Tag Archives: makerspace

Cubelets are useful in a variety of learning environments from open-play stations to whole-group guided release. But this balance between unstructured play (important!) and guided instruction (also important!) is a pendulum whose best practices are still not firmly agreed-upon by education researchers, so many teachers like to create their own middle ground. This often involves a workshop model of sorts, which we’ve talked about in previous #CubeletsChat posts. Today, I want to go more in-depth about using the Activity Cards we created, if Workshop Model describes your classroom. Each Activity Card is double-sided. On the front, we always have an image or icon to help students quickly identify what type of task they are being asked to do. We also have a title for the card and a super-brief description to make sure students have everything they need to understand the challenge. On the back, we have three different types of information. One is a complexity rating using both stars and our labeling. For Cubelets we label our levels as: Novice, Apprentice, Artisan, and Master. We also have set-up clues and helpful hints. If students are struggling to complete their activity from the front side alone, encourage them to read through our clues on the back to help them get over their hurdles. Our Cubelets Activity Cards include several different types of challenges that push students into unique types of thinking. Continue reading
It’s finally summer! Students are playing, relaxing, and experiencing many new things, but your Cubelets don’t need to be gathering dust in a closet all summer. Many people are looking for highly engaging tools that secretly prevent the dreaded “summer slide”. Have you considered loaning them to a summer camp or a few of your school families for the summer? Cubelets work really well inside *Theme Weeks* that are often part of summer camp curriculums. Here are a few ideas that might help you pinpoint where Cubelets fit within your summer plans:
Animal Behaviors
Do you have an animal-themed week at camp this year? Are you taking a field trip to the zoo or reading about lots of very exotic animals? Cubelets are great models of natural animal behaviors. Try making robots that act like predators or prey. Or you can invent Cubelets animals that find different kinds of food in an artificial environment. cc - camp #1 Continue reading
“I feel that robots in schools are an incredible equalizer,” says Craig Dunlap, a Blended Learning Teacher at Yealey Elementary in Boone County School District in Florence, Kentucky. “No one really knows what they are doing, so it’s OK not to be an expert.” Mr. Dunlap runs Yealey’s makerspace program and assists other teachers with integrating technology in their classrooms, whether that’s Chromebooks, iPads, or, of course, robots. He continues, “I love one-on-one time with students over robots. We learn a new skill and form a bond at the same time.” Image-25 v2 It took some time, however to realize his makerspace vision. Continue reading
The Ed Tech and Makerspace movements ask teachers to learn alongside our students more than ever before. This results in many classrooms being facilitated through some version of informal conferencing, where all the students (either on their own or in groups) are working on a task while the teacher floats between groups assessing understanding, helping students overcome struggles, and providing guidance for meaningful extensions of the day’s learning objectives. But our classrooms are still full of diverse learners and it is incredibly difficult to support all of our learners at their level when we are learning alongside them. Luckily, we educators have at least one big advantage: We’re adults. We’ve lived through life, amassed a variety of experiences, and so our brains have developed beyond the brains of our students. This makes our think-alouds extremely valuable learning tools. Still, at times I have found myself in the middle of an inquiry lesson where I was stumped about how to differentiate the content for my learners. I walked away knowing my questions had been too vague and, while anchored in the right mindset, had done little to push my learners through their zones of proximal development. Continue reading
One of the things I love about my role at Modular Robotics is collaborating with educators all around the world. And you know what?  We all run our classrooms a little differently! This variance makes it extra tricky for me to write content that meets everyone’s needs, so that’s what this blog post is all about. Let’s review some of the most common classroom structures where I find Cubelets: CC5- class chart Continue reading
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), a “charitable cultural organization with a mission to transform the way people see the world through film”, hosts one of the largest publicly-attended festivals in the world, attracting nearly half a million visitors worldwide. During the TIFF Kids International Film Festival, TIFF hosts digiPlaySpace, a children’s exhibition showcasing digital interactive installations created by international artists and developers with new works introduced each year.
Cubelets at Eureka! exhibit at the National Children's Museum (Jonathan Pow/jp@jonathanpow.com, image provided courtesy of TIFF)
