LEGO Challenge #1: Halloween Creations

Just a few days ago we launched our first LEGO build challenge that anyone can do from home, school, or afterschool program.

The goal is to have fun building and making while sharing our work to inspire others.

The rules are simple:

1. Use whatever LEGO pieces you have available
2. Your own creation. We are not looking for purchased models, but you can surely use those pieces to craft your own. Let your imagination come alive!
3. Send you image of your work to aaronmaurer@212steamlabs.com
Include your name and age so I can feature you in the upcoming newsletters. 

Today I would like to feature Miles. He is a six year old who knocked out these designs in about 10 minutes.

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How cool are these awesome designs? The imagination of children never ceases to amaze me.

 

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As his mother states, "He’s six years old and LIVES FOR LEGOS. "

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Feel free to continue to submit your Halloween designs. I know today is Halloween, but we don't have deadlines in creativity, we build when inspired.

Tomorrow I will post the November Challenge. Until then, happy building!

Jaw Snapping Pumpkin Tutorial

In our October classes for middle school, high school, and adults we have been exploring how to write code for our Arduino. We have worked through a variety of projects and codes in the past two classes(find all tutorials here).

We are now to the point of carving out our pumpkins and wiring up the LED lights and servo.

I made a short tutorial explaining how to do this at home.

Here is a tutorial about how to carve and wire your pumpkin Arduino so you can experiment from home.

Enjoy! I cannot wait to showcase what we were making in class!

In our final class week I will have more pumpkins for us to carve. Additionally, we will explore some advanced coding using a remote control, ultrasonic sensor, noise sensor, and more.

 

Preschool Steam Biology Class - 10/18/2017

Today was our last Preschool Steam Class!  Our focus was all on pumpkins.  Here is what we did:

-Watched a video and learned a song on How Pumpkins Grow.

Pretended to pick pretend "cotton ball" pumpkins using two tongue depressors.  It started out slowly only picking one at a time.  By the end, the students had figured out a way to do as many as 4, 5, or 6 at a time.  

-Measured and compared pumpkins - height, weight and distance around.

-Used a felt board to tell the story, "5 Little Pumpkins Sitting on A Gate."

-Made gates to hold 5 Little Pumpkins.  First using clothes pins and popsicle sticks to hold pretend "cotton ball "pumpkins.  Then, the students used cups and sign boards to construct bigger, multi-story pumpkins to hold 5 real pumpkins.

Read the story "The Runaway Pumpkin."

Rolled pumpkins down a ramp and used engineering skills to figure out how to stop them at the bottom.  Ended up rolling a huge pumpkin and believe it or not - it didn't break!

We had lots of fun studying pumpkins!  Pictures will be posted next Wednesday - sorry about that but sometimes technology takes time!

 

 

 

Arduino Pumpkin Classes 1 & 2

So much is happening at 212 STEAM Labs that there is barely time to write and document. The last two weeks we have been running Arduino coding classes to help people learn how to code along with physical computing.

We started out in class one understanding the basics of Arduino and how it works. We started to explore how to code an LED light in a variety of ways - blinking, multiple LED, push button activation, potentiometer adjustments, and more.

During class 2 we refreshed our skills with the LED lights and added in a servo motor component. These two basic functions will be enough to begin to create, carve, and code our very own robotic pumpkins during the next two weeks of class.

We are learning that coding takes time. It does not come easy and like anything in life it requires practice and patience. 

If you want to learn more about what we are doing, then check out these two videos.

 

Additionally, if you want to learn more we have created tutorials of the work we are doing in class to help guide you at home.

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 1: What is in the kit? https://youtu.be/Ph4ekQmqm0c

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 2: What is an Arduino? https://youtu.be/b4M7UmZBSOU

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 3: Download the Software https://youtu.be/r8PIuBxPlLQ

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 4: Syncing Arduino with Software https://youtu.be/GZZQ-uRnEJw

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 5: LED Light on Pin 13 https://youtu.be/0xnszPlK_vw

Code

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 6: Coding Variables for LED https://youtu.be/GtvWCwZse2k

Code

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 7: LED Challenge https://youtu.be/JLXhQZOc76A

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 7: LED Challenge Answer https://youtu.be/RevNRAddIx0

Code

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 8: Potentiometer Basics https://youtu.be/_j3UT-Ry9Y0

Code

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 9: Push Button https://youtu.be/aGun2ZVdBdA

Code

212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 10: Multiple LED Marquee Style https://youtu.be/rQ475xOt0ZU

Code


212 STEAM Labs: Arduino Class Part 11: Single Servo https://youtu.be/Yz786YvHZg0

Code

 

Preschool Steam Class 10/11/2017: Habitats

Our Preschool Steam Class met today and learned about habitats.  Here is what we did:

- Played a game which had students matching animals to their habitats.

