MakerSpace “Playdate”

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On Friday, November 13th, WMS hosted educators, technology/instructional coaches, administrators and librarians in our MakerSpace and Library for what we dubbed our “Playdate”.  The intent of this time was for folks interested in MakerSpaces and STEM education to come together to collaborate, experiment, communicate and essentially PLAY with the items in our MakerSpace and other items that were brought by those in attendance.

We started the afternoon out with a bit of a “potluck” lunch and a brief overview of MakerSpaces, the Maker Generation and the items available in the WMS MakerSpace.  Participants also briefly shared the items that they brought as well.  Check out this Sway that we used for our intro presentation:

Wow!  What a Friday!  Not only did the afternoon work out exactly as planned with hands-on experimentation and collaboration, but we now have a solid group of educators from the area who will continue to collaborate and communicate about MakerSpaces and STEM education.  In addition to the items we already have in our MakerSpace, we learned about a lot of other STEM tools and resources and discussed their use in various curricula.

Check out some of the pictures from our event below:



Making Monsters to “Say Boo to Drugs”

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Our latest foray into WMS’s MakerSpace was not only festive fun for the upcoming Halloween holiday but also in support of next week’s school-wide celebration of Red Ribbon Week.  The theme of the week is “Say Boo to Drugs”, so we took that theme to the MakerSpace with a frightful challenge for our 6th grade innovators.

taskThe Task – Create a Halloween Monster that relates to next week’s theme of “Say Boo to Drugs.”


  • Create a free-standing monster
  • Must use at least 3 different elements from the MakerSpace
  • Challenge:  some part of it must move!

The students were told that they would have about 30-35 minutes to work, and then each group would present their monster.  After the presentations, each student would vote on the “Best” monster via a Google Form.  Not only were they given an awesome challenge, but there was a bit of a competition as well.  They were psyched!

The students were grouped into triads with a random group generator and were told to first talk with their teammates about a plan for their monster before heading for the supplies.  The groups were abuzz with ideas on how to tie in the theme, how to make their moster move and how to add elements of unique creativity.  They were communicating, collaborating and using valuable negotiation skills as they shared their ideas and listened to their classmates’ ideas in turn.  These students have already been to the MakerSpace twice, so were pretty well-acquainted with the items in our space:  Lego, K’Nex, Sphero robots, Romo robots, race track, magnetic building blocks, Little Bits, Snap Circuits, arts & crafts, and other miscellaneous things.  They quickly came up with their plans, had them ok’ed by their teacher and off to the supplies they went.  As the classes are 60 minutes in length and we had to save time for each group to present, group voting, and clean up, they only had about 30 minutes to plan and create their monsters.  That time FLEW by and in no time the buzzer was sounding time’s up!

Check out some of the creation and innovation in action:

Then it was time for the presentations.  Wow!  Not only did these monsters represent the theme of “Say Boo to Drugs”, but many of them also had a story that went along with them.  We had Spheros that had taken drugs and were erratic drivers, drug users turning into Frankenstein, Lego jets shooting down a big Sphero drug dealer, mechanical K’nex monsters chasing down drug dealers, a doctor whose head was a Sphero with a paper face taped on, body and arms part of Snap Circuits and flashing lights courtesy of Little Bits, and many more innovative drug-busting monster creations!

After the presentations, the voting was on!  We whipped together the Google form below for each class to vote on what they believed was the best monster.  Best could be up to them, with no real category in mind.  It was interesting to see which monsters took the prize in each class!!

Check back next week to find out the winners in our first of hopefully many “Say Boo to Drugs” MakerSpace Monster Workshop.

Want to see more photos of this amazing day?  Click HERE to access an album with even more photos of students’ monster creations!

Oh – in addition, while the students are innovating and creating, so are the teachers, including me!  My biggest challenge these days is mastering our new MakerBot 3D printer.  I’ve been learning how to design things via Google Sketchup and Tinkercad, but I’ve also been learning what happens when I change settings with items from Thingiverse.  This is my contribution to “Say Boo to Drugs”!

WP_20151023_14_25_56_Pro 1


Happy Halloween and Happy Red Ribbon Week!!

Follow the WMS MakerSpace on Twitter at @WMSInnovates and with #WissLearns & #WMSInnovates

WMS Innovates!

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Wow, what an awesome day yesterday!  In addition to all the great 21st century teaching and learning that happens on a daily basis at Wissahickon Middle School, yesterday was a day for global connections, innovation, creativity and making.

The day started with a 6th grade teacher conducting her first ever Mystery Skype with another class from Georgia who also experienced their first Mystery Skype.  Mystery Skype is a 20-questions type guessing game played by both classes to figure out where the other class is geographically.  As the classes take turns asking and answering the yes/no questions, they are not only reviewing geography but also practicing speaking, listening, critical thinking, and most of all – laughter and smiles.  It was a great first Mystery Skype and the classes are both ready for more.  Maybe we can connect with a class from another country next time?  If you are interested in connecting via Skype, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Mystery Skype in Action!

Mystery Skype in Action!

After the Mystery Skype, I headed up to our MakerSpace to get the Sphero robots all charged up and the rest of the space ready for the day’s Science lessons.  In 6th grade Science, the students are learning about the layers of the atmosphere – troposphere, mesosphere, stratosphere, thermosphere, etc.  Their task in the MakerSpace was simple, but complex at the same time:  work in small groups to create the layer of the atmosphere assigned using any materials from our Makerspace.  As these students had already been into the space last week for their first “Maker Monday”, they were knowledgeable about what was in the space already that could be used – Lego, K’Nex, Sphero, Little Bits, track, magnetic building materials, paper, glue, cardboard, etc.

Task for the Day

Task for the Day

As the teacher and I anticipated the first class to come in and get started, we were very curious to see what the kids would come up with, and I have to say that EVERYONE was very impressed at the results.  Check out some of our great layers of the atmosphere!

First, some live action sequences – these three groups created mechanical representations:

Now for some photos!


If you’d like to keep up with the great innovation going on in our MakerSpace, be sure to follow us on Twitter – and through the hashtags #WissLearns and #WMSInnovates

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