The Wall (Mural)

Posted February 17, 2018

by Lensyl Urbano

Our seniors wanted to leave a mark, so after their initial application to paint the outside wall of the gym was turned down, they went with a mural on the inside–in our Makerspace.

For this project, we wanted to create a mural on the basementnasium wall. First, we measured the wall and went to Home Depot to get enough paint, paint brushes, drop cloths, and tape. Then, after cleaning the wall with a damp cloth, we covered the wall with tape in a triangular pattern similar to one we found online. After that, we used pencil to mark each triangle with a letter corresponding to one of the six colors that we bought. It took us the majority of the project to paint 3-4 coats on each triangle, and on the last day we pulled it the tape and touched up any mistakes with white paint.

Throughout this project, we found out that some people know how to paint, some people learned, and others didn’t learn. BUT IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!

-Team: Elliott, Abby, John, Zoe, Mary, Annemarie, and Josiah

-Abby R.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2018. The Wall (Mural), Retrieved February 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Longboard

Posted February 16, 2018

by Lensyl Urbano

Longboard built during the interim.

Longboard built during the interim.
Finishing came afterwards.

For my makerspace project I made a longboard. What went well with the board was the wheels and trucks, it was a simple hole in the wood and screwing the trucks almost no measuring on my part. What didn’t go so well was the measuring and cutting of the board, it took me a full day to get all the measurements exact and even then they didn’t come out so good. What I would do next time is get a cnc machine so it does the measuring and gets the cuts exact every time. We could mass produce longboards with ease. If i did it again without a cnc machine i would get the measurements beforehand and then it would make measuring a lot easier.

– Isaac L.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2018. Longboard, Retrieved February 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Making Stools

Posted February 13, 2018

by Lensyl Urbano

Upholstering a small stool.

Upholstering a small stool.

After building our vegetable boxes, I had one of the students use some of the wood scraps to make some small stools. They make it easier for us to sit cross-legged on the floor. This last interim, as a small side project, another student chose to upholster them:

During the interim, I worked on upholstering small wooden stools that Dr. Urbano had made. I worked in the basmentnasium and only used the materials available there. I used thin layers of foam from an old couch to pad the wooden seat; if the foam was too thin then I used two layers. I covered the foam and the seats’ edges with fabric Dr. Urbano brought: a burlap rice bag and old curtains. I attached the fabric to the bottom of the wooden seat with a staple gun; I attached it tight enough to keep the foam in place.

– Mary R.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2018. Making Stools, Retrieved February 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Preparing Students for a Technological Future

Posted January 21, 2018

by Lensyl Urbano

I’m currently preparing a proposal to create a laboratory of digital fabrication machines–a CNC, a laser, and a vinyl cutter–and one of the questions I’m answering is about how the proposed project would prepare students for a technology-rich future. What you see below is my first response to this prompt. It’s a bit longer than I have space for in the proposal, and probably a bit too philosophical, but before I cut it down I wanted to post this draft because it does a reasonable job of encapsulating my philosophy when it comes to teaching technology:

Preparation for a technology rich future is less about preparing for specific technologies and more about getting students to have a growth mindset with respect to technology. We are living in a truly wonderful moment in history. Technological tools are rapidly expanding what we as individuals can accomplish. They are allowing us to see farther (think about remote sensing like lidar and tomography), collate more information (especially with more and more data becoming publicly available), and create things that push the limits of our imaginations. Indeed, to paraphrase a former student, we are already living in the future.

To prepare students to live and thrive in this ever-evolving present we need to demystify technology and give students the intellectual tools to deal with the rapid change. We can start by letting them peek into the black boxes that our technological devices are rapidly becoming.

We request electronics stations and tool kits not just to build things, but to be able to take them apart and look inside. Students greatly enjoy dissassembling and reassambling computers, for example, which provides younger students a good conceptual understanding of how most modern devices work. This foundation helps when they start building circuits of their own and realize what they really want to do is to control them–making lights blink and turning motors for example–and this is when they will start working with Raspberry Pi computers, Arduino microcontrollers and programming.

As students start to build (and even before really), they naturally start thinking about design. We all have an affinity for the aesthetic. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to see a laser in action, you’ll remember your sense of fascination the first time you saw someone’s design emerging from the raw material right before your eyes. Thus we get into graphic design, computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided manufacturing (CAM) and the digital fabrication machines we propose.

