Sunday, February 12, 2017

Geometry and 3D Printing

The topic of geometric properties has become the focus of our latest mathematics spiral. The possible connections with spatial reasoning and 3D printing have become quite obvious as we have worked our way through various explorations.

Specific Curriculum Expectations:
- Sort and classify triangles and quadrilaterals by geometric properties related to symmetry, angles, and sides, through investigation using a variety of tools and strategies
- Identify, through investigation, the minimum side and angle information needed to describe a unique triangle
- Determine, through investigation using a variety of tools relationships among area, perimeter, corresponding side lengths, and corresponding angles of congruent shapes
- Demonstrate an understanding that enlarging or reducing two-dimensional shapes creates similar shapes

Exploration 1: Student Guessing Game

Students worked with a partner to classify polygons according to geometric properties. One partner selected a plastic polygon and held it behind a barrier. This partner provided clues to help the other student draw the correct shape. This activity also involved significant spatial reasoning as the task involved creating mental images corresponding to the given clues in order to draw the correct polygon. I noticed students using hand gestures to ask questions (eg. folding hands to show symmetry, hands extended to show parallel sides, holding hands into position of angles). Although these students were not following the rules of the game, it did provide a glimpse into their thinking.

Examples of student clues:

"The shape is a polygon. It has 8 vertices. It is concave/irregular. It has an interior reflex angle. It has no lines of symmetry. It has one pair of parallel sides."

"It has 4 acute angles and 4 reflex angles. It has 4 lines of symmetry. It is a concave and irregular polygon. It has 8 vertices's and 8 sides. All sides are equal. It has no parallel sides. It has rotational symmetry."

Exploration 2: Designing Shapes for Primary Students

On quite a few occasions, primary teachers at our school have knocked on our classroom door looking for attribute blocks. I am lucky to have my own set (fortunate hand-me-down from my retired teacher mom) and am happy to lend it out as we have a shortage in our school inventory.

Over the years a few pieces have become missing and I requested that the Grade 7s help me print some new ones using our 3D printer - an opportunity to further develop our skills with designing and creating using our 3D printer while also filling a need for our school community.

Students thought it might also be helpful to create additional shapes for student use including a wider variety of regular and irregular polygons.

Examples of student thinking during design process:

"For the regular octagon we got a box and made it 10mm high and 20mm by 20mm wide. Then we got another box and put a hole threw it so then it could become a triangle we did that 4 times. After that we put all the blocks together and then grouped it and got our shape of a regular octagon."

"For the irregular octagon we started with a square, then we had to make 2 triangles to go on the side of it, Next we got a square and put it underneath and duplicated one of the triangles from before and then had two more triangles to put on the side of it. And finally we grouped together."

We have just begun printing these shapes ... stay tuned for project progress!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Day 11 & Beyond: Reflection on Leadership and Innovation

My final task in the CPCO PQP 10 day challenge is to create a post summarizing my thoughts on what it means to be a digital leader. This happens to coincide with my participation at the MISA Innovation conference today in London. Rather serendipitous!

In one of the open spaces, discussion centered around teacher/administration buy-in. How do we move the system forward? A key concept we kept coming back to was the idea of partnerships.

- Partnerships between administrators and teachers where risk is embraced. This relies heavily on trust and both individuals taking a co-learning stance. It's about asking the 'What if...' and 'How might ...' questions.
- Partnerships between teachers perhaps through demonstration classrooms or informal mentorship opportunities.
- Partnerships between administrators, teachers, and students (learning with and from each other).

Building these partnerships requires time and the alignment of resources with priorities. Changing the culture is a slow process.

It was also shared that the 20% (early innovation adopters) naturally take risks and embrace failure as a part of the journey, however moving the 60% over the tipping point requires 'small wins'. They need to feel successful in order to build efficacy. I wonder how early adopters sharing their failures might impact the mindset of others who take more timid steps forward.

