Current Cohort Activities

UTeach Maker Cohort Activities - Fall 2018

12/9/18 - Programmable Snow Globe Workshop

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On Sunday 12/9, UTeach Maker joined with students from Topper Teach at St. Edwards University to create programmable snow globes using circuit playground technology. A grant from The Powell Foundation made this partnership possible. Students from both programs worked together all afternoon making their unique creations. From snow globes featuring Wonder Woman and The Hulk, to those featuring Rudolf and Santa, each was a unique and personal creation.

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While making the globe, the makers investigated of various adhesives and uv resins, the density and viscosity of the water and glyerin mixture used in their snow globes, and they tinkered with elements of artistic composition. Circuit playgrounds featured the block coding used to program the lights and music for the final product.

12/4/18 - Maker Showcase Presentations with C3 Summit Guests

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On Tuesday, December 4th, UTeach Maker was proud to showcase the work of three new UTeach Maker Fellows at our Fall 2018 Maker Showcase. Members from the UTeach Maker Consortium, made up of representatives from Boise State University, University of Houston, and West Virginia University, along with Stephanie Chang and Jakki Spicer from the Maker Ed Initiative were in attendance for the event. The evening kicked-off with a Maker Playground which highlighted projects that our makers and mentors have been working on over the past semester. Lauren Siegel and her crew from MathHappens were showing a variety of laser-cut mathematics manipulatives, Rich LaGrand from Charmed Labs demonstrated his color tracking Pixy camera, and Kyla Kalugdan unveiled her work-in-progress bike tire driven Frisbee throwing machine.

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Our first new UTeach Maker Fellow of the evening was Susan McLain. Susan is a Noyce Scholar who has been with UTeach Maker since the beginning of the program. As part of her showcase she highlighted how making has impacted the way she teaches in her classroom through maker mindfulness and the building of miniatures. She has also applied making outside of the classroom with the creation of a custom storage box for her dungeons and dragons gaming materials and 3-D printed templates to use as part of the game.

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Our second maker to showcase his work was Blaze Utz. Blaze discussed the impact of reading Seymour Papert's Mindstorms had on how he viewed the role of coonstructionism in engineering classroom. Following plans he found online, he demonstrated an Altoids tin sized amplifier that he had built for his headphones. Our third presenter was Maisha Rumman, who demonstrated her electromagnetic interference (EMI) detector. Using an Arduino Uno, an LED display, coiled copper wire as an antenna, and a PC speaker, she was able to detect wasted energy to help her students think about energy conservation. In addition, UTeach Maker Fellows Kira Lowery and Krystal Evans presented how they've implemented making in their classrooms since graduating.

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A big thank you to everybody who was able to attend the cohort meeting and share in the accomplishments of our latest UTeach Maker Fellows. Be sure to RSVP for our upcoming Make a Programmable Light-Up Snow Globe workshop that will be hosted at St. Edward's University. On behalf of Shelly Rodriguez and Jason Harron, we'd like to thank everybody who makes UTeach Maker possible!

11/18/2018 - Workshop - Part 2

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On Sunday November 18th, Eric Schneider, founder and CEO of was back for the second part of the create your own printed circuit-board (PCB) workshop. After the first workshop, UTeach Makers uploaded their PCB designs that were created in Over the past month Eric and his crew reviewed the designs for errors and milled them on their Bantam Tools desktop PCB milling machine.

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Workshop participants received two milled circuit-boards on a copper plate which included holes that were drilled for solid-state components such as LEDs and resistors. Eric provided a soldiering tutorial to attach larger components, such as the coin-cell battery holder, as well a through-hole components, such as the LEDs and resistors. Through trial-and-error, the UTeach Makers developed their skills in soldier as they learned to identify good and bad solider joints.

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While many of the UTeach Makers have made circuits with copper tape and LEDs, this was the first time that all participants had made an actual PCB and soldiered through-hole components. Since many of the circuits included a ATtiny85, the next step is for out UTeach Makers to reprogram the chip to customize how their LEDs blink. We would like to thank Eric and for this exciting two-part workshop series!

11/06/2018 - Collaborative Lesson Planning

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We had a great turnout on Tuesday, November 6th for our monthly UTeach Maker cohort meeting. The theme of the month was Collaborative Lesson Planning to think about ways that maker-centered lessons could be developed for mathematics, science, and engineering classrooms. Lauren shared an example of a laser-cut wheel that could be used to help teach trigonometry identities.

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With the idea that more-and-more schools are gaining access to laser and vinyl cutters, Niaz and Kyla were exploring how applications such as Desmos could be used to create artwork using algebra functions and exported to SVG. Jessica, Caroline, and Marissa created a lesson combining both physics and chemistry to create their own battery cells to light circuits using copper tape and LEDs. Using plastic bottles, straws, and balloons, Christina and Kristiane designed a biology lesson for creating physical representations of organs, such as the lungs, to discuss how body systems function.

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Austin and Garrett focused on projectile motion be designing a lesson where students created their own adjustable marble launcher. Also focusing on physics, Arami and Abdul worked on designing laser-cut cars that could be used to measure impulse/momentum through the incorporation of a force sensor. Finally, Kira, Helena, and Maisha wanted to create interactive virus and bacteria books using paper circuits and Makey Makey as a way of teaching transcription and translation. We are proud to see the innovative ideas that these future educators want to bring to the classroom to empower their students through making!

10/21/2018 - Workshop - Part 1

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On Sunday October 21st, Eric Schneider, founder and CEO of was in-house to teach how to create printed circuitboards (PCBs). This workshop took making with electronics to the next level by introducing the software and skills needed to make a custom circuitboard with LEDs that blink and fade. Eric provided numerous examples of circuitboard that could be worn as badges or pins, such as french fries with yellow LEDs or a light-up Christmas tree.

