Thursday, June 19, 2014

BPC's Day at the White House Maker Faire

Yesterday, two now 8th grade students (Jane & Sam) and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the first ever White House Maker Faire.  Our invitation came as a result of our proposal describing our work with the Advanced Light Source earlier this school year, where we used high energy xrays to scan small samples, then 3D-printed them out many times their actual size.  (Feel free to check out the ALS news briefs following our adventures from the initial student field experience, through the Maker Faire results and our invitation to the White House!)


I want to begin by recognizing the many people in addition to Jane and Sam that our invitation recognizes.  Thanks to:
  • BPC students in our Maker Club for setting us up for success early in the year, successfully presenting at the East Bay Mini-Maker Faire and the Bay Area Science Festival, both in the fall of 2013.
  • The entire BPC Class of 2015 for their enthusiastic participation in our 7th grade field trip to the Advanced Light Source (ALS) in November 2013.
  • Dula Parkinson, Beamline Scientist, for patiently mentoring me during my IISME summer 2013 internship and having the vision to design and implement our November 2013 ALS experience, as well as his continued support through the data analysis / printing process.
  • Howard Padmore, BPC parent and ALS Division Deputy for Experimental Systems Group, for his role in organizing the 7th grade trip, as well as his encouragement to apply to the White House Maker Faire.
  • Justin Blair, scientist, for his help with data visualization and his 3D printer assistance.
  • The Maker Club (again) for a very successful debut at the San Mateo Maker Faire in May 2014, especially to those 7th graders (Flynn, Abe, Alexander, Jane, Daniel, Sam, Kyra and Emily) who volunteered their time at our booth.  Also, Gigi, Alex, and Luka (all 6th grade) and Isaac (8th grade) for their help.
  • Brook Drumm, founder and CEO of Printrbot, for helping us initially get involved with 3D printing, as well as his continued generosity and support over the years. 
  • Finally, those BPC students who spent long, sometimes frustrating hours with our initial 3D printer back in 2010, which was far more finicky that our current machines: especially Adam (BPC Class of 2013) and Cole, Noah and Daniel (BPC Class of 2014)

I am sure we are leaving folks off this list, but the point is that the kids (and their teacher!) did not accomplish this on their own and we are grateful for the opportunities for collaboration we have experienced along the way.

White House Maker Faire as a Concept

As for the White House Maker Faire itself, It was fabulous to see so many inspiring people in one room. Dean Kamen, Super Awesome Sylvia,, the guys from Open ROV, and Caine from Caine's Arcade! And of course, an honor to hear the President speak!  

President Obama officially declared June 18th a National Day of Making! Watch his speech below (or read the text here.)  If you'd like to learn more, you can check out the White House Maker Faire Fact Sheet or the Presidential Proclamation -- National Day of Making, 2014 (a copy of which, you may not be surprised, will be hanging on my classroom wall!)  Or you can read the official White House blog post on the event, or visit to learn more.

Our Day at the White House

The excitement began exactly one week before the Maker Faire.  We received the email (below) 6 days prior to the event with scant details beyond we were invited and the event would occur sometime on Wednesday, June 18th.  In addition, we were asked not to discuss our participation until the morning of the event.  I've since learned this is how things roll with White House Events.  

I was thrilled to be invited, but was surprised (OK, not really) that I could bring only one student from our collaborative team.  Luckily, due to a last minute cancellation, we were able to bring a second student!  Though many students contributed to this day (as discussed in the acknowledgments above), Sam and Jane have worked tirelessly to develop the project and share what we've learned with a broader community, so it was pretty clear that they would be selected as our representatives.

Two days before the Faire, we received clarification that as "honored makers" we were able to attend the event, but we would not be presenting our project. Well, that certainly made packing easier!

The connections began from the minute we stepped in line for the event.  One of the first people we saw was Avi Reichental, President and Chief Executive Officer of 3D Systems.  The kids introduced themselves, thanked him for our Cube printer, and shared our project. We also met the CEO of Trimble, the company that purchased Google SketchUp.
There were many steps through security to enter the event.  My personal favorite was the portable where we each had to walk through and be sniffed by working dogs!

