Where the Garage Meets the Classroom
As Frank R. Wilson so beautifully put it in his preface to The Art of Critical Making, “objects brought to life by a maker… will not only foster confidence and vitality but also sharpen personal identity and add meaning to the experience of consciousness.”
Making things, problem solving and learning-by-doing have been at the heart of Unquowa since our school’s inception in 1917. Our school’s 1500 sq ft makerspace provides us with bigger and better space for activities that involve making, un-making, tinkering and designing. It is the place where the garage meets the classroom, and offers students a chance to bring their ideas to life using materials ranging from wood, metal and fabric to robotic components and 3-D printing.
Posted by Carlene Gordon
Leprechauns are greedy and sneaky and love shenanigans! So how do you trap one? Fourth graders know, you employ math and engineering skills!
After reading about a mischievous leprechaun in the book Leprechaun Trap by Adam Wallace grade four students went to work to create an efficient but also cost-effective trap. Students discovered that to be successful, they had to think like a leprechaun. Character traits from the story were identified as the students designed and redesigned. We discussed the field of engineering materials and items were carefully chosen not only for their utility, but also with a eye on the cost effectiveness. Each material they chose to use in their design had a price attached. Once completed, students added to find the cost and worked with decimals (our next unit in math!) to give a final cost analysis. In the end, our students presented and demonstrated their projects and the thinking that brought them to their final design. Even Mr. R-M couldn’t resist getting in on the fun!
Posted by Cameron Ross-MacCormack
Working together in teams, students in grades three through six have all been part of a project to design and build a walk-in camera obscura in the Makerspace.
Children have been exposed to screens throughout their lives and this opportunity to step back in time and reflect on the projected image has been an interesting challenge. Students are so used to seeing images projected that it seems almost obvious to them that light through a hole would produce one. It turns out it is rare to have a projected image occur by simply focusing light through an aperture. The students have eagerly explored the mechanics of how this seemingly magical and simultaneously obvious phenomenon works.
Using their formidable skills with hammers, nails, saws, screws and power drills they designed and built this masterpiece. As always, duct tape, drop clothes, trash bags, paint and staple guns also played a role.
This photo sequence is of 1) the kindergarten class being shown the camera and its aperture, 2) gathering inside for a demonstration and 3) Riley jumping outside in front of the aperture so that his image could be projected on the (then closed) back flap. His classmates were delighted and amazed to see him projected on the back flap!
Their functioning prototype has taught them about light, vision, projections, cameras, and more. We all love this project and look forward to seeing where it goes next … perhaps a larger permanent installation!
Posted by Craig Knebel
The 8th grade has been studying mechanical waves in science class. The students learned that one property of a mechanical wave is its frequency. In studying sound waves students realized that the “pitch” of an instrument is tied to its frequency. To truly demonstrate this understanding the students made five note instruments in the Makerspace in just three classes, and then played their instruments.
Posted by Ms. Fernandez
After studying the Spanish vocabulary needed to discuss and understand the weather, Grades 3 and 4 built their very own weather stations in the Makerspace. The students enjoyed expanding on what they learned in Spanish class by going deeper into the science of weather and designing their own weather stations. Their simple construction materials included paper cups, popsicle sticks, strings of hair and more.
Posted by Faith Barbuto
Continuing our studies of mammals and how they adapt to survive winter, we began to explore the concept of insulation. With Mr. Ross-MacCormack we went outside and looked at several materials that are meant to keep us warm. We touched the items first, examining the different textures and thicknesses. Volunteers were chosen to be wrapped in different materials to see if they helped keep them warm. We compared the items and identified what characteristics they had in common.
One budding engineer remarked, “I was warm except for the part where the hole let the air in!” Air… We felt all the best types of insulation and realized they had air trapped inside! Once we returned to the makerspace we investigated trapping air and realized that the warmth wasn’t coming from the material it was coming from our bodies!
Posted by Carlene Gordon
It was a busy week of Thanksgiving in third grade. The week began by reading two stories about Thanksgiving. The first, Across the Wide Dark Sea was about a young boy’s experiences sailing on the Mayflower with his family. The next story was titled, The First Thanksgiving and depicted the struggles, hardships and ultimate friendships leading up to the first Thanksgiving, which students learned, lasted for three days! Following these stories, our third graders headed to the makerspace to create replicas of the Mayflower. Students carefully crafted these ships to serve as place cards on the tables of our own Unquowa School Thanksgiving Feast. Later in the week, students continued to practice writing three to five paragraph essays describing the things they are most grateful for. Students expressed gratitude for big things such as families, food, friends and school but also seemingly small or frequently overlooked things such as a smile or a cheery hello! In addition, during our mindfulness activity of a gratitude circle, students were able to express their appreciation of these things and many more with each other. Finally, dressed to impress, our students headed down to relish a traditional Thanksgiving feast created by our talented chefs. Students enjoyed coming together with classmates and teachers from across all grades before departing on the extended holiday break. At the tables, students shared handcrafted table place cards, Thanksgiving plans and of course, the delicious food. But most of all, we shared gratitude for our school and all that it offers us.