By the time they’re done with this curriculum, we intend that students will have developed an intimate familiarity with the technological world–including the ability to create and design their own, which prepares them for the technological future.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2018. Preparing Students for a Technological Future, Retrieved February 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Vegetable Boxes

Posted January 14, 2018

by Lensyl Urbano

Harvesting turnip greens out of our vegetable boxes.

Harvesting turnip greens out of our vegetable boxes.

Two years ago we bought a greenhouse. It was aluminum framed with plastic panels. Unfortunately, its profile was not as wind-resistant as it needed to be for our campus. So last semester we built three vegetable boxes and salvaged the plastic panels from the greenhouse to build low-profile cold frames. These turned out quite nicely, and the Middle School’s Student-Run-Business’ Gardening Department have been experimenting with different types of produce.

Assembling the side panel for the cold-frames. The front and top plastic panels were salvaged from our aluminum-framed greenhouse.

Assembling the side panel for the cold-frames. The front and top plastic panels were salvaged from our aluminum-framed greenhouse.

Cilantro growing out of our raised beds with the cold-frames removed.

Cilantro growing out of our raised beds with the cold-frames removed.

The wood for the raised beds and the frames for the cold frames were purchased using funds from a grant by the Whole Kids Foundation and the pieces cut at the TechShop.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2018. Vegetable Boxes, Retrieved February 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

A Really Quick Introduction to Programming

Posted January 5, 2018

by Lensyl Urbano

With examples using python.

  • Statement: A command given to the computer.
    • Assign a value of -9.8 to a variable called “g”:
    • g = -9.8
    • Print the value of “g” to the screen:
    • print g 
  • Variable: A placeholder name used to record data for later use. In the first statement above, g, is a variable and it is assigned a value of -9.8. Variable names in python start with a letter or underscore “_”. Variables can hold different types of data, for example:
    • strings:
    • x = "hello"
    • Floating point number (aka. a float):
    • x = 9.8
    • Integer:
    • x = 5
    • True/False (aka boolean):
    • x = True 
  • Operations: Statements where some sort of calculation is made:
    • Add two numbers and assign the result to a variable called “y”:
    • y = 3 + 5
    • Divide the value in the variable “y” by 2 and then assign the value to another variable called “z”:
    • z = y / 2
  • Operators: The symbols that tell what operation to do:
    • + – * / are used for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division respectively
    • ** is used for exponents so 5 squared (52) is:
    • a = 5**2
  • Loops: Tell the computer to do something over and over again. There are different types:
    • “For” loops are good for doing things a set number of times
    • for i in range(5):
      	print i

      results in:

      0
      1
      2
      3
      4
      
  • Logical statements: These test to see if something is True or False and then do different things based on the outcome:
    • Assign a value to a variable called “x”, check to see if the value is greater than 10, and print out a different sentence based on the result:
    • x = 12
      if (x > 10):
      	print "x is greater than 10"
      else:
      	print "x is less than 10"
  • Functions: Chunks of code that someone (maybe even you) wrote that can be referenced via a shortcut:
    • Create a function to calculate the force of gravity at the Earth’s surface if you give it a mass:

      def forceOfGravity(mass):
      	Fg = mass * -9.8
      	return Fg

      Call the function to find the force of gravity acting on a mass of 100 kg and print out the result:

      x = forceOfGravity(100)
      print x

      the result should be:

      -980
  • Classes: A class is like a function that you can assign to a variable and then have it do a lot more stuff.
    • In vpython there is a class called “sphere”. It renders a 3d sphere on the screen. Here we’ll create a sphere, assign it to a variable “ball” and then change one of its built-in properties, the color, from the default (white) to red. (if you are using Glowscript.org then don’t use the first line that imports the visual module).

      from visual import *
      ball = sphere()
      ball.color = color.red

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2018. A Really Quick Introduction to Programming, Retrieved February 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Drawing Electrical Circuits (Symbols)

Posted January 2, 2018

by Lensyl Urbano

Symbols used in schematic diagrams. From Sparkfun.

Symbols used in schematic diagrams. From Sparkfun.

Sparkfun , which is an excellent purveyor of microelectronics (including Raspberry Pis and Arduinos), has a very nice tutorial that useful forhttps://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/how-to-read-a-schematic.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2018. Drawing Electrical Circuits (Symbols), Retrieved February 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

A Little Orbital Mechanics with an Astronaut and KSP

Posted December 21, 2017

by Lensyl Urbano

Astronaut Scott Kelly and Kerbal Space Program on Arstechnica:

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2017. A Little Orbital Mechanics with an Astronaut and KSP, Retrieved February 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

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