I’m teaching 5th grade Digital Art classes for the first time to take advantage of the beautiful Creation Lab which was built over the summer. Our students learn about birds in 5th grade science so it seemed like a perfect connection to that curriculum. I had my students first use makercase.com to build the base of their birdhouses. They then brought that file into Illustrator to add cut out and engraved elements. I learned engraving using our Glowforge was a bit cumbersome and will be changing this up requirement next trimester so I don’t spend 40 mins watching these projects be cut out.
My favorite part of this project was watching students use the drill for the first time to add their perches. They did a wonderful job of practicing on a piece of balsa wood beforehand.
With the Makercase finger joints I learned there is really only 1 way to put the boxes together – think of it as a puzzle. There were a few students who glued their birdhouses together the wrong way and I had to recut them on the laser cutter to make the projects functional.
I’ve taken a hiatus on using this blog but now that I’ve designed and planned a makerspace from the ground up it’s time to share what I’ve learned and made for myself and with the students so far.
The first thing I had time to put together was a faux neon sign using Electroluminescent Wire from SparkFun. I used this tutorial to guide me. It was really fun to make and get students excited because I was blending sewing together with a more technical component. It looks great on the walls of the Creation Lab – the name students chose for the the makerspace. I would definitely recommend this project. If I initiated it with students I would do it with older students at the high school level because a lot of patience is required.
The first project I complete with my 6th graders borrows inspiration from Roy Lichtenstein’s landscapes. It acclimates my first time Photoshop users with how layers work as well as how to utilize the paint bucket, brush and shapes tools.
I love this project because it allows for my student’s personalities to come through and helps me to get to know them sooner than later.
The biggest challenge for learning Photoshop is the layers tool. It can take a few mistakes for them to understand layers but it is important to let students fail so they came come out on top. It’s also interesting to see how students decide to use BenDay Dots in their designs. It’s so wonderful to see them all do different things from on another!
This summer I was incredibly lucky to spend 12 days learning woodworking at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts with the artist Barbara Cooper. The experience was above and beyond my expectations, and the beauty of the campus and the delicious food definitely helped. Haystack has a Fab Lab which is an educational component of MIT’s Center of Bits and Atoms, a network of 400 small-scaled digital fabrication centers.
I was pretty excited to spend time in the Fab Lab, especially to get my hands on a laser cutter. During the Fab Lab orientation I was introduced to creating designs on plywood with the laser cutter that can make the wood bendable. I knew immediately this was a concept I was going to use for one of my experiments.
Barbara Cooper was incredible to work with and the biggest take away I’m using with my students is to think of your projects as ‘experiments’ and not as ‘pieces’. This immediately took the pressure of the creative process and let me just experiment with the wood pieces I had on my work table.
When I started planning my experiment with the laser cutter, I chose to use found these great wood shapes that organically came out of cutting down some planks of wood which used to act as the deck at Haystack. My goal was to use the bendable laser cut wood to fill the gaps in the other wood pieces. I chose to laser cut an entire piece of plywood which did end up taking over an hour – but so worth it! It took a lot of wood glue and masking tape to get the laser cut portions to fit in place into as well as the hands of some of my colleagues.
I can’t wait to get to worth a laser cutter again. I’ve started seeing many different uses of laser cutters around me since my time at Haystack. I don’t think I can ever state in words how incredible of an experience Haystack was. As a maker, it was magical being around so many like-minded people who love to explore the visual arts in different capacities.