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From Prototype to Pitch

New Pathways in Design, Maker, and Entrepreneurship Education Volume 2

Š Marymount School of New York, 2018 Marymount School of New York 1026 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10028 USA Email: making@marymountnyc.org Website: making.marymountnyc.org Notice of Rights All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of the publisher. For information on getting permission for reprints and excerpts, contact making@marymountnyc.org

Cover Design by Eric Walters Cover Photo by Tobias Everke Edited by Jennifer Cyranski and Eric Walters

Table of Contents Introduction


Experience Empire Through Artifact Replication


Building a Maker Culture – Before the Space


Understanding and Making Adaptive Designs


Modular Project, Modular Team


From Sugar Glider to Skydiver: Engineering Biological Design in First Grade


Literary STEAM: Hacking the Essay – Reconstructing Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) In the Makerspace


Implementing a Physics Project Culture at Marymount – Los Angeles


Building Knowledge and Relationships through Building Toys


Building Boats: Designing and Executing an Interdisciplinary STEAM Project


Contact the Authors




Introduction Welcome to Volume 2 of From Prototype to Pitch! As noted in the IEEE Electronics 360 blog, “Since the founding of America, there has been a history of great makers – even before there was a name for it: Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Ida B. Wells, Henry Ford, Grace Hopper, and many others. Recently, more and more Americans have been able to take part in the rise of “making,” thanks to innovations and technologies that support the movement, like 3-D printers, laser cutters, design software, and desktop tools. Along with all of the tools that are out there now is also a plethora of resources that teach people how to use the tools. Combine that with the increase in collaborative networks of maker fanatics, crowd-funding sources, and an influx of makerspaces to engage in creative development, Americans are now designing and building whatever -whenever they want.” According to Mark Hatch in The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers, “You do have to try, learn, and improve. You do have to put yourself out there and risk failure. But in this new world, you don’t have to go bankrupt if you fail because you can fail small. You can innovate as a hobby. Imagine that: a nation of innovation hobbyists working to make their lives more meaningful and the world a better place. Welcome to the maker revolution.” This publication celebrates that revolution.


We thank the following schools: Windward School (Los Angeles, CA); Scarsdale Public Schools (Scarsdale, NY); Marymount High School (Los Angeles, CA); Greenwich Academy (Greenwich, CT); Riverdale Country School (Bronx, NY); Kent Denver School (Englewood, CO); Teachers College, Columbia University (New York, NY); Poly Prep Country Day School (Brooklyn, NY) and Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School (New York, NY). Special thanks to Jennifer Cyranski, Director of Communications at Marymount School of New York, for thoughtfully reviewing the publication in advance.

Eric A. Walters Director of STEM Education Marymount School of New York

Don Buckley Co-Founder Tools at Schools


Experience Empire through Artifact Replication Dorothy Lee, Director of the CREATE Studio Dahlia Setiyawan, History Teacher Sarah Clark, Research Librarian and co-Director of the CTL Windward School Los Angeles, CA Abstract This chapter will center around a project in which students from a 9th grade World History class analyzed the material culture of ancient and classical India through reproducing objects from those eras using modern materials and methods. This project was a collaborative effort between the history teacher, the director of the school makerspace, and the school research librarian. The chapter will detail the development and planning process, the time frame and logistics of the project, and the outcomes of the student learning experience. Introduction While significance is one of the key pillars of historical thinking, the traditional practice of “doing history� does not always provide an optimal setting for students to develop relationships and personal connections with past cultures. How can teachers help their students connect with a civilization that is geographically, culturally, and temporally distant? For a 9th grader in Los Angeles, nothing feels more remote, and possibly irrelevant to their lives, than a unit on the empires of ancient and classical India. Therefore, our team was motivated to help students connect to the material in an innovative, collaborative, handson, and fun way. Students who expected a traditional historical approach to this unit were surprised and excited to learn about what we had in store for them. We told them that their introduction to Indian ancient and classical empires would involve hands-on learning that would take them into the 5

school’s makerspace, the CREATE Studio (Collaborative Resources for Engineers, Artists, Technologists, and Entrepreneurs Studio). After the cheers died down, a number of students inquired about how soon they would be able to fire up the Studio’s 3D printers. We surprised them by saying that their job would be to recreate an artifact from an ancient or classical Indian empire in order to understand the significance of everyday and ritual objects in the formation of complex civilizations. And in doing so, their job would be not to find the easiest, fastest, or most contemporary way of doing this, but rather, to adhere to methods that would recreate the original process as authentically as possible. Over the course of five weeks, the students engaged in a series of activities structured to guide them from the research through creation stages of the project; at the outset, they were presented with a number of learning objectives. By studying material culture objects, we hoped the students would gain greater understanding of at least three things:

• The value and limitations of conducting historical analysis from artifacts • A core appreciation for what binds us to people from the distant past • How the Mauryan (324-184 BCE) and Gupta (320-550 CE) empires

contributed to shaping enduring understandings about the ways that power is created and contested, gender roles and norms develop, and spiritual and performative ideas and actions play roles in empire building.

Choosing and Researching an Artifact The first goal was for students to explore the range of material culture from the societies examined. Students began by searching for artifacts from the Gupta and Mauryan Empires within the Artstor online database, which allows users to search for art and artifacts from museum collections across the world. Each student printed photos and information of three artifacts, which we then hung and grouped by theme. Following an evaluation of each artifact’s viability for the project, the class discussed what we can and cannot know about the cultural values of these societies based just on the objects. Finally, students voted on the objects that they were personally most interested in researching and recreating. After the teacher grouped students in pairs or groups of three based on votes, students began researching the context of their artifact. Many students contacted museum curators and scholars with specific questions about their objects and the significance, and many received thoughtful responses. Along the way, each group kept track of their research notes in a shared Google document along with citations. 6

This preliminary research additionally contributed to two other parts of the project: • It formed the basis of students’ individual research papers on the historical context of their chosen artifact • It provided information from which the groups could draw in order to create short (30-second) videos that described their artifact or its historical context in some greater depth Making the Artifact In addition to researching their chosen artifact’s historical context and meaning, students needed to develop a clear understanding of the materials it was made of and the process through which it was created. Each student group then met with a consultant from the CREATE Studio (either the Director or Resident Tinkerer) to plan for the recreation process. The group came prepared with a brief summary of their research to present to the consultant. Although the students knew that their artifact was carved from stone or cast from bronze, the consultant was able to help brainstorm feasible alternatives for the one-week time constraints that would mimic the original process and materials as closely as possible. Some recreation alternatives included:

• Carving a statue, originally in stone, from floral foam and spray painting it with a stone texture finish • Carving out a mold for a medallion, originally cast in gold, and casting it with melted wax instead, and finishing it with gold paint • Hand-molding red clay onto a styrofoam mannequin head to create the basic form of a bust and then sculpting out details

While many of the students were able to call on their experiences and skills learned from art classes to recreate their artifact, some found the tasks of redrawing complex imagery and sculpting out 3-dimensional space very daunting. To support these students, the consultants showed them how to trace out the imagery as a guide for carving, practice carving on blocks of soap first, and carve out rough outlines first before incrementally working in more detail/depth.


Exhibition and Student Reflections The culmination of the project was an interactive exhibition of student work to which members of the school community including the students’ friends and families were invited. The recreated artifacts were displayed in a gallery that included the Artstor images of the original objects and photographs of the students engaged in the creation process of the works on display. In addition to the students being on hand to explain their objects and answer questions about them, the exhibit featured the short videos that the students had created. These could be viewed using the augmented reality app, Aurasma. By hovering an iPad over the enlarged Artstor image of the original artifact, viewers were able to ‘unlock’ each group’s video containing insights about their maker experience and facts about their chosen artifact. The insightful and well-researched essays that the students produced included a number of valuable insights about the value of the project, particularly in reference to the heightened historical inquiry that it facilitated. As one member of the class said, “recreating the object using the artisans’ techniques” instead of simply 3D printing a replica prompted many students to realize “how much time and effort must have been put in by the people who originally created it.” Not only did this process help them develop a deep appreciation for the talent and skill of the original creators, one student also said, “This was not an easy task, and for someone to spend days creating it explains how important religion was to [the Gupta] empire.” Another student gained “a whole new respect and interest towards Buddhism and the Gupta period” as a result of the project and found herself examining Buddhist iconography with a new analytical interest.


For many, school makerspaces are often exclusively associated with 3D printing, fancy technology, and STEM. However, as shown through the Artifact project, maker education is about the learning that can be done by working with one’s hands regardless of the tool or medium. Initially when the project was introduced, students voiced assumptions such as, “Can’t we just 3D print this?” Very shortly after beginning the recreation process, however, students struggled and persevered without complaint - one group even proclaiming that they had remade a casting mold five times after some unsuccessful attempts at extraction. We felt this project served as a perfect marriage between historical learning and maker education. Students developed a deep connection with a far-removed civilization and culture, which cultivated more contextually-meaningful learning and further inquiry, as well as confidence in their physical problem solving skills.


Building a Maker Culture – Before the Space Lisa Yokana Scarsdale Public Schools Scarsdale, NY Abstract My students tackled a local challenge: redesigning an elementary classroom for real clients. Solving an authentic local challenge is empowering for students and helps them develop a mindset of agency. This chapter will walk you through the process of finding local clients, developing a timeline, and managing the design process with students within time, curriculum, and other typical school constraints. Tackling a Local Challenge Authentic challenges make a difference. Students grow tired of old-school simulations, where finding the solution doesn’t really make a difference. What’s the point? Finding real challenges and committed partners is pivotal to creating real challenges for your students. This chapter will walk you through one challenge my students undertook in Architecture class and show you how to identify potential partners and challenges for your own classroom. My Architecture I curriculum focuses on understanding space and how it affects people. After spending ten weeks learning about how spaces are organized and how humans interact with them, students are ready to tackle a real challenge. In the past, students have redesigned outdoor courtyards, the library, and classrooms at our high school and even our local library’s youth spaces. As I looked around this year for challenges, I discovered that one of the district’s elementary schools was reimagining teaching and learning space in an unused classroom: their “Room 18.” A conversation with those involved demonstrated that this would be perfect for my students: it was local; they were receptive to input from students; and the timeline was right. I began by creating a calendar. The final pitch would be at the end of the semester. Each discipline at our high school is tied to certain “testing days,” so I worked backwards from there. I laid out a calendar for the next six weeks, using the different stages of the Design Thinking process as my guide.


I knew that empathy and understanding would take several classes. There is a fine balance between allowing enough time for students to do research and interview and keeping them interested. The students began by developing a list of “stakeholders” who would use the classroom: teachers, students, custodians, and the principal. I set up an interview with the elementary teachers involved via Google Hangout and also with a class of fourth graders. Most high school students don’t really know how to conduct an interview, so we began by brainstorming questions together. What did they need to know? What questions could they ask that would get beyond typical answers? How could they elicit stories from the stakeholders? Students wrote questions at their tables and then put them all together to decide which ones were most important. While they needed some concrete information, like the budget and size of the space, they also needed to know how the teachers and students wanted to use and feel in the room. Asking why after some of the questions would allow them to understand both what the room needed but also why teachers and students had those needs. We talked about how to conduct an interview. I encouraged them to rewrite their questions so they couldn’t be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’. ‘Tell me about a time when you wanted to teach a certain way in your classroom and you were frustrated by the layout.’ Or ‘tell me about a time when the furniture or layout facilitated your students’ learning in some way.’ Once they had a list of questions, decided who would talk, and how to begin, they were ready for interviews. Because we were working with an elementary school and I couldn’t organize a field-trip in the time allowed, we used Google Hangout. They were in charge: students were expected to first introduce themselves and then establish a rapport with the adults and children. As the facilitator, it’s important to set things up and then step aside. If students are solving a challenge in the building, you can allow them to use class time for interviews. During an interview, one student should be asking the questions and paying attention to the interviewee and one should be taking notes. Because we were doing a group interview, the students decided to take turns asking questions and several of them took notes. After interviews had been conducted, the students transferred their findings onto post-its, with one idea or observation per post-it. The post-its were put up on a wall for students to organize. They grouped similar ideas together and created categories. Students need to figure out how to work together so that all voices are heard. Often, they will talk looking at you and not their peers, so I gently remind them that they are the ones doing the challenge, not me. I make sure that I am not standing in the front of the room during the periods when they are working. Instead I float around the room, taking photos of them as they work. I tell them at the outset that they are being graded on the process, their involvement, and contributions and that they will see me taking photos from which I will later grade. This gives the teacher a way to capture both great moments of engagement and students who are off-task. Invariably, students who are not engaged will ask 11

