Category Archives: Making

Open House in the Makerspace/Robotics Lab


It was universal: children and adults alike were impressed with the Open House we held on Saturday for our new Makerspace/Robotics Lab. The whole morning there was a buzz of laughter and enthusiastic calls of “look at this!” People were moving around the room, checking out what other people were doing and showing off their own work. Kids were building robots and other contraptions, parents were helping them out and taking photos, teachers were demonstrating how to make things with various pieces of equipment …and everybody was having a great time. Several parents and children expressed their hope that this would happen every weekend! Here are some of the things that were going on:

It was a terrific day! We’ll definitely be holding more Open House maker sessions!

This is cross-posted from my school blog.

3D Printing

In our new Makerspace/Robotics Lab, we’ve got a new Makerbot Replicator for 3D printing (and a Digitizer for scanning objects)! We’ve set it up and run a few test prints. I sent out a tweet last weekend of our first real print:

It’s quite impressive how things come out. I’d downloaded some files from museums and art galleries, and wound up printing out two really impressive objects:

firstprintoutsThe skull is of a Homo Erectus, and the original is over 1.5million years old! It’s a scan of a fossil skull found near Lake Turkana in Kenya (nicknamed “Turkana Boy”). This fossil – and many others – have been scanned and 3D models are available to be looked at and manipulated online at This is a terrific resource for any teachers or students interested in studying human origins. (There are also animal fossils as well as tools.) Furthermore, the 3D scans can be downloaded for printing out on a 3D printer. This means that for the price of some plastic filament and some electricity, our school can have a scale model of a real fossilized skull of one of our ancestors. Students can hold it in their hands, look at it from all sides, and see what our ancient relatives looked like (on the inside, at least!).

There are also many museums that have collections of sculptures and artifacts that can be downloaded and printed, such as Rodin’s “The Thinker.” This model was done by a hobbyist and published on Thingiverse, so it’s not as detailed as a scan from the original would be. However, many museums are allowing and encouraging the scanning of artifacts (see this article from The Metropolitan Museum of Art) so it will be increasingly possible for schools to have scale models of sculptures, carvings, or other physical artifacts available to their students.

It’s pretty exciting to have these types of resources available to our students and teachers and community. Come check it out in room S021!

This is cross-posted from my school blog.

Here Come the Robots

IMG_3301The ICS Robotics team is off and running for SY1617! We’ve received a shipment of new kits and extra parts, and our high school and middle school after-school activities are off and running.

The official ASA season doesn’t start until next week, but we had a “soft opening” of the new Makerspace/Robotics Lab in S021 on Thursday and Friday. HS and MS students were joined by a few ES students in opening up and trying out new equipment. There was a lot of laughter and excitement as they worked together to build robots.

Thanks to the successful launch of the ICS Annual Giving campaign last year, we have equipment for all grade levels. There’ll be plenty of opportunity for ICS students to learn to build and program robots no matter their age. For now this means in after-school activities, but we’re working on plans for scheduling the space during the school day and making the equipment available to different classes around the school.

There’ll be plenty more to report during the school year. Meanwhile, here are a few photos from our opening sessions:

IMG_3289 IMG_3332


Cross-posted from my school blog.

First Attempt In Learning

We got a bunch of new equipment to set up the new Makerspace/Robotics Lab, including a vinyl cutter. This is a fairly simple piece of equipment: you design something, then send it to the cutter which cuts your design in paper or vinyl. With this, you can make stencils, wall decals, laptop stickers, etc.

So I tried out some designs to put up on the walls. I had some ideas in my head, so I designed them in Inkscape and worked them into cut lines to run through the cutter. (You can’t just print a solid image: you need the lines that the cutter will follow.)

And I came up with this:


It was a great idea: the action word “Think” to go with the ICS Learner Profile trait of being a Thinker, a brain to lend a visual to the word. But… The brain cut out nicely, but it was extremely difficult to apply to the wall. It stuck to itself, then parts adhered to the wall in the wrong spots. It’s wrinkly and the gap between the lobes is too big.

And I realized: it’s not a FAIL, it’s a First Attempt In Learning. I learned a lot about what makes a good design for a vinyl cut, and I realized I should leave it up there to show the students. They can learn from my F.A.I.L. and try their own designs. And if theirs don’t come out beautifully, it’ll be their First Attempt In Learning.

This is cross-posted from my school blog.