We have a new Instagram feed that gets updated a lot more regularly than our website (see the right side tabs for more social media). In case you missed them, here are a few of our recent 3D prints. All the paint jobs are by students! Click on a picture for a better view.  Or, just follow us on Instagram for the full dose of witty captions and hashtags. 

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Here's a nice story from the RMO about LGMS's 20-Time innovation project. Click the upper right box of the PDF to get a pop-out for easier viewing.

The Marshmallow Challenge is a classic design challenge that forces you to think about about the assumptions in your problem - plus it's just plain fun. But by this point most of the Makerspace 8 students have already given it a try, and some of its observations aren't so striking the 2nd time around. So - we added an evil twist. 

Makerspace 8 has 2 sections (A/B), and we are running a minor competition between the two, both to raise the bar and to provide an incentive not to leak any information about the design challenge surprises. We asked each section to work in mini-teams, but with the overall goal of maximizing the section's average, thus changing the dynamic. But the real shock came 10 minutes in, when we stopped the clock and told them to rotate groups clockwise so that you inherited some elses' partial project. 

The first part of design thinking is empathy. The empathy exercise then becomes: do you start again from scratch following your own vision (and half the time gone) or do you continue on with the prior owner's partial design and vision? And what was that vision? Students quickly realized that communicating their vision to the new group was the best way to maximize the extremely limited building time. 

Of course, in the real world you rarely get to start with a blank project.  You are often parachuted into an existing project and have to work within someone else's grand plan, while still adding in your own ideas and influence. As well - leadership comes from the ability to give up 100% ownership of your project, and be okay with someone else continuing on the your general-but-not-quite-the-same direction towards the overall goal. It is hard to give up ownership! There was much consternation when we asked people to move on from their partially built project...

Here are some pictures from both sessions (combined)

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Not a summer goes by in Canmore without multiple stories about bear/human interactions, usually of the negative kind. Bears are continually entering town searching for easy food - often fruit trees, bird feeders or trash cans - and the town has made a major effort to educate locals and visitors alike that "A Fed Bear Is A Dead Bear".  As part of his 20 Time project, Colin Fearing was interested in creating a video game that could educate the public about what it's like to be a bear continually struggling to find food. 

A player takes the character of a young bear that can wander around a large forested area. Every action consumes precious energy, replenished only by scarce food found through exploration. The player must balance energy and action in order to find enough resources to be properly fattened up for hibernation. The game contains seasons, and as time ticks on the weather changes and snow starts to fall, there is greater urgency to find a suitable den to hibernate.  There is a human village that provides an easy source of food but leads the bear away from natural hibernation spots. 

Here's a quick video of what it's like to play: 

This was actually several projects in one: a crash course in C# programming, a crash course in the Unity game engine, and a large dose of animation and character design. The original idea was to include a "habituation" value that increased as bears spent time around humans eating off easy-to-find fruit trees.  Too much habituation and the bear would be relocated or killed. But, creating a real video game turned out to be a fairly major effort and that particular feature was left for next time. 

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You can find out more about this project on Colin's website. 

You can find out more about the 20 Time project in this nice Rocky Mountain Outlook article.

We have a new Instagram feed that gets updated a lot more regularly than our website (see the right side tabs for more social media). In case you missed them, here are a few of our recent 3D prints. All the paint jobs are by students! Click on a picture for a better view.  Or, just follow us on Instagram for the full dose of witty captions and hashtags. 

meridia
madoctopus
frozen
gnome
fallen-warrior

The e-Nable Phoenix prosthetic hand is a 3D printable gripper hand designed as a cheap, easily produced prosthetic for areas of the world where assistive devices are hard to obtain. The idea is to use consumer 3D printers, cheap PLA, and (comparatively) cheap rigging materials to generate a customizable hand, possibly even in the field. 