what you are doing when you take a photo of them. I gently remind them that I am capturing the process and their engagement-or lack thereof. This usually gets them back into the mix quickly. Often, as they begin to look at the categories and needs, students will begin to come up with solutions. Remind them that they aren’t at that point in the process yet, but they can write their idea on a post-it and put it in the ‘idea parking lot’ so they can come back to it later. This allows them to let go of their idea and stick with the process. Once the post-its are organized, ask them to begin to define the problem. What comes across as the biggest needs and/or issues? What are the constraints that need to be included? What seems less important and can be put aside for now? Remind them that the process is not linear, so if the problem statement is not quite right, they will revisit their research and rewrite the ‘how might we’ statement. It’s important to talk about the language of the ‘how might we’. The ‘how’ means that the problem they are tackling can be solved; the ‘might’ means they can try something which may or may not work; the ‘we’ means that they are solving this collaboratively. Ask them to generate a ‘how might we…’ problem statement and then help them iterate on it. Determining the right granularity of the problem is the key to success. If almost any solution will solve the problem, then the problem statement is too broad. If there are only one or two possible solutions, then it’s too narrow. This takes some time to get right, but remind them, as well as yourself, they don’t have to get it right the first time. My students differed in what they thought the key issues were, so they divided up into groups and created slightly varied problem statements. “How might we maximize comfort and space while also increasing efficiency and productivity in Room 18?” “HMW create an engaging, educational space that provides choice for students?” “HMW redesign Room 18 in a cost-efficient way to create a functional and flexible learning environment that enhances the classroom dynamic through the innovative use of space?” While they are all similar, there is a slightly different emphasis in each problem statement. Students divided into groups of three or four based on which problem they thought was best. Before we got to brainstorming, I wanted to encourage my students to think differently, so I scheduled a field trip into New York City to visit the Steelcase showroom. I knew they would see all kinds of furnishings and arrangements, not just for school settings, but I wanted to get them to think beyond “traditional” classroom spaces. While there, students toured the showroom, asked questions, and engaged in a design exercise around types of behaviors related to learning. The whole trip was inspiring, and they came back to class the next day ready to dream big. Once the problem statements were created and the students inspired, we moved to the brainstorming phase. It’s important to remind students of the “Brainstorming Rules:” defer judgment-nothing shuts down creativity as much as judging ideas; encourage wild ideas; stay focused on the problem; build on the ideas of others; go for quantity of ideas; headline your ideas-just a thought or two that will help you remember the idea so you can explain it to others; and be 12

visual-sketches are good ways to get your idea out there. I believe the most important rule for students is to remain optimistic. Once they allow negative thoughts about their ideas not being “good enough,” their creativity shuts down. There are several ways to run a brainstorming session. First, think about warming students up by doing a “stoke” or fun improv exercise that gets their creative juices flowing. Stanford’s d.school has a “Stoke Deck” that can be downloaded and printed for reference. It’s also divided into categories so you can pick the activity that creates the mindsets you want students to adopt. Some students respond well to brainstorming on their own and then sharing ideas with their group. Others like to immediately share their ideas so that others can build on them. But, as one student told me, some introverted students don’t function well in a public forum. These students should be allowed to brainstorm on their own, perhaps at home or in a quiet place, and come back to class the next day to share their ideas. Once the ideas are out there, the groups can again begin to sort them into categories, pairing similar ideas with one another. Now each group must come to consensus on which ideas to prototype. While it might feel like the ideas aren’t formed enough yet to prototype, that’s ok. It’s best to get students to make their ideas visual and/or physical in some way before they fall in love with them. If the students spend a week crafting a beautiful prototype, they won’t be able to abandon it if the feedback they get is negative. It’s best to go for the “quick and dirty” version, explaining to students that their prototype is not supposed to be beautiful. The purpose is to get their idea into some format that they can quickly share with others. Some of the groups were able to pick ideas they wanted to include, others had to use the heat mapping technique to gain consensus. Each student gets three colored dots to pick their favorite three ideas. The ideas with the most dots become the ones that move forward. At this point, some of the wilder, sillier ideas may drop away on their own, but one of the groups insisted on including bouncy balls in their prototype. I let them, as I knew they needed to get that feedback from their clients and not from me. At this point, I allow one class period to prototype. Prototypes could include drawings, photos, and crude models-whatever they think will get their ideas across. I put out lots of craft materials: play doh, markers, cardboard, and pipe cleaners, so that students can literally make their thoughts physical. While some were upset that the products didn’t look good, I just kept encouraging them to get their ideas out there. I also scheduled another Google Hangout for the next class period. Each group would have three minutes to pitch their prototype to the clients and a few minutes for feedback and questions. This was their first attempt at a pitch, so I gave them some ground rules. They had to introduce themselves; everyone had to speak; they had to include their problem statement; and three minutes would be strictly adhered to no matter where they were in the pitch. I also informed them that I would grade their pitches, which reminded them that they needed to be serious and prepared.


Another Google Hangout with our clients allowed the groups to share their preliminary ideas and get feedback. Because I adhered to the three-minute time limit and another three or four for comments and questions, all the groups were able to present in one fifty-minute period. I spoke with our clients before the Hangout and encouraged them to be honest and not hold back their feedback. Often, teachers are too nice and don’t tell students what they really think because they don’t want to hurt their feelings. Without authentic feedback, the process doesn’t work. Each group presented and took notes as their clients responded to their ideas. The next phase required each group to reiterate their ideas based on the feedback they’d received. I made it clear that each group would have to show how they had evolved their ideas in response to their clients’ critiques. I checked in with each group after the hangout to make sure they had recorded the feedback. Some groups had received specific feedback, others had more general responses. Together, we processed the comments and discussed ways to move forward. I allowed five class periods for this phase, because now they were doing research into potential products and pulling together the whole design solution. Towards the end, they had to think about what form their pitch would take. Would they make a model, either real or physical? Would they have images of potential products? How would they convey their ideas to their clients? Because the students and teachers were all coming to the high school for the final pitches, my students would be presenting in a small theater. I encouraged them to think about this venue and how best to present to a crowd of forty or so students and teachers. I also, at this point, began sending out invitations to others: administration of both the elementary school we were designing for as well as our high school, local press, and other teachers who might be interested in supporting my students and hearing their ideas. I told my students when I got positive responses, as this heightened the stakes. I also told them we were videotaping the pitches, so that the stakeholders could review them later and share with others who couldn’t attend. I gave the students a rubric for the final pitch (see below) and reviewed the requirements for the day: all pitches under five minutes; everyone must speak; dress appropriately; have some sort of presentation or model to convey your ideas. And I encouraged them to practice. The day of the presentation, the fourth graders and teachers arrived ready and excited. When my students entered the auditorium, they were amazed that the audience was so big. Group by group, they presented their ideas, and the fourth graders and teachers asked questions and gave feedback. The fourth graders were exceptionally mature and asked tough questions. At the end, the teachers stayed to ask their final follow-up questions and congratulate my students. They told my students they were going to review the presentations and then go ahead and order some of the furniture solutions they had suggested. My students were thrilled.


After the presentation, each student completed a written reflection on each team member’s contribution to the project as well as assessing their own role. This was shared only with me, and I encouraged students to be honest. Students talked about learning from one another and through engaging in the design process. In reflecting on his team’s dynamic, one student wrote: “Even though we disagreed a lot along the way, I think this made our final product better, as we each had to verbalize and justify why we thought our idea was valid.” I realized I had assumed if a group wasn’t agreeing all the time, it wasn’t good. His reflection gave me new insight into how teams worked. Students’ reflections were thoughtful and incredibly honest, even when it came to evaluating their own work. One student wrote: “I was often really focused, but also some days was really distracted and distracted my teammates. I learned that it’s better for me to take a break regularly, otherwise I get overwhelmed and off track. Towards the end of our project, I would just get up and walk around the room looking at what the other teams were doing before coming back to my group. This ‘mini-break’ allowed me to stay focused for the whole class period and not make my group get off task too.” Allowing students to be in charge of their own working process gives them insight into how they work best. They learn invaluable lessons about themselves and are empowered by being in charge of their own learning. This challenge was in the first semester of the year (Architecture is a onesemester class); since then, these students have continuously checked in to see what solutions the elementary school chose. At the end of the year, I hosted a celebration of their work in the elementary classroom so the students could see the final results of their hard work. They were thrilled to see the furniture, the reading corner with its comfy cushions and bright rug, and listen to the fourth graders as they showed them the classroom and talked about how it made their day better. My students felt valued and excited that their ideas had been made real. Student agency begins right here: when students tackle a real problem for clients and they see their ideas realized. ______________________________________________________________________

All photos: Lisa Yokana


Students working on their presentations.


Students receiving feedback from elementary school clients


Final presentations


Understanding and Making Adaptive Designs Rachel Beane and Stacey Cummings Riverdale Country School Bronx, NY Abstract During this 8-week project, our students were challenged to complete a design project based on the needs of real clients. This process required them to learn about their clients, listen to their requests, brainstorm designs, and construct a final product. This chapter outlines the students’ journey through this process and the successes and challenges met along the way. Introduction Riverdale Country School is an independent K-12 school in Bronx, NY. As part of its core curriculum, Riverdale emphasizes Design Thinking and Character strength development. In the fall of 2015, we attended a workshop at the Adaptive Design Association in Manhattan. Adaptive Design Association Inc. is a non-profit organization that specializes in making low-cost, customized equipment for people with disabilities. Their mission is to “encourage everyone to design and build userspecific adaptations, and to become part of an “association” of adaptive design projects across the globe.” During our time at the Adaptive Design Association, we learned how they use cardboard as their main fabrication material, which enables them to provide equipment to people in need at a very low cost, and how they build adaptive pieces for their clients.


Inspired by this experience, we decided to try a project with our 5th graders, which would incorporate aspects of Design Thinking, basic skills in cardboard construction, and the opportunity to reflect on the needs of others. We looked at the fifth grade scope and sequence and identified opportunities for integration of adaptive design concepts into existing curriculum. We noted that understanding the concept of “other” and fostering empathy were themes studied throughout the year both in literacy and science. Building on this, we hoped to create a 6-8 week project simple enough for 5th graders that would provide an authentic experience, where the students could identify the needs of others and incorporate that into their work. The challenge presented to the 5th grade students was to build “Circle Time” benches for the Pre-K students in their “buddy class.” The Circle Time benches were chosen because they would fill an authentic need in the Pre-K classroom, providing students with ergonomically correct seating while helping them to remain seated and focused during morning meeting. While not an instance of designing for disability, the students would use the same methods to create specific adaptive equipment for their younger buddies. First Steps In order to incorporate this project into the classroom while continuing to use standards to drive instruction, we identified the following Next Generation Science Standard as the foundation for our work: 3-5-ETS1-1 Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost. 3-5-ETS1-2 Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem 3-5-ETS1-3 Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved. We began the project by introducing students to the Design Cycle through Cooper Hewitt’s “Ready, Set, Design!“ challenge. This group challenge is a fast-paced, low-tech activity that we used as a warm-up to get students excited about making. After completing the challenge, we watched a PBS Design Squad video, which helped the students identify the different parts of the design cycle. We emphasized the need for thoughtful reflection, feedback and sharing as essential aspects of the process. Students had been reading novels that dealt with social issues of disability and difference. This gave us a nice segue into discussions about the history of disability in the US and the evolution of rights for the disabled. We were able to pull from their understandings of characters in their books and apply this to real life situations. Students then watched the documentary “Among the Giants” which helped them to gain a better understanding of the challenges that people


with disabilities face and also introduced them to the work of Adaptive Design Association. Interviews After spending several classes on background information about disability and learning about the design cycle, we asked the students to think more specifically about the designer-client relationship. We identified the importance of careful listening, note taking, and observing when determining a client’s needs. The students then brainstormed questions for their client interviews. The questions were broken down into three sections: functionality, comfort, and personalization. Students then scheduled a time to interview their client. During the interview, students collected information about color and image preferences and also took measurements of their client’s overall height and leg length so their benches were the right size to be ergonomically correct. This was an excellent way to incorporate the applications of math skills they were learning in the classroom. Students then sketched out a scaled model of the parts of their benches with the measurements noted. This allowed them to have a reference sheet as they were measuring, cutting, and constructing their benches. Construction In order to make sure the benches were constructed properly for the safety of the students, the first few lessons in the makerspace focused on safety and basic cardboard construction skills. Teachers modeled proper cutting, gluing, and nailing techniques needed to cut out the parts of the bench. To keep track of the steps, a checklist was created and given to each student so they could monitor their progress along the way. Students worked from their sketches to measure and cut all of the pieces for the bench. Many students had to go back and re-measure and cut new pieces as they encountered problems along the way. Often, if the cuts they made were not exact, the pieces would not fit together which affects the stability of the bench. This is where they had to test their prototype and go back and make adjustments if necessary. After having a peer and teacher check on all of the parts, students then glued and nailed the pieces together to create the structure. Due to the fact that the pieces were glued using white glue, the structure had to be left overnight to dry and set before moving on to the next portion of the construction.



