Monthly Archives: December 2016

Makerspaces in Action: Cardboard Challenge

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When I heard about the Global Cardboard Challenge, I absolutely had to get my school involved!  I felt that this activity would be a wonderful way to get my feet wet with my classes in the makerspace ocean.  The idea is simple but the possibilities are endless–students take recyclable materials (mainly cardboard) and build something from their imagination.  It was a low-cost event that was easy to plan and execute.

I decided to make this a pre-holiday-break event, and about a month before, I began to reach out to the entire school community with a simple flyer and urged students and staff alike to donate cardboard, plastic bottles, egg cartons, tape, glue, etc.  The materials came streaming in and it was amazing to see just how much accumulated in the library media center in the weeks before the Cardboard Challenge.  Everyone from my third graders all the way up to my sixth graders are enjoying sketching out their designs and slowly bringing their creations to life.  As one fifth grade student put it:  “The library class is so much fun!  I have never done anything like this before!”  It is amazing seeing my students tap into their imagination and take ownership of the lesson and their learning.  Watching them testing out different techniques and discussing plans while building is absolutely wonderful.

I have never taken on such a massive makerspace activity, but this will certainly not be the last time!  I urge all of my fellow educators to try this and other makerspace events out.  Let your students take the reins in their own education; you will not be disappointed.

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Computer Science Education Week

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December 5th through the 11th this year is Computer Science Education Week, and I took this opportunity to go through basic coding with some of my 5th and 6th grade classes.  The first couple days have been an absolute success!  My fifth graders created their own emojis (shown in picture above) and coded a basic robot game–both provided by Made By Code (a Google project).  My six graders, who have already been exposed to coding with their classroom teachers, are doing coding for basic games:  Flappy Bird and Star Wars–both provided by Code.org.

It was fun to devote my time with them this week to coding.  I always like to think because of the rapid advance of technology, we are teaching and training our students for careers that don’t even exist yet!  It’s good to get yourself, as an educator, out of your comfort zone, and explore a new facet with your students!  I myself am a complete newbie when it comes to coding, and a couple of my fifth graders were showing me tricks and shortcuts during their robot game coding!  It was amazing to see some of them in their element, and the fact that they were all leaving with a smile on their face, just sweetened the deal!

Hour of Code, in honor of Computer Science Education Week, is and continues to be a success!  When your students do not want to leave your classroom, you know you’re doing something right…

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