Sunday, December 30, 2018

Learning with Laser Technology...

After hearing some success stories from my pal, Jon Jarc, about bringing laser technology to his students, I really, really wanted to jump on board. Jon was doing amazing work with his students, and in our brainstorming sessions, Jon and I talked about using laser curring for everything from topography to modeling and science art. To say that I was hooked, might be an understatement.

But, funding...

Funding, funding, funding...

This is the bane of my existence as a public school teacher. Funding just isn't easy to come by. Especially after hearing the price tag on some of these machines. Holy smokes!!!

So, I did a little research and came across a low budget machine (from Orion Motor Tech, similar to this model). I wrote a grant proposal called, Exploring Laser Cutting with Models, Topography, and More. I submitted my proposal to a local grant awarding agency and crossed my fingers. At this point, I still didn't know much...other than I really wanted to work with this tool.

A couple of months later, I received a notification that I was awarded the funding for this Laser Engraving Cutter machine and my journey of learning began!

My Community:

My pal, Josh Haplea (an amazing Art Educator in Huron City Schools), really got my project on its feet. He helped set up the machine, partnered up on research, provided materials to test and work with, and brainstormed uses for us. We spent time before and after school. We used weekend time. Youtube videos quickly became our best resource. Trial and error, we learned a little at a time. We are still not experts...but the occasional fires on the laser cutter do not cause as much panic as before. ;)

I also employed the learning support of my daughter who is a student at EHOVE Career Center and her teachers, Anthony Limberios and Noah Rasor. Through conversations, tutorials, and email support, I learned more about materials, laser strength, and project possibilities.

And, again...Jon Jarc continued to be an inspiration and guide for this learning. Watching his work on Instagram and constantly asking him questions about the tech, art, and methodology helped expand my learning process.

It's all about forming the community and just trying something new out!

Our work in @lacrossescience:

We are still at the beginning stages of our learning with the laser cutter. I expect in the next 18 weeks of school, we will have a big learning leap! I have two nine-week sessions called STEM Through Building that will allow for even more exploration with the laser cutter. I also have some students in each of my science classes that are ready to roll on utilizing the cutter.

We started with simple projects including:

  • Topography projects (traced images in Keynote, transferred to Corel, cut in cardboard medium) 

  • Character analysis (created images in Keynote, transferred to Corel, cut in cardboard medium) 
  • Earth Science mini-projects (images traced in Paper by 53 app, transferred to Corel, cut in bass wood) 

  • Stream Table medals (created in Keynote, transferred to Corel, cut in balsa wood) 
  • Martian badge projects (images original designed in Paper by 53 app, transferred to Corel, cut in balsa wood) 

  • Sea Glass Carving (Text created in Corel, cut into sea glass from Lake Erie) 
  • Crazy picture frame (Created in Corel, cut into wood picture frame)

Next up:
  • Layered Science- I will be asking students to create layered images that share science concepts. We will be using carboard as the main medium with colored paper mixed in. The use of Keynote to create the images will make it easy to design and transfer.
  • Storybook Project- I will be opening this project for students to create. It looks super amazing, and I think it will require a full nine weeks with many prototypes.
  • Shale Carving- I have no idea how this will work out, but I'd like to offer shale as a medium for students to carve in.
And more...

I think that this has such potential and cannot wait to explore with my students.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Using Keynote for Infographics...Everyone Can Create!

My students have quickly fallen in love with the Keynote app on our iPads. Combined with the Apple pencil and the slick suite of icons available for use, the power in creativity with the software is starting to become noticeable. Using our data collected for the past two months, students built some wicked cool infographics!

First, here is a snapshot of our workflow:

The intangibles that occurred during the collection of data were immeasurable! Students working as scientists using high-quality equipment from Vernier technologies was one major pay off. Students can tell the difference between good equipment and what I think of as "play" equipment. Also, students started making observations of the area that had changed in just one month. They were asking questions and pointing observations out to each other, and talking science is a HUGE win for me! Taking on various roles in the data collection allowed students to work as a team, support each other, and become experts ready to share. Reviewing our data and looking closely at units of measurement and the difference between various collected information helped clear up some misconceptions in science as well as building new knowledge. Many times we ask students to understand the importance of data without ever asking them to collect it themselves. This long-term investigation gives them multiple views of these concepts.

Gallery of our water and weather collection fun:

Now, Keynote...why Keynote?
If you haven't worked with Keynote ever (or in a while), this software is the swiss army knife of tools for students. It has definitely grown to include some amazing creative tools for students to work with. I already shared how students used Keynote to build science lab reports, and this software can continue to support student learning.

In this activity, I wanted students to create a visually appealing graphic that would share some of our science data collected for the months of September and October. After students viewed some infographics online, they decided that the icons, colors, and fun text in Keynote would be perfect for displaying data. Also, the ease of building graphs in Keynote cannot be understated! Students found it easy to input their data, and while peer editing, they discussed the layout of the graph to make improvements.