- Watched a video on penguins, their habitats, and adaptations.

- Conducted 2 experiments demonstrating how penguins stay dry.

              1)Colored a penguin with crayons then sprayed it with water.  The wax in the crayon                     kept the penguin dry.

               2)Put oil and water and a few drops of food coloring in a baggie and saw that the                        two do not mix.  Penguin feathers are coated with a special oily substance that                          repels water and helps to keep them dry in their habitat.

- Conducted 2 experiments to better understand how penguins stay warm.

                 1)Touched ice water with a bare hand and then a "blubber" glove to feel the                                  difference insulation makes in keeping things warm. 

                  2)Placed 9 feathers in a square centimeter of play dough to understand how                                 densely packed a penguin's feathers are in an effort to keep them warm.

After our experiments, we played games.  One had us waddling like a penguin with a balloon between our legs.  Another had us sliding on our stomachs while lying on a towel to simulate how penguins slide or "tobaggan" on the ice.

Learning about habitats was lots of fun!  We have one more class scheduled in this session on Biology - pumpkins.  After that, we take a break until January 3rd.  At that time we will focus on topics related to the science of Chemistry.  Registration forms will be available next week.  Space will be limited so sign up early to save your space!

Pictures from today are below.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Elementary Makey Makey Class Begins

This week we kicked off our Robotic Halloween courses for elementary, middle, high school, and adult classes.

In our younger elementary class we are focusing on the Makey Makey. The Makey Makey is a perfect starting point when we begin to discuss coding and physical computing. Additionally, Makey Makey is Arduino based which funnels perfectly into our other classes where we are exploring Arduino.

 

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We started out our class with some very quick and basic foundation discussion. We believe that the best way to learn is to DO! We provide a little background and then help students begin to trust in themselves to experiment, tinker, and design.

We explained what a Makey Makey is and how circuits work. After that we sent them on their way to attempt to make their first circuit by turning on a LED.

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We also discuss the culture of learning at 212. These items above are not rules, but just the way we operate. If we want our students to have the confidence to experiment and try things then we must be sure the space is safe for them to do so. We start off each class discussing these items.

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Each student was provided their own space to work and they were able to work at their own pace through a series of design challenges.

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Students were provided many materials such as bananas to make a banana piano, washers, conductive tape, foil, graphite pencil, construction paper, and more. We wanted students to explore.

In the end students were able to make a LED circuit, a people circuit(check the video), and a banana piano.

Next week we will begin to explore coding the Makey Makey with Scratch and start to assemble their Halloween props.

Be sure to check the video to watch what was happening in class.

 

October 4, 2017 Preschool Steam Biology Beginnings

The Preschool Steam Biology Class focused on life cycles today!  Here is what we did:

-Discovered and played with seeds from a milk weed and discussed the lifecycle of plants.

-Read a book and watched a video on the life cycle of a frog.

-Played the Frog Life Cycle Memory Game.

-Had a frog jumping contest. (with plastic frogs!)

-Watched a video on the life cycle of a butterfly.

-Matched 4 different pasta shapes to 4 different stages in the life cycle of a butterfly.

-Became "human chrysalises" by being wrapped up in toilet paper and breaking out as a butterfly.

-Used ribbons to fly and flap our wings as if we were butterflies.

Learning about life cycles was one of our favorite lessons.  Pictures are below. Enjoy!

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Discovery in Learning via Ancient Engineering

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“The scandal of education is that every time you teach something you deprive a child of the pleasure and benefit of discovery.” Papert, S. (1996)

This video showcases our final class of making trebuchets and catapults and more. Through discovery of tinkering, experimenting, prototyping, and asking "What if?" students were able to take their ideas from paper and transform to the real world.

This is the beauty of STEM and STEAM education and the core of makerspaces and learning that sticks.

