Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from February, 2015

Tips on Lego Mindstorm

Thanks to the Duxbury High School Lego Robotics Team for allowing me to observe their Lego Mindstorm Class for Alden students in Grades 3-5 as part of Engineering Week.  They taught me a valuable lesson, you don't have to use the instructions! I was so caught up with building the official robots that I forgot that the whole point to Legos is the individualized creativity with the pieces. Now this type of learning isn't for everyone but I've always hated instructions and doing step by step Lego instructions was a huge set back for me.  I'd rather trial and error free build and problem solve throughout the process. That's closer to tinkering anyway.

In a 3 day consecutive after school class, each team built their own robots for battle.  The first day was a lot of experimenting with the parts. The students immediately delved into the kits asking questions about sensors or just building something with gears that physically moved without electricity.  The second d…

Getting our feet wet with 3D printers

We were lucky enough to win a grant from 3D Systems and the ALA for two 3D desktop printers and now we are digging in to learn the ins and outs of how they work and what can be done with them. They come with 25 pre-set projects with which we can start.

With young people and adults alike chomping at the bit to get their hands on 3D printing, we feel it is important to make access to them and the programs that support them easy and democratic.

Matthew Scorza, a Duxbury resident and recent engineering grad, came in to see them and immediately got a hankering to use AutoDesk Inventor to create some cool designs to be printed.  In the interest of  getting comfortable with the machines, the filament, the printer designs, we had printed a Rook on Saturday. Matt added to that a simple map of Duxbury just to see how it handles detail.

There is much to be learned about how to design a successful project in terms of getting the changes of filament layers to shift gradually enough to adhere to eac…

Our 3D Cube Printers Came In!!

With a collaborative grant writing effort from community members and library staff, we are proud to announce that we won 2 Cube 3D Printers from the Maker Lab Club in collaboration with the American Library Association, American Makes, and the Association of Science and Technology Centers.

We cannot believe how easy these were to set up.  The first one took some extra time as we had to navigate around the new website to find the software, activate the printers, and calibrate it but we were able to figure it out in an hour. The 2nd printer took about 15 minutes! With the 25 free designs already preset for the Cube, we printed a chess piece Rook. It took an hour and a half to print. It even had a staircase inside, what great detail! The Cube has it's own software and design file name (not the standard .stl) so files designed elsewhere will have to go through their software before printing. Once it is ready, file transfer is done over a flash drive that is plugged in directly to t…

Podcasting with teens

Our teen podcasting group, the Radiofaces, has been re-constituted from a few years ago, and now meets weekly or bi-weekly, depending on the high school drama department schedule, all school year.


Lately we have enjoyed reading short folk tales adapted by Aaron Shepard, in his excellent book, Folktales on Stage: Scripts for Reader's Theater.

The teens are making these their own by adopting kind of crazy accents and affectations that they find goofy. The only reservation I have for this is that the result has to be intelligible!

What do we use for recording? Why, the Blue Yeti multi-directional mic, of course! This powerhouse of a mic can be adjusted to mono-directional, bi-directional, and omnidirectional. We use it plugged into one of our Mac laptops running Garageband. This makes it super easy to edit, add opening and closing music, save to iTunes and send it off to our podcasting host service, Liberated Syndication, which publishes it in the iTunes catalog (search in the podcast…

Lego WeDo Robotics in Action

What I love about Lego WeDo kits as opposed to Lego Mindstorms is how "out of the box ready" they are.  Keep in mind LegoWeDos are geared for lower elementary school students but they can still serve as an introductory lesson for middle school students.



In February, we are conducting a 4 week, 1 hour Lego Robotics program for the Middle School DIY Club. We decided for the first lesson, we would introduce the concept of Lego Robotics with the WeDo kits. Even before we turned on the computers, they were off and running. Once the software was installed, it was literally plug and play.

A note about software: if you do not have Apple laptops with CD/DVD drivers, it takes a bit of computer know-how to trick the mac into thinking the CD is there (our windows laptops were no problem!).

WeDo projects can be made in under an hour, unlike the Mindstorms Gyro robot I've spent about 6 hours building only to find out that I must have missed a step somewhere and need to take it all a…