The ease that students built their infographics was awesome! I loved the way they built up their color schemes and data display. I am so excited to see what they can do when we add November and December data for infographic building round 2.

Now, some phenomenal student samples:

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Using Keynote for Science Reports...Everyone Can Create!

My students had so much success with using Keynote for their Cicada Lab reports, that I decided to offer them another experience using the software to share understanding. 

The prompt for the engineering design challenge, "Design a contraption that can be used with Sphero as the motor to capture cups from the middle of the arena." Like the game Hungry, Hungry Hippo, this challenge required students to design and build a system to grab the most amount of items to return to the outside of the arena. 

Our use of Keynote allowed me to support the design thinking process with slides for initial and final designs, prototyping, materials, results, and final thoughts. As students get more and more familiar with the design thinking process, I think that they will recognize the value in ease of use with this type of reporting. To capture images, videos, drawing, text, and voice into one area is perfect for sharing the vision and redesign that comes with these challenges.

To see a student sample:


Some images of the event:

Monday, August 13, 2018

STEAM Camp and Teacher Training in Elkhart, Indiana

I was invited by Wes Molyneaux to lead a STEAM camp for middle school students in Elkhart, IN as well as a 3-day teacher STEAM training. What an amazing opportunity and so much fun!

I was able to recruit two amazing ADE's, Jon Jarc and Brendan Kelly to help me work with the teachers. They were phenomenal!

 I was able to share how 3D printing can be brought into the classroom in a meaningful way as well as help set up and train on the 3D printers. Students created landmarks and badges. Teachers worked with the software and Thingiverse for finding files to print. We used Sphero for everything from coding through mazes to playing Hungry, Hungry Hippo, and just racing them! With the drones, coding to fly was introduced as well as line of sight flying. Safety and procedures were mixed in with drone racing and synchronized drone flight.

The days flew by with the non-stop fun activities!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Final Thoughts From Our Family

As our family decided to share our experience through a blog post, we had the main goal of providing information. Ultimately, that is what blogging is about. Blogging gives people a chance to share experiences, knowledge, questions, struggles, etc. I'm guessing many people didn't venture out to the rest of my blog, but I typically talk about educational topics that I'm super into, like 3d printing with a purpose in the classroom, using iPads in education, supporting students development of science communication skills,  growing a community of invested learners, and sometimes parenting.

The title of my blog is Conversations: Learning and Growing because that is how I believe people evolve. They converse. They learn. They grow.

This conversation was a tough one. It involved sharing negligence, harassment, ignorance, and some stumbles in parenting. It definitely wasn't the fun blog post in which I share my successes and failures in education.

In respect to the comments that were added to the initial post...

I appreciate the discussion, support, sharing of experiences, and dialogue that occurred.

Some people felt it was important to share their experiences with the establishment. I applaud your courage to write that down. You have taken a step that was probably tough for you. And, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that you were not valued as an employee and fellow human being. You deserve better. Bottom line.

Others felt it necessary to attack with comments of "snowflake" and "trouble-maker". While I didn't appreciate being called names, it did give me an opportunity to do a google search of "snowflake".

Yep...learning all the time.

I also didn't appreciate my daughter being referenced as a trouble-maker. That young lady is strong, kind, hard-working, and more joy for my husband and I than I could have ever hoped for. My son is equally strong, kind, hard-working, and a joy! I love my children with every fiber of my being, as I expect other parents do. I am also as realistic as the next parent. My children are not perfect. But, as a good friend once told me about being a parent and educator, "Never judge a child on their teenage selves. They have so many experiences to come that will shape their hearts and minds." As an educator and parent, I remind myself of that daily.



She was the individual in the situation that did what was right. She informed both her parents and employer of actions that were making her uncomfortable.

End of her story.

She has moved on. have we.

No. We will never frequent the business again.
(Honestly, Pizza House is the ultimate in pizza! #yum)
No. We will never recommend other young adults to work at the business discussed.
No. We will not be embarrassed or fearful for sharing our experience.

For those who want to know more about parenting children entering the workforce, please click on this link:

How to Prepare Your Teen for a First Job

Interested in knowing how to:

Protecting Your Teen From Sexual Harrassment

Interested in knowing some workplace information from OSHA:

Employer Responsibilities for Keeping Young Workers Safe

And, finally, knowing information about Teens at Work, here is a brochure that I found.:

Teens at Work: Facts for Employers, Parents and Teens

Now, those are our thoughts on this experience that we faced.
Unfortunately, we went through it.
Fortunately, we have received support in comments on the blog, direct messages, and phone calls.
Thank you for your voice. Thank you for your offers. And, thank you for being those other human beings that I'm proud to share my learning and growing with.

I'm so sorry that others have experienced this.

Knowledge is power.
Conversation is necessary.