Tuesday, April 14, 2015

John Swett Scribblebots

John Swett workshop goers in March worked in groups to make robots that scribbled - affectionately called scribblebots. Students were challenged to add switches or change the direction of their bot. My goal, to keep all students tinkering, thinking, laughing or otherwise meaningfully engaged throughout the duration of the workshop - was easily met. I even learned something new from a curious young tinkerer; when a brown Mr. Sketch pen is attached to the end of a spinning motor, your friends - and everything else within several feet wind up freckled.

Upon the request of this young engineer, I shared the video with his mom, and now with you as well.

Stomp rockets

Rocket scientists at John Muir test out their custom made launch pads & rockets.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Today was awesome. A few students were making paper plate hovercrafts last week & we just weren't that impressed with the outcome. I asked the director over at Excelsior Science Workshop for some tips, & he pointed me to a much larger version of the hovercraft. Thanks Sol.

Quote for the day: "I am going to be an engineer." 

Thank you Martinez Community Foundation for making projects like this possible! Also thanks to Martinez Home Depot for donating your scrap wood. We appreciate it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Tinkering at Vicente

I am thoroughly pleased to say that we had a successful tinkering session at Vicente this morning. Students chose to be there, decided what to work on and when they were done; everyone stayed engaged & creative and cleaned up their work spaces to boot. Tools & supplies were abundant thanks to our principal Carol Adams who has worked so hard to create engaging opportunities for her students. I'm still working on models for inspiration but this didn't seem to be a problem today. Students were working on paper circuits, a few battery & solar powered cars, a hovercraft in the making & a flashlight.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Castle Design Challenge

We started today's workshop off by reading Yurtle the Turtle, discussed team work, had a side chat about the similarities between Yurtle and some older siblings. .. and then circled back around to the challenge: design a castle that included a tower where Yurtle would have an unobstructed 360 degree view of his land and include 2 other features as well. Each team looked at pictures of castles and sketched out their ideas, once they had a design they got their materials & went to work.   I was impressed how creative & different they all were. One had a pretty elaborate tower complete with cork knights, another had a dungeon & a working drawbridge, they all were unique & each group presented their project at the end of the workshop. Thanks Rich & Cathy at Shell for all the cardboard we can use & thanks to Ms. Hardesty for bringing a bag full of corks.  I love how this designer is evaluating their plans against their model.