3d Resurrection - Getting your Cube 3 Working again

Perhaps, like us, you unwittingly chose a Cube 3d Printer for your school or classroom, either because of it's iOS air printing capabilities or because you were sold on the fantasy of it being seamless and simple. LOL... Then, when 3d Systems announced it was discontinuing its line of consumer machines, you may have felt abandoned and hurt and confused. For us, it was a pretty low blow, considering there was no prior announcement about this and we had just purchased one of these bad boys for nearly $800.00; no small amount for a public Middle School.

We may have gotten a lot of distance out of this machine, nonetheless, as we had stockpiled quite a few of the proprietary filament cartridges. If you've used one of these at all, though, you know the filament cartridges are crap, and definitely the weakest link when it comes to this printer. The filament is terrible and you're constantly disassembling and reassembling cartridges. The filament cartridges are also this printers…

MS STEAM starter pack pt. 1: Programming

This is the first in a 3-part (maybe 4) series on setting up a sweet STEAM classroom in your Middle School. I will link all three parts here when they're finished.

The Premise
I am a middle school computer science teacher. It's what I do. I LOVE my job. I also often speak at universities, blog, tweet, and just generally build as many relationships in the education world as I can. In my travels, I have heard the following scenario at least a dozen times (probably more, but I am prone to exaggeration, so I'll stop at a dozen). 
Hi, Clint. I'm a Librarian for Generic Area School District in Upper Generic County. My school is phasing out the Library curriculum and turning our Libraries into [ultimate action-packed / STEM / cafe-related / Multi-media adjectives] Centers. I'm being asked to teach a Middle School [Coding / Game Design / STEM / STEAM] Class, and I know nothing about this stuff. I think they're trying to get rid of me.  (Random teacher) I often point sai…

My first real foray into Classcraft...

I’ve been blogging here about gamification for years. I’ve read and watched just about everything Gabe Zichermann and Jane McGonigal have said about human motivation and how games motivate us*. I've spoken at conferences, workshops, and in-service events about gamification. Despite all of that, I have not tried Classcraft until this school year.

Classcraft bills itself as a game-based approach to teaching, but it is basically a gamification tool (see my Gamification / Game Based Learning / Game Design disambiguation here). It was designed to encourage participation, good behavior, and collaboration and at first, seemed like the secondary version of Class Dojo. In some ways it is, but it does a lot more. Basically, Classcraft’s goal / premise is to help me manage, motivate and engage my students by transforming my classroom into a role-playing game, which should be right up my alley. Anyone who has spent any time reading my blog knows that I love RPG’s. Heck, I even joined the OP T…

New Post on the GSM Teacher Blog: Game of Sprites

Hey, all. Go check out my latest post on the Gamestar Mechanic Teacher Blog

Game of Sprites – An epic adventure in STEAM learning.

The Holidays are upon us! The students are restless… It’s time for a new challenge! Starting November 18th, the awesome team at Gamestar Mechanic began releasing a series of brand-new Challenges for your students to play through. These challenges will not only allow your students to unlock new sprites and gear but also provide them with a great lead up to a new Contest that will task them with creating their own... More

3d Printing IRL

So, I wanted to share my reflections on my first month with a 3d printer. I recently wrote about our experiences choosing, ordering, and setting up a 3d printer here at Spring Grove Middle School. I'd like to share some thoughts with you for the good of the cause on what having a 3d printer is like "in real life" (IRL). If you're considering adding a 3d Printer, these are some ideas, experiences, thoughts, and issues you might want to consider.

Know you will have issues  3d Printing is not ready for prime time. No matter what mainstream manufacturers would want you to believe, 3d printing is for makers and enthusiasts. It is not a seamless, out-of-the-box plug-and-play casual consumer experience. You can buy the "Fisher Price" of 3d printers and still end up tearing stuff apart and fixing it on a regular basis. Have tools, and be prepared to use them.

Honestly, we ordered the Cube 3 with the thought that paying a little extra for filament cartridges and giv…

Three tools to step up design in your classroom...

Even if you know nothing about design! Okay, graphic design is a classically snobbish topic in most of our minds, and historically most of our students really had little opportunity to experience it or interact with it. Today, we live in a visual landscape that is constantly getting more competitive. Everyone has a connected device, including most of our students. They see great design all day on web sites, apps, user interfaces, advertisements, and even E-cards from their middle school bae.

The visual elements of most of our classrooms, though, from educational / inspirational posters to handouts to our Power Point Presentations (do people still use Power Point to make presentations?) look like amateurish garbage made by a well meaning but under-skilled octogenarian trying to design a bake sale flier for the local Rotary club. We can get away with die cuts, glitter, and Karen's Kids clip art until about fourth grade. Soon, though, kids are going to start to notice that everythin…

The Paradox of Choice in 3d

I recently found myself in the very lucky situation of needing to select a 3d Printer to purchase for my students. I know right? I was pretty stoked, too. Then things went quickly from giddy anticipation to confusion and eventually to paralysis. You see, there are a lot of choices out there, and I mean, a lot. Go ahead, Google "3d Printer".

Asking around I spoke to folks in my IT department, at the high school, and some neighboring districts. Back when everyone was getting on the initial bandwagon, they were getting MakerBot brand printers. I decided to check out their web site, and I was pleased to find that they had apps for iOS (we are a 1 to 1 iPad building), and a package for their entry level printer, called Replicator Mini Essentials, which included the MakerBot Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printer, a Smart Extruder (I had no idea what this is or what it was for), and a 10 Pack of MakerBot PLA Filaments.

This seemed like the obvious choice, and I was ready to go with i…