Tinkering in a Digital Sandbox

At the NEIT Conference I got the chance to tinker with the Digital Sandbox, a new micro controller from Sparkfun Industries. Helpful for teaching programming and physical computing to students, learners can program it’s sensors and outputs with Arduino or graphic drag-and-drop code to control it. At my workshop, I learned how to use the Ardublock language to make a sound sensitive VU meter. There is also a digital experiment guide for teaching with the Digital Sandbox with 17 experiments available.

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Musical Drawings

4th graders are continuing their exploration of computer programming through music. In the video below they are demonstrating prototype experimental musical instruments that are drawn in graphite pencil, connected via MaKey MaKey, and coded with Scratch. Drawings, code, and music are all student-generated.

3D Design & Fabrication

We are moving to a new digital fabrication unit in the 5th grade. We’ll build on our structural engineering unit concepts and transfer that to a future classroom furniture design challenge. After some initial skill building with hand tools, computer-aided tools and modeling software, the students will be tasked with designing actual furniture pieces that our faculty and staff will request. Below is the slideshow that students are presented with over the first 3 weeks.

DIY Seismometers

I helped a group of 5th graders worked to build model seismometers from common materials. The activity was part of an integrated study block where students elected to dive deeper into inventions of Ancient China. Other groups explored similar maker projects based on the abacus, paper-making, silk painting, kite building, and Chinese instruments. It was a great afternoon STEAM-focsed learning!

I found the plan from IRIS, and NSF funded consortium dedicated to seismological research and data. View the educational activity document and enjoy our video below: