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Polyhedron Tilted Tower

The Prism Tower seems like a large step forward. It is much lighter, still strong, and fits snugly together. It will be useful for illuminating a whole space. However, much of the light is NOT directed towards a page to read or do homework. So we modified things a bit and tilted the lens, a clear advantage to using 3D printed lens over the polycarbonate tubing. The Polyhedron Tilted Lens uses the same base as the Prism Tower. Can’t wait to get a bunch of these made and field tested.

Prism Tower v7: Revisions based on feedback from Sierra Leone

Almost exactly one year ago, we delivered some lights to @EducaideSL when we attended the Global Teacher Prize and #GESF in Dubai. The feedback was that the hot glue we were using because of ease of use, softens near the equator and did not hold sufficiently well. Also, we have known for a while that the polycarbonate tubing that we were using for a lens was better than the original thick 3D printed lens, but had the draw back of not diffusing the light and leaving a glare on the page. In an attempt to reduce the number of pieces, to making the parts fit more snugly so that crazy glue could be used and make a diffused light and reduce the overall amount of plastic, we redesigned the lens and the base.

The original lens was 3D printed, but it was thick, blocked too much light and was expensive, that is when our friends from Engineering Brightness Colorado (www.e-b.io) came up with the idea of using polycarbonate tubing. If we could have a thin enough lens that is 3D printed, we could have more flexibility, and diffused light. But all of the thinner walls were weak and structurally unsound. Thankfully, while strolling at the Bosch-Dremel table at ISTE’19 Phili, Ian found multiple 3D printed vases. Bosch ad Dremel were generous to give us the stl files, which we modified for our purposes. This allowed for strength in the wall that were thin enough to let diffused light through, and provide air vents in the sides.

Switching from a cylinder to an oval shape minimizes the plastic and is designed to fit Grace’s Red Circuit nicely with LEDs on both sides of the board to illuminate a whole room.

See Grace’s Circuit for the Gerber files for the circuit board and the stl files for the 3D printer.

Let’s Talk Science : Digital Summit

The keynote started with Mr Fogarty pretending that he forgot his speech, speaking into his watch to have it delivered. While we waited, the Brad Paisley video, “Welcome to the Future” played showing how ,”Things I thought I would never see, Happening right in front of me. Welcome to the Future.” Then a drone flew in and delivered the speech.

If our students are going to follow all of their wonderful paths that were shown in the video they will need to solve problems we have never seen before. Problem solving has always required critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking, but- “Welcome to the Future”- these solutions will also need coding.

Current Generation was featured prominently at the Let’s Talk Science Digital Summit because of the way we can personalize student learning

As teachers/mentors, we place learning activities in front of students and because they love the making and the purpose of Current Generation, they are willing to learn things that they would not otherwise do, like public speaking, and graphic arts. All of a sudden there is a practical reason why they should learn, not just because it is an isolated class.

WE.org Global Classroom

Honoured to present as part of the WE.org Global Classroom series. This episode is on “Using Technology to do Good in the World”. I was very proud to see some of the experienced students who experienced the WE Connect Global Simulcast become coaches and mentors to our novice students. Not only do students learn about 3D printing and electrical engineering, but they also learn about lighting, public speaking and global broadcasting.

Overcoming Language Barriers at the European Maker Faire in Rome

Perhaps the most important learning from the European Maker Faire had nothing to do with Engineering or Graphic Arts, or History or Culture, but rather around language.

The girls were concerned about the unknown language issues that they might face being in a foreign country. There certainly was lots of English around but how would they interact with the general public.

Day 1 was dedicated to schools where there were many groups of kids in which most could speak English. Sometimes, there would be a group where none could speak English save one. Our students would speak and then one would translate with lots of emotion and patience. It was sweet to see parents and teachers helping their very young students understand what we were doing and learning how to solder using a hot soldering iron. My favorite moment was when a young student translated to her parent.

Day 2 was open to the general public where English was much more rare. Fortunately, we had designed our posters to be very graphical and language independent. We also had the foresight to connect with some Italian students through a connection with the Varkey Ambassadors to translate our brochure. Almost all of our 300 copies were distributed on day 2. To our surprise, I think because of the eye contact and body language of our students, passers-by took the time to read the translation on the spot. They would smile and nod as they began to understand what we were doing and why. It was particularly fun teaching people to solder with a hot iron without using any words.

Afterwards, the students talked about their experience and made the jump in empathy. This one day low risk event gave them a short glimpse into what it might be like for the growing number of new-comers that are arriving in our town and in our school. I had never intended to grow they citizenship in this way. Wonderful unintended consequences

So Much Hard Work to Get Here.

Students did so much work, so many different kinds of work to get to the European Maker Faire in Rome. It shows why they were the only school on this side of the Atlantic and one of only 3 high schools outside of the EU invited to the European Maker Faire.

Transdisciplinary projects offer the advantage of developing discipline content in a “just in time” fashion that adds a level of authenticity, enthusiasm, and purpose. Students don’t ever ask, why do we need to learn graphic arts, or sentence structure, or a second language, or engineering or public speaking because the answer is obvious and right in front of them, often times for something due next week!

I gave a keynote at the STEM Symposium in Colorado that suggested my ideal high school of the future will look much like k-2 where there is no border between the disciplines, and where competencies like communication, creativity and critical thinking are just as important as content knowledge. Current Generation is a tangible example of this style of learning at a high school level and these girls reflect on their work.

What Does It Mean to be a Maker?

Students reflect on what it means to be a Maker? The deep desire to use their talents, their learning, their innovation and creativity to make the world brighter comes out in each interview. Girls in Engineering will change the world.

All Roads Lead to Rome

For almost 20 years of teaching, I have been trying to create transdisciplinary learning experiences. Projects like the Xenotransplant Project (2008) and the Aquaponics project (2013) were stepping stones. I was trying to get to a Renaissance education where it was impossible to see the difference between science and art reminiscent of Leonardo DaVinci. The well known sayings about “Rome not being built in a day” and “All Roads Lead to Rome” seem particularly poignant and pervasive.

In October, Current Generation physically traveled to Rome to showcase their work to the world of makers. Students are making a better world using their learning, even as young adults from a small town on the other side of the Atlantic.

WEConnect @ RHS

Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity and Citizenship

WEConnect is the virtual arm of WE.org ‘s WeDay. Current Generation was chosen as one of 4 schools globally as inspirational examples to over 100,000 students and teachers in 27 countries.

WE selected us because one of our students took time off summer work and families changed vacation plans so that she could participate in the We Are Social Entrepreneurs (WASE) program sponsored by We and RBC. After working from noon till 4 pm every day with 2-3 hours of homework at night, she expertly pitched to the judges and won a starter grant.

With only a couple of short days before we fly to Rome for the European Maker Faire, the fantastic camera crew arrives with all their gear, the host, the producers and technical crew arrives. We all have a great time late into the evening and most of the next day setting up, practicing over and over again, editing, trimming, word choice, volume, pace, timing.

As educators, we strive to find authentic learning opportunities where all of the disciplines are mixed with purpose. Students interact with the professional to talk about the temperature of light, the impact of color filters, technical sounds issues, interviewing techniques, how to succinctly tell a story, how to stand and speak live on camera. This is a fantastic addition to their learning path that included science, engineering, and graphic arts.

Perhaps the most important learning was a sense of confidence, accomplishment, pride comradery and importance. The rest of the world thinks that what we are doing is an important way to make the world a little bit brighter. Even as young people from a small town in a have-not province, we can become innovators, social entrepreneurs and global citizens that use their talents, develop new skills and make an impact in the world.