Tag: hour of code

Making in miniature

This week at Michigan Makers saw the junk box and 3D printer still going strong! We also brought back many of the same things from the past few weeks, including littleBits, Hour of Code, Lego, and Kinex. We also brought back the Dash robots as well as the tiny Ozobot, which follows the path you draw for it and changes the color of its lights accordingly.

We finally were able to draw a path for the Ozobot

We discovered through experimentation that drawing a path for the Ozobot takes some serious pigmentation, and also that it works best when the turns are gently curved instead of right angles.

Tiny table for some tiny Shopkins!

The junk box was as popular as ever, especially for making miniatures like the tiny table for Shopkins above, and an equally tiny teacup.

Hour of Code has become a real hit with some of the kids

Hour of Code has remained a hit with a lot of the kids, some of whom have spent the majority of the last two weeks on the Blockly-based coding activities. One student told me he can’t wait to keep practicing at home and show his mom what he has been up to!

Prying off 3D prints is harder than you would think

Last but certainly not least, we have been making progress ensuring that every student who wants to print something using the 3D printer has their chance. We have been consistently impressed with how careful the students are around the printer!

One more week to go, Makers!

Costumes and Coding

The 3D printer is back! And so was the junk box, with even more fresh supplies than last week.

Tulle makes for great costumes

Did I mention that among the junk box supplies was a huge pile of tulle? Between that and the Hawaiian leis and some discarded Valentine’s Day garland, there were some truly inspired costuming creations this week.

Getting the headband just right

Popular choices were headbands, crowns, and other more elaborate headdresses, but we also had belts and what I can only describe as an improvised chest-plate made from what may once have been a woven straw trivet.

littleBits Korg kits (and coding in the background!)

I was pleased to see more interest in the littleBits kits this week, and since we were 3D printing, we had some kids ask to do Hour of Code or Build with Chrome. It’s always a little bit heartwarming to have kids asking you if they are allowed to practice computer coding.

3D design using Cookie Caster

The 3D printer was back and loaded with some gold-colored filament this week. We had some really intricate 3D creations printed this week using Cookie Caster (Kristin and I didn’t even know it was possible to make such detailed creations using that program)!

See you again next week, Makers!

Mitchell’s Budding 3D Designers

After last week’s successful debut of the 3D printer, we couldn’t wait to have the kids experiment with creating their own designs. We decided to try using CookieCaster.com, a website from MakerBot which allows you to draw an outline of an object using a line tool or upload and trace images, which the website automatically extrudes into 3D printed objects that are just like a cookie cutter!

Designing 3D prints using CookieCaster

We had a little bit of a hiccup getting the website to work initially, so not everyone ended up designing something today. But, we will definitely be bringing this back in future weeks so everyone can have a chance to design and 3D print an object.

3D printed house, designed using CookieCaster

It was great to see what the kids came up with. CookieCaster forced them to think very carefully about what they were going to make, since they could only use lines and had to make sure the lines connected to make an outline. Some kids said it was too hard at first – but they focused, perservered, and created some amazing stuff, like a heart, a panther, and a house.

Sweet Two-Story House Built with Roominate

This week we also finally had some girls who were able to figure out the electronic components of Roominate, which they added to the creation above. Check out a video demonstration on our Flickr!.

Hour of Code – Check out that focus!

And after an exhasting day of 3D printing, what’s a maker to do? Relax with some Hour of Code, of course.

Can’t wait to see what these kids come up with next!

Puppet Power

This week at Mitchell we introduced hand-sewing finger puppets, along with the same stations from previous weeks (Hour of Code, Dash robots, junk box, and construction toys).