Once the bench was fully constructed, the students prepared the bench for painting by sanding the raw edges and covering them with torn paper bags and glue. Once dry, students re-sanded any rough portions and painted customized designs for their client. Using the questions they asked during the interview as a guide, they decided on colors, patterns, and pictures to include on the bench. Each bench was also personalized with the student's name. After drying overnight, the benches were then sealed with polyurethane to protect them from chipping and spills.

One of the most rewarding parts of the project was the delivery to client. The students presented the benches to their clients and then spent some time talking to them and trying them out. They asked questions to see if their clients felt that they met their needs. It was great to see the fifth grader students take ownership of this project and being concerned about whether or not their “client� will be satisfied with the bench.




Successes 1. The materials used in this project are affordable, accessible to all, and environmentally friendly. 2. Through a series of discussions and activities students were able to understand the Design Cycle prior to project introduction. 3. Students were able to reflect on their process after completing the project. One of their biggest takeaways was what the students referred to as “slow is fast.” They realized that often when they rushed, they needed to go back and start over. But if they took their time and paid attention to the details initially, they completed the tasks in a timely manner. 4. Students were motivated to address and solve other issues in their community using the same process and materials we used in the classroom. 5. Students who don’t always excel in traditional academic environments were able to experience success. 6. Students learned about the American Disabilities Act and developed an awareness of the challenges that face people with disabilities. They gained an understanding of the ways in which they could be change makers. Challenges 1. Basic construction techniques, i.e. measuring, cutting, and gluing 2. Students all worked at different paces, so in order to complete this project in a given time period, extra time outside of class time needed to be carved out to complete the projects 3. Differentiating for all of the different skill levels 4. Teaching students to embrace mistakes 5. Need for multiple adults in the classroom Conclusions This project was a nice complement to the books students were reading in their Language Arts class. It gave them an opportunity to more deeply explore the social issues they encountered while reading, and the experience of designing for and thinking about someone else’s needs. Also, The Adaptive Design Association was an incredible resource during this project. They helped students understand the real-world applications of adaptive design, as well as the necessity of assisting others. In the future if we were to run a similar project again, I think we would need to address a few areas that presented challenges. We found that some students lacked basic skills in measuring and cutting and struggled to create the pieces needed to make the benches. Moving forward, more scaffolding in the form of warm-up projects would be helpful. We also would want to spend more time on the interviewing portion of the project. In reflection, students would have benefitted from role playing the designer/client relationship and creating mock interviews prior to working with a real client. Finally, it would be great to give students the opportunity to test their designs with clients before completing the


final designs. This would allow them to customize or tweak their benches according to the clients’ needs.


Modular Project, Modular Team Graham Reid Kent Denver School Englewood, CO Abstract A project is only as good as the team members working behind it. In order to succeed, the project and team must be modular. We took this advice to heart when creating the structure of our project. Our project was officially conceived in April of 2016. We sat in the office of our school’s technology director, discussing the feasibility of a modular drone system. We wanted an octagonal hub that would have eight modules connected to it. These modules, or arms, could be anything from rotors and wheels to sensors and cameras. They would connect via magnets, which both held the arms in place and also transferred the signal and the power to the arms. We vocalized our options in terms of project structure, and after much deliberation, concluded that we should schedule an independent study for the next school year. An independent study is an open-ended class option that is smaller and more focused than a regular class. We decided to frame our class as an introduction to startups; we would learn about the process of creating a product and business from the ground up. During the fall semester, the team came up with an idea, developed it from scratch, prototyped, tested, and pitched our work to a board of school administrators. In the spring semester, we continued our design process and prototyping. Introduction In April of 2016, our team gathered together in a teacher’s office, which is where the idea for a modular drone was first conceived. This office was the location for many brainstorming sessions, during which we would talk about possible ideas. It was during one such session that someone proposed making a drone. We decided


to differentiate our drone by designing it to be modular. From that point forward, our discussions focused solely on this project. These discussions typically took place during off periods, lunch, and after school; we used this time to elaborate on this idea. During this time, we also started market research in order to find if anything similar to it had ever been created: we found nothing, so we came to the conclusion that it was imperative that we create this drone. Following this, each member of the team pitched their own idea for the format of the project. After much deliberation, our team came to the conclusion that an independent study was the best match for us. This class structure allowed each member to work on the project in their own time, whether that be after school or during any free time. This structure allowed a large amount of flexibility and fit into our typically inflexible schedule. We decided to work at least three hours a week, with some leeway depending on the amount of school work each member had. We proposed that our independent study would involve the following: creating a product from scratch; planning a business; prototyping and manufacturing; pitching our project to a panel of school administrators; and finally launching on Kickstarter. Our team divided into the sections of the project that we were best at: software development, computer assisted design (CAD), circuit board design, and business, creating our modular team. Approach Our project started off slowly due to the fact that our independent study did not officially start until the next school year. Regardless, one member who was knowledgeable in 3D design proposed a few ideas for certain fundamental aspects of the modular drone. We met with our faculty sponsor to iron out the details and propose ideas. By early summer break, we had a solid design for the hub and began to look for components. One member proposed that we form a Slack team in order to organize our ideas and document our process. Each member joined and used it to communicate with each other. We began to look into the different electronic components, and after some time, we decided to use the Intel Edison microcomputer as the controller board for the drone. We also decided to use Blue Wonder motors as our source of lift, and a small electronic speed controller (ESC) to control these motors. The team continued researching, and by mid-summer we began our official design process. Design Process We refined the design of the drone through an iterative process. In simple terms, an iterative design process is centered around designing a system, testing it, and refining it based on the test results. First, some components were modeled in


AutoDesk Inventor and 3D printed. Then, these 3D printed parts were assembled and tested. Based upon the results of the tests, the team member in charge of 3D modeling altered these models in order to fix any problems that were discovered. Through this process, dozens of versions of each component were designed and tested as the system continually neared perfection.

The rudimentary designs for the drone showing the iterative design process. The earliest designs to the left, and newest to the right. The first system that was refined was the connection between various modules and the hub. Our first obstacle in designing the connection appeared when we began to test our magnets. Our original idea was to use Neodymium magnets for the electricity and the connection system.

This design seemed to work well, though we had yet to test the whether this connection would be able to transfer the electrical signal and power needed for each module to function. We tried to solder wires directly to the magnets, but we found that the magnets lost a significant amount of strength when heated, so much so that each module could no longer connect to the hub. We needed a new plan. We found our solution in “pogo-pins.� To electrically connect the modules to the hub, these spring-loaded pins were chosen for their reliability and simplicity. After testing we found that we had found a balance between strength and connectivity, but we still needed an actual circuit that would use this connection.


Due to the modular nature of the drone system, the team also knew that not only did we need a circuit, but we needed our own custom circuit board. One of the members on our team had experience creating circuit boards, so we delegated the task to him. He used Eagle PCB CAD to design these circuits, and then ordered them through an online manufacturer.

The circuit board design that one of the members put together. The board on the left represents a switch to change the direction of the motor. The board on the right shows the circuit board used for connecting the “pogo-pins� to the wires. Due to the fact that the circuit boards had to be produced elsewhere, the previous rapid prototyping we had done prior would not work because the circuit boards took six weeks to manufacture and ship. Unfortunately, after we ordered our first batch of boards from the manufacture, we found that they were too small for our needs. Because we did not want to wait another six weeks for more circuits, we decided to just use wires instead, as it would allow for a more rapid prototyping process. As the design process progressed and more components were tested, it became clear that the strength of the magnets was not strong enough to hold the arms in place. Because of this, larger, more powerful magnets were purchased and installed. Additionally, the dimensions of each piece were tweaked to ensure that they would fit together more securely. Modifying the designs was not enough, however, and we soon had to fine tune our prototyping tools themselves.


The second version of drone fully assembled with all motors and electrical components housed inside. Note: The exposed connection on the hub that is lacking magnets and pins. This is because we only constructed four of the eight connections in order to save on prototyping costs.

Drone motor with its hub


Prototyping Since all the parts for the drone were 3D printed, we needed access to the machinery in order to create our prototype. We used the makerspace at our school, which has a 3D printer, among other useful prototyping tools. We used the same iterative process when it came to operating the 3D printer. The printer’s settings were constantly tweaked to ensure that the printed parts were as durable and exact as possible. For example, after some parts showed evidence of structural deterioration resulting from impact with the drone’s propellers, the number of shells that the 3D printer created to form a part was increased so that they would be less susceptible to damage. Through the entire process, we worked with the 3D printer in order to make sure every print was as strong and solid as possible. Through this process, we were able to gain a better understanding of 3D printing, while at the same time helping the school by fine tuning the 3D printer. Control As the designs for the first prototype drone were being finalized, we now had to consider the issue of controlling the drone. A physical controller with joysticks would be easy to acquire, and would follow the choices of most other drones. But using a physical controller has a unique drawback when controlling a modular drone: the controller itself isn’t modular. Someone could very easily use our kit to assemble something not remotely similar to a drone, but they would still, however, be forced to control it with a drone controller. We had two programmers on the team, both of whom were well versed in web development. As a result, the Apache Cordova framework was selected for the controller app because the app could be built using web technologies and then deployed cross-platform to any team member’s phone. This setup also allowed for quick and easy debugging so the team could keep a steady development pace. Keeping with the web technologies theme, the controller software on the drone was written in NodeJS, again because of the skills that team members possessed, and because of easy debugging and development.


The menu for creating a controller out of various widgets

Example configuration with two joysticks, an emergency shutdown button, and a box that would rotate in 3D space to show the orientation of the drone.

An alternate one handed configuration used during some tests where the drone was constrained on a rig.

Another testing configuration where each of the four motors could be controlled individually.

Testing By mid-October, we had completed our design process and had developed a basic app that was able to control the drone. We began to put the drone body together, and within a week, we had a prototype with all of the electronics enclosed in a 3D printed body. From here we moved on to testing. We began testing the drone by trying to run the motors off of the controller app. We clamped the drone’s body to a table and wirelessly connected a phone that was running the controller app to the drone’s computer. We were able to power up and run each motor, and after verifying that each motor functioned properly, we decided to take the drone outside.


While outside, we used a few different techniques to tune and adjust the drone. First, we tried to just give the drone throttle and hope that it lifted. We discovered that our results varied greatly from flight to flight, and knew that we were missing something: stabilization. Our team then looked into stabilization, and began to implement the algorithms necessary for the drone to know how and when to correct itself while in flight. After this, testing was primarily focused on attempting to tune the stabilization code.

A picture of the rig that we used in order to adjust the PID parameters. We would test with the drone on the rig, analyse the data, and adjust the PID until it stabilized.

Business Planning As the testing of the drone continued, we began to consider the business side of the project. We understood that if we were to launch on Kickstarter, we would need a patent on the drone, as well as our own business license. We began our process by discussing the exact type of intellectual property security we preferred. We narrowed our sights down to three options: an openhardware license, a design patent, and a utility patent. We knew we wanted to protect our invention, but the way to do so differed between each member. An open hardware license would allow anyone to recreate what we had created, though they would be unable to sell it. A design patent would protect the look of the drone, such as the octogonal hub, and the magnetic connection system. And finally, a utility patent would copyright the entire idea of a modular drone system. After much deliberation, we decided to pursue a utility patent.


We began to look for help in the intellectual property field and got in touch with a few patent attorneys. We set up calls with each attorney and discussed our options in terms of our patent options and each option’s associated costs. Each lawyer gave the same advice: a utility patent costs about $10,000, and we need to get anyone who has seen the drone to sign a non-disclosure agreement. We knew that this price was way out of our price range, so we put this idea on hold while we turned to other aspects of the business side of the project. While up to this point we had only focused on the design of the drone, we now knew that the business aspect of our company was equally important. Because of this, one member of the team took on the responsibility of business development. Now, as the design of the drone progressed, so too did the business planning. Throughout the process, this one member made it their job to create business plans and meet with teachers and entrepreneurs. He started by creating a document where we would keep track of all expenditures, which allowed us to more easily stay within our budget. This member also started to lay out what future costs our project might incur. The member in charge of business also created a rough business plan, and ran it by a few teachers who were knowledgeable on the subject matter. The business plan went through a few versions until it modeled exactly what we needed: distribution plans, budget, and consumer avenues, jargon which none of the other team members understood or had to understand. The teachers that were consulted also strongly encouraged us to create a business agreement among ourselves in order to prevent any legal action in the event that a member was to leave. The business leader wrote up this contract, and had it reviewed by every member and revised according to their desires and wishes. The business member also set up meetings with a variety of different people that our school reached out to through their alumni network, each of whom was specialized in a specific field that we lacked knowledge in. In these meetings, we were able to ask questions and receive knowledgeable answers on the multifaceted process of creating a company. By the end of the calendar year, we had a general idea of what it took to create a business, so we scheduled a pitch to obtain funding from the school. Pitch By mid-November, we had a prototype and a goal, but we needed funding first. That opportunity came in December of 2016. Our sponsor set up a meeting with some school administrators where we would propose our idea, Shark Tank style. Each member put together a small presentation on their part of the project, and we proposed our long-term goal and layed out the help we needed from the school. We created a presentation in order to showcase our idea. 36

In early December, we scheduled our pitch meeting with a few members of our school’s administration, and then began to prepare. We knew that practice was key to the success of the presentation and that knowing statistics about our target market was critical to the success of the pitch. In the pitch, we described our goal as a company, our progress so far, and our plans for future prototyping; we concluded it with a request for funding in exchange for 8% of our company. Our pitch then opened up to questions, where the panelists drilled us. Our preparation helped us with answering their questions, although more could not have hurt. We realized a bit too late that we lacked answers to certain questions, and that we presented other ideas with too much jargon or abstruse concepts. We got advice from the administrators for the next time and made an agreement. We would receive $500 now from the school and another $1000 once the prototype was capable of sustained flight. The business member of our group wrote up a quick contract, and we got a signature from one of the panelists the next day.

