Our school received a $10,000 DigiTech startup grant through Digital Technologies, Department of Education. The main focus was to look at introducing robotics into the classroom and being able to roll out the new Digital Technologies curriculum. I wanted some equipment that might be fun and reasonably easy to embrace as well.
David Deeds, an online colleague who is Director of Information and Learning Technologies for Schutz American School in Alexandria, Egypt. Egypt shared photos of his class working with 3D pens on Facebook. He is always at the cutting edge of technology and its use in the classroom. As I wanted something fun for students to work with, we added the purchase of pens to our shopping list. David was emailed to get his recommendations for which pens would be best to use.
Following is his reply:
There are lots of knockoffs 3D pens these days. I maintain that 3Doodlers
are still the best, even though they might cost a few dollars more.
You can get them direct from the 3Doodler website, from Amazon, etc.
How long will they last? Well…that depends on the quality. I know folks I bought them for in Mexico three years ago are still using them.
3D pens allow kids to create 3D art. Beyond Art class, kids could create 3D models of atoms or whatever.
They’re a lot of fun…kids go crazy with them…that’s enough for me. 😉
And that was enough for me. After searching around online, Harvey Norman had the best deals as they were clearing out the pens. In fact we also received some bonus items like pen holders and foot pedals. Six 3Doodler pens were purchased. They are not cheap but were cheaper than other online options at approximately $168 AUD.
- I had no idea how to use them. Should I sit down and work out how before students used them? Are there safety measures required.
- Our art/technology teacher is very wary of all this new technology, fearing that it takes away student creativity.
- one of my year 10 DigiTech students, Emily, was really keen to use them when I showed the class. She took it on herself to research how to use it, found some patterns to try and get started with, printed them off and brought them to me.
- The pattern sheet was laid on the table top, the plastic threaded through the pen and the design was traced around using the pen.
As I have done so many times over my long teaching career, I decided to jump in the deep end and let the students play, teach me how to use them and we collaboratively learn together. Emily brought the printed sheets to class period 1. I said that I preferred she design something first rather than downloading an existing pattern, but she felt it was a simple way to start and that she could simply concentrate on learning how to operate the pen. Her first attempt was rather rustic but on her second go, she started to perfect the technique, causing a lot of interest from fellow students. Following is a movie to see how it looked.
Emily also worked out the technique to join 2 pieces of 3D printout together eg in making the Eiffel Tower. It was made in 2 parts, then joined to create the 3D object. Emily said this was quite difficult to do.
Once students have learnt the basic use, following are some ideas of things that they could now design and create:
- smaller colourful glasses
- key rings
- balls etc
I would like them to use the pen to build the complete 3D image rather than put flat pieces together.
Have you used the 3D pen printing technology? What suggestions do you have?
As Hannah, a teacher in South Korea, had a Parents’ Open Class early in the morning her time, she reached out for teachers in Australia or New Zealand to connect at this time and show the families the power that technology and global connections can bring to learning in the classroom.
Fortunately, I had a year 7 class at this time, so it was possible for us to collaborate. They were similar ages from both countries, which was great. Discussions were made using chat in Skype as to how the lesson would look. Here is what was planned:-
- Start with Mystery Skype so students had to determine where the other class was from, asking questions that could only receive a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
- We would toss a coin to see who would start the questioning
- Once the countries were worked out, we would share items of culture eg money, food, flags, Sth Korean traditional costume, sheep wool from Australia etc
- Learn some Sth Korean language
- Question time, if time permitted.
Due to the space restraints in the classroom, most students had a book atlas to look through to determine where in the world they were from. Some had their portable devices. One of my boys tossed a coin over the webcam, Sth Korea called heads but tails was the outcome.
We started the questions, which included:
- is it hot there?
- do you live on an island?
- do you live near China?
It took about 10 minutes to work out the countries we were from.
By sharing out cultural objects, we learnt about languages, accents, exchange rates, features of their money, value of money in each country, national costumes, how to speak some basic phrases in Sth Korean, some of the food differences etc It was a great learning experience with interested parents in Sth Korea looking on.
Each year, district schools, open their buildings to interested prospective parents. It almost becomes a competition, with some schools holding their information evenings earlier and earlier in the school year. Of course we all think that we teach in the ‘best school’!
Although our school, Hawkesdale P12 College is small, it is big on opportunities for students. Technology has enabled us to open up the doors to the world. which includes expert speakers eg authors, scientists, museums; to global classrooms and to some of the best teachers and educationalists there are.
For the information evening, parents are divided into groups with both a teacher and student leading them around the school. Parents are rotated around Science, Physical Education, Food Technology, Robotics and Information and Communications Technology areas where they participate in a range of ‘hands on’ activities.
Each year I am asked to videoconference (using Skype) in to another classroom or with other teachers to show the magic that technology can bring to learning. My two wonderful colleagues, Steve Sherman (Living Maths), South Africa and Lin-lin Tan from Taiwan agreed to connect with us for each of the groups. Steve was at another school and kindly went out of his way to skype with us. This meant he used his mobile phone to connect and he was seated in his car in the carpark to talk to us. This was a first for me! To have an educator teaching us from within their car.
Initially, the parents and students played Mystery Skype, asking questions that required a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to determine their location. Lin-lin had to tell them where she was from as they did not work it out in the allocated time. She also shared a poster and map of where she was from, some Chinese culture (as she is Chinese), her evening meal and some of the foods she enjoys. (Note, our school teaches mandarin Chinese.)
After a number of questions by students, one of the parents determined Steve’s location with the question: “Did the Australian Cricket Team recently play in your country.”
People will often ask well “What did you learn?” from doing these connections. Here is just a little bit of learning in the 15-20 minutes that Lin-lin and Steve had.
- Where in the world, Taiwan is. Some students may not have even heard of Taiwan!
- What the Taiwanese language sounds like! (She was home about to eat her evening meal and her mother had called her to come and eat. She responded in her language to say that she was working with a class in Australia)!
- It was very hot where she lived. (It is nearly winter here!)
- We saw the soup she was about to eat – it was vegetarian with many healthy greens etc and heard about her fried rice for tea. She also showed us their pickles.
- The landmark that Taiwan is famous for – the Tapei Tower
- Chinese lucky envelopes and how they are used.
- witnessed the true ability of being able to teach anywhere and anytime using technology. Steve taught us from his car in the school carpark.
- exchange rates – students showed Steve our $5 note and he immediately turned into a learning moment. Parents and students had to search for the exchange rate between AUD and the Rand. The Australian dollar buys nearly 10 rands.
- Different cultural phrases: South Africans say ‘tins of coke’, Australians say ‘cans of coke’
- Students/parents had to work out how much a can of coke would cost in AUD, if Australians were in South Africa.