Hour of Code, Dash, finger puppets, Junk box, construction toys

  We had some more kids finish Hour of Code today, including two who had been struggling a lot initially. It was wonderful to see them finish yesterday. One boy in particular was resolved to finish yesterday, and powered through the last few levels. He was very proud of his success, and couldn’t wait to try out Dash as his reward!   Hour of Code, Dash, finger puppets, Junk box, construction toys

We promised that we would start hand-sewing, since we had some requests already, so this was out first week practicing with this group. We decided to start with something small, and came up with the idea of felt finger puppets. We were impressed not only with how quickly kids picked up the hand-sewing, but how meticulously they focused on their stitches. Some of the amazing creations included a turkey (complete with wattle!), a kitten, and a snowman!

Hour of Code, Dash, finger puppets, Junk box, construction toysHour of Code, Dash, finger puppets, Junk box, construction toys


Making it work at Mitchell

This week at Mitchell, we brought back the same stations: Hour of Code, Dash robots, junk box, and Tinker Toys and Kinex. A lot of kids are getting pretty anxious to try out the robots, and we hope it will continue to motivate them to try their Hour of Code.

MM@MITCHELL Hour of Code, Dash, Junk box, Kinex, Tinker Toys

Several students have begun to enjoy doing the Hour of Code, and jump right into the puzzles. We also had a few more students finish the Hour this week!  

MM@MITCHELL Hour of Code, Dash, Junk box, Kinex, Tinker Toys

The real treat this week was to see what kids were able to build with the junk box. This week, I saw a lot of making of useful or functional objects. Purses were a big theme this week, as three different girls made different versions of purses from supplies in the junk box.

MM@MITCHELL Hour of Code, Dash, Junk box, Kinex, Tinker Toys

Last week, we had one girl make a “laptop” out of materials from the junk box, which inspired a boy to make his own this week using bubble wrap, playing cards, and a marble. As he described it to me, “You have to punch the keyboard really hard, but it’s really lightweight!”  


MM@MITCHELL Hour of Code, Dash, Junk box, Kinex, Tinker Toys

Slingshots and model bows were also a big theme this week. One girl made a slingshot out of a fruit snacks box and some rubber bands, complete with storage for her ammunition (small recycled cardboard tubes)

MM@MITCHELL Hour of Code, Dash, Junk box, Kinex, Tinker Toys

Unbridled creativity at Mitchell

This week at Mitchell, everything went a bit awry. We had planned on a rotation of three stations: Dash & Dot robots for those who have completed the Hour of Code puzzles/more Anna & Elsa for those who have not, building with Kinex, and making something from the junk box. But we forgot that we also needed to give the 5th graders a chance to make their own flashlight, and it ended up taking longer than we expected, even with all of the 4th graders helping show the 5th graders the ropes. And I forgot to charge the Dashes!

MM@Mitchell 11/4/2015

After the flashlights were done, we ended up allowing everyone to choose between Hour of Code, junk box, or Kinex. We were surprised that once everyone chose a station, the chaos really settled down, and the kids were able to make some pretty awesome things.

MM@Mitchell 11/4/2015

There was so much unbridled creativity present in the room. It’s amazing to see the range of projects they come up with: from a house with a roof supported by strings of plastic cord, to a headband made of pipe cleaners, electrical tape, and gold cord, to a miniature replica of a strawberry cake with vanilla ice cream on top! It was also great to see that kids were up to the challenge of using Blockly with the Dashes – even though they weren’t able to do so due to my charging fail!   

MM@MITCHELL Hour of Code, Junk Box, and Lego/Kinex

Just goes to show you that even when your plans fail, something amazing can still happen! I can’t wait to see what these kids come up with next. 

MM@MITCHELL Hour of Code, Junk Box, and Lego/Kinex

4th Grade Flashlights & Other Fun

Today’s menu was paper flashlights and some more Hour of Code with Anna and Elsa. Wondering what a paper flashlight is? It’s just want it sounds like, a flashlight complete with on/off switch constructed from heavyweight paper, an LED, a coin cell battery, and some foam tape.

MM@Mitchell 28oct2015 4th grade Hour of Code. 4th graders pledged not to ask for adult help and to pitch in to help each other!