Once inside, we were thrilled to see local makers David Lang (Zero to Maker (Love this book!); Open ROV) and Eric Stackpole (Open ROV).  These gentlemen have been generous in letting our Maker Club come and visit their space in Berkeley. We also excited for BPC to team up with these guys and host a screening of maker: A documentary of the maker movement at our school in the fall of 2014!

Soon after, we bumped into Caine, of Caine's Arcade, who inspired our very own cardboard arcade at BPC in which we combined old school materials (cardboard and duct tape) with some newer technology (MaKey MaKey and Scratch). It was cool to see so many kids at the Maker Faire.  We also chatted briefly with both "Super Awesome" Sylvia and Shubham Banarjee, creator of the "Braigo," a Lego Braille printer.
If you have never seen the video Caine's Arcade , please take 10 minutes and watch it now. 

There were about 30 makers set up throughout the White House's east wing.  Some of our favorites included MaKey MaKey, Squishy Circuits, the crowd-pleasing Robotic Giraffe, and LittleBits.  

We spent a lot of time at the 3D Systems booth.  One of my favorite moments was when I turned around to see Sam chatting with about our project. ( was recently appointed Chief Creative Officer for 3D Systems.  He actually does all sorts of impressive philanthropic work.)  The best part is that Sam did not recognize him as a famous musician, while I was trying to get past "OMG - is checking out our 3D printed Mentos shell!)

Finally, we spent some time talking scanning with Joshua from 3D Systems about scanning.

We also were able to visit with Other Mill, who we first met at the San Mateo maker faire and learned this week is based out of San Francisco!

Here is a list of all the makers who were invited and an InformationWeek article highlighting 10 of the coolest inventions there! :)

Of course, a major highlight of the day was being able to hear President Obama speak. We were pretty close (this is a picture taken from our seats!)  Fun fact: Obama is the first president to be scanned and 3D printed!

Other Makers

Here are some of my favorite makers and their projects, as described on the official attendee list

Hannah Chung and Aaron Horowitz created Jerry the Bear, a best friend for kids with type 1 diabetes that helps them master their medical procedures through play.
After hearing President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on February 12, 2013, French artist and designer Gilles Azzaro was inspired to create a 3D-printed art piece based on the President’s message about the importance of additive manufacturing and his call to action to create a network of National Manufacturing Innovation Institutes. Azzaro developed his own program to transform the audio recording of the State of the Union address into a format that could be 3D printed. The 3D printed portion of the art piece took a total of 350 hours to build. The result is an artful and tangible rendering that synchronizes the audio of the speech with a laser that travels across the sculpture.

Miguel Valenzuela, who is originally from California but now lives in Norway, was asked by his two young daughters to create a pancake machine out of LEGOs—a request he just couldn’t turn down. When Miguel and his family debuted the invention at the 2012 World Maker Faire in New York City, it instantly became a crowd favorite. Over the last couple of years, Miguel has continued to improve the design and functionality of the PancakeBot, releasing the newest version earlier this year.
Another fantastic maker (not pictured) was Hahna Alexander from Pittsburgh, PA.  
Hahna is the co-founder and CTO of SolePower, an innovative company known for a shoe insole that charges portable electronics by walking. The device branded “EnSole” works by generating power in the heel with each step and storing power in a Power Pack holstered on the shoelaces. The Power Pack can be removed at any time to charge a phone or any other electronic device using a USB port. SolePower’s 3-year project has won the team the 2014 Popular Science Invention of the Year award as well as the Africa Energy Award for Innovator of the Year. The SolePower team looks forward to bringing easy-access energy to shoes all over the world, one step at a time.

 After the Faire

While we were in DC, we had the opportunity to tour a few other places.  A former student of a parent of my current student (got that?) had an internship and was able to swing a partial tour of the West Wing. 

Outside the West Wing!

Finally, on Thursday just hours before our flight took off, we toured the National Defense University and learned about this fascinating learning institution which "supports the joint warfighter by providing rigorous Joint Professional Military Education to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and select others in order to develop leaders that have the ability to operate and creatively think in an unpredictable and complex world." (quote from their mission statement)  Someone described it as "social defense" or the capital of people.  Countries send their up and coming military leaders to study together. 