A modeled rendering of the drone put together by one member


Conclusion During the spring semester, our project began to fall apart. We continued our process of creating the second prototype of the drone and further developing our idea, but we began to see problems in both the physical aspects of the drone, as well as in the team. We faced our first problem soon after the completion of the second prototype. The 3D orientation sensor that was purchased to work with the drone could only output raw data, and not an actual 3D orientation. In order to convert this raw data to a 3D orientation, the team adopted an open source algorithm known as the Madgwick filter. While this filter did work, our implementation was never quite perfect; it either lagged behind or jittered far too much for stable flight. The second issue to arise was related to PID control loops. PID control loops are a way to stabilize a system and have it move smoothly. Drones use PID control loops to keep themselves stable while in flight, rather than wobbling or flipping over. Setting up PID control loops for a product is no easy task. Fortunately, three team members had experience with PID control loops from previous projects, and writing up the code was easily done. Unfortunately, PID control loops don’t just work out of the box. They have a few tuning parameters that need to be set. These parameters control how quickly the drone responds when rotating, and they’re fairly specific to an individual design; the parameters for one kind of drone won’t work for another kind.

A picture of the finished Drone with four active magnetic connections and a battery connection on the bottom


Therefore, the parameters for the PID had to be tuned. This was largely a trial and error process that involved setting the parameters, trying to fly the drone, assessing the crash, and modifying the parameters accordingly. When this process did not show consistent results, the team moved on to using indoor rigs that would restrict the drone’s movement along one axis so it could be tuned fairly well along that axis. With this method, the team was able to tune the yaw parameters for the drone fairly well, but ultimately the pitch and roll were never tuned properly. The reason for this was that the same tuning parameters were often producing inconsistent results, even with the drone on a rig. The team never pinpointed the reason for this precisely because there were multiple points, from sensor to motor, where the system could fail. First, the sensor had to be calibrated using custom calibration code; the gyroscope would often lose its calibration within minutes, though the accelerometer would stay fairly well calibrated. Second, the sensor data had to be converted to a 3D orientation using the Madgwick filter. The published research on the Madgwick filter showed that it could be a viable option for our situation, but due to the skills of various team members, we had to translate the code from C to JavaScript. While both C and JavaScript can be fast languages, C is the fastest option for “hard real time” applications like this, while JavaScript is more for “soft real time” applications. Therefore, performance issues became a big concern. Next, the firmware on the drone would have to send the data out through the Intel Edison’s PWM pins, through an Electronic Speed Controller (ESC), and finally into the motors. Considering that at one point throughout testing one of the motors magnetic coils all turned from copper to black, the team decided that there could easily be yet another failure point somewhere along this pipeline. The team attempted to fix this through further testing and talking with more knowledgeable people, but these pursuits proved ineffective. With the culmination of all of these problems, the drone was unable to achieve sustained flight. As we encountered problems on the drone itself, we also began to have problems within the team. Starting a company is one of the hardest things to do, not only because of the difficulties involved in developing a product, but also because of the challenges surrounding working on a team. A team can make or break a company, and having a modular team is key to the success of a company. Coordinating a team of intelligent and capable people is quite a difficult challenge, especially when there are differing views about solutions to the evergrowing list of problems that arise in an entrepreneurial workflow. The success of a startup can be single handedly brought down by the dynamic of the team. Our own project was brought down by the team dynamic, but our process is one in which we hope we can share and help others learn from our mistakes.


Although the project did fail at the end due to multiple points of contention, it was a success on many other levels. Each team member gained an invaluable amount of experience within their respective fields and we were all able to learn what it takes to create your own business and product from scratch. The process of starting up a company may seem daunting to many, and this could easily be attributed to the fear of failure, or even fear of success. The process, whether you succeed or fail, is worth the time. There is no age limit or specific field that startups and entrepreneurship fall under. There is value in empowering every person with a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.


From Sugar Glider to Skydiver: Engineering and Biological Design in First Grade Juliette Guarino Berg Poly Prep Country Day School Brooklyn, NY

Abstract Introducing the engineering design process to elementary-aged students in an accessible manner can alleviate teacher and student anxiety around building and creating for a specific purpose. The “Gliding Mammal Challenge,” an activity introduced by the New York Hall of Science’s Design-Make-Play STEM Institute (Link: nysci.org/school/teachers/dmp-stem-institute) and adapted and implemented by the Poly Prep Lower School, fuses life science and engineering concepts to create passionate first grade biological engineers. Introduction The engineering design process has the potential to be a daunting and abstract concept to first graders. While elementary school-aged children are known for their enjoyment of building activities, whether it be with Lincoln Logs or Legos, the idea of building to solve a particular problem can present as an insurmountable challenge. Fortunately, a first grader’s love for animals often equals or exceeds his or her passion for creating new things. By taking cues from the animal world, a sevenyear-old can successfully design, build, and test an invention meant to address a particular problem. In Lower School Science at Poly Prep, this project, referred to as the “Gliding Mammal Challenge,” is part of our “Biological Structure, Function, and Information Processing” unit. It is adapted from an activity presented at the New York Hall of Science’s Design-Make-Play STEM Institute. It addresses Next Generation Science Standard 1.LS1.1, which states that first grade scientists should “use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to survive, grow, and meet their needs.” (Link: www.nextgenscience.org)


Identifying the Problem We begin the unit by viewing two videos. One of the videos is from the National Geographic website and shows how Australian sugar gliders leap from tree to tree in search of sweet foods such as nectar. The other video features a group of skydivers jumping out of a plane and gracefully “flying” above New York City. Once both videos have been viewed, the soon-to-be engineers are tasked with the following challenge: “An extreme sports group wants you to design a model bodysuit for their wingsuit jumping competition. The skydivers are biologists, so they want the design to show real gliding mammal features! They also want the design to have the most ‘hang time,’ or the slowest landing.” Brainstorming With the necessary background knowledge in place, the first graders are ready to consider the question, “What features allow gliding mammals (such as the sugar glider) to glide and land softly?” In addition to referring back to the videos, students study various diagrams illustrating the sugar glider’s unique anatomy, paying special attention to the wing-like structures known as “patagia.” (Link: www.physicsclassroom.com/mmedia/newtlaws/efar.cfm)


At this point, the children are introduced to the materials they will have access to. The types and quantities of materials available can change depending on the current classroom inventory and budget. Most recently, my students were able to choose from a selection of craft sticks (popsicle sticks), foam tubes (pipe insulation or pool noodles), foam deli trays, string, blue painter’s tape, and plastic grocery bags. Most of the grocery bags were generously donated by the Poly Prep Lower School faculty and reinforced our campus goal to “reuse” products as much as possible!


Finally, first grade engineers are paired up and allowed to sketch their preliminary designs. They are encouraged to label their drawings when possible. Building and Testing Once every partnership has sketched their plan, they are allowed to begin building. Students are given several days to build their structures. The amount of time spent building the structures can be dictated by the students, within reason. For example, if the majority of students need more time than previously allotted, building time can be extended as necessary. However, there comes a point when students must be satisfied with their current product, whether or not it is “perfect.” This is a good “real life” lesson, especially for the budding perfectionist. As the instructor, my job is to answer questions and help with some of the more difficult construction maneuvers, such as cutting. Instead of making unsolicited suggestions to student pairs, I will pose questions, such as: “Do you think your structure is heavy or light? How can you change how heavy or light your structure is? Do you think this will affect your wingsuit’s ‘hang time?’ Why or why not?” (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UWZlNmpKm8) Questions should lead student engineers to make educated and independent choices.


Evaluating and Improving During the building process, students have the opportunity to climb up on a step stool and drop their models. While the fall is much shorter than the actual test distance, it gives them a general idea of how fast or slow their model moves. Students can use these observations to decide if and how to make additions, deletions, or changes to their wingsuit models.


Sharing What We Learned Once the sketching, cutting, taping, tying, deliberating, and preliminary testing has come to a close, it is time for the final investigation. First grade engineers take a short trip to the stairwell, where student pairs can drop their wingsuit models from an upper landing while the students below watch. While first graders have yet to grasp the concept of fractions of a second, they can get a general idea of which models move “slower” and “faster.” As the instructor, I collect official data on hang times using a stopwatch, and share this information with the students so that they can begin to grasp the concept of time measurement. Hang times aside, the children are excited and proud to see their hard work in action!


The next time the students come to the science lab, there is a table on the board listing each engineering group’s official hang time. With hang times ranging from 1.75 seconds to 4.74 seconds, the children are able to compare their model’s relative success with that of others in the group, and reflect on the design choices that culminated in their results. First grade engineers sketch their final product, compare it to their original design and the designs of their peers, and make predictions about how they could improve their design in the future.



Conclusion For those educators in search of an enjoyable and engaging activity that introduces the engineering design process, combines life science and engineering concepts, and turns first graders into experienced engineers, the Gliding Mammal Challenge is a great place to start. Students will carry these newfound skills into the remainder of their elementary school careers and beyond. Who knows - you might end up sparking a fire in a future biological engineer!


Literary STEAM: Hacking the Essay – Reconstructing Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) in the Makerspace Linda Vasu Sacred Heart Greenwich Greenwich, CT


Abstract In a two-week unit in the Makerspace, 12th grade AP English Literature and Composition students learn to think abstractly about Morrison's complex novel by finding ways to reflect its driving themes and images in a single 3-dimensional shape. This chapter presents a process for challenging students to re-imagine a literary text as an architectural space, and demonstrate their understanding through the lenses of design thinking and maker culture. This creative project invites colleagues to use the maker model of tinkering in their high school literature and humanities classes. The convergence of STEAM and design thinking can easily be applied to literary production and analysis. Experimenting with visualizing ideas in an environment outside the classroom invites students to grow in self-knowledge and confidence as they use familiar skills to navigate unfamiliar challenges and problems. Students discover that the emerging fields of data visualization and digital humanities can offer alternative approaches for interpreting the meaning and structural architectonics of literary texts. In the process of critical “making,” students develop original, personal interpretations of the human record of interior life that is the essence of literary production. Introduction The French humanist Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-92) conceived of the essay as an attempt (from the verb essayer) to display discernment and thinking. In the year 1571, Montaigne began his musings in relative seclusion, following his thoughts wherever they led, in a kind of spectacle of mind. Almost 450 years later, students in literature classes still write essays. Lower school essays, middle school essays, high school essays, college essays, application essays. Critical essays. Evidence-based essays. Personal essays. So many essays. In fact, essays are the pervasive feature of every upper level literature course. After close reading, thoughtful annotation, Harkness discussion, mapping key plot events, character arcs, driving themes, the author’s literary voice, style, and craft, the essay is the culminating performance assessment. In my classes, an essay assignment is often a cringe-worthy exercise, the cause of stress, procrastination, and minds that suddenly go blank. "Let's hack the essay," I suggested. After a month-long academic study of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, I invited students to disrupt the read-think-discuss-write instructional methodology. This would be a thought experiment in reclaiming the Montaigne spirit. His Essais, at 1300 pages, cover topics as digressive, idiosyncratically meandering, and messy as the creative threads of learning that occur in a lively Makerspace. 51

I wanted to observe students' capacity for problem solving outside of the classroom silo by giving them space and unfettered time to think in different ways, to try out (i.e. essayer) a more flexible, adaptive mindset. In the Makerspace environment, students can leverage their content knowledge and interpretations to a new form, infused by imagination, creativity, collaboration, action research, iteration, reflection, communication, and synthesis. They can play, converse, and invent. The process of literary discovery culminates in a single abstract shape. Hopefully, too, this introduction to a design thinking, entrepreneurial mindset also leads to skills that foster social activism, a prominent focus of a Sacred Heart education.

Why this text, Morrison’s complex novel Beloved? The course readings began with an extensive study of Hamlet. Columbia University’s James Shapiro argues in his acclaimed book 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare that something innovative happens in Shakespeare’s soliloquies at the turn of the century. Shakespeare’s encounter with Montaigne’s essays produces an interior voice that reflects the meandering process of abstract thinking. Shapiro writes about Hamlet (1600-01): “Shakespeare cared less about appropriating Montaigne’s language or philosophy than about exploring how essays – with their assertions, contradictions, reversals and abrupt shifts in subject matter and even confidence – captured a mind at work.” The spirit of the essay is evident in Hamlet’s To be, or not to be soliloquy. His diction reveals internal wrestling, pivots, and contradictions: all the features of the essay form as practiced by Montaigne.


