A Day of Making

This morning I had the great pleasure of meeting with the San Diego Area Writing Project (SDAWP) for a morning of tinkering, making, and inquiry.  Christine Kane began the morning by sharing a brief history of the Maker Movement which started with Leonardo da Vinci.  She ended her presentation by telling us about Seymour Papert, the father of the modern day Maker Movement.  Papert was the father of constructionism (not to be confused with constructivism).  Constructionism is learning by actively constructing knowledge through the act of making something shareable.  The motto of the Maker Movement is:

If you can’t open it, you don’t own it.”

Then, Margit Boyesen talked to our group about systems thinking.  After that, the fun really began.  Kim Douillard asked all of us to hack our notebook by creating a simple circuit using a 3 volt battery, copper adhesive tape, and a light bulb.  After a few minutes of instruction she let us create.  At first, I was a bit frustrated because there was a lot of new information thrown at me.  It took me a few seconds to get started.  Thank goodness I was sitting at a table with supportive peers who encouraged me to start.  As with anything new, I find that just getting started is the hardest part.  However, once I began, I couldn’t stop!  Here is the simple circuit I created in my notebook.

simple circuit

It was an exciting moment when I got my light bulb to illuminate!  As I look at it now, I am thinking I don’t need to go that big with my initial rectangle!  I will have to remember that when I attempt this with students.  The circuit can be smaller.  🙂  The next thing we did was to incorporate the light into a picture or text.  Since we were instructed to keep the page before the circuit blank, we could draw our picture on that.  At first, I was disappointed that I had selected a red light for my circuit.  We were given several little light bulbs and I had not paid attention to the color scheme when I stuck it to my page.  I suppose I could have switched out the light bulb, but I was afraid to mess anything up, especially since it was working.  In any case, I decided to go with what I had.  I began thinking what the red light represented to me.  What do I relate a red light to?  The first thing that popped into my mind was a stop light.  This is what I was able to create with the red light from my circuit.

first attempt

It’s basically a picture to remind myself of things to stop doing, or things to stop and do.  Kim and Margit shared this video with us which served as inspiration for this light bulb activity.

After lunch, we were given more time to hack our notebook.  Kim brought out more materials for us to use.  She gave us a battery holder and 2 alligator clips.  We could tape the battery holder to the back of our notebook and that way we could create as many “light” pages as we wanted.  There were also filament thread, needles, and crochet hooks.  People were getting creative by sewing directly into their page.  I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted to create, but I was unable to get my circuit to work.  I tried several ways to try to get 3 light bulbs to light in a series circuit.  Nothing worked.  Then, someone suggested a parallel circuit.  I did that and got 2 of the light bulbs to light.  Unfortunately, it was time to stop working and go home.  When I got home, my husband helped me figure out a way for the third light bulb to be part of the parallel circuit I had already created.  He said that I needed to think about the circuit like water flowing.  Here is how I was able to get my third bulb to light up.

final circuit

I was so excited!  This conversation with my husband reminded me of the power of collaboration.  Kim asked us during the session what we do when we get stuck.  My first solution almost always is to ask an expert or someone I think can help me.  I want to build this kind of interaction in my own classroom.  I want there to be moments where kids are creating, discovering, collaborating, discussing, problem-solving, and sharing.  It is so powerful when these things happen.  Learning can be fun, exciting, and meaningful.

After I got my circuit to work, I made this picture.


I realized that I actually incorporated my 2014 word of the year!  🙂  I had a great morning learning, sharing, and creating with my SDAWP friends.  It was a productive day, and I am proud of what I accomplished.