So what is my Day 11 going to look like?
Helping others make progress on work that they feel is meaningful. This will require asking what it is that they want for student learning, providing support, and helping them feel successful with where they are at. It's about their journey.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Connecting With Experts Using Hangouts

Over the past few weeks we have been learning about ecosystems and the impact humans have on their delicate balance. My teaching partner came across this website and we signed up for a camera spot. We connected with National Geographic Education's special guest Jonathan Colby who is studying frogs and the impact of the Chyrid fungus on their survival. The students listened intently as he described what he does (loved the idea of hanging out in tree canopies in the rainforest), and how they are working to protect amphibian species. Students from all ten connected classrooms from around North America had the chance to ask questions at the end of his talk. It was an incredible opportunity to connect with an expert and really brought the curriculum to life. 

Check out the website here to book your own camera spot:

Grade 7 Students listening to Jonathan Colby's talk. 

Curriculum Links

Provoking thinking about human impact and change.
See tweet below for link to watch the hangout:
Continuing the connection with our class Twitter Feed:

Connecting with experts and organizations through Google #hangouts provides us with such an incredible opportunity to make the curriculum come to life for students. It is empowering for them to see and hear how people are making a difference in the lives of others (& lives of frogs).

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Trials and Tribulations of Trying

Our subsequent prints have led to some rather interesting results...

 It is our thinking that the filament got tangled about half way through the printing process which led the extruder to be pulled and the calibration offset.

Although the print was not what we intended, we do believe it is a rather beautiful failure - almost a work of art!

I sent our images to the M3D tech support and they stated it could be an issue with the motor. They suggested we conduct an x-axis skip test and record the process.

Let me pause here and note the vast amount of learning acquired through our trials. So far as part of this project we have uncovered the extruder and examined the mechanisms, learned the logistics of calibration, and used the manual to navigate the software to perform diagnostics tests.

It is clear from our x-axis diagnostic test that our motor is skipping. We attempted to rotate the rod to a looser position as it states in the troubleshooting guide with no luck.

M3D tech support responded that a new motor should solve this issue and have sent a replacement.

We are in a bit of a holding pattern in terms of printing until our new motor arrives ...

Have our experiences been perfect so far? Definitely not!
Have we experienced set backs and frustrations? Absolutely!
What learning is perfect and free from set backs?

Although we are looking forward to successful prints, we recognize that failure is a part of learning and this is an important, and often uncomfortable, realization.

What's Your Sentence?

Last week, we visited Daniel Pink's website as a class and viewed examples of "What's Your Sentence?" responses. Students then spent some time thinking about who they are in a quest to come up with their own sentence. I found it quite incredible how much you can learn about somebody from simply one sentence. What is the essence of that person that they wish the world to see of them? Powerful!  

Students then added personal reflections about their sentence to their blogs. I am adding purposeful time for meditation, prayer, and reflection to work towards the Catholic Graduate expectations. This includes providing more opportunities for students to reflect on who they are and how they wish to impact the world they live in. 

As the students completed their own blogs, I reflected on my own sentence to model reflective and creative thinking. Summarizing oneself in as few words as possible is a difficult feat. Who am I as an educator, a leader, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a friend, a colleague? This is what I came up with ...
She had a feeling heart and a curious mind. 

What do I mean by a feeling heart? As long as I can remember, I have been someone who feels things deeply and seeks to understand the feelings of others. In my personal relationships I am someone who takes on the role of nurturer and caregiver. Sometimes this has led me to disappointment when others don't seek to feel and understand in the same way. This has also brought me a great deal of happiness as being valued is something that is important to me. In my role as an educator, I have the privilege of connecting with many and I believe my feeling heart helps me build relationships that encourage others to reach their potential. 

A curious mind? Just this past weekend I spent the afternoon on a forest walk. I paused on many occasions, looked up and observed the leaves falling and the clouds meandering across the sky. I am a wanderer and a person of wonder. I want to know and understand how things work, how we learn, and ways to connect this with my everyday life. I don't claim to be an expert at any one thing. I am in a constant state of learning and that's just how I like it.  