Toni Morrison’s 1987 novel Beloved pairs naturally with Hamlet. It is also about a ghost and the associated themes of haunting, legacy, revenge, and tragic aftermath. Whereas Hamlet is predominantly a male-centric text, Beloved is predominantly female-centric. Morrison’s prominent use of free indirect discourse, similar to Hamlet’s complex soliloquies, conveys the layered, internalized memories and innermost ruminations within the minds of the primary characters Sethe, Paul D, Denver, Baby Suggs, and the ghostly, returned presence of Beloved. The novel gives students opportunities to think about the haunting legacies of racism, gender, and patriarchy. In so doing, they discover a new awareness of Morrison’s avowed intent to break binary thinking and the white master narrative to include marginalized, silenced African-American voices. The project asks students to think abstractly about the novel's structuring idea of "rememory," and Morrison’s intent to reclaim all that has been disrupted by slavery and its tragic aftermath. Morrison uses the symbolism of the ghost Beloved to represent the atrocities of the past that demand remembering, commemoration, and reintegration: body parts, psyches, individuals, families, communities, languages, stories, and history. Morrison's intent in this novel is to re-assemble these lost fragments, and make them whole. Purpose To give students choice, autonomy, space, and time to shape an interpretation through dimensional thinking. To distill the narrative into driving themes and central metaphors, and then come up with a concept, prototype, and design for an abstract shape. Process Do you need to know where you’re going? No. Remember Polonius’ advice: By indirections, find directions out. (Hamlet, 2.1. 65) If one path does not work out, find another. This is an iterative, recursive process. In the Makerspace, you will explore the relationships among structure, language, and meaning by conceptualizing and making an original 3-D object that reflects your vision of the essence of the text. Scroll. First, brainstorm in small groups or with a partner. Using brown Kraft paper, condense the text into driving themes and images. Then begin to sketch ideas and images that reflect your key elements. Shaping the Final Product Next, experiment with the low-tech materials: brown Kraft paper, exacto knife, colored sharpies, pipe cleaners, beads, glue gun, foam core. Crafting an Artist’s Statement This written reflection explains your design challenges and choices. 500 words.


Day 1. Getting Started. Igniting creativity! These resources offer sparking ideas and exemplars to frame the project. 1.On Toni Morrison’s Beloved. http://libguides.cshgreenwich.org/c.php?g=664249&p=4669340 2.On Hacking the Essay http://libguides.cshgreenwich.org/c.php?g=664259&p=4669362 3. On “the joy of cardboard, glue and storytelling” in the work of Matteo Pericoli at Columbia University's Laboratory of Literary Architecture (http://www.lablitarch.com) Specifically, https://architizer.com/blog/when-writers-become-architects/ 4. On a project by an unknown but inspiring colleague's work with 10th graders on Catcher in the Rye Sample Scrolls. In the first Makerspace class, students used brown Kraft paper and sharpies to map out ideas, adding relevant graphic and visual elements.


Objects: What might the un-essay look like? Design Sample 1: A Continuum of Trees Commentary: “The structure we created represents themes of race, morality, and emotion. It is a tangible symbol of Morrison’s pluralism and subversion of binary thinking. Our continuum begins with a natural, complex tree that is transformed into a rectangular colorless mold to represent the dehumanizing oppression that the white gaze inflicts upon black identity. The driving themes underlying this structure are nature, the corruption of love, and systemic oppression. On one end is a small red tree, growing freely and almost formless in nature. On the other end is a large white rectangular prism that is made to look devoid of life or individualism. In true Postmodern tradition, we bridged the gap between the two extremities with fluid shapes to represent a rejection of allencompassing binaries, instead creating a fluid spectrum. To further connect the shapes to each other and promote the concept of a continuum, we added wire of different colors twisting and turning around the trees like vines. The wire “vines” begin growing around the little red tree in a bright green color, akin to the color of the “emerald closet” of Nature that provides healing and sanctuary. Gradually, the vines transform from green to black to grey to white, illustrating the constant exchange between past and present and highlighting the transition from unrestrained individualism to colorless social systems.”


Design Sample 2: A Tornado Commentary: “Our idea began simply as a white cone with a black center which can pivot at an angle, to represent the instability of the white supremacist society. However, we decided that the concept of fragmentation and consumption is important in Morrison’s novel, so we opted for a tornado-like structure instead. The phrase “the moving was involuntary” (136) sparked the idea of a tornado, which uproots homes, trees, and people, much like slavery and racism did to blacks. We achieved this shape by cutting out varying, ragged-edged circles with foam core. We did not smooth out the edges of the circles, as the roughness accurately depicts society’s rigid and abrasive biases. Additionally, the phrase, “unspeakable thoughts, unspoken” (235) helped inspire a notion of silent and hidden voices within the whirlwind structure. We decided to place a shaded black hole all the way through the center. This represented how the outwardly white society, much like a tornado, consumed the voices of the African American people within. Morrison writes of the “black and angry dead” that none of them had lived “a livable life” (234). In addition, we elongated the shape to represent the gaps within society and inserted a wire through the black hole. We placed one red bead after one foam circle, then again after two more foam circles, and once more after four foam circles. This embodies the address of 124 Bluestone Road. Overall, our greatest goal was to create an indefinable shape. This was incited by the cruelty of slave owner Schoolteacher’s dehumanizing belief that “definitions belonged to the definers -- not the defined” (225). We wished to subvert this idea and demonstrate that society should not be definable by race or any superficial qualities.


We achieved this through a layered figure rather than a mathematically defined cone shape. Finally, we rooted our structure at an angle within a rough-edged, torn base to depict the destruction of African American family life, the perpetual instability and, paradoxically, a sense of mobility because they were depicted on the run, escaping.�

Works Cited Morrison, Toni. Beloved. Vintage, 2004.


The Artist Statement

Student reflections 1. “This project has given me an entirely different perspective of literary analysis. I enjoyed condensing Morrison's text and gaining a geometric understanding of the novel by creating my own visual interpretations of the key themes. This process transgresses the limits of the traditional essay, and illustrates Morrison's goal of reclaiming African American history by relying completely on symbolism. The most interesting part of this project was seeing how the other groups' models differed from our own. There was an equal combination of linear and chaotic shapes, all representing similar themes. The range of objects appropriately conveyed the benefit of creative thinking, and the variability that it allows.�


2. “I genuinely enjoyed this project and found it to be extremely fruitful in helping to further my understanding of the tropes and imagery used to convey the themes in Beloved. The overall ambiguity of the novel makes it an ideal text to experiment with visual thinking. I found that creating a physical manifestation of the thoughts and emotions I felt while reading the novel was actually easier than crafting a formal essay because I could organize my thoughts in an accessible and simplified format. Often, when I am close reading or trying to form an argument, I can visualize what I want to say but cannot always articulate my thoughts into words. Thus, this project transformed my understanding of literary analysis because I was able to actually create the image that my mind subconsciously built about Beloved while I was reading the novel. The structure that our group created was an amalgamation of many themes that could be represented in one structure, rather than many themes that are discussed separately and in different contexts as they are in traditional academic essays.” 3. “This project stretched my way of thinking and unleashed within me a new way of analyzing literature. This activity not only required planning, it also summoned balanced leadership, collaboration, and a synthesis of ideas. Working with more free-form visuals at first was difficult, but soon became liberating and empowering. Although we are free to construct our own ideas in essays, they can often be rigid and overly-structured. Thus, within this collaborative space, I found the freedom to explore. I realized through this awakening and freeing experience that the classroom does not have to be a rigid, confining place where hands are raised, questions are asked, and answers are given. Rather, much like Harkness discussions, the classroom can be a “makerspace” of sorts where mistakes are welcome, ideas flow freely, and collaboration proves most effective. This task has made me excited to return to the classroom, possessing a newfound appreciation for the endless possibilities that can be born from the overlapping of analysis and imagination.” Teacher’s Concluding Statement Conceptualizing imaginative ways to hack high school literature and humanities assessments untethers students from the too-predictable process of reading, sitting, discussing, sitting some more, and writing an essay. They are free to create, experiment, invent…and to quote poet Ezra Pound: “Make it new.”


Implementing a Physics Project Culture at Marymount – Los Angeles Edward Eadon and Chad Vicenik Marymount High School Los Angeles, NY Abstract The science department at Marymount-LA High School revised its Physics curriculum to include a major physics project requirement during the past two school years. This paper reviews how we implemented the projects along with several examples of student project ideas. We also include lessons learned and our plans for future improvements. Background: STEM Exploration and Development Opportunity Marymount-LA is completing the construction of an Engineering Design Center (aka MakerSpace). Prior to completion of this center, standard equipment for this facility, such as laser cutters, 3D printers, and additional materials and equipment, has been housed in a temporary space for the past two years. The space is open throughout the day to allow students to work on projects as part of class assignments or independently during free periods. It is staffed with faculty who act as advisors to the students (and other faculty) and can assist and teach how to use the resources available. To boost the use of this new resource, the faculty has been encouraged to brainstorm ways of incorporating the MakerSpace into their teaching, most likely through projects. At the same time, the Physics Department at Marymount-LA decided to explore an alternative curriculum order – Semester 1: optics, waves, electricity, magnetism, circuits; and Semester 2: mechanics, energy, forces, gravitation, circular motion, and momentum. Our first semester does not end until the last week in January.


This change in curriculum order gave us the opportunity to incorporate significant use of the MakerSpace into our schedule. In preparation for including more projects into our physics lessons, we reviewed published material on Project Based Learning and Design Based Learning at the high school level. Most of this material was focused on large scale projects. We decided to also include “micro-projects” which became just small, short duration hands-on activities that supported the unit we were studying. These micro-projects will not be addressed in this paper. Finally, we decided to dedicate the remainder of the semester after we returned in January to the completion of a major project in lieu of a semester final examination. Project Proposal Process Students were given two options for their projects. One option was to have students design an elaborate experiment, execute it over multiple class periods, complete an expanded laboratory report format, and present their results. The second option was to “build something” (taking advantage of our MakerSpace capabilities) that would require the use of the Engineering Design Cycle and would make use of physics principles. Beyond the finished creation, students were required to write a report that explained the use of physics in their product. The second option was by far the more popular choice, and is the focus of this paper. We developed a project proposal process to ensure projects were appropriately challenging to students (see a sample handout in Box 1). An initial effort to have students tap into their creative spirit and focus on areas they were most interested in did not yield acceptable project ideas, since many students defaulted to “standard science fair project” ideas which were not appropriate for high school level work. This turned into an iterative discussion between the students and teacher. Not all of those ‘cookbook’ projects were dismissed out of hand. Often, they were approved with the caveat that the students would complete more extensive allied research to supplement their project. This was especially true if the students appeared to be passionate about what they wanted to do.


Project Proposal Format: Title for the project and list the team members Provide a brief description for what you plan to do. 1. Scope – outline the scope of the overall project. Indicate whether a ‘build’ or an ‘experiment’ project 2. Planned Activities – elaborate on the course of action that you will follow to achieve whatever the proposal is aiming to do. Discuss safety issues. 3. Timeline – outline briefly all the steps with key milestones. Discuss the research you plan to complete · Both prior to the project and in preparation for your final report · Be sure you can find at least 3 credible sources for your final report Include a preliminary materials list and or equipment list along with sources if known.

Box 1: A sample checklist for students in their project proposal process. Although we initially hoped projects would involve significant reinforcement of the physics learned throughout the rest of the curriculum, we ultimately allowed many projects because they provided students with clear and challenging learning opportunities. As a result, final project choices were widely varied. Some involved relatively simple physics, but were complex from an engineering perspective (required a lot of trial and error or iterative design), or required students to develop a significant skill set (such as 3D design and printing). Others were relatively simple builds, but required students to do significant research into the physics or mathematical modeling of their product. We ended up with a wide variety of projects -- some were quite notable and some had possible commercial applications.


Figure 1: An iPhone case with camera attachment to allow photos with different optical effects. � Designed an iPhone case with a slot over the camera lens to allow different attachments that acted as filters for the camera, including polarizers, diffractors, different color filters, mirrors, etc. This project involved a lot of experimentation with various optical materials, forced students to develop some simple 3D printing skills, and connected to their interest in photography (see Figure 1). � Built a cell phone microscope with a 1 mm diameter lens. This was surprisingly difficult, and required significant trial and error in aligning the lens with the cellphone camera and holding it in place. Students also 3D printed a case, although they didn’t end up using it, and were able to measure and get a magnification of ~40 times (see Figure 2).