Sep 27 Preschool STEAM

The Preschool Steam Class studied vertebrates and invertebrates today.  Here is what we did:

  1. Built structures out of blocks.
  2. Examined the structure of a skeleton.
  3. Studied pictures of animals that when put in light revealed their skeletons.
  4. Learned that animals with skeletons are called vertebrates.
  5. Watched a video that identifies vertebrates, invertebrates and their differences.
  6. Did a Steam Challenge using play dough to build animals with and without a backbone to determine which would hold the most blocks.
  7. Played a relay game matching animals with their skeletons.

Who knew preschoolers could have so much fun learning about such a complicated topic!?!

Pictures are below.  Enjoy!

 

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PVC Trebuchet Construction Begins

Our PVC catapult design challenge has begun! Who will be the king of fling? This is the challenge we have set out to discover. We want to take our learning from our previous two classes of Ancient Engineering and apply these skills and ideas into our biggest project yet.

Students were provided a document to process over the last week to help them think through the challenge of designing their very own catapult.

The document provided a playlist of resources as well as the criteria that they had to work under in order to create their catapult.

As students began to sketch out their plans once they were provided an overview of the project they began to realize that this might not be as easy as they thought. Taking the ideas from their head and getting it on paper is not as easy as one might think. Especially when they are limited in the parts available.

After developing a plan we were able to see all sorts of really cool designs. We have catapults, trebuchets, ballistas, and more. I cannot wait to see how they turn out and work.

As the night went on students were able to begin to measure and cut their parts. Once again taking ideas from a 2D surface and converting to the 3D world is not as easy as we think. We are developing some critical skills such as

  • mental imagery
  • visual perception
  • spatial visualization
  • cognitive flexibility

Of course we have our science and math skills being woven in. I was teaching the Pythagorean theorem https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YompsDlEdtc and everything in between.

I wish there was a way to measure the brain activity as these kids were in full immersion. They were doing some serious problem solving and application of learning. It was awesome!

Once again, class flew by. We had to clean up all of our work and now we wait for our final class to finish building, testing, and prototyping our designs.

This is what learning is all about. Hands on immersive approach. I was impressed by their designs and allowed them the freedom to develop their own ideas. It will be interesting to see how they turn out in the end when we meet next week for our final class. The beauty of a project like this is that nobody knows until we try!

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Preschool STEAM class - Plants vs. Animals

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The Preschool Steam class learned about classification today.  Here is what we did:

-Examined real plants and animals in observation containers.

-Played a classification game which asked the students to find pictures, classify them as plants or animals, and glue them onto a poster.

-Studied seeds from different plant - harvested them, looked at them under a microscope, and made their own seed collection.

-Made a seed starter to take home and watch grow.

-Studied animals and classified them based on fur/no fur, big/little, fast/slow, etc.

-Participated in a Steam Challenge asking the students to build a tree with provided materials to hold several birds

A great time was had by all learning and practicing classification!  

Enjoy the pictures below!

 

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First Day of Preschool STEAM Class a Success!

Preschool Steam Blog from September 13, 2017

Preschool Steam: Biology Beginnings was held today!  Our lesson focused on the differences between living and nonliving things.  

We looked at some National Geographic books while we waited for everyone to arrive.  Then we examined some bugs in critter keepers - two spiders, a stink bug, crickets, a fly, a cicada and a cicada killer.  And talked about the differences between a silk flower in a mystery bag and a real one.  

A quick Sesame Street video helped identify ways to tell if something is alive:  it eats, breathes and grows. We made a collage to reinforce this concept and even learned a song.  And then, it was time to start experimenting!

First, we studied gummy worms.  We looked at them under a magnifying glass, measured how long they were, and identified their color.  The gummy worms didn't move though and weren't much fun so we sprinkled some baking soda on them and put them in vinegar.  That really got them going!

Next we studied real worms.  We looked at them under a magnifying glass, measured them, and identified their color.  But the real worms moved a lot!  And they were fun!  Everyone named their worm and made a home to take home.  

Pictures are below.  Enjoy!

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A dash of color

This past weekend we had a wonderful grand opening. We had a constant stream of people visiting the space to check things out. It was a wonderful weekend. We enjoyed speaking with all of you as well as meeting so pretty amazing kids in the process.

As we connected with many of you we were able to process events and ideas people are looking for in the community. We are excited to further develop some additional classes to meet the needs of the community.