Is this my forever sentence? Likely not! I think it changes as we change and evolve, but spending the time reflecting on who we are and how we want others to perceive us is valuable. 

I wonder how conducting this activity with staff at a school might impact the culture and community....

What's your sentence? 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

First (& Second) Failures and What We Learned From Them

For our first project, the students worked in groups to design objects to add organization to our learning environment. Since we are experimenting with the use of tables over desks, this is relevant project very much connected with life in our classroom. During their first experience with TinkerCad students navigated through help tutorials to familiarize themselves with tools and functionality. 

Then they got work brainstorming options. I noticed students using measurement tools to create designs that were reasonable in scale in relation to the objects they were intended to hold. 

After our design work period, we selected our first print! 
Unfortunately, our print stopped about half way through. It seemed as though the filament got tangled in the internal feed port. 
We used this first failure as an opportunity to better understand the inner workings of our M3D printer as well as misconceptions about the scale in our designs (as you can see the actual print was smaller than the group intended). Upon a second attempt (after detangling the filament), we had the same result. 

At this point I connected with a colleague who has experience with the M3D and he graciously sent us this video which helped unclog the print head. 

We all gathered around the printer with the cover off the extruder to see how it really work. The filament seemed to be loading properly! Success??!!

In order to ensure the printer was working properly, we decided to print a simple cube. It printed in about 1.5 hours and looked great! 
The next day we attempted to printed another group's design and once again the filament got tangled in the internal feed. I emailed the help desk with our issues and they responded with some recommendations. 
  • Are you loading Internally or Externally? We recommend using the external feed port as it has less resistance to the filament as it feeds. If you are using our Tough filament it must be loaded externally as it is somewhat tacky and will not feed through the internal port
  • Have you tried adjusting the printing temperature? We recommend increasing the temperature (3D Ink button>>>Settings Icon) in 5° increments until the filament extrudes smoothly and sticks well to the print bed and to itself.
  • Have you checked the height of your heater? It needs to be all the way down to the bottom of the nozzle or the temperature will be too cold. We have attached a guide that shows the heater and it's grommet in the correct location.
  • Is the extruder gear having any trouble rotating while it is pushing the filament? With front extruder cover removed, please watch the extruder gear as it turns to see if it is stopping or making a clicking sound. If you would like to send us a short video of the gear as it feeding the filament, we will be glad to check it out for you.
We followed these recommendations, loaded the filament externally, and increased the temperature. Our next print was a success! Throughout the printing process we had to ensure the filament was not getting tangled. 

Our key learning from our First Failures and First Successes:
In the design process, failure is eminent and iteration is essential!

The Box of Possibilities

Just over a week ago, my classroom's 3D printer arrived. It was a Friday, and as eager as I was to check it out myself, I wanted to share the experience with my students. So there, on a large rectangular table, sat the box ...

I took a picture of it and posted it to our instagram feed (@weberswonders7) to instill a little curiosity. 

On Monday morning, the classroom was a buzz of excitement. We had a class discussion about what we believed to be in the box and what might be possible with this new learning tool. Students recorded their thinking on sticky notes and attached them to the (still closed) box. We have been talking about the design process and students made connections with the importance of getting inspiration from the world around them. 
This sticky notes was my favourite! 

The following day we opened the box and created a list of questions and wonderings about the M3D printer.

Initial Questions:
How do we take care of it?
How do we put the ink in it?
How long does it take to print something?
What kind of things can it print?
Does it need to be cleaned?
How can we connect it with our learning?
How does it work?
What are the parts called?
How do we make designs?
How long can it last?
How big of an object can it print?
Can you print with different colours of ink?

From there we opened the user manual and read through it as a class, highlighting important information as we went. I noticed that a number of students jotted down the dimensions shown below and began talking with their peers about concepts of measurement and scale. 

Stay tuned for our first design project!