Figure 2: Images from a cellphone microscope, made by affixing a 1 mm lens to an iPhone camera (left: a lowercase ‘e’ and right: leaf cellular structure). ● Built a cardboard model of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) from a kit obtained from the GMT Organization (modified by laser cutting Mylar to cover mirrored surfaces). Researched the several efforts for large Earthbased telescopes underway. Interviewed a post grad astrophysicist at the Carnegie Observatories to determine and report on research results expected from these telescopes. ● Used a laser cutter to cut CDs into small squares and created a ‘disco ball’ where dispersion occurred through reflective diffraction, creating multiple colors from the incident white LED light. ● Built a taser from a flash camera capacitor assembly, and measured its electrical properties. Compared it to the measured properties of a commercial taser.


Figure 3: 3D printed casing for a diffraction-based “rainbow flashlight.” ● Built a circuit and 3D printed a casing for a “rainbow flashlight,” with a high powered 6000K LED bulb and a diffraction grating to spread the white light into a color spectrum/rainbow (see Figure 3). ● Built a lie detector circuit and compared it to a number of commercial lie detector apps. Beyond a description of the physics, this simpler build was supplemented with research into biological and social science regarding the signs and impacts of lying.

Figure 4: Interior views of two kaleidoscopes.


● Built a number of different kaleidoscopes (different geometries) and modeled how the light travels through them (and creates the different images and number of reflections). This simpler build was supplemented through significant modeling and ray-trace diagrams (see Figure 4). ● Constructed a laser hallway, as inspired by numerous spy movies. Students experimented with several options for holding and manipulating small mirrors in three dimensions, and did significant mathematical modeling of the angles and geometry of their final design. A future iteration of this project could also explore the degradation of the laser beam over distance/number of reflections. ● Developed a Passive Infrared (PIR) based ‘pet detector’ to alert when a pet wants to be let into a house. Adopted a PIR designed to switch on an external light when a human approached to trigger an alarm when a pet approached (needed to adjust the field of view to minimize false alarms). ● Built a Cloud Chamber Particle Detector using a large glass cylinder, supersaturated alcohol vapor and dry ice. Successfully detected cosmic rays. Researched current particle detection techniques including neutrino detection efforts.

Figure 5: Boxes built for solar spectrum energy analysis. ● Evaluated visible wavelength solar spectrum energies to demonstrate the Stephan-Boltzmann Law. Obtained boxes and laser cut standard holes in the tops, aligned them on a wooden plank (to ensure perpendicular incidence of the insolation). Used a IR remote thermometer to measure temperatures inside ‘black’ boxes of differing internal colors. (see Figure 5)


Rubric to Guide Student Project Organization and Planning Many students were concerned that they may not be able to complete the construction of their project in the allowed time, and indeed, a number of students were not able to reach a final state they were happy with. We addressed this by emphasizing two things: first, the importance of the actual design process (vs. the final product). We encouraged students to document their actions as they worked, both so we could verify their effort and so they could reflect on their growth. Second, since this was a physics class rather than an engineering class, we cared more about whether students understood what they were doing and how their products theoretically worked than whether or not they did actually work. Students communicated this understanding through both a written report and an oral and poster presentation. The rubric we used is presented in Box 2 (100 points as weighted by the score factors):











Process Design

Followed a 'canned Clear evidence of Design fully integrated Some evidence of project design' alone design considerations. into the project with consideration of design and did not change any Redesign when specific evidence of use for the project design aspect problems encountered. of the design cycle.

Lacks any evidence of Elegance & Creativity original creative actions (Style) in the project

Little evidence of new ideas included in project. Little to no identifiable creativity

New ideas included in the project which showed creativity and originality

New ideas and uniqueness of the project are clearly evident

Partially completed the Completed the project. Project Construction Unable to complete the project and it did not Some evidence of use (or experiment) project and no evidence function. No evidence of of the engineering of use of design cycle. (Score Factor x2) design cycle use. design cycle.

Completed the project with clear evidence of use of the design cycle along the way.

Use of Class Time (Score Factor x4)

Only occasionally was Did not use class time Almost always was not working effectively effectively or used it for engaged in working on on the project or did not other purposes than and refining their participate equally with working on their project project. their partner.

Fully engaged on their project in every class period. Evidence of working on project outside of class.

Problem Solving (Score Factor x2)

Was significantly hindered by problems. Required extensive assistance to solve the problems.

Was able to solve problems, but needed significant guidance.


Was able to solve problems, but often needed guidance. Possible solutions (or possible exclusions) were presented.

Was able to solve problems with little to no guidance. If guidance was needed, arrived at possible solutions separately.

Written Component Written Project Summary - Writing Quality (Score Factor x2)

Description of Project and Development Process (Score Factor x2)

Implementation of Design Cycle

Written summary is No written summary is incomplete and includes turned in irrelevant information

Written summary is nearly complete and well-organized

Project summary fully follows expectations for high quality technical writing.

Describes project idea Describes project idea, with little supporting research and use of Description of project research. Describes No description of the time. Includes and development is not some usage of time project as it was under diagrams/photos. clear and consistent. No over three weeks. Lists development Details materials used supporting research. some materials used and skills learned to and skills learned to develop project. develop project. Brief, but not complete Describes changes in Unable to describe how description of the design design, but not the the engineering design cycle in the reasons for these cycle was used. development of their changes. project.

Describes changes in the design and details why they were made.

Describes the Physics Brief cursory mention of Nothing about physics Behind the Project the physics involved in included. (Score Factor x4) their project.

Describes the physics involved, but not accurately.

Accurately describes the physics involved in their project. Includes appropriate formulas where appropriate.

Did not credit sources for the project or research

Nearly everything extracted from multiple sources is cited

Complete and thorough citations used. Consistent and appropriate citations.

Uses an adequate Uses a visual aid that presentation aids, but shows moderate Presentation aids were they show little work/creativity and not appropriate to the work/creativity. Aid may thought. It is nicely topic. look unfinished or assembled but may lack messy. detail.

Uses appropriate, welldesigned and executed visual aids that demonstrate work that is neat and easy to follow.

Citation of Sources

Uses some information or images without appropriate citation.

Presentation Presentation Aid (power point, video, poster, model, demo) (Score Factor x2)

Preparedness and Academic Professionalism

Unorganized, rambling presentation with no consideration of time

Presentation is perfunctory and completed in a couple minutes.

Presentation is well organized, but no evidence of practice or refinement in timing or delivery.

Presentation is concise and well organized, completed in 4-5 min. All group members participate.

Demonstration of Physics Content Comprehension (score Factor x2)

Unable or unwilling to answer questions from fellow students or the assessor concerning their project.

Able to answer a few questions about the topic.

Able to accurately answer most questions posed by other students or the assessor

Able to accurately answer almost all questions concerning their project.

Box 2: The final rubric used to grade the final product, written report and oral presentation. 68

Results and Lessons Learned When we began the dedication of entire class periods to project work, the teacher became more of a coach. We served to validate possible solutions to problems encountered, determine sources for additional materials needed, and encourage students to adhere to their timelines so that they would end up with an appropriate deliverable upon completion. A formal ‘check in’ process is important to ensure students stay on track. Students can get so caught up in the design and build aspect that they do not focus enough on the underlying physics. They are encouraged to “become experts” in their project area. In future iterations, we plan on requiring greater research and writing from the students before the dedicated in-class build time commences. Identifying and ordering parts prior to the formal initiation of the project build is important (one team was unable to use a high-voltage transformer for an X-ray tube because its output was in AC current, and they did not have the diodes needed to convert to DC, something realized too late in the process). Destructive cannibalization of optical or electronics subassemblies can be useful for parts (e.g., discarded Microwave oven transformer circuits could have been a source for the X-ray tube power supply). Repurposing of discarded material taps into student creativity. One group could not use a laser pointer because they needed a continuous source, not the pointer with a momentary contact switch. We acquired a laser diode and button cell battery holder that they incorporated into an old dental floss tube where they added an on/off switch. Without an incentive, students will avoid the unfamiliar ‘scientific poster template’ for our large format color printer and instead create a standard science fair 3-panel foam core display for their presentation. This display style gave the presentations an amateur appearance that detracted from otherwise advanced work. In the future, better instruction on poster displays would help students make presentation aids better fitting their work, as well as provide some training for presentation styles they are likely to use should they get involved in student research at the university level.


Figure 5: Sample Poster Template Presentation The Engineering Design Cycle allows us to teach perseverance. They will fail, need to go back to the drawing board, and try again. We help them get past frustration and prevent them from shutting down when encountering quite difficult challenges. One group built a maze and believed they could use magnetic fields from appropriately placed small neodymium magnets to control a hexbug equipped with a magnet through the maze. Failure after failure led everyone to believe it was not possible until the last day when we all heard shouts of joy from the other room they were working in. The true satisfaction from a successful project is palpable. Scientific writing needs to be specifically taught throughout the year to improve the level of their accompanying project reports and laboratories as well. Additionally, research techniques need to be improved. Students need a tool box they can use when their project ventures into areas that require they find, process and understand new concepts. While one teacher in our department developed a course entitled Applied Science Research Methods, it is not structured to help students taking physics. Rather we hope students are inspired by what they do in our classes to dig deeper and take this course.


The evaluation of the projects was a challenge. Teams of three were observed to not be as productive as teams of one or two and should be avoided. The presentation aspect of each project was done over a two-hour period. Half the students were presenting while the other half were completing peer evaluation forms (Box 3). We learned that we need multiple science teachers involved in order to complete an effective evaluation of the presentations.

Physics Project Student Feedback Your Name & Pd: Project/Team You Are Providing Feedback For:

List one aspect you thought was good about the presentation:

List one aspect that you thought should have been better:

What question did you ask and how did they answer?

Box 3: This was replicated 6 times so each student evaluated 6 projects


Future Plans We plan to revert to the standard physics sequence and align it more with NGSS for the upcoming year. The major project will become a culminating project required at the end of the second semester. This will allow optics and electronicsbased ideas developed by students in previous years, but now also allow more mechanics-driven projects. Additionally, we are planning on improving the evaluation aspects of the projects. Among other things, we will add a selfreflection component separate from the written report. Additionally, we want students to have more serious presentations both to their fellow physics classmates as well as a larger community. Due to scheduling limitations for these past two years, students were not able to present to the entire school, although we were successful in bringing a few UCLA Engineering students to observe and comment on projects. We plan to expand this relationship in future years. It was clear that our students had concerns about presenting to undergraduate college students and needed guidance on how best to prepare. Finally, we believe the incorporation of major projects into the physics curriculum was a smart move. Students enjoy the challenge, they effectively use the MakerSpace facilities, and they walk away with confidence, justly proud of their accomplishments.


Building Knowledge and Relationships through Building Toys for Others Erin Riley, Greenwich Academy, Greenwich, CT Nathan Holbert and Sawaros Thanapornsangsuth, Teachers College Columbia University, New York, NY

Abstract G.A.M.E.S, Greenwich Academy’s Makers and Engineers, a program designed to engage students in the process of making for others, offers an environment for gaining new knowledge and skills in the school’s makerspace. Fourth graders make toys for their “little sisters” as part of a special yearlong collaboration. This chapter will share observations and outcomes, focusing on the perspective of little sister “clients” and makers. The motivation behind making for others deepened the impact of this project while further developing their competencies in making. Project Description A long-standing tradition at Greenwich Academy is the Big Sister/ Little Sister program, which pairs fourth grade “big sisters” with first grade “little sisters” in activities throughout the year. In a partnership with the Snow Day Learning Lab at Teachers College, Columbia University, the G.A.M.E.S (Greenwich Academy’s Makers and Engineers program) engaged fourth graders with designing “dream toys” for their first grade little sisters (fig. 1-2). Rather than have students making toys or objects for themselves, the dream toy activity is about building connections between the maker and her community. The expectation is that opportunities to create artifacts to “give back” or support one’s community might provide learners with a broader perspective of the value of making and appeal to a more diverse audience. All names in this article are pseudonyms.


Fig. 1 (left) Sophia sharing progress on her toy design for Annie. Fig. 2 (right) Cathy sharing her final toy design for Nancy.

The Process The overarching goal for the year was for students to engage in the engineering design process to create a “dream toy� for their little sisters. A schedule was put into place to meet every two weeks for 16 sessions (fig. 3 & table 1). The activity sequence began with two days of making with cardboard to familiarize the girls with the lab and stimulate creativity for the year ahead. After the initial making sessions, girls interviewed their little sisters to gather the information needed and brainstormed within a small group. After three days of prototyping, they met with first grade girls who offered feedback on their prototypes. The girls then had seven sessions to complete their final designs for their little sisters. The concluding event was a play date, where the toy exchange took place and the girls could play together.


Name of activity

Fig. 3 G.A.M.E.S Project plan using engineering design process.