Cubelets at Eureka! exhibit at the National Children’s Museum (Jonathan Pow/jp@jonathanpow.com, image provided courtesy of TIFF)
Cubelets were first introduced at TIFF in 2013 and later became part of the touring exhibition. “digiPlaySpace has proven to be wildly popular with visitors around the world, and Cubelets have been an integral part of that popularity,” says Suzan Sabir, the senior project manager who oversees the digiPlaySpace traveling exhibit program at TIFF. “I believe that part of this appeal is that visitors are able to create a simple robot easily and quickly – instant gratification – and then they can move on to more complex robots with additional experience.” Continue reading
Travel roughly thirty-one miles west of Auckland, and you will come to New Zealand’s Waiheke Island, a scenic destination in New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf with nine thousand permanent residents. Librarian Julia Mount spoke to us about how she has been utilizing Cubelets with young patrons at the Waiheke Island Community Library: “A couple of years ago, a colleague and I started a digital club/Makerspace that runs on Sunday mornings. Theoretically, the Makerspace is for children between the ages of 5-13 and their families, but often passing parents will involve their pre-school age children in the activities. The Makerspace has since given lots of fun and learning for me as well as those who attend. Because Waiheke Island is a holiday destination, our Makerspace regulars are supplemented with holiday makers during the summer break, expanding the chances for locals to make new friends as well as let families from other locations know what Auckland Council Libraries as a whole has to offer. “Cubelets are an open play part of the Makerspace. A library team member or child who already knows about Cubelets will demonstrate to newbies how to make a basic robot with just three cubes – Distance, Drive and Battery. We then challenge the newbies to make seven different robots with just the three cubes. While some enjoy the challenge, others just start experimenting and inventing.” Continue reading
“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” – Thomas Edison By now, many of us have heard of makerspaces. There’s likely one at our child’s school or local library or a nearby museum. What’s exactly in a makerspace is a mystery, however. When we think of makerspaces, many of us think about high-tech equipment like laser cutters or 3D printers; but while many public makerspaces do include these neat tools, any space can be a makerspace. After all, makerspaces are actually exactly what their name suggests: a space to make things. Makerspace Overview Humans are natural makers.  From infancy, children are constantly imagining, creating, and testing the world around them.  The purpose of maker spaces are to foster that creative and critical thinking – and to keep supplies in an easy-to-use area. Children do not need fancy makerspace tools, like a 3D printer, to continue to be inventors. They just need stuff to create their ideas and test them. In the words of Nancy Cole, “I’m realizing that much of my house is currently a makerspace. We already have Legos, blocks, pipe cleaners, fuzzy pom-poms, a glue gun, aluminum foil, bendable wire and multiple containers of markers, crayons, colored pencils and paints. Oh, and random pieces of cardboard. I just need to carve out a dedicated space in our home to gather it all together and allow my children to explore the endless possibilities of their imagination.” So what can we do as parents to support our creative problem-solvers? The first step is to change our lens: look around your house for maker supplies you already have. Some of the best maker materials hide in plain sight. Tissue boxes, paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, and envelopes with the clear plastic address box all make incredible building supplies. You may need to consider getting a couple rolls of different types of tape, glue, and a pair of scissors, as well as some drawing supplies if you don’t already have these at home. Once you see how many makerspace materials you already have, you just need to make a space for them.  Once you find a space – in a play room, a corner of the living room, or even a spare bedroom; bring in your kids as the designers. They will have ideas you never considered, and by creating the space themselves, will be more likely to take ownership in keeping it clean and stocked. To see how others have designed their at-home makerspaces, take a look at some of these:

A recipe for a dedicated Makerspace

A recipe for toolbox Makerspace

Recipes for single-shelf Makerspaces

Remember, any space can be a makerspace. Whether it’s a small bookshelf in the corner, or an entire playroom makeover, it’s the freedom to get messy, persevere, and learn through failed attempts at solving problems that “make” the makerspace. In the words of Janette Hughes, “In these spaces students are learning how to tinker collaboratively with a problem and keep trying until they find a solution. They are learning to be thinkers, innovators and problem-solvers rather than mere consumers of information.” Remember, too, there may be a public makerspace in your city, too! A simple Google search could uncover hidden gems at your local library or museum. After a visit, see if there are any ideas you can bring home with you. Happy making!