“Making” at Fletcher: Discovery through exploration

Bloxels1

Video game creation with Bloxels

Think about the last thing you made – either with a team or all on your own.  Perhaps you wrote a paper, crafted a presentation, created an interesting movie, animation or piece of artwork, built a Lego structure, baked delicious cupcakes, or designed a game or a virtual world.

Now take a moment to think about the process.  What led you to select this project?  How did you plan, execute, and complete your finished product?  What roadblocks did you overcome?   If you worked with a partner or team, how did you share leadership opportunities?  Throughout the process of making, what did you learn?  Did you have fun?  Your endeavors probably resulted in a sizable list of discoveries.

This rich, multisensory learning process of “making” can be observed in classrooms around the Fletcher School.  For students with learning differences, integrating knowledge through experiential learning is a key educational component.   The Fletcher School’s curriculum infuses this culture of creativity, exploration, and design thinking. “Making” in the classroom provides both enjoyment and challenge, reaping limitless rewards.  

In recent years, Fletcher’s Technology and Learning Center (TLC) has been evolving as a physical gathering space outside of the classroom for problem solving and design projects.  Home of Fletcher’s Green Screen Studio, the MakerBot 3D printing station and regular BreakoutEDUs, the TLC is the perfect meeting space for student and teacher innovators.

Fletcher’s new Makerspace Club provides an additional opportunity for students to experiment, invent and explore.  Embracing the trending Makerspace evolution, participants use creativity to design products and understand processes.  With a dedicated time and space for independent learning and decision-making, and an array of digital and analog tools, students spend club time learning by doing.  Makerspace Club experiences prepare students for their current and future worlds through STEM challenges in science, technology, engineering, and math.  

Makey Makey

Makey Makey circuit board

Fletcher Makerspace Club students enjoy the freedom to select their own projects to pursue, using a wide array of tools:

Robotics

  • Dash & Dot Robots: Movements, sounds, and actions of these interactive robots are coded and executed with iPad apps.
  • Ozobot: Ozobots interpret color paths with optical sensors, customizing their movements, lights, and actions.

Digital Fabrication

  • Tinkercad: Easy-to-learn online 3D design app allows students to create and augment shapes, resulting in a 3D object for printing.
  • Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer:  Hardware receives and prints uploaded 3D designs, using a special heated plastic filament.

Coding

  • Makey Makey:  This small electrical circuit board connects with physical objects, allowing students to code ideas and inventions into actions with their computer.
  • Bloxels: Using simple blocks on a board and an iPad app, Bloxels allows students to build, test, and play their own video games.
  • Minecraft Edu: Educational version of Minecraft allows students to create and play this classic game in their own secure, classroom environment.

Offline Tinkering

  • Computer deconstruction:  By taking apart an old laptop, students learn about the inner mechanisms of devices.
  • Paper Airplane Challenge:  Students explore how to create an airplane which flies the highest, fastest, and farthest.
About Patti Weiss

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