# of sessions the activity occurs

Make with cardboard

2 sessions

Interview little sisters

1 session

Brainstorm with small group

1 session


3 sessions

Receive feedback

1 session

Make toys

7 sessions

Play date

1 session Table 1. G.A.M.E.S schedule

The engineering design process provided a framework for the girls to plan their design and overcome various challenges on their way to a complete toy. Despite the common task of designing a dream toy, a wide range of design ideas developed. Some fourth graders pulled out one or two ideas from the client interview to focus on, while others incorporated as many of the ideas presented as they could to create complex and highly personalized toys. For example, Chloe designed and made a plush dry erase board for her little sister, Pam. From her little sister interview, Chloe learned that Pam (1) likes the colors orange and blue, (2) her favorite animals are bunnies, (3) she likes to draw, and (4) play with Magna Tiles, and (5) stuffed animals. This information helped her to form her first prototype using cardboard, markers and magnets (fig. 4-5). Chloe’s concept showed careful consideration for her client, as the prototype satisfied all of the criteria gathered from observations and information recorded in the interview. Presenting her prototype at the feedback session allowed Chloe to tailor the idea further to fit Pam’s toy and play preferences. Chloe revised the final toy design to include magnets, which hold the eraser, into the paws (fig. 5-8). Fig. 4 Chloe’s brainstorm and design sketch for Pam’s toy.


Fig. 5 (left) Chloe prototyping Pam’s toy based on her interview. Fig. 6 (right) Building final toy.

Fig. 7 (left) Chloe’s final toy for Pam Fig. 8 (right) Magnet paws and dry erase board for drawing.

Aside from the natural constraints of time, materials and size, students could envision whatever they wanted for their little sister’s dream toys. This resulted in a diverse range of toy creations. While soft toys were the most requested toy types from the first-grade little sisters, their soft toy creations were personal, unique, and highly creative.


Four examples of plush toys illustrate the variety of ideas that emerged from the design process; they include: Ellie’s plush snake for Gina, Kylie’s light up pillow for Willow, Betty’s pillow with the golden thread (inspired by her favorite fairytale) for Pam (Betty shares her sister with Chloe), and Amy’s talking pillow for Emma. Ellie’s snake idea pushed the boundary of scale; her creation for Gina served a double function as a wearable piece. Kylie incorporated a light up element and decorative trim, treating the surface of the pillow like an artist’s canvas. Betty’s golden thread pillow brought a magical touch to Pam’s dollhouse. Amy’s sunshine yellow pillow brings an equally cheerful message for Emma; with a squeeze, the pillow says, “Have a great day!” (fig. 9-12).

Fig. 9 (left) Ellie's large-scale snake plush for Gina. Fig. 10 (middle) Kylie's light up element for Willow's pillow. Fig. 11 (top right) Betty’s golden thread pillow for Pam. Fig. 12 (bottom right) Amy's talking pillow creation for Emma.

The Value of Making For Others The Little Sister/Big Sister relationship, one that is meaningful for both grades, proved to be a strong motivating factor in the work the girls produced. In many of the toys, we saw students making adjustments and putting their vision for the project aside to create something that matched the interests and toy preferences of their little sisters. This was particularly evident after the “client” feedback session.


One maker, Ruth, presented a talking pillow prototype to her little sister Stephanie at the feedback meeting. While Ruth expected the pillow with the “I love you, Stephanie,” message to be embraced, her first-grade client Stephanie offered a new direction, requesting a “doll house with wheels and a bedroom”. While initially disappointed, Ruth showed flexibility in her thinking and design, abandoning her initial idea to adapt to the feedback provided by Stephanie. By the third session following the feedback, Ruth began making progress on a onestory dollhouse and, on the second to the last day, was putting finishing touches on her creation. She said, “I am so proud of myself today!” When asked why, she said, “I worked so hard. I’m almost done!” Ruth demonstrated an ability to receive feedback and change course with her design idea. In the end she expressed how proud she felt of her efforts and completed the work on time. Confidence with Tools We offered a variety of tools for students to work with over the course of the year to execute their toy construction. This included (1) standard hand-building tools like saws, files, vices, and cutters for the workbench area, (2) hot glue guns, (3) a sewing machine, and (4) power drills. By providing the tools with some general safety guidelines, students had many opportunities to hone their skills. Tool “roll out” came in stages, with students trained in proper use and safety procedures. By the third session in making, the girls had all aforementioned tools available to them, and they were encouraged to support each other by lending a hand to fellow makers. A helping spirit emerged in the weeks that followed; experts in tool use willingly assumed a teaching role with their peers. This was especially true with the power drill and sewing machine where Ellie helped Melodie with her pillow project (fig.13). Students were encouraged to use tools to develop creative solutions to design challenges. For example, Melanie came up with a creative solution for a functional axle for her little sister Allison’s car. Searching through a container of various bolts and nuts, Melanie stumbled upon some eyebolts. She marked and drilled pilot holes in the wood, matched her bolt size to her drill bit, and attached the bolt and nut (fig. 14). The eye functioned as a loop for the axle. Giving students the freedom to experiment with tools allowed them to create new possibilities for making and solving the problems at hand.


Fig. 13 Melodie and Ellie working together at the sewing machine Fig. 14 Melanie's axle solution.

Making Connections and Building Community As a school of many traditions, Greenwich Academy welcomes a new one into the mix that focuses on innovation, developing making skills, and building connections between the maker and her community. At the final play date, where fourth grade makers connected with their little sisters to exchange toys, it was clear this relationship between the girls was personally meaningful (fig. 15-16). The joy in making for others experienced by big sisters, was equal to that of little sisters who received the handmade toys. With a hand in the design process, these girls are already looking forward to reaching fourth grade to start this process with their little sisters. The fourth grade, now entering middle school, have established a strong relationship to the Engineering and Design Lab and can confidently work in the space through integrated projects or courses.


Fig. 15 Iris's message to Lilly. (left) Fig. 16 Makers playing together during the toy exchange and playdate. (right)

Fig. 17 Sample of final toys for G.A.M.E.S.

Acknowledgements Special thanks to Stephanie Seidel, Mariana Keels, and the fourth-grade team for coordinating extra sessions outside of G.A.M.E.S. for interviews and feedback sessions with the first-grade girls. Thanks to Molly King, Jon Ross-Wiley, Mark Feiner, and Ann Decker for their ongoing support of this project.


Building Boats: Designing and Executing an Interdisciplinary STEAM Project Jonathan Olivera Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School New York, NY Abstract The endeavor of writing engaging curriculum that teaches students real-world skills while also giving them a deep understanding of content is one that we as teachers face every year. In the realm of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM), having these skills translate from one arena to the next can be a challenge. Project-based learning has emerged as an excellent interdisciplinary tool to solve this issue. When initially assessing the seventhgrade science curriculum at my school, I saw an opportunity to alter a unit and execute this method of teaching. Bringing other teachers into the fold is a critical part of creating and implementing an interdisciplinary project, and coordinating timing and fit across curricula can be tricky. With the help of some colleagues, we were able to make this a reality. In this chapter, you will learn how seventh grade students engaged in the engineering design process to prototype and build fullsize boats that teachers rowed across our school pool. The unit plan, examples of student work, an analysis of results, and possible alterations to the project will all be discussed. Introduction In the ever-growing field of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) education, we are constantly looking for new, innovative methods to build skills, make content meaningful, and deeply engage our students in the learning process. When planning and discussing skill building across curricula, it has frequently come to my attention that middle school students have difficulty applying what they learn in one subject to another particularly when looking at mathematic skills in science class and vice versa. So, the challenge of building STEAM curriculum really boils down to a few major questions:


1. How can we as educators take an interdisciplinary approach that allows for meaningful skill building across multiple subjects? 2. Will students view what they are doing in the classroom as applicable to the outside world? 3. How can inter-curricular work be designed in a way that enhances student learning? 4. In what ways does STEAM instruction build academic and intellectual skills along with social and emotional skills? 5. How can technology be used in a way that is meaningful to student work? In this chapter, I will present some of my own work in this field as well as share my reflections about said work. My experience has generally been with students in grades five through eight; over the years, I have developed a teaching style of engaging students through project-based learning and interdisciplinary work. Over the course of my career, I have found this method to be the most engaging and meaningful for students. Having been in many different academic settings, I understand that people may have unique methods to answering the questions listed above; however, through my work and observations, I believe that projectbased learning is a powerful curricular approach that can be implemented in STEAM education. Project-based learning is a topic that has been discussed widely in education since the early 1990s. According to the Buck Institute of Education, project-based learning is “a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge.� The project should be focused on developing a deep understanding of standards-based content and skills while enhancing critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and self-management. It should be applicable to the real world, include significant reflection by both students and teachers, and culminate with a product that can be displayed and presented to people beyond the classroom. With this in mind, I introduced new units of study into the existing seventh grade science curriculum to fit these educational ideals. Where to Begin? The most difficult part of the creative process (and I truly believe writing curriculum is just that) is where to start. After reviewing our seventh-grade curriculum map, I saw an opportunity to make some alterations that would both enhance content learning while incorporating valuable skills that were not already being taught. In my case, I started with an idea: students will build their own, full-sized boats out of recyclable material to be rowed across the school pool. The project was inspired by a portion of the curriculum originally dedicated to types of matter, density, and measurement; it provided ample time for a project as well as content that could be expanded upon in meaningful ways. The constraints of the project would have to be addressed prior to any other planning. Would we be able to 82

store these boats without impeding other teachers or students? How would we coordinate with the schedule of the pool to allow the final “regatta” to occur? Would any of this even be possible? After brainstorming some answers, I began reaching out to other faculty members to gauge their interest in being a part of the project. The participation of other faculty was critical in order to move a large-scale project like this forward. Faculty involvement also contributed to community building among middle school faculty and students. The idea of executing this project was met with much positive feedback. The faculty’s enthusiasm for my idea and input throughout the process would become invaluable in the end. Many teachers were excited about the possibility of becoming involved with student groups during the project, and I was able to get our physical education department on board for use of the pool pending the discussion of further details. The math department was also very interested in getting involved; they requested that once the unit was written, we sit down to see how they could bring the project into their curriculum in a meaningful way. At this point, I was able to move on and begin writing the unit with a revised project goal: Student groups will build full-sized boats out of cardboard and duct tape with one additional recyclable material of their choosing. Each group will be paired with a teacher volunteer that will add additional requirements or constraints to their design. This teacher will then row his or her group’s boat across the school pool at the culmination of the project. Setting Sail After significant time working with the content previously written into our curriculum and thinking about how to enhance it, I developed the following unit plan for our project:


Unit Plan: Boat Design Challenge Essential Questions: 1. How do we design and build something to scale? 2. How can we evaluate the effectiveness of a design using a prototype model? 3. Why do we use engineering design process to solve design challenges? 4. How can the engineering design process benefit us in our daily lives? 5. Why do objects float? Learning Objectives: 1. Students will be able to identify the correct SI units to measure mass, volume, density, and length. Students will be able to convert these units based on the size of the objects they are measuring. 2. Students will be able to define and calculate area and surface area. 3. Students will be able to define and measure volume, density, and mass. 4. Students will be able to explain the relationship between mass and volume in terms of density. 5. Students will be able to list and explain the steps of the engineering design process. 6. Students will be able to create sketches (using Geometer’s Sketchpad) drawn to scale and build a prototype using their design. 7. Students will be able to identify problems through testing and come up with creative solutions. 8. Students will be able to successfully engage in the engineering design process to solve a real-world problem.


Day 1

Goal(s) Students will be introduced to the concepts of density and volume.




Density blocks lab (same mass, diff volume; same vol, diff mass)

Lab report (template)

Finish lab report

Materials brainstorm

Exit ticket

Teacher interview

“Stacking” liquids in order of density

Lab report (template)

Finish lab report

Exit ticket

Students will learn the formula to solve for density. 2

Students will be introduced to the challenge and its constraints. Students will be introduced to the engineering design process.


Students will calculate the density of various liquids.

Teacher interview (Continued)

Students will calculate the density of water.

Bring recycled material for float test 4

Students will be able to state the density of water.

Online buoyancy lab

Exit ticket

Students will understand the concept of buoyancy and why objects float. 5

Students will calculate the density of their base boat material.

Blog Post (Teacher interview) Material “float test”

Lab report (minor)

Students will design, to scale, their boat (based on teacher specifications).

Blog Post Designing boat to scale using Geometer’s Sketchpad

Students will present their designs to the class and field questions from students. 7

Students will build the prototype of their boat for testing. Boats will be scaled down models of the larger

Finish lab report Continue gathering recycled material

Students will perform a float test for their recycled materials. 6

Finish online buoyancy lab (if necessary)

Exit ticket

Finish boat designs (if necessary) Blog Post

Prototyping boat


Blog Post

boat to be built. 8

Students will test their prototypes. Weight will be placed in prototype for testing.

Prototype testing & analysis

Exit ticket

Prototype test reflection (Schoology) Blog Post

Students will assess changes to be made based on qualitative data from prototype test. Students will reevaluate the engineering design method. 9

Students will resume planning, reevaluating their designs and making improvements based on testing.