That sounded like a pretty good mission, so Finn D thought he'd give it a try as part of his 20 Time project. We first learned about 3D printing using PET-G, a tougher and more durable material than the usual PLA but one with a few idiosyncrasies on the print bed. Next, we printed all the parts. Although each individual part was mostly easy enough, there were quite a few of them and it was difficult to keep track. At one point, part of the hand cuff needed to be melted into place on a school hotbed. Finally, Finn rigged the hand with string and plastic gripper ends to produce a working hand. 

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Click on the videos below to see an example of the hand in action. Finn has the use of both hands, so we are simulating the wrist-stump action, but you get the idea. 
e-Nable Phoenix hand v2 in action
e-Nable Phoenix hand v2 in action
We did not have an actual user in mind for the this project, so everything was printed at 100% scale. A good next step would be to find a user, and print a custom-measured and custom-scaled version. 

 

The legendary CHAOSMaker "Mysterious Building Challenges" - show up, be given a mostly random set of materials and a problem, and then work in teams under strict time pressures to come up with a solution. It's the perfect way to teach about prototyping, resource management, planning, working in teams...and how to handle pressure in a fun environment. 

The 6th Mysterious Building Challenge started in Mr. Boyd's room on a Wednesday lunch. I had been spreading a few confusing rumors to throw off student detectives trying to figure out the plan, so participants were a little nervous: "Why do we need headlamps?" "Why are you wearing kneepads & a helmet?" "Were we all supposed to bring spatulas?". 

MBC #6: Build the longest, continuous, one-way, fully enclosed, lighted blanket tunnel possible using the entire CHAOS Room and only the provided materials. Oh, and at some point there had to be a "Disco Palace" big enough to stand up and dance in. 

One other big change from previous challenges: all 14 students had to work together as one big team (instead of competing against each other). They had until Friday at noon (3 lunches) to complete their task and show it off to the entire school (gulp). 

Day 1

And away we went. Students started with a traditional planning session and mapped out a route. But it quickly became clear that the plan and the available materials wouldn't match up, so they switched to an area-based system. 

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Day 2

There was some major progress, as students came in at both recess & lunch, and a number got permission to skip their regular classes to keep building. They discovered the technique of using string supported by chairs, and the room quickly became a spiderweb. Available chairs became precious. No matter, students used tables, blankets, tablecloths, curtains, scrap fabric, tarps, duct tape, clothes pins, to rig their tunnel.

It became hard to move around the room, so students would pop up out of the blankets and yell "duct tape, need some duct tape over here". Supplies would be tossed, pass from person to person, or delivered by the mouse-team that would scurry through the tunnels.

At the end of the day we had a pretty reasonable tunnel system, and so we brought out the lasers, sound system and fog machine to make the Disco Palace even cooler. Oh, and the legend of the toe-eating Spatula Rat was born. 

 

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Day 3

By recess the tunnels were structurally finished, although repair and improvement teams kept crawling through the system trying to improve and fix problem areas. We were down to our last few clothespins and roll of duct tape, so resources were scarce. The Spatula Rat station had gained a 3D printed foot-bone with a toe missing.

I passed around the EL wire and turned off the lights, and soon we had a foggy, crazy, crawly tunnel experience. We never did measure the tunnel length, although the system took up the entire room and could easily have more than 20 people moving in it at the same time without congestion. We rigged up an access control system using glowsticks to count who was in the fort. There were enough nooks and crannies that students would enter the one-way tunnel and then not come out for quite a while. 

The build team was proud of their work, so we cycled through all 5 Grade 8 classes, a number of Grade 7 classes, some Grade 5 classes, random siblings, and a number of teachers. All came out with big smiles on their faces. 

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The best way to experience it all is through video edited by Colin F. Click to play it! 

 

The Blanket Fort Building Challenge

 

 

 

We have done a number of fun projects over the last couple of years, but I was particularly proud of how students handled this one. They solved difficult physical challenges, dealt with resource management, repair, and redesign - all while working together.  And then, once their project was "finished" they shared it with others, managing access control, safety,  student fears, and various other problems. It was true leadership and ownership in action! 

 

 

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