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Maker Workshops

Although our immersive professional development offerings use modern technology as a catalyst for improving classroom practice and school change, we recognize the need for the sort of technology specific workshops. These workshops help educators develop fluency with particular materials, gain agency over the technology, and envision what students might learn and do.

Any of the following workshops can be customized to meet your specific needs.

STEM of the Future Today – Learning with Emerging Technology
(Gary Stager or Sylvia Martinez — Full-Day Workshop)new tiny dingbat
There are amazing opportunities for physical computing and coding featuring remarkable new technologies. This workshop will introduce remarkable new technologies that may be used today to amplify the potential of each learner and expand the breadth, depth, and range of projects possible. Learn how Scratch 3.0, micro:bits, Hummingbird Bit robotics kit, Circuit Playground Express, microblocks, and other emerging technology can supercharge project-based learning across the curriculum. Not only is it unprecedented for as much computational power to be accessible to children and usable in a playful creative fashion, but the low cost of these materials democratize powerful learning opportunities. These technologies and related constructive material create great opportunities to bring progressive education ideals to life in any school.

Digital Reggio: Where Tinkering & Engineering Meet Progressive Education
(Gary Stager — Half or Full-Day Workshop)
Participants will learn how the use of computational and constructive technology may be used in a fashion consistent with the principles of the Reggio Emilia approach Participants will explore how computers and robotics elements may be combined with traditional materials for inquiry-based knowledge construction by young children. Such digital materials expand the “hundred languages of learners.” Participants will expand their notions of what is possible with technology and young children as a means to construct knowledge, express creativity and amplify the potential of each young learner.

Teaching Coding, Physical Computing, and Computational Thinkingnew tiny dingbat
(Gary Stager — Full-Day Workshop)
Learn how a project-approach to computer programming, robotics, and physical computing can serve a diverse student population while developing your own skills. This workshop will explore powerful ideas from computer science and engineering that may be employed in the solving of problems across the curriculum. A review of software and hardware options will be explored in addition to two focused programming and robotics activities. Participants will also have experience with the Hummingbird Robotics Kit, BBC Micro:bit and other low-cost “microcontroller development boards” offering great potential for learning through making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom.”

Coding and Physical Computing with the BBC Micro:bit – The next big thing?new tiny dingbat
(Gary Stager or Sylvia Martinez — Half or Full-Day Workshop)
Participants will explore the BBC Micro:bit and other new low-cost “microcontroller development boards” as a basis for learning by making, tinkering, and engineering across the curriculum. Microcontroller development boards are inexpensive electronic “brain boards” complete with on-board sensors, displays, and output ports. When combined with free block-based programming software, these new hardware options offer exciting for learning to code and coding to learn.

PBL with littleBits™ 

(Gary Stager — Half or Full-Day Workshop)
littleBits are incredibly powerful snap-together electronic elements that allow learners of all ages to create a wide array of interactive projects. Arts and crafts meet science and engineering when littleBits are available for pro typing or creating super cool new inventions. In addition to knowledge construction with littleBits, participants will explore the following topics.

  • What makes a good project?
  • Effective prompt setting
  • Project-based learning strategies for exploring powerful ideas
  • Less Us, More Them

Wearable Computing 

(Sylvia Martinez or Gary Stager — Half or Full-Day Workshop)
An LED, battery, and conductive thread can bring principles of electronics and engineering to learners of all ages. Interactive jewelry, bookmarks, and stuffed toys become a vehicle for making powerful ideas accessible to a diverse population of learners. More experienced participants may combine computer science with these “soft circuits” or “e-Textiles” to make singing suffer animals, animated t-shirts, jackets with directional signals, or backpacks with burglar alarms with the addition of the Lilypad Arduino, Flora, and other microcontrollers. Design, STEM, arts, and crafts come to life in this fun and exciting workshop!

Unleashing the Power of Scratch and Block Programming
(Gary Stager — Full-Day Workshop)

new tiny dingbatBlock-based languages offer beginners and their teachers a comfortable on-ramp to computer programming, but they are not “baby languages.” This workshop will explore a range of block-based environments for PC, Mac, and iOS that support the creation of animated stories, video games, mathematical microworlds, complex simulations, 3D design, needle craft, robots, and controlling popular toys, including drones, Sphero, Dot and Dash, and LEGO.