Evaluating prototype test

Student groups will present problems and how they plan on overcoming them.

Presenting new design

Students will evaluate what materials they need and compile a detailed materials list. Materials list will be submitted for approval.

Exit ticket

Improving design based on data

Gather any new necessary materials for building full sized boat Blog Post

Compiling materials list


Students will begin building their boats.

Boat building


Teachers will row student boats across the pool.

Boat testing & assessment


Students will use the project rubric to self-assess their group’s work.

Self-assessment Reflection essay

Students will begin working on their own reflection of the project.


Blog Posts

Reflection essay

Completion of reflection essay

This project is based around the engineering design cycle; in other words, students are blueprinting something, creating a prototype, and finally creating a working product while testing and improving throughout. The goals of this type of project format are to increase student reflection as well as allow for increased peer-to-peer communication and discussion. It also provides students with the steps that engineers engage in to solve a problem. The idea here is that students are developing and applying real-world life skills; ideally, students will be able to transfer these skills to solve problems that they encounter outside of the science classroom. Students had to design a boat that would fit the constraints and requirements given to them. Each group was provided with cardboard and duct tape and allowed one additional recyclable material. In order to decide on this additional material, students learned about density, volume, mass, buoyancy, and the buoyant force. By calculating water’s density, students were able to decipher what percentage of different materials was submerged versus the percentage above water based on the material’s density. Using this information, they were able to decide which material would work best for their group and begin designing their boats to scale. This was the portion of the project completed in math class. Students had to learn and calculate area, surface area, angles, and circumference in order to complete this part of their design. Also, they learned and implemented ratios and proportions by creating a separate design for their smaller prototypes, which would test their design prior to building their full-size boats. Working with the math department was an integral part of designing and implementing this project, and it enhanced student learning in a very meaningful way. Additionally, student groups had to meet and interview the teacher assigned to them in order to find out the requirements and constraints of the boat’s user. For groups assigned to me, I required my boats to have a flat bottom, a pointed bow, and a cup holder that could fit my water bottle. To my delight, many teachers volunteered to be a part of our project; I saw it as a great way to foster community building and give students an opportunity to interact with faculty that they might not know very well.


Technological Integration There are two major technological aspects to this project that evolved in collaboration with the technology faculty. The first is the use of Geometer’s Sketchpad during the blueprinting process.


After discussing the project goals with the math team, they saw the opportunity to integrate the project into their curriculum and recommended we use Geometer’s Sketchpad for the designing portion. Math teachers used this program as a conduit to teach skills that aligned with their curriculum and were important for the project. Their participation in this project made it significantly more meaningful; the skills taught in their classes transferred to science class and allowed students to see real-world connections they otherwise would have missed. Looking at blueprint one, you can see this student has labeled the actual sizes of his or her boat while including a key for the scaled down prototype. In blueprint two, this student chose to only include the scaled down measurements. The second technological piece of this project is the use of student blogs to track progress, manage ideas, and showcase work.


In our school, we use Schoology as our digital learning management system. Within Schoology, there is a blog feature in which students can post videos, pictures, and written content; we took advantage of this option throughout our project. Each day that students worked on their boats, including anything from brainstorming to building, they were required to post a blog for the day. Blog posts were required to answer the following questions:     

What did we do today? (Be descriptive and specific!!) What challenges did we face while designing/building/testing? How will my group overcome these challenges? What, if any, changes did we make to our design? What will my group do moving forward?

Our classrooms each have a set of Chromebooks, so students were able to blog during class as well as take and upload pictures in order to document their work. Here is a sample blog post:


The blogs were a great way for students to document their ideas, reflect on their group work, and track their progress. It also allowed students to share their ideas in a digital forum; students that may not be as willing to share during class have a chance to display their work in a way that is more conducive to their learning style. The Building Process As previously stated, students initially built smaller, scaled down prototypes of their boats in order to test their designs. After trying their prototypes out, students were able to revisit their blueprints and make any necessary changes based on their testing. Students labeled and stored their building materials in teacher prep rooms and in their classrooms.




Culminating Regatta The regatta portion of the project was held after school so that all students would be able to attend and participate. The timing also guaranteed that teachers would be able to participate and attend as spectators. Parents were not invited due to the limited capacity of the pool space. Video and photos of the event were taken and shared later for the school community. All of the boats were stored in the middle school building that is across the street from the pool. Each boat ranged in size from one meter up to two and a half meters long. In order to execute the regatta efficiently several factors were taken into consideration. The science faculty escorted groups of students with their boats and paddles to the lobby of the middle school, where other faculty escorted teams to the cafeteria adjacent to the pool. The cafeteria served as a space for students to wait while other groups tested. The cafeteria also served as a space for students to disassemble their boats at the end of the regatta. Four teams of students with their boats and the partner faculty member entered the pool area to begin the regatta. As teams finished, they were escorted back to the cafeteria and began disassembling their boats, separating recyclable material from that which had to be thrown out. They were also tasked with making sure the space was clean prior to being dismissed at the end.


Assessing the Project Evaluation of student learning was achieved through a team performance assessment as well as an individual technology assessment. Team performance criteria included modification and testing of materials throughout the project, creative and appropriate use of materials, care taken when building, collaboration, and the function of the final boat. Individual assessment was mostly based on work posted to student blogs as well as a reflection piece written at the end of the project. These categories included boat blueprint, blog content, blog appearance, and content understanding. The following rubric was used to assess these various areas:


The rubric puts a much heavier emphasis on the process than the product. It was shared with students at the start of the project and was referenced throughout when students continually asked whether the success of their boat at the end was the main portion of their grade. While their boat’s ultimate success was factored in, I was mainly concerned with their skill development and content understanding. Through the blog, I placed an emphasis on modification and testing as well as thoughtfulness of student blogs to strengthen the engineering design aspect of the project. The blog, among other things, was used as a tool for their reflection. I was also able to assess their modification both through observing students within the classroom and by reading their blog posts. I was able to gauge their scientific knowledge through both their blogs and their final reflection essay. The reflection essay was graded as a separate assignment but also contributed to their ability to show the scientific knowledge they gained during the process of building their boats. Reflection essays covered the following: I. Backward-Looking:  Before we started this project, how much did you know about the topic of engineering a boat?  What expectations did you have about the engineering boat project? II. Inward-Looking:  By completing this project, tell me what you learned about the following ideas: mass, density, fluidity & viscosity, buoyancy, and the engineering process.  How do you feel about the boat you created? Did the boat meet your expectations? Why or why not?  One thing I would like to improve about the boat if I could build it again.  Describe the role you had on this project. Describe the role each of your partners had on this project.  What were the pros and cons of working as a team? Did you resolve the cons? If so, what did you do? How would you improve the teamwork if you could do this project again?


III. Outward-Looking:  If you were the teacher, what grade would you give your group project? Support your answer based on your team’s overall performance.  Review the rubric. In which areas did you meet expectations? In which areas did you not meet expectations? IV. Forward-Looking:  One thing I would like to improve about my participation on a group project.  What are two goals you would like to set for yourself for our next engineering design project?  What would you like your teacher to know about your strengths and weaknesses moving forward? Analysis of Student Work Overall, student groups had a high success rate. Approximately three-quarters of the boats made it across the pool with around half of those boats not taking on any water and remaining fully intact. While reviewing the blogs, the vast majority of students kept up with their blog posts, answering most of the questions while also displaying an understanding of the scientific content that coincided with each portion of the project. Most students uploaded the required media while some failed to do so despite repeated prompting. Finally, almost all students were able to show a good understanding of the content through their reflection pieces. The vast majority of students were able to meet expectations with some students exceeding expectations in terms of content understanding. Students generally wrote thoughtful reflections in terms of how the process went and how they would have done things differently if given the chance. Overall, my expectations were met during both the process and in review of the final product and reflection piece. Further Discussion As with any new project or undertaking, there are a number of things to consider the next time this project is run. A major issue, especially towards the beginning of the building process, was storage. Students had difficulty keeping their materials together within our limited amount of space. We had some problems keeping students’ work separated; this, in turn, led to some disagreements of which boat pieces belonged to which groups. Also, particularly during the messy start to building, storage within the classrooms is difficult. This becomes an issue if you are sharing a classroom with a colleague. In response to these two difficulties, you may want to create fewer boats and have more students within each group. Students can be assigned specific roles within the boat building process that streamline their work and allow building to be a bit quicker while storage becomes less of an issue.


Another possible change to make as this project develops is to extend the use of the blog. Students did minimal commenting on one another’s work, and few teachers checked the blogs regularly besides myself and my science colleagues. The blogs could be put into a more public forum, expanding the community of people who can see them and comment on them. This can be a bit trickier to monitor, but it has the potential to make the project more meaningful and allow students to engage in deeper conversation regarding their ideas and work. A third change I would make in the future is the introduction of a budget. Having different materials “cost” a certain amount of money and giving the students a financial constraint to work within would add a couple of important elements to the project. First, it would force students to conserve material and make the most out of the materials they are using. When we ran this project, students had a tendency to use duct tape freely and without regard for the amount they were using. This would be limited within a budget system. Also, a budget would introduce students to a common constraint faced during real world projects. A discussion around how contractors underbid one another to gain contracts can be opened within this portion of the project. This would be an important real world connection and something that we did not implement the first time we ran the project. Changes could also be made to the technology component of this project. While Geometer’s Sketchpad is a useful program, three-dimensional modeling could be introduced and used to create blueprints of the boats. Using a program such as Tinkercad, students would be able to get a better idea for what their boats will actually look like once completed and have a more interactive and lifelike reference to use when building their boats. These 3-D models could also be printed out using a 3-D printer for students to use while building; however, the drawback of doing this would be the immense amount of time it would take to print the models as well as the added time of students creating the threedimensional models online. While it would add significant time to the project, it could be an important and meaningful addition. Also, this project lacks an art element, which is an integral component of STEAM. When I initially conceived of the project, I envisioned the students engaging with their art teachers in creative, artistic expression in their boat designs. Unfortunately, our seventh-grade students have an art rotation in which they do not all simultaneously take the same type of art and all have different teachers. This made coordinating an artistic component extremely difficult, especially since it was our first time running the project. If this can be added, it would be a true STEAM project.


Finally, changes can be made to the structure of the culminating event. For our final test, teachers paddled their boats across the short length of the pool and back if possible. I would like to implement a second heat for the successful boats, allowing teachers to paddle the boats down the long length of the pool. This would be a much more difficult test for the boats and can be an extension that allows boats to exceed expectations. Awards can be given out for the most successful boats. There are a lot of creative ways to change the final test around that can make it a more fun, engaging experience for the entire school community.


Contact the Authors Experience Empire through Artifact Replication Windward School, Los Angeles Dorothy Lee: dlee@windwardschool.org Dahlia Gratia Setiyawan: dsetiyawan@windwardschool.org Sarah Clark: sclark@windwardschool.org Building a Maker Culture - Before the Design Scarsdale High School Lisa Yokana: lyokana@scarsdaleschool.org Understanding and Making Adaptive Designs Riverdale Country School Rachel Beane: rbeane@riverdale.edu Stacey Cummings: scummings@riverdale.edu Modular Project, Modular Team Kent Denver School Graham Reid: greid@kentdenver.org From Sugar Glider to Skydiver: Engineering Biological Design in First Grade Poly Prep Country Day School Juliette Guarino Berg: jguarinoberg@polyprep.org Literary STEAM: Hacking the Essay Sacred Heart Greenwich Linda Vasu: vasul@cshct.org


Implementing a Physics Project Culture Marymount High School Edward Eadon: eeadon@mhs-la.org Chad Vicenik: cvicenik@gmail.com Building Knowledge and Relationships through Building Toys Greenwich Academy Erin Riley: eriley@greenwichacademy.org Building Boats: Designing and Executing an Interdisciplinary STEAM Project Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School Jonathan Olivera: jolivera@cgps.org Making and Learning Institute @ Marymount Coordinators Eric Walters: eric.walters@marymountnyc.org Don Buckley: donbuckley@gmail.com


Making and Learning Institute Marymount School of New York Sponsored in part by a grant from the E.E. Ford Foundation, the Making and Learning Institute offers a new paradigm in professional development. Instead of self-contained, teacher-centered workshops, you will be immersed in innovative teaching practices, maker culture, design thinking, and digital learning. From Prototype to Pitch: New Pathways in Design, Maker, and Entrepreneurship Education Volume 2

Email us: making@marymountnyc.org Connect with us: making.marymountnyc.org


Profile for Eric Walters

From Prototype to Pitch: New Pathways in Design, Maker and Entrepreneurship Education, Volume 2  

This publication celebrates best practices, exemplar projects, ideas, and frameworks that schools are exploring at the leading edge of desig...

From Prototype to Pitch: New Pathways in Design, Maker and Entrepreneurship Education, Volume 2  

This publication celebrates best practices, exemplar projects, ideas, and frameworks that schools are exploring at the leading edge of desig...

Profile for ericw808