Last week I attended the Toronto Maker Festival at the Toronto Reference Library. It was an awesome event! I saw lots of really cool innovative projects! Here are two that I found I could use right away!
Make-it yourself Microscope
One of the many ideas that really impressed me was this make-it-yourself microscope which would be useful in any elementary classroom. A personable gentleman (whose name I did not write down–If you are that guy, please let me know so I can give you credit here!) showed us how he created one using the instructions on instructables.com (a great website) and a few inexpensive materials.
Why this is an awesome project:
- gets students reading instructions (with visual aids)
- gets students measuring (though I would ensure an adult drills the holes)
- gets kids collaborating with a partner
- gets students making something that they will use throughout the school year and that will encourage discovery
Here’s the video I took using the contraption and my iPhone:
Here are the instructions from Instructables.com
What I would modify from the original: Many classrooms use iPads, it would be really neat to have groups of students re-make the template and edit the instructions to fit an iPad. There could be a vote on the best revised instructions & dimensions and the materials could be bought after the winning design was selected. This means more thinking, problem-solving, math, and writing! This might be a great way to collaborate with a woodworking class too!
Rethink the Box Workshop
This was a workshop I attended facilitated by Sharon Moscovitz, Shaun Grant, and Ray Mercer. We were put in groups and asked to create a mechanism that would get our creature across a platform in the dark without touching the ground. We were given a variety of items in a box which we could use to create our mechanism. I was in a triad with my husband (also an educator) and an Engineer. You would think that we would have created the best prototype ever? Not a chance! An 8-year old outsmarted us all and our contraption did NOT work!
Why this is an awesome activity:
- promotes problem solving, creativity and critical thinking
- promotes planning, testing a hypothesis, rethinking and retesting
- showcases that there are many different ways to approach a problem
- it’s fun!
Sharon, Shaun, and Ray are very willing to share their resources. Check them out at rethink-the-box.org I can’t wait to try this with teachers and students in my District.