#LufkinLearns Invention Literacy Workshop – Wrap Up

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Last week I was stoked to lead an invention literacy workshop for educators in Lufkin, Tx. Thanks to Rafranz Davis, I was able to teach this group about some of my favorite things: Invention Literacy, Makey Makey, and the Maker Mindset.

Inventor’s Mindset

One of my favorite things about this workshop is Tom Heck’s icebreaker where we talk about an inventor’s mindset. Here are some aha moments from that morning:

  • Inventors are not risk takers, but rather inventors take calculated risks.
  • An inventor looks at the world as something they can change or make better. They constantly ask the question, “How does this work?” or “How can I make this better?”

Paper Circuits

Since most of these teachers had never used a Makey Makey, I wanted to refresh them on the concept of a simple circuit. ( I packed all of the materials needed in these handy photo storage boxes so resources were distributed easily to each table group.)

Table group resources in a handy photo storage box! #makered #hacks

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I loved that after getting a working circuit, learners begin to find other applications. Rafranz hacked her simple circuit into a parallel circuit, and most of the table groups begin to make holiday cards.

 

Fairy Tales

After circuits, we began to dabble in the Sketch it Play it activity. (Sketch something with a pencil, hook it up to Makey Makey and play a piano.) Normally I have my educators make blackout poetry, but since this was a room full of awesome elementary educators, I adapted this part of the workshop to creating illustrations for our favorite fairy tales.

Switches

A lot of educators never get #beyondthebanana with Makey Makey, so even though they only just started playing with this little invention kit, I had educators make a switch. For me, I didn’t know how to make a switch for Makey Makey for almost A YEAR after the first time I played with one. Making switches and finding ways to make everyday things into switches, is one of the most inventive and fun ways to create projects with Makey Makey.  (In fact, Aaron and I made a whole book of wacky projects based on this concept!)

Invention Literacy

I spent a lot of time during this workshop sharing how I incorporate invention literacy into my library programming. If you haven’t read these posts, you should check them out!

Design Challenge

The last part of the day is MY FAVORITE PART! The workshop participants are challenged to make something useful by going through the design thinking process. They have a limited amount of time. A design challenge is a great maker activity, but there are three important things that have to happen for a successful challenge.

  • Relationships- Since the group worked through so many things together on this day, they felt comfortable working on a more challenging project together. If you were to attempt a design challenge straight out of the gate, it might not be as successful.
  • Open Ended/open-middled/open beginning – A challenge should be open ended enough so that every group creates a different product at the end of the designated time. You can open any part of your directions. For more on the open middle and open beginning concept by Jay Silver, read the Challenge Based Learning Book.
  • Time Constraint– The time constraint is what helps makers focus and get finished (hopefully) with their project. If a full working prototype doesn’t happen, proof of concept is okay too!

Check out all the awesome ideas these educators had:

Group 1

Portable Christmas tree ! #lufkinlearns

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Group 2

A super simple solution to an alarm for a water leak. #lufkinlearns @makeymakey #scratch

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Group 3

1st grade alphabet sensory board ! #lufkinlearns #inventionliteracy design challenge

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Group 4

Group 5

If you’d like to bring me to your school district, conference, museum, or other informal learning space for this workshop, please use this contact form below.

I host other maker education workshops too! Browse my workshop menu, or contact me to develop a workshop based on your needs.

 

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Graphic Novel Review- Secret Coders Series

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I love graphic novels, books about gaming, and books that promote problem solving.

Other Gene Luen Yang Graphic Novels

When I was in the English classroom, one of my favorite books to recommend to students was Gene Luen Yang’s Level Up. I loved it and so did my freshmen students. It was one of those books that I could hand to a hesitant reader and they would just gobble it up! American Born Chinese was also a favorite because it was such a quirky bildungsroman story about being an awkward teenager. Even though it is about being a Chinese American, the heart of the book is about being uncomfortable in your own skin. (AND ISN’T THIS WHAT EVERY TEENAGER FEELS?!?!?)  But I digress…

Secret Coders Series

So you can see why I was stoked when First Second offered to send me the first four books of the graphic novel series Secret Coders.  I read them quickly and then passed them on to my 8 YO. As I’m writing this review, she is re-reading them. She just LOVES this series.

I asked her, “What do you love about it?”

She said simply:

  • It’s about coding
  • It’s a mystery

And that is exactly what is so awesome about Secret Coders! In this series, the main character Hopper moves to a new school only to find that she is surrounded by puzzles and mystery. Working with her new friends, she learns the Logo language and has to program a robotic turtle to draw patterns that unlock the clues to her school’s past. Meaning, she has to use logic and math to problem solve, create art, and solve each puzzle. This book is exemplar at gamifying math and programming. Plus, it shows how math is ART. This type of directional coding is good for laying a foundation with conditional statements across platforms and troubleshooting/persevering.

One of my favorite things about this series is that Yang includes puzzles for the reader to solve like this one below:

“Go ahead. Give it a shot. Try to write a program that can do my homework.”

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A Little History Note:

Wait…Logo? YES! This book is based on the Logo language created by Seymour Papert, Wally Feurzeig, and Cynthia Solomon. This language was a learning tool that was later developed to program a robotic turtle that held a drawing pen. Students use math to program the turtle to take simple shapes that create intricate designs. Read more about the  Logo history here.

More Coding Books for Kids

There are lots of great coding books out there to get kids interested. Here are just a few. Please share your favorites in the comments.

Thank you @patrick.benfield ! #papert #logo #papertforthepeople #latergram

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