We only had seven 4th graders today since the 5th graders had left early. Initially, we thought we might have a little bit of struggle getting the kids to stay on task, but when we returned to the Hour of Code task, we were pleasantly surprised to see how much the kids remembered and how much more confident they were even in completing the more challenging activities which most of them had not reached in the first session.

MM@MITCHELL Hour of Code

We challenged everyone to see if they could make it to the end of the session without getting help from anyone but their fellow 4th graders, and they were eager to take us up on the challenge (and they succeeded). One boy and one girl in particular really emerged as leaders in instructing their peers. At first, it was a little bit challenging for the boy to teach his peers rather than just taking control and completing the level. However, as time progressed (and with a little nudging) he really embraced the role of peer mentor, and the other students in turn became more willing to ask for help when they needed it. MM@Mitchell 28oct2015 4th grade Hour of Code. 4th graders pledged not to ask for adult help and to pitch in to help each other!

From our perspective as mentors, it was endlessly satisfying to watch the children helping each other with such confidence and care. Being able to step back from your role as instructor and allow the students to take on peer-to-peer instruction might seem risky, but it worked really well in the small setting we had today. And it was a real treat to watch!

MM@MITCHELL Hour of Code

Mitchell Fall Debut! Hour of Code with Anna and Elsa

Yesterday was our first day of Michigan Makers at Mitchell Elementary. We couldn’t wait to meet our new participants and welcome back some familiar faces. Our menu for the day was Code.org’s Hour of Code with Anna and Elsa, which uses Google’s drag-and-drop programming language, Blockly. We also brought the junk box, LEGO, and K’nex in case anyone finished early, but no one had enough time for those!

Two girls help each other with a difficult puzzle.Some of the kids had experience with Blockly, but we decided to have everyone start with this activity so that everyone could get grounded in the same basic skills. We also wanted kids to get some experience with Blockly now, since we will be bringing in the iPads and Dash & Dot robots soon, and want the kids to feel comfortable using the Blockly programming app which lets you pre-program noises, movement, lights, and more! Since some kids had experience with Blockly or Scratch, we were a little bit surprised that only two students completed all 20 puzzles.

We noticed that initially, some of the students skipped the video tutorials which give some really important information. They quickly realized that they needed to watch the videos to be able to complete the puzzles, so as time went on we had to answer less questions. It was awesome to see the students move from saying, “This is too hard!” about the first level, to confidently using loops. Part of this came from watching the instructions in the videos, and part from peer or mentor guidance, trial-and-error, and other problem-solving strategies. A student demonstrates to another how to solve a puzzle. Before the day was over, the kids reflected on these strategies. One of the most challenging aspects of this activity turned out to be figuring out what degree of angle to use when making your snowflake, and how many loops you needed. Finally, we talked some more about some of the exciting activities we will be doing next week and throughout the rest of the semester. Not everyone was able to finish today – so we are going to be bringing back this activity so we can make sure everyone is prepared for Dash & Dot in the coming weeks!  

Three boys concentrate on their next puzzle.

Intro to coding with “Hour of Code”

It was low-key this week, as we are still in the process of reaching out to students. For now, we are working with 6th graders. Our focus has been to get our students in the mindset of creating, building, and troubleshooting. We had our students start off with Hour of Code. HourofCode.org has a series of activities geared towards introducing students to coding. Our students worked on an activity creating snowflake shapes with Ana and Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen”.


The online activities encourage them to experiment with different code combinations and figure out why they malfunction, an important skill that carries over into making and inventing! Several students saw resemblances to Blockly, a drag-and-drop, visual programming tool. As educators, we get excited seeing students making these connections and bringing their past experiences into new ones.

Images © 2015 Regents of the University of Michigan. Text available under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license unless otherwise stated. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of​ ​Museum and Library Services RE-05-15-0021-15.