Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Where do we put a 3D printer in the library?

Where do you put a printer? The best answer is somewhere that is in view when printing. We have 2 Ultimaker 2 printers. One Ultimaker 2 is in the Digital Media Lab in the Reference Department.  Most people do not see the printer there because it is tucked away in a corner but at the same time we don't have to worry about kids sticking their fingers in it or it getting bumped or jostled in the daily hustle and bustle of after school.  Although not directly seen from the service desk, it is still possible to swing by and check on a print or if it's not too loud to hear if something stops.

Another printer that I use more often is the Ultimaker 2 extended in our staff Resource Room where we hold many Tinkering Tuesday and 3D printing specific classes.   This is on the bottom floor where the printer is hidden behind a room divider.  We are a 3 floor building with the children's room located on the 2nd floor and the Reference/YA department located on the 3rd.  Sometimes when I don't get a chance to check on a print this is what happens. It was suppose to be a bus. Did you guess right? 3 hours of printing down the drain. 

In addition to just general mishaps,  my filament spools have been getting tangled which is something that could happen during long prints if the filament becomes loose when changing between reels.  I might not see this issue in time, leaving the printer to continue with the print but not having access to any filament, so it just prints NOTHING.  I fixed this problem by leaving the reels on the floor hooked up to a wooden block so the reels can fix themselves (I hope). Think like a paper towel holder. People online have designed 3D printed ways to solve the problem or using old lazy susans.  I LOVE THE INTERNET!

I finally installed a free app called Presence which turns any old iPhone or iPad into a remote camera that can be accessed through their website on any other device or computer.  All that is required is a reliable wireless network and a free account. If you leave it open it is a bit glitchy but it can be fixed by just reloading the webpage rather than having to leave the desk to go downstairs. It does save time when one is tied to the desk. My Fitbit is going to be quite sad with this development.

Wherever you decide to put your printer make sure it is well ventilated. An office, which is where our first printers started, is not a good idea especially if you are printing in ABS.  Having it out in the open on the floor or setting it up in a room that can have a window open during long prints is ideal. Even printing in PLA, which is what we do, does produce an odor which may or may not at this point be bad for you. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Preschool Lego Science

I just finished a 3 part stay alone series exploring basic science concepts with Legos for 45 minutes with 4 & 5 year olds.  Why Legos? Well, they are very popular from a marketing standpoint, they are plentiful at my library, and easy to clean. I have done a series of Preschool Science classes before so these were the same concepts just with Legos added.

We started each session with a picture of a Lego scientist and we talked about what they do and what body part they do it with.  Any tools that we were using for the program I introduced at this point and modeled what we were going to do with them.

Make Observations
Ask Questions
Use Tools

Week 1: Lego Volcanoes

Legos (could color match if you want for volcano colors)
Duplos  (always good to have depending on fine motor skills)
Baking Soda
Test tubes (but u could use cut water bottles or cups)-Lakeshore Learning Supplies
Plastic trays-Lakeshore

We used the book Volcanoes by Emily Green (c) 2007 as well as a 3 minute video from SciShow Kids.

We also did a short volcano song that I found on Hoopla from Madagascar 2 as a freeze song with scarves. When the music stopped we all had to jump up and erupt.

A few of the boys kept asking me "When are we GONNA BUILD?" So I'd keep the explanation part to 10-15 minutes tops. Plus, you need time to build.

Most kids really wanted to build with actual Legos but actually ended up using Duplos instead because the pieces were larger and less varied.  Each built their structure around the test tube.  One of the students even built a hospital for anyone injured during the volcano eruption. How cute is that?

The test tube contained 2 spoonfuls of baking soda which I let them measure.   Cups filled with vinegar were given to each student and they could use their droppers to add it to the test tube. Here is a short video. The looks on their faces are well worth the clean up.

One great thing about this project was it was a perfect opportunity to clean the Legos. They were disgusting! I just rinsed off the baking soda/vinegar mixture and they were good to go for next week. We left lots of things to dry as the sink was filled to the brim so make sure to have towels handy.

Week 2: Lego States of Matter

Lego minifigures
plastic trays
rubbing alcohol
warm water
Lakeshore trays (or large plates)

This week we talked about solids, liquids, and gasses using What is the World Made Of? by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld (c) 1998. Originally I wanted to talk about the Ice Mummy and excavation but I was afraid I'd give the kids nightmares.  The text was very long so I abridged it. My main vocab was matter, solid, liquid, and observation for the day.
Our hands on project was melting a Lego mini-figure from solid to liquid. I froze salad sized plastic bowls with water and Lego men. You have fill it half way freeze it, then fill it the rest of the way since the Lego men float. I placed some materials to test: salt, warm water, alcohol, sugar and we observed which table made their ice melt the fastest. We started with salt on one table, sugar on the other with little to no results. Then I gave one table warm water and another rubbing alcohol. Water was the definite winner. 

