Baltimore Teacher Shows Kids The World Of MakerBotting
Man, talk about teacher appreciation. Here is a teacher I think we can all appreciate.
In late March, I got looped into a series of emails involving our Support guys and our Education team. As I read through the long thread, I learned that a man named David Brelsford down in Baltimore was making every effort to get his hands on some MakerBots. Not for himself, but for his students. As Dave put it, his is a group of “amazing kids,” but their school sits “in a pretty rough area, a lot of gang activity, drugs and crime.”
When The Replicator launched in January, Dave asked us directly what we planned to do with all the Thing-O-Matics in the BotFarm. A lot of these were being cycled back into R&D, but we still had a handful in limbo. Dave made us this deal: if MakerBot donated the machines to his school, he would give them all the TLC necessary to get them up and running, use them to teach his students about robotics and the thrill of making stuff, and report back to us on everyone’s progress. He and I made a virtual handshake, and not too long later he was up here in Brooklyn to pick up his three new Thing-O-Matics.
These three TOMs are now down at NAF Prep, where they sit in Dave’s Bot Lot. This is where he hopes to build some momentum toward a pre-engineering class at the middle school.
After a few weeks of having the TOMs down in Baltimore, I had a chance to catch up with Dave and check the group’s progress. He told me there is a “definite ‘really interested-almost psychotically’ group of 8” kids regularly stopping by the Bot Lot after school. Even the “principal is hooked on it as well. She came by the other day, and really saw how the kids would interact with the machines. We are now working on a way to make this a part of an actual class.”
So far, Dave and the students have done some “tuning as far as resolution, and optimal temps,” but are mostly trying to refine their workflow. As a teacher, he said it was crucial for the group to talk extensively about safety. He used the opportunity to get the kids practicing conversions from Celsius to Fahrenheit.
As for design, the group is testing a variety of programs. Tinkercad, Google SketchUp, and 3Dtin. Dave says he might be leaning toward 3Dtin and that SketchUp may have too steep of a learning curve to get the kids started with a MakerBot.
I’m looking forward to checking in with Dave and hearing how he’s using the Thing-O-Matics in his curriculum. He has shown so much drive and passion just in tracking down the machines themselves that I know he is going to be a great voice for MakerBotting teachers. One quick note I’ll share from him is that the presence of the program has already had a positive effect on at least one student’s behavior at school. Dave and Kyosha have spent a lot of time printing parts for a quadcopter. Can’t wait to see this!
If you’re a teacher and you use a MakerBot, I would love to share your stories and best practices. You can always email me.
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