One unexpected highlight of the trip was a meet and greet with NDU president Major General Gregg F. Martin, who invited us to listen in on a briefing on the current state of Iraq.  He further surprised us by saying, as we walked in the door, "why don't you kids get us started by summarizing your project in one minute to these folks?"  A formidable challenge to be sure in a room full of adults, many in military uniform!  But Sam & Jane did us proud! :)

White House Maker Faire Media

It's been interesting to read other people's experiences at the White House Maker Faire.  Here are some blog posts by folks from The Grommet,  La Petite Maison, more?  Also some articles discussing the focus on 3D printing

Here's our media roundup re: our White House Maker Faire experience:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Re-blogged by Formlabs!

Well, this is exciting.  Earlier this spring, Sam blogged about his "3D Printing Test" at the San Mateo Maker Faire. Armed with a flashdrive containing an STL of our eggshell scan, he and his comrades visited a number of 3D printing companies, and persuaded them to do prints for comparison.

While Formlabs admits they are not in the K - 12 educational space yet, they were excited about what our kids were doing.  (You can see Sam fits right in with the Formlabs staff in his ever-present orange shirt.)

Well, Formlabs apparently enjoyed the post and wrote that they "think your post is really great, and wanted to feature it on our own blog."  We were, as you might imagine, very happy to agree!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

3D Printing is fun, but where is the curriculum?

3D printers seem to be popping up in schools all over, thanks in part to initiatives like Makerbot Academy.  However, not every teacher with a 3D printer in the classroom seems to know what to do with it.

UPDATE JULY 2014: Tinkerine U looks promising. You have to sign up but then presumably have access to their training guides, workshops, etc.

ORIGINAL POST: For a long time, the only curriculum I was aware of was SeeMeCNC's SeeMeEducate developed by a passionate high school teacher working with Orion's Delta Printers.  It is pretty cool, you can check it out here.

Since then, 3D Systems has gotten in the curricular resources game with Cubify Education, hoping to be your "one stop shop for tutorials, curriculum, projects and educational information, materials and resources."  While it seems to have a ways to go, there is some potential here if they can garner critical mass.

Makerbot is also sniffing around and looking to teachers to flesh out their educational resources network.

Then, SME (Formerly the Society of Manufacturing Engineers) and 3D Systems recently (6.11.14) announced their new M.Lab21 initiative.  Together, they hope to "bring school workshops into the 21st century with cutting-edge equipment."  3D Systems is providing materials for participating schools, which "feature the latest in 3D design and 3D printing technology, including the Sense 3D scanner, the Touch haptic and prosumer desktop 3D printers, in addition to a suite of Cubify 3D design software [including Sculpt, Invent, and Design."  By mid-summer 2014, the M.Lab21 project hopes to have secured eight industry advisers who can provide leadership and guidance though the development process.

Also launched recently, Printrbot Learn is another initiative sponsored by Printrbot and run by teachers.  They, too, need to build a community, but I really do believe Brook Drumm, founder, has his heart in the right place and has always been a supporter of getting 3D printing into the hands of kids.
We believe that learning should be hands on. We believe that kids should solve real problems using real tools. We believe every kid should be a designer, a maker and an inventor. We believe that kids should Learn by Making.
Headed by teachers, Josh Ajima and Clarence Fisher, Printrbot Learn intends to host tutorials and lesson plans (and contests!) for teachers to implement the technology in their classrooms.

And, of course, the first book has just been released, The Invent To Learn Guide to 3D Printing in the Classroom: Recipes for Success by David Thornburg (and more).  I just picked up a copy and look forward to reading it.

Here are some other resources you can check out if you are interested in learning more about how educators are already using 3D printing in their classrooms:

What are some of your favorite 3D printer curricular resources?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Impact of BPC in 3D: A 3D Printed Graduation Project

(NOTE: As teachers and parents know, the end of the school year is a very busy time.  Here is a snapshot and a more detailed post is forthcoming!)

This year we implemented our first grade-level wide 3D printing project.  Graduating 8th graders were asked to reflect on "What's something you will take from your time here at BPC with you for the rest of your life?"  In English class, students wrote reflective passages and in science, they created CAD models which were 3D printed and displayed at our graduation ceremonies.  