I saw an online post about using rubbing alcohol, dish detergent and water in a mix to defrost your windshield so we added rubbing alcohol as a last minute independent variable. Out of all the variables the kids concluded that warm water worked the best, followed by rubbing alcohol. We had plenty of time to independently build after this project so it could be easily done in a 30 minute time frame. 

Week 3: Lego Gravity

Legos and minifigures
Various things to drop

This week inspired by I Fall Down by Vicki Cobb, we talked about gravity and how it keeps us on the ground. The kids giggled when we talked about floating in the air without gravity and how would we run? sleep? get dressed? We weighed different objects with our Lakeshore scales and made predictions which one would fall first. Besides the feather (which had to do with wind resistance) all the items fell at the same time. Make sure to drop all the objects yourself. Having kids help might have changed the timing of the drop and skewed the results.
After the short 5-10 minute guessing game and intro, we started building items that we could race down the ramp or take to the zip-line. I think it might have been better to talk about Forces & Motion rather than Gravity since there were so many factors to a successful zip-line trip like the angle of my arm on the ladder, what material I used, how much each weighed, where I put the paperclip, etc. So although gravity sent them all to the ground, there were too many other factors to have a center focused question like does it matter how much the Lego construction weighed? Be prepared that kids might not want to destroy their creations on the zip-line or ramp.

What I tried to accomplish most out of these classes was to use the vocabulary of a scientist and modeling asking lots of questions and making predictions. You can pander to kids love of experimenting, natural curiosity, and Legos. Out of all the projects we did every time without fail the kids would ask if we were going to do volcanoes again. If I could keep one activity, I think that one would be the winner.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

More Practical 3D Printing Applications

I stumbled upon 2 websites this week that just amazed me. When any library thinks, "Well what can we actually use a 3D printer for?" These projects would be a great examples of realistic applications that have a direct impact on the community. For the most part I have been focusing on what are the patrons actually going to print on these machines rather than what can we as a library print on these machines? I always love when technology can actually make life better.

Dear Zoo

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Tactile Picture Books Project

Thanks to the University of Colorado Boulder we have multiple free thing-averse files that will print picture books that kids can feel along with the braille to read the book. I'm already thinking about putting these on the walls for a temporary display then setting up catalog records where patrons could check the books out once I bind them together.  Depending on how hard it is to make, maybe I could have a program where kids work together to make one using the draw-print method I previously blogged about.

3D Maps

Jacksonville Public Library has printed  a visual map to help blind patrons navigate their restroom facilities. Imagine doing that for the whole library? This would make a great Girl or Boy Scout final project. 

Today is a happy internet day :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Converting a drawn image to a 3D print

Just when I think it's time to cancel Facebook, I find an awesome group of librarians who have inspired me. The group is called Makerspaces and the Participatory Library.  I have always considered 3D printing to be something that students in upper elementary and beyond could bring their designs to fruition with the aid of Tinkercad but what about a 5 yr old?

In the Facebook group, I just saw this post that any black and white silhouette image could be flat printed on a 3D printer. The steps really are that easy. Now anyone who could hold a Sharpie could make something.  The mystery of how someone could easily draw curvy lines in Tinkercad has been solved! I had always imaged that they made it in AutoCAD and it was a very involved process.This is one problem with being self taught in things like this. Sometimes you learn the hard way before the easy way.

Step 1: Draw figure, try to smooth out the edges of the outline and take a picture. I free handed the drawing so it ended up on 2 small pieces of paper. I draw about as good as a 5 yr old so I was the perfect subject.  (It's a T-Rex just to clarify). I cleaned it up in Photoshop with a minor crop to take out the marble table around the edges. If any of the green table is left, Tinkercad will consider it another shape as shown by the line artifacts to the right of the T-Rex. 

 Step 2: Once those artifacts are removed, go to online-convert.com and convert the image file to SVG.

Step 3: Log in to Tinkercad and choose import from the gray right drop down menu. Resize to 20% with a desired thickness.  You will probably need to resize it even smaller with the side tools depending on the original file size of your original image. Go to Design, Download for 3D Printing and save as an STL when ready.

Step 4: Put STL file into desired 3D printer software (Cura in our case) and TADAH! In hindsight, I should have just added the ring using the Torus shape in Tinkercad just so I would have more of an exact measurement for adding the earring hardware. Here is a link to my updated design.

If you have read previous posts, you know I'm a big fan of 3D printing my own earrings.   This is my next print. 
Just make sure if it is this delicate you add a BRIM to your supports. My first print didn't adhere to the plate and I came down 20 minutes later to a gobbled mess.