Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Musical Markers

I was excited to tell my 4th and 5th grade students about the Myrna Kaiser grant that I was recently awarded. In doing so I  gave them a few highlights of what the project will look like next Spring. Many were very excited about taking their art a step further and developing a performance competent. Although none of them had ever heard of the Makey-Makey.

Since I had mine at school, and I have already made my own set of Musical Markers, I took the opportunity to give them a quick introduction. We quickly discussed the difference between inductive and conductive materials. The basics of building a circuit, and I asked them to close the circuit I made with the Makey-Makey. 

They quickly realized that the paper the ground wire was connected to was inductive, and after a short brainstorm session discovered that by misting the paper with water, and the ground wire, that the circuit could completed. 

There are two videos below, the first is my students experimenting with the project, and the second is a tutorial on how to make your own set of Musical Markers. 

Make Your Own Musical Markers

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Junior BotBall Challenge Grant

Last Friday I received the official notice that I have been awarded the Junior BotBall Challenge Grant from the Oklahoma State Education Department. I already had my robot kit from a workshop I attended earlier in the school year, but it is nice to have the grant finally cleared. The email was perfectly timed since the BotBall team attended our first Regional Event last Thursday.

What makes Junior BotBall different from other robot building competitions is the students are competing only against themselves. There were about 18 challenges at the event, and each team tries to complete as many of them as they can in one day. The basic challenges are the same from one event to another, so as I team finishes one, they do not have to repeat at the next event.

Unlike the ArtBots that you can find on my blog, these robots are more sophisticated, and much more complicated to use. The black box is actually a small computer, that we save our programs to, and that runs the robot. Junior BotBall uses C program language to write the code that controls the bot. 

Which means, we first had to teach basic coding skills, and how to understand the syntax for the C language. Once students had an understanding, they were able to start writing code,and completing challenges.  

Here is an example of a challenge. 

Each blue section was a different challenge to complete. This was taken at the end of the day. The table area across is called Pit Row, and each team acts as a Pit Crew for their bot. 

A member of our Junior BotBall team hard at work taking notes, and writing code for their next challenge. 

Here is a sample of the code that controls the robot.
The program is written in C Language. 

The sponsor for the last event, and another resources for BotBall grants. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Myrna Kaiser Art Classroom Grant

The beginning of the year I spent quite a bit of time writing grants, and all that hard work is paying off. I was notified at the beginning on November that my proposal for the Myrna Kaiser Art Classroom grant had been approved, and it being fully funded!!

Weaving with a Tech Twist

This project will have two main goals; the first is to connect students to other cultures through learning about their art. Students will study and learn about the Navajo and explore their art of weaving.  My classroom does not have looms or basic weaving materials, so receiving supplies from Blick Art Materials will be crucial to completing this unit of study.

The second goal is to turn the students' weavings into an interactive art experience. This second goal is part Science and part Technology. While weaving students will add in pieces of aluminum foil (have in stock) to several sections of their project, this will turn each art work into part of a circuit. Using a device called a Makey-Makey (already have), students will be able to connect their fiber art to a computer through a series of wires. The circuits will then be built, but not functional.  The last step will be to close the circuit. Students or other members of the community will hold one wire, while touching each weaving. This will close each circuit, on contact and the computer will play a musical or spoken word audio recording. This is completely safe; there is no shock to completing the circuit. All you have to do is lightly touch the wire and the foil and music will play. Each work of art will play a different melody, or word. Allowing each performance to be completely customized, which creates a constantly changing experience each time someone closes the loop.

Here is the inspiration for this project.