Monstrous Beats

Here’s a fun Scratch activity that we’re remixing this week in the 4th grade. I call it Monstrous Beat Squad. It’s a remix of a great project by Eric Rosenbaum called Beatbox Quartet. You’ll know Eric as one of the inventors of the MaKey MaKey, a wildly popular computer interface board – the one that turns fruit and other conductors into keyboard keys – that is loads of fun for kids and adults.

//scratch.mit.edu/projects/embed/110603440/?autostart=false

Enjoy the project. Have your own students build a similar project all on their own with the help of this Scratch activity guide that I wrote. I use it in class with my students. Happy programming!

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Revise, Revise, Revise

We’re deep in the trenches and doing the hard work that engineers, designers and inventors must do for the next few weeks. Something I thought to briefly touch on again this week before letting the student work independently was to have a quick discussion of two engineering design cycle diagrams. I handed out both, students read and talked to each other about similarities and differences, and then we had a brief discussion and I talked about how they will go through the cycle a few times, just like professional engineers do.

Enjoy these two diagrams. They are my favorite ones for sharing with students.

Copyright: Engineering Is Elementary

Copyright: Engineering Is Elementary

Copyright: The Works Museum

Copyright: The Works Museum

Choose Your Own (Design) Adventure

This week our 3D design & fabrication jobs were announced to the 5th graders. [You can read this year’s list here] Each year I make a request to the faculty and staff at our school for authentic design challenge proposals. Students will then work towards making their own solutions these problems right here in our building. I usually prefer challenges that are not too physically “big” so that the students can manage the crafting portion of these challenges. For example, it’s more appropriate on “scissor storage” or “door stops” rather than “auditorium lighting”.

After reviewing the list of challenges, students are encouraged to form teams and apply their new engineering design and 3D modeling skills toward solving these authentic problems. They must conduct themselves through all phases of the design cycle that we have studied, questioning, researching, brainstorming, prototyping and revising their solutions until the end of the school year. We prototype with high and low tech materials, like craft sticks, cardboard, power tools and 3D printers.

Here’s to happy inventing!