Student models included:  a guitar, a key, camp fire, piano keys, 3d printer in water (?),  hourglass, drama mask, 3D Printer (Cube), another key, an arrow pointing up, music notes, an anchor, a ring, a lock and key, a rock. 3D Printer (Makerbot), bamboo, laptop computer, chair, egg, boat, footprints, butterfly, tree coming out of a book, a heart book thing with rings, hourglass, rose, Inception spinning top, running man, cracked egg , skull, book, nubby pencil, tree, tongue, bench, brain, space ship and planet, speech bubble, lightning bolt, light bulb, megaphone, another megaphone, cloud, microphone, light bulb, another rose.

Here are just a few models with their respective writing pieces:

I choose the seat of shame/honor to represent my time at BPC. When I got to Ms. Mytko’s class in 7th Grade I was very disruptive and was quickly given a seat at the front of the class labeled the seat of shame. However, slowly and kind-of surely, my behavior started to improve. The seat of shame was no longer entirely necessary and had become something that I enjoyed. When I came back in 8th Grade Ms. Mytko asked me which seat I wanted and I responded by saying the seat of honor. I think that this is very representative of my change at BPC. When I came in I would often get thrown out of classes and was a pain to deal with. Now I can’t even remember the last time I was thrown out of a class and I think that most of my teachers like me at least a little bit. I’m proud of the change I have made in my time at BPC.

I chose to make a rose as my 3D model. The rose represents my growth as a person as a student at Black Pine Circle. During my three years at BPC I have learned new ways to ask questions and how to speak out during class. I have become more sure of myself as a student and a person. When I first started school at BPC I was pretty shy and quiet, but classes like drama and music helped me find my voice. I chose to use a rose to represent what I’ll take with me after graduation because when I go to high school, I will always take with me what I’ve learned at BPC. The leaves represent my friends and memories I’ll take with me when I leave. 

I chose a 3D printer to symbolize the many experiences, skills and memories I have taken with me from BPC. I chose a 3D printer because it has changed my life over the last three years. When I was in sixth grade, Ms. Mytko got her first 3D printer, an original Printrbot. My friends and I worked on it for almost a year after everyone else lost interest. Persisting on projects like that was one skill working with 3D printers helped me a lot with. Another instance that I may not have persisted in a few years ago but did was a time I designed an iPad stand and after many design, software and printing failures, it still hasn’t worked but I haven’t given up.*  Also 3D printing has given me many opportunities over the last year or so, like visiting 3D printing conferences and going to the 3D System’s monthly meetups in San Francisco. I have no idea what I would be doing now without 3D printing. 

*Revision June 2: Since writing this paragraph I have finished the iPad stand.

(flowers were a popular choice) :)

The day of the ceremony, we set up the models / writing samples near the entrance to the school yard. 

The prep (post in progress...)  

Printing 48 models under a very tight deadline gave me plenty of practice implementing Kacie Hultgren's design tips for 3D printing

Thursday, June 5, 2014

We Tour the Autodesk Gallery

On the last day of school this year, Sam and Abe toured the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco. The Autodesk Gallery is an open museum gallery that Autodesk built to "bring together stories of exceptional design and engineering from across the globe. "The Autodesk Gallery celebrates the creative process and shows how people are using new technology to imagine, design, and create a better world." 

Probably the coolest thing we saw there was their professional grade Conex 500 3D printer.

Sam Standing Next to their Conex 500 3D printer
Another cool thing we saw was this virtual reality device where you can walk around and it will move your virtual camera.

We also saw some other cool things including a concept Mercedes-Benz futuristic car, a model of the Shanghai tower (once this skyscraper is completed, it will be the tallest building in China and the second tallest in the world), and a stonecutting where an artist designed a scaled-down model of it (picture 3), 3D printed it, then sent it to a town in China where they have been stonecutting for hundreds of years.

Then we figured out how there are huge Lego structures in Lego land. They have beams inside them!

A huge lego dinosaur Autodesk had on display.
-Abe (entering 8th Grade next year!)