We are currently developing

1. Adult class for the October Robotic Pumpkin

2. Classes for grades 1-4 to expand services PreK-8

3. Potential high school robotics team

While we develop these ideas further we are excited that preschool classes begin this week. We are prepared and ready. Our Lab Conductors for the class have been hard at work making sure everything is just right for the kids when they arrive on Wednesday.

This week we have our second session of Ancient Engineering classes for grades 5-8. We still have a few spots open if you missed the first week. After this week we will no longer accept registrations for this September class. We will be moving from catapults into trebuchets as we prepare for our large PVC trebuchet.

Don't forget that on October 1st we have a family event called King of Fling. It is a one day challenge to build a catapult or trebuchet to see how far you can fling some objects across the parking lot. Sign up today so we can ensure your materials will be ready.

 

Our preschool space is coming together very nicely!

Our preschool space is coming together very nicely!

Can you build a marble maze?

Can you build a marble maze?

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Preschool Steam Blog from September 13, 2017

Preschool Steam: Biology Beginnings was held today!  Our lesson focused on the differences between living and nonliving things.  

We looked at some National Geographic books while we waited for everyone to arrive.  Then we examined some bugs in critter keepers - two spiders, a stink bug, crickets, a fly, a cicada and a cicada killer.  And talked about the differences between a silk flower in a mystery bag and a real one.  

A quick Sesame Street video helped identify ways to tell if something is alive:  it eats, breathes and grows. We made a collage to reinforce this concept and even learned a song.  And then, it was time to start experimenting!

First, we studied gummy worms.  We looked at them under a magnifying glass, measured how long they were, and identified their color.  The gummy worms didn't move though and weren't much fun so we sprinkled some baking soda on them and put them in vinegar.  That really got them going!

Next we studied real worms.  We looked at them under a magnifying glass, measured them, and identified their color.  But the real worms moved a lot!  And they were fun!  Everyone named their worm and made a home to take home.  

Pictures are below.  Enjoy!

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212 STEAM Labs Grand Opening

212 STEAM Labs Grand Opening

It is time to open our doors!

The day has arrived where our vision is ready to be a reality. After much hard work we are ready to open the doors to 212 STEAM Labs and begin to add another positive space to the community by enriching learning for the community in the STEAM fields and connecting the dots with all the amazing people and businesses in the area.

To learn about all the details and more head over to our event page on Smore or Facebook

Podcasting the Journey

We are working like crazy in all of our off hours to get things ready for classes happening very soon. We have been updating the website based on questions and feedback to ensure it operates as smoothly as possible for our awesome group of people interested in 212 STEAM Labs.

We have many updates to share with you which will be coming soon, but I wanted to let everyone know that I have been documenting my journey of learning how to launch a non-profit so others can see that not everything is as easy as it seems. 

I will be working to have all podcasts synced up to this website soon, but in the meantime you can go to my other blog and check out the episodes - http://coffeeforthebrain.com/podcasts/

Episodes 43-47 are specific to 212 STEAM Labs, but I think they are all good. 

Coming soon will be a series of interviews with people who are in the STEAM fields doing great things to share some of the amazing work taking place around the world.

Stay tuned.

 

Maybe One Step Closer

Welcome to the third newsletter of 212 STEAM Labs, Inc. Last week I titled the newsletter One Step Closer. A week ago I was confident I would be writing this newsletter with progression pictures of the space from how it looked when we received the keys to the painting and building of work tables and some of the materials I have been collecting to open the doors.

This is not the case. We are stuck in the corporate wade pool. We are simply waiting for the paperwork to go through. We have been patient and everyone who has been helping us has been amazing. Here we are now a few weeks behind schedule with our eyes set on an optimistic view that this will be the week.

At this point everything is still a go as planned, but I won't lie to you and let you know that we are starting to create a plan B. We have everything we need to begin and now we just wait for the space.

It will work out. All things happen for a reason. In the meantime, I am not pouting and complaining. Rather, I am working on the very skills I would teach students in our classes and that is perseverance and problem solving. It is not like we don't have a thousand other things to get done. So here is what is going on.

1. Fall classes are available for sign up now. All information can be found on our website: https://www.212steamlabs.com/. We still have spots available. If you know of someone who might be interested I would love it if you kindly shared the classes with them.

2. I have posted a new podcast episode in regards to this new venture. This will be a new schedule where every Tuesday we will have a new episode.