Programming the new BBC Micro:Bit and Adafruit Circuit Playground will also be explored.

Pedagogical techniques for introducing computer science and stimulating inquiry will be modeled and classroom implementation strategies discussed.

Recycling and Robotics
(Gary Stager or Sylvia Martinez — Half or Full-Day Workshop)

new tiny dingbat

This workshop uses the incredible Hummingbird Robotics Kit to show how a powerful and easy-to-use microntroller designed for the classroom, common electronic parts (motors, lights, sensors) may be combined with recycled “found” materials and craft supplies to create unique interactive robots from Kindergarten thru high school.  Scratch and Snap! programming brings these creations to life. No experience is required to become a master robotics engineer! Cross-curricular project ideas will be shared.

Introduction to Microcontroller Projects and Arduino Programming
(Gary Stager or Sylvia Martinez — Half or Full-Day Workshop)

The Arduino open-source microcontroller is used by kids, hobbyists, and professional alike. Arduino is at the heart of interactive electronics projects and is perfect for classroom settings, but can seem intimidating to the initiated. This workshop introduces the foundational electronics, cybernetics and computer science concepts critical to learning and making with Arduino. The Arduino IDE programming environment will be demystified and other environments better suited for children, including Scratch and other block-based environments, will be explored. Strategies for teaching with Arduino will be shared.

Making and Learning in the Early Years
(Gary Stager — Half or Full-Day Workshop)

Young children are natural inventors, tinkerers, and makers. This workshop builds upon the natural inclinations of young children by adding new “technological colors” to their crayon box. littleBits, Scratch, Turtle Art, Makedo, Makey Makey, Hummingbird robotics kits, LEGO WeDo, soft circuits and more can all enrich the learning process. Timeless craft traditions and recycled junk combine with emerging technology to create a greater range, breadth, and depth of opportunities for learning by doing. Strategies for effective scaffolding, classroom organization, and the use of exciting new technologies in a developmentally appropriate fashion will be discussed. Participants in this workshop will learn how such modern knowledge construction projects are wholly consistent with the best early childhood traditions and support current standards. Dr. Stager is a certified preschool thru eighth grade teacher and an expert in the Reggio Emilia approach.

Build and Program a Truly Personal Computer with the Raspberry Pi
(Gary Stager — Full-Day Workshop)

The Raspberry Pi is a ultra low-cost Linux-based computer the size of a deck of playing cards that costs less than $40. It is capable of running open-source productivity software, like Open Office and Google Docs, plus programmed via Scratch, Turtle Art, or Python. You can even run Arduino microcontrollers, power a home-entertainment center, or run your own Minecraft server! Old USB keyboards. mice, TVs or monitors are recycled and repurposed to assemble your complete personal computer. Each participant in this workshop will setup, use, and program their Raspberry Pi in addition to discussing how it might be used across the curriculum. (materials fee applies)


Invent To Learn
(Sylvia Martinez and/or Gary Stager — Full-Day Workshop)

Join colleagues for a day of hard fun and problem solving — where computing meets tinkering and design. The workshop begins with the case for project-based learning, making, tinkering, and engineering. Next, we will discuss strategies for effective prompt-setting. You will view examples of children engaged in complex problem solving with new game-changing technologies and identify lessons for your own classroom practice. Powerful ideas from the Reggio Emilia Approach, breakthroughs in science education, and the global maker movement combine to create rich learning experiences.

Participants will have the chance to tinker with a range of exciting new low- and high-tech construction materials that can really amplify the potential of your students. The day culminates in the planning of a classroom project based on the TMI (Think-Make-Improve) design model.

You will learn:

  • How new tools and technology can reinvigorate Project-Based Learning
  • Best classroom practices for integrating maker technology
  • How to plan engaging projects based on the TMI design model
  • How to choose the technologies with the maximum learning impact
  • How to make the case for making, tinkering, and engineering

Fabrication with cardboard and found materials, squishy electronic circuits, wearable computing, Arduino, robotics, conductive paint, and computer programming are all on the menu.

Bring a laptop and your imagination. We’ll supply the rest (craft materials, art supplies, construction elements). Invention is the mother of learning!

This workshop is suitable for all grades and subject areas.

(Groups of more than 20 participants may require an additional facilitator.)

Invent To Learn books may be purchased at a discount to be used in conjunction with the workshop.

Contact us to schedule a workshop!


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