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

Follow us!

Follow us!

The Beginnings of a MakerSpace

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As each WMS student and teacher now has a district-issued laptop, the former computer lab at the back of the library sat empty last school year.  It was used here and there by different classes, clubs and trainings, but this year the space has a new purpose – a MakerSpace!   Last year, along with school budget and grant funds, we acquired several items that were MakerSpace worthy, but we did not yet have a truly dedicated space for our Romo and Sphero Robots, our Little Bits electronic sets, Hot Wheels Speedometry Kits and our MakerBot Replicator 5th Generation 3D Printer.  However, with new building leadership and innovative drive by our librarian and several teachers, Wissahickon Middle School now has their own space dedicated to making, innovation, creativity and design – our MakerSpace!

Although we have many plans for the use of this space among teachers, students and curricula, we are starting with a few teachers and their students.  We have collected a variety of items for our space including the items above plus generously-donated Lego, K’Nex, Snap Circuits, and old electronic items to be used in the future for our “breakerspace”.  One Science teacher has claimed the lab for “Maker Mondays” and another teacher is heading up our “8th Grade Advisory Group” for 8th graders who want to be forefront of our MakerSpace and 3D printer learning.  We put together this MakerSpace Inventory of Interests to gauge students’ knowledge and collect some data before students enter the space.  We plan on having a similar “exit ticket” for students to fill out after they have spent some time in the space… more to come on that later.

So, we are just in the beginning stages of our work in the MakerSpace, but yesterday was our first Maker Monday.  6th grade science students came into the MakerSpace to experiment, learn, think outside the box, be creative and have fun with the items in our space.  We began each lesson with a few guidelines as for our expectations in the space such as it being a space for students to build, discover, create, a space where students work together and collaborate respectfully and a space where thinking outside the box is not only accepted, but encouraged!

Then, based on the interest survey they had taken, we determined that the students knew the least about the robots and the Little Bits so we showed short intro videos to Romo, Sphero and Little Bits before letting the students loose in the space.  Then, students were given the choice to choose what they wanted to experiment with, how long they wanted to stay at each “station” and encouraged to check out multiple things.

Wow!  What a great day!!  The students were engaged, solving problems, asking questions, motivated, and best of all, were learning with and from each other.  It is everything that we hoped it would be and more!  Check out the images below to see firsthand how our students spent their first Maker Monday.

Be sure to follow our MakerSpace in action through our new Twitter account – @WMSInnovates #WMSInnovates and #WissLearns .  A dedicated blog will be coming soon!