3. On Mondays we will be posting videos. A new slime video will be posted tomorrow and it is awesome! We will eventually move things over to a specific 212 STEAM Labs YouTube page, but for now things will be housed on my personal page.

4. Once we move in we do plan to have a meeting with interested parties to learn more about our vision and things we want to accomplish. If you would like to be invited to this meeting or know of someone please reach out to me and I will add them to the list.

Until next Sunday we appreciate your support and we hope to have pictures and updates about the space by next weekend. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

 

One Step Closer

Welcome to the second update of 212 STEAM Labs, Inc. I have returned from a long due family vacation in Myrtle Beach. We jumped on the road at 3 am yesterday and drove all day to make it home Saturday night. Today after a wonderful night of sleep in our own beds we are back to the grind to make things happen.

Since the last update we have been delayed in some of our scheduling. We were to be moved into the space by now and I was hoping to be moving the stuff from my garage over the space to begin building work tables, assembling tools, painting, etc. We have been delayed in some of the paperwork with the company we are working with, but we are optimistic that tomorrow brings great news and we can move forward with out plans.

It was so exciting to pick up our mail from being gone and finding registrations for the classes. This warms my heart and has me so excited to make things happen in September. To those that have registered we say THANK YOU! because it is the key to moving forward with our goals and dreams. Without students and supportive parents, none of this works. If you have not yet signed up, then I encourage you to do so as we limiting classes to a max of 15 students for proper teaching ratios. Don't lose out!

I have been in several conversations about potential future projects and let me just say we have so amazing ideas swirling in our heads that I think are going to change how we think about learning. After a meeting today at my usual spot of Dunn Bros on 53rd, following up on some emails, adn organizing my notes, I believe you are going to want to sign up as a parent for these classes as well.

Here are some things coming your way soon:
1. Fall classes are available for sign up now. All information can be found on our website: https://www.212steamlabs.com/
2. We are currently seeking out if parents would be interested in the following options of classes. Let us know by email or leaving a comment.

  • Parent/Child class

  • Parent only class

3. Seeking grants to apply for to begin to host more equipment for projects we have in mind. If you know of any good ones out there, then let us know.
4. Organizing both male and female leadership groups. These will be meetings designed to empower males and females in leadership skills and mindsets. 

Until next Sunday we appreciate your support and we hope to have pictures and updates about the space by next weekend. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

See you later, alligator( here is the song if you want to sing along!)

Aaron Maurer aka Coffeechug

212 STEAM Labs is Open!

It is finally happening!

Welcome to the first blog of 212 STEAM Labs, Inc. I am still in disbelief that this vision is becoming a reality. While we have so much work to do and we have so much passionate energy to make it happen I sometimes wonder if there is enough coffee in the day!

Today we have launched on our website the first round of classes to be offered in the space. We have classes for grades 5-8 as well as a preschool class. Don't forget that we are sharing space with Bereskin Art Studio and Gallery so we have a ton of art class offerings as well.

For those that don't know we have acquired the old Foster's Music building down on State St. We have an amazing location and plenty of space. Additionally, we will be sharing the space with the Bereskin Art Studio and Gallery. Pat Bereskin and her crew has been so helpful in making sure this happens. The amount of gratitude I have for the patience, bending over backwards, and support to this concept cannot be put into words. Just the simple fact of an art studio working together with a STEAM space provides so many opportunities of learning. It is going to be epic.

For now, we need you! Spread the word. Share the message. Let people know that this exists. We are small. We are growing organically. We want it be authentic. 

We have many massive ideas in preparation to launch to bring more events and projects to the space, but for now we have several classes to get started. If you have suggestion, ideas, or questions please feel to reach out to us. We are already looking to expanding the sessions down to 5th grade if the numbers work. 

In the meantime we would love it if you share. We are able to move into the space August 1st and from there we will be working hard to have things ready for classes in September. 

Here are some things you can begin to expect to hear from us about:


1. Adult classes on the same topics to provide trainings and a space for adults to learn
2. New competitions that nobody is doing in the area
3. Weekend workshops and drop in classes
4. Grand Opening event
5. Whatever else comes to us in the middle of the night

This is one heck of an adventure. We hope you join us. If you are reading this, then we thank you already for signing up for the newsletter. We will be in touch soon with new features, updates, and how things are progressing.