcade game out of cardboard and other random materials was.  I wish the teacher had shared the video about Caine's arcade and clarified that it was a STEM project.  Educators often overlook informing and involving families beyond a brief, beginning of the year introduction.  Relating more information leads to better understanding and involvement.

Day 1:  Video Response

Disclaimer:  I am not someone who posts things.  I managed to type up my entire response, hit something on the keyboard and lose the entire thing.  Argh!

I was absolutely blown away by the shift in thinking in the TEDx video from protect your assets at all costs by patenting to protecting innovation and creativity by sharing ideas.  It seems to be a return to a basic skill we try to teach children - sharing.  When we share, things improve - feelings, relationships, objects.  The idea that you can share your design expecting someone else to improve it is eye opening.  Then to be able to look at their improvements to possibly inspire your own additional improvements is exciting.  Building a collaborative culture that benefits many is a goal that applies to everything from the classroom to business.  Students often look at other students projects for ideas, but there is often a culture of traditional protectiveness or ownership of an individual design.  If we can build the skill set that goes supports this collaborative culture in our students, industry will receive them with open arms.

I got a good chuckle out of the Arduino documentary when they said they originally made it open source so they could still have access when/if the school closed.  I liked that the Arduino was developed to solve a problem for students by providing a low cost alternative.  I loved how they were able to slowly fold people into the project by drawing them in based on a needed skill.  I hope to develop a similar process in my classroom for some of our projects.

Open source software and hardware open a world of possibilities to students and educators.  We are often boxed in by limited funding and/or knowledge.  With the collaborative environment nurtured by the open source community, costs drop dramatically and available information and resources increase dramatically.  We now have much greater tools for handing over the reigns to the students and becoming that guide on the side that teachers really should be.

I found it interesting to hear about the possibilities that open sourcing and open source hardware would create for a community of learners (in a classroom setting or in a group of innovators). The example given in the TEDx video with the evolving unicorn scissors reminded me of interactions I helped facilitate between the different teams of students in my engineering club. My students compared ideas and strategies of others to improve their own unique projects. As educators and as problem solvers, we know that this is often how collaborative learning takes place, so open sourcing seams like a logical way for adult engineers to work together to create the best and most efficient products. 

In the Arduino Documentary, the high school teacher Juan Carlos said something that really resonated with me.  He discussed the disconnect there is between students and the electronic devices they attach themselves with. They see themselves as the operators of the remote controls, but they have no idea how the remote controls work.  When my students ask me how they will use math in real life, I give them real examples, but they explain how they have their GPS or another tool to do that.  I responded with "yes, but a person designed that tool.  Why couldn't you be that person?" and they stared at me as if that was the most mind-blowing idea they learned from me all year.  That to me is a problem.  They really don't realize that people are responsible for the technology they use, so I know they wouldn't understand how it works.  I'm not sure if open source hardware is the answer, but I have some students who would use their free time to browse designs that are out there and learn about them.

I'm sorry if I did not post to the correct location

According to the article, "constructivism is a well-established theory of learning... that constructs new knowledge by combining their experiences with what they already know." During class, we were given the time to make, tinker and engineer. We had an idea in mind of what we would like to achieve, for example,I wanted to log temperature every minute while letting it run over night near a vent.  I combined many things that we had learned throughout the afternoon. I set up a temperature reader with an Openlog and a Serial 7 Segment, this way it not only reads and logs the temperature, but I could also see the temperature as it was doing it on the Serial 7 Segment. I was able to combine code, get it running and collect data all night. 
Caine is a great role-model for this idea or constructivism. He had a passion for arcade games and a vision in mind. With a long time of tinkering and making, he engineered products that were shareable with others. In turn, this provided him more motivation to continue. 
This story always inspires me to encourage constructivism with my students. Our school is creating a makers space, finally, to foster this idea even more with our kids. I have been able to see some of this with MESA and students engineering products when provided a problem. It is always inspiring to me what they can come up with, with the technology and supplies they are provided. With the development of a maker's space, students will now be able to combine technology with their designs, which has not been available to them before.

Open source hardware is all about collaboration, according to the documentary. In a way, this is something we do with our students on a daily basis. We provide them with content, they take that content, and do something innovative with it. Learning from one another and building on one another's ideas is a great way to build/create the best stuff around. Ideas are best created when multiple minds are put together, where nothing is really your own. It is so intriguing to me that people put there ideas out there, make modifications that best suit there needs, release those ideas back out and continue the process.  I love that we are in a world now that people are willing and wanting to do this. From the TED talks video with the founder of "Sparkfun," it stuck out to me the idea that you are going to put your ideas out there, let other people pick them up and copy them, modify them to best suit their needs, possibly making them better and cheaper, and then re-release them.  Students are living in an amazing time of info sharing. Why not start now with our students and teach them how to benefit from this amazing development?

Open source hardware is a huge boon to education.  It allows students to innovate without huge overhead costs to the school or teacher.  It's also something that inspires students to keep reaching.  One of the things that struck me about the first video (from the founder of Sparkfun) was the idea that if you can't fight people copying your designs and hardware, then you have to continue to innovate and create new and exciting features for your product.  That's a great message to send to kids--don't rest on your laurels, always strive to improve yourself and your "products," whatever they may be.  This is how future companies and markets are going to have to work--they will not favor the slow to react and "unfit" companies.  They are going to favor the quick and innovative.  

Another huge benefit to open source software and hardware is the potential for collaboration.  I love the fact that open source products continuously get better because of many minds working together.  I love the second video and how it showed so many of the companies' involved in Arduino's success collaborating to improve the product and the possibilities for its use.  One example was the MakerBot guy who talked about open source hardware like the coat hook.  

It's also so great that kids can see how things are working at the basic level of circuit design and programming.  Having everything be open and transparent allows them to get insight into how so many different things they use every day work, and to create their own completely new ideas.    

Open source hardware will change students relationships with “stuff”…objects will be seen as having utility, information, and aesthetic qualities and those will in turn be at once more individuated and more socially constructed.  Ideas & “stuff” will be reconnected in the minds and lives of our students, so that the STEM fields become something that everyone can participate in and understand at a deeper level.  Educators in the Arduino documentary note that open source microprocessors and software make it possible to teach what a computer does while students are creating objects; a synergy that we know as teachers makes ideas accessible for more students.  They also note that the benefits of collaboration are immediately obvious in open source design and manufacturing.  Students can more easily buy into the notion of “groupwork” when the design and manufacturing process are seen as an iterative series of innovations that have many creators, and the benefits from everyone’s work flow immediately to the creator/user of the moment.  The democratization of the design and manufacturing processes will be, I think, the key to making STEM fields attractive to all students, giving those whose families don’t have wealth or experience in these fields the opportunity to participate and benefit.
Nathan Seidle says in his TED talk that if you make it, it will soon be copied and sold by others.  No exceptions, unless you design something that is not easily copied. This could be seen as a relentless individual competition of the sort that turns a few students on, but turns most students off, or it can be seen as an opportunity to collectively create “stuff” with an individual stamp or “stuff” that benefits more users by virtue of its lower price and availability.  Design for the 90% of the world without significant financial means could make the economies of scale work in a different way.  Local makers could immediately access the latest designs produce them as needed, and distribution chains would be dramatically shortened.  These possibilities will make open source hardware attractive to students around the world, and make ideas the global currency rather than stuff, as has been traditionally the case.
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