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The workshop began with the basics of breadboarding, a prototyping technique that allows you to connect wires using a series of rows and columns without the need for soldering. Using a custom coin-cell battery holder on the breadboard, UTeach Makers made a single LED light-up before adding a switch that allowed them to toggle between two LEDs. There were plenty of opportunities for troubleshooting as the makers discovered how the three pins of the switch worked.

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Using a preprogrammed ATtiny85, UTeach Makers were given a circuit diagram with three LEDs that stayed on solid, blinked, or faded on/off. This provided an opportunity to introduce how microchips and resistors worked in a circuit, and to see how it is possible to have a custom programmable circuit without the need for an Arduino of Raspberry Pi. Many makers also decided to integrate the switch from the previous activity into their circuits to turn them on and off.

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Finally, Eric introduced everybody to This software allows you to design your own PCB by creating the size and shape of the board that you want and visually adding the components. UTeach Makers designed light-up bowties, flames, and various other shapes. This boards will be printed using a copper plate and Eric will be joining us again on Sunday November 18th from 12:00-3:00p to solder and complete our custom PCBs!

10/02/2018 - Textile Workshop

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On Tuesday, October 2nd UTeach Maker met at Ann Richards Middle School for Young Women Leaders for a textile workshop that focused on sewing and embroidering. We had over 30 people in attendance for an evening of learning how to hand embroider, use sewing machines, and automated embroidering machines. The evening kicked-off with dinner and a chance for makers and mentors to check-up to find out what has happened over the first month of school.

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The first hands-on activity of the evening was learning how to stretch a bandana over a embroidering circle. Using cotton bandanas, wooden circles, needles, and threads, our workshop hosts Oren and Alex showed how to do a simple embroidering stitch before moving on to the basics of sewing machines. Three uses for showing machines were demonstrated including having the machine feed the fabric, how to sew by pushing/guiding the fabric free-hand, and how to using an automated embroidering machine.

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Our UTeach Makers came up with unique projects including Blaze's Dungeons and Dragons inspired 20-sided die bandana, Mao's multi-colored hand-embroidered flower, and Derek's bandana hat. Alex lead the final activity of the evening, where we worked on social emotional learning by participating in "The Truth About Me." Participants stood in a circle with one member in the center who told a truth about how they were feeling such as "The truth about me is I was nervous getting started," before rapidly switching places in the circle musical-chair style until a new person was left in the center to share-out.

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We would like to thank UTeach Maker Mentors Alex Morrison and Oren Connell for organizing and hosting the textile workshop. Be sure to join is on Sunday, October 21st from 12:00-3:00 for our printed circuit board (PCB) 101 workshop being hosted by at Painter Hall. In this workshop you will learning how to create your own PCB to make a custom pin, badge, or ornament that lights-up. Shelly will be sending an RSVP e-mail since spaces are limited.

09/16/2018 - Vinyl Cutter Workshop

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On Sunday September 16th UTeach Maker held its first weekend workshop of the Fall semester. Using our new Silhouette Cameo 3, about a dozen UTeach Makers were in attendance to create their own vinyl stickers. The afternoon kicked off with boxed lunches in the Step 1 classroom before moving to the workroom to learn about cutting card stock, vinyl, and other materials. After a brief demonstration from Jason on how to cut lettering and shapes for bulletin boards, UTeach Makers had their chance to design their own creation.

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Using an adhesive vinyl, UTeach Makers chose their own colors from 12x12" sheets to create customized shapes and lettering. This included Miriam cutting out backwards lettering to add text that could be seen through the glass of her classroom door and Mao creating stickers for the back of her laptop. In addition, UTeach Makers learned how to convert vector drawings from SVG to DXF to make a wide variety of images compatible with the vinyl cutter.

09/04/2018 - Design Thinking

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Welcome back UTeach Makers! On Tuesday September 4th, we hosted our first cohort meeting of Fall 2018. It was great to see everybody well-rested and energized after the summer break. We have several new makers joining us this semester including UTeach students Christina Hull, Helena Castle, Ivy Claire, Kristiane Smith, and Kyla Kalugdan. Niaz Aziz, Austin Batson, and Derek Casares are UTeach grads currently teaching who will also be a new part of the group. That makes 24 – a big fun group!!! Congratulations to Caroline Anderson for winning the UTeach Maker Summer Challenge. She received a Chibitronics Love to Code Starter Kit as well a custom laser-engraved water bottle.

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UTeach Maker Mentor Patrick Benfield lead the evening an introduction to design thinking using a Virtual Crash Course Video from the Stanford This 80-minute video along with workbooks walks participants through a full design cycle by participating in The Gift-Giving Project. In this fast-paced project participants work in pairs to interview each other, identify real needs, and develop a solution to “redesign the gift-giving experience” for their partner.

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Participants tried to reimagine how they could improve the gift-giving experience by following the process of empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing. This included thinking about the emotional connection related to the last time they either gave or received a gift, defining what the gift giving experience meant to their partner, rapidly sketching ideas to improve the gift-giving experience, followed by constructing a prototype using cardboard and craft supplies, and finally giving that gift to their partner.

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The evening concluded by challenging the UTeach Makers to reflect on the role that design and design thinking could play in maker-centered mathematics and science classrooms. Our first workshop of the semester will be Sunday September 16th, from 12:00-3:00. Jason Harron will be teaching how to use UTeach's new Silhouette Cameo to cut cardstock, vinyl, and other materials. We look forward to seeing you there!