TinkerCAD tutorial site

I’ve created a landing page for my TinkerCAD tutorials and resources. I’m going to send my kids there when they need more challenge than I can give them in class. It’s still being built out, but I guess it’s ready to link here, at any rate.

bit.ly/thomtinkercad

My TinkerCAD tutorial site, bit.ly/thomtinkercad

Enigma Challenge

I just realized I never posted my Enigma Challenge here. I put this challenge on my board for my kiddos. There was a medal (and of course, a round of applause) for completing it.

Enigma breakout. http://bit.ly/enigmabreakout
Early iteration of the medal for the Enigma Breakout challenge.

bit.ly/enigmabreakout

Castle Farms

Castle Farms makes a great photography testing ground. There are big, expansive landscapes, small intimate outdoor areas, well-lighted interiors with lots of points of interest, and dark little hiding places. So naturally I took the opportunity to try out my new Ricoh Theta V 360 camera. These are a few of the shots I took, dumped into a quick and dirty Google Sites site. I used Momento360 to host the photos, as I couldn’t immediately get them to view directly in WordPress. Loading time is a bit long, be patient.

Castle Farms – Click for 360 photos

http://bit.ly/thomcastlefarms

Back to my favorite library!

I’m up in Charlevoix, MI for a while, which means I get to visit my favorite library. Charlevoix is a city of under 3000 people, although the population spikes significantly in the summers. But the library is huge – I’ve seen smaller libraries serving areas with ten times as many people. Apparently the city ended up with an unused school, and decided to produce the library of every librarian’s dreams. Billed as “the community’s livingroom,” the library really does feel like you’ve stepped into a vacation cottage. The atmosphere is open and full of natural light, with Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architecture and artwork scattered everywhere. There are comfortable chairs and tables throughout the buildings, many with some amount of seclusion. There are private study rooms and two auditoriums. There is a quiet reading room, a history room, and two separate teen rooms. The children’s wing is larger than some community libraries I’ve visited, with a large reading room and many separate areas for activities, reading, and technology. There are 3D printers, computers, puzzles and games. It seems that whatever it is you’d like to pursue, if it can be done in a library, they’ve found a way to cater to it.

Fun with a laser cutter

It occurs to me I haven’t posted many laser cutter makes. This will remedy that. Here are a few of my designs.

Some days

Some days you have a full schedule of work ahead of you, but a group of rising third graders show up at your door asking you to teach them 3D printing instead. Guess I’ll be getting my work done this weekend instead!

Just something I made a while back for the wall.

My first instructional GIFs!

I wanted to make GIFs of some techniques that might be helpful to my teachers here. I saw some great examples from @JakeMillerTech on Twitter, and had to give it a shot. Here are my first attempts. I’m sure these will get better as I learn better timing and sizing, but I am pretty happy with these first steps.

Rainbow Filament

I finally got around to trying some rainbow filament. These two prints came out of the same roll of Stronghero3D Rainbox Multicolor PLA. As you can see, there is a lot of variation. I think that you have to print pieces with a lot of plastic for the maximum effect, and some transitions are just going to be better than others. That said, it’s pretty fun to see what comes out. I’m looking forward to some more experimentation with the rest of the roll.

The Origins of Kindergarten, Blocks, and Sandboxes


Images via Inventing Kindergarten and Architecture in Play

The latest 99% Invisible is a marvelous exploration of the origin of Kindergarten. It is well worth a listen, particularly for all my friends in education. The first Kindergarten was founded in 1837 by Freidrich Froebel . He centered much of his program around a set of manipulatives, starting with blocks and spheres, and progressing to much more complex shapes and combinations. The podcast traces the influence of Kindergarten to the works of modern artists and architects, and even to the modern toy market. I will definitely be looking into his ideas further.


In some ways, all modern toy building systems reflect the influence of Froebel. Tinker Toys, Lego, Kinex — they’re all about understanding shape and form and making connections. Yet they also represent a departure from Froebel’s highly-organized and linear approach. These days, building toys are viewed more broadly as tools of the imagination — objects kids can use to assemble houses and castles and cities together, learning collaboration and creativity through construction.

Spreadsheets!

I do love spreadsheets! There’s nothing like the feeling crunching a ton of data in a well-made spreadsheet. Sometimes it’s almost like magic. Today I got to do a very fun lesson with 6th graders. On spreadsheets! While I can’t say they were as excited about them as I, I did manage to convey some of the magic feeling to them. When they saw me instantly get the average of 350 data points, they definitely saw the usefulness! Especially since they already knew they were going to have to find averages, medians, and modes of their own data. I could talk about spreadsheets all day, but they can’t listen quite that long. So I broke up the spreadsheets with an excellent little challenge by Kern Kelley. I’ll end with a section I call “How to make graphs lie,” which always sparks discussion and gets a laugh.