Maker Exploratorium 2015 Edition

We finished the third round of my offering for Oregon State's Adventures in Learning pre-college program. Here is the course description:
We are all makers at heart. We just have to find our passion. Explore electronics with Arduino microcontrollers. Learn how computers work with Raspberry Pi. Learn how to program in Scratch, JavaScript and Python. Incorporate computing in textiles with soft-circuits. Take apart an appliance to see how it works. Create art from junk. Explore and utilize online maker resources. Go home with the skills and confidence to follow your passion.
For this session we had seventeen young makers age 10 to 12. I had one college assistant, a mechanical engineering student named Jeremiah. This was the first class of the day and met for eighty minutes, Monday through Friday, for two weeks.

I like starting classes by showing showing short videos each day.  We start with Dale Dougherty's TED talk entitled "We are Makers".  He points out that there are lots of different types of makers, and that everyone is a maker of some sort or another.  I also showed videos about how everyone should learn to program, and that sometimes it is frustrating but worth it, and how you have to be persistent.

This time around we broke the kids in to four groups, and assigned a different activity for each group. Each group rotated to a new activity every day. This made it easier to monitor the intensive activities like soldering and required less hardware for activities like Arduino.  The first four projects were:
  • Blinky LED circuit where we learn a little bit about electrical circuits and how they work.
  • How to blink an LED with a programmable Arduino.
  • Some simple programming in Scratch.
  • 3D design with Tinkercad.
The 3D printing has come a long way since last year, when all they did was customize a coin which we then had the Valley Library print out for us. This year we had our hands on two printers, one mine and the other a loaner from the Valley Library. The students were given 15 minutes of print time, enough to print out an object about one square inch in size, and allowed to design anything they wanted. We had lots of MineCraft objects, a chess piece, and a replica of the Parthenon. I also taught dedicated 3D printing classes which you can read about here.

 Projects for the second series of rotations included:
 I also brought in my Maker-Faire turtle robot for the kids to play with and a Raspberry Pi.

The final two days we finished up the soldering projects, dissembled a laptop, created junkbots from the parts, and had the parents in to learn what the kids were doing. It was an exhausting and exhilarating week. I learn new things every time I teach. Hopefully the kids do too!