By: Sally Donnelly
This blog post is the second of a 4-part blog series on the reactions and experiences of a 3rd-grade teacher's first Maker Fest with her elementary school.
The five third-grade teachers at Discovery Elementary School are a diverse group with various passions. After being introduced to the maker fest concept at the April staff meeting, we met as a grade-level team. We decided collectively how we’d incorporate maker fest work time into our schedules. We each picked a project that matched our personal interests. We agreed that the 107 third grade students could choose which of the five projects to tackle. The art teacher assisted us, creating a list of materials we would need to gather. The materials would be donated, and we put out a call for family volunteers.
Our projects included:
1. A Wind-Powered Vehicle. Two of the third grade teachers liked the idea of an atmosphere-inspired project. They found their project on the PBS Design Squad website and selected the creation of air-powered vehicles as a problem.
A third grader made this vehicle using recycled materials.
Just fill the balloon with air, and it moves!
Watch the video of an air-powered vehicle to see such a machine in action!
2. An iMovie Music Video. Another third grade colleague is a talented photographer. That passion sparked her interest in supporting third graders making a music video. The project was based on a commercial music video—“Brave,” by Sara Bareilles—that the students often danced to during brain breaks . Click here to view the 4-minute video they made: Discovery Brave Video on Vimeo
3. A Computer-Aided Design. A colleague with a love of computers offered to challenge students to design houses using Google Sketchup, which they had no previous experience using.
A third grader learned how to use Google Sketchup
commands to render the beginning 3-D plan for this house.
Another third grader’s 3-D design!
4. A Soft Sculpture Using LEDs for Light-Up Eyes. The art teacher added a sewing choice with a problem-solving layer. The students would use electric thread to sew a circuit with a battery, allowing their stuffed animals’ eyes to light up! For this to work, the students had to complete an electric circuit. One student made Arno, the orange pizza guy from our Zoombini game. Another student decided to make his white stuffed figure a pirate.
5. A Zoombini Pillow. I gathered fabric remnants and pillow stuffing. I made stencils for Zoombini hair, eyes, noses, and feet, and I lined up volunteers with sewing machines to help students make Zoombini pillows.
Stay tuned for Part 3!
Resources on Making
Sally Donnelly is a third-grade teacher at Discovery Elementary School, in Arlington, Virginia.