Piedmont Makers

To Promote & Inspire K-12 S.T.E.A.M. Education

Welcome Makers!

November 2015 Newsletter

Posted on Nov 3, 2015

Here’s a quick summary of November Piedmont Makers activities including our Minecraft Tech Social THIS Friday.

Friday 11/6 – Minecraft! Tech Social – PMS Multi-Purpose Room 6-9pm – The theme is Minecraft and there will be three tracks for 1) Players 2) Modders 3) Parents and other noobs. Come to watch, bring your laptop/iPad to play, or learn how to mod. We will also have parent-focused talks on how to support your child’s Minecraft play, all about Minecraft servers, and learning coding through modding. $5 ticket per person includes pizza dinner, drinks, and cookie!

Sunday 11/15 – Learn to Solder! Makerspace – PMS Shop Rm. 125 1-4pm – After a very fun Makerspace at East Bay Mini Maker Faire last month, we will return to the Piedmont Makerspace this month and Learn to Solder! We have two kits we will build at the Makerspace & you can take home: 1) For beginner or elementary students, we recommend the Makey Robot Learn to Solder 2) For intermediate or older students, we recommend the Simon Says Learn to Solder project. Purchase tickets and kits in advance here.

Site Visits for PUSD Facilities Master Planning – Please attend upcoming school site tours to provide input to the architects on the importance of Maker / STEAM / Project-based learning spaces on our campuses: PMS: Nov 2, 3:30 pm – 5 pm; MHS: Nov 5, 3:30 pm – 5 pm; Havens: Nov 12, 3:30 pm – 5 pm; WW: Nov 19, 3:30 pm – 5 pm; Beach: Nov 30, 3:30 pm – 5 pm; PHS/MHS: Dec 1, 3:30 pm – 5 pm.

Design Thinking at Elementaries - The Elementary School Principals recently kicked off a design thinking exercise to design the 2016-17 Instructional Calendar. The Design Team was made up of teachers, administrators, staff and parents and the process began in April and immediately focused on the needs of the end-users, the students. Sessions were facilitated by a Stanford design school graduate and interviews were conducted with students, teachers, administrators and parents. Findings were synthesized over 3 half-day sessions this fall, ideas were prototyped, tested and feedback was gathered and further synthesized. In the last meeting, 7 clear design principles were outlined and a smaller group was identified to draw up alternative schedules before the end of 2015.

November Board Meeting – If you are interested in helping out and want to attend the November board meeting, please RSVP to piedmontmakers@gmail.com.

Read More

Piedmont Post – October 2015

Posted on Oct 21, 2015

Last month Piedmont Makers hosted a screening of the Sundance featured education documentary Most Likely To Succeed (MLTS). A lively question and answer session followed between the audience and a panel of community members including Superintendent Randy Booker, City Council member Teddy King, PHS sophomore Lena Fleischer, and Piedmont Maker board member Larraine Seiden (yours truly).  The panel was expertly moderated by Next Lesson CEO Dion Lim.

The film looks back at the origins of the conventional school model, a system that was primarily conceived to serve the needs of industrialists in the late nineteenth century. They needed obedient workers with skills in the 3 R’s and they needed a lot of them quickly.

Fast forward to today where most information is a click away, as are rote tasks. In 2010, IBM conducted a major survey of over 1,500 Chief Executive Officers from 60 countries and 33 industries worldwide.  The CEO’s cited their belief that “creativity, even more than rigor, management discipline, integrity or even vision,” is the most desired trait to be successful in today’s complex world.

Although the MLTS film crew visited dozens of schools, they chose to focus on two American high schools. This suggested a spectrum with one typical school in Colorado at one end where the students say they are more motivated to ace the tests than to be able to apply and use what they learn.

At the other side of the spectrum is High Tech High in San Diego and it is the main story of the film. Content instruction and memorization is replaced by knowledge building through long-term, student led projects.  These projects culminate in a well-attended performance night for the community.

At HTH, there are no bells or periods. Classes are all day.  All teachers are seen as designers who work in pairs that are cross-disciplinary.  The featured projects were elegant and inspiring though they (the film makers and teachers) point out that that is not always the result for every project. At HTH, failure as such is seen as a legitimate learning vehicle.

Many schools are doing some form of what HTH is doing, but not to the extent they do. The school was founded in the early 2,000’s and it was built from the ground up to support this type of authentic project driven learning. Beyond the flexible work spaces, power tools, and technology, the schedule was also designed to support deep thinking which doesn’t usually happen in fifty minute classes.

The big questions for our community which were reflected in the questions posed to our speakers panel is: Where is PUSD on this school spectrum, where do we want to be, and what do we need to do to get there?

I doubt few people envision PHS as a place with few or no AP classes (gasp!), little discipline based content instruction, and no bell schedule. But do we expect our schools to build creative confidence and competence in our students?

MIT admissions does and now requests an optional portfolio that highlights significant visual, performing arts, maker or other creative projects. Who do you think will get their attention: the student who took six AP’s and scored fives, or the student who worked on a team to create an app that pairs college mentors with underprivileged high school students? Given the needs of the professional world, especially in the Bay Area, I have to think other schools will soon follow MIT’s lead.

It’s a great time to ponder these questions along with our administrators and teachers. Currently, there is a district wide facilities review under way. Architect and administrator led tours of school sites are happening over the next few weeks (check the Portal for times).

At PMS there is the old wood shop, which is evolving into a makerspace to support tinkering and project building during the school day and outside of school such as during Piedmont Makers weekend Makerspace events. Should the high school also have a dedicated “maker” space that is truly cross disciplinary?  Should all of the classrooms also be flexible to support group and project driven learning within disciplines? There are great examples of these types of spaces at schools throughout the Bay Area. PUSD doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel, but we do have to know what we want.

At the elementary level, the tri-schools are engaged in a year long design thinking process led by a Stanford d.school expert to re-think the structure of the school day, among other things. They realize that the current schedule doesn’t always support opportunities to “go deeper” as the Common Core standards require.

The schedule question is much more loaded at the high school level, but given the changing professional landscape, it merits consideration. Besides adapting physical spaces, how can the school build in time for students and teachers to engage in true collaboration and authentic project making?

Fortunately, your students don’t have to wait for the results of the facilities review to get tinkering! Join Piedmont Makers for the next Tech Social–MINECRAFT theme on Friday, November 6th at 6:30pm in the PMS Multipurpose Room. There will be a server available for players to use leading up to and during this event.  We will have social time, a pizza dinner, milk, and cookies.  As usual, bring whatever else you’d like to share!

Register in advance register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/piedmont-tech-social-minecraft-tickets-19247193875 so we make sure to have enough pizza!

Read More

Piedmont Post – September 2015

Posted on Sep 21, 2015

Welcome to the new Piedmont Makers column!  First up, Piedmont Makers is sponsoring a screening of the 2015 Sundance Selection film Most Likely to Succeed next week on Thursday, October 1, from 7-9:00pm at the Alan Harvey Theater. This film inspires schools to think beyond traditional K-12 toward new, project-based “maker” curricula.  You can see the trailer at MLTSfilm.org. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion of community members including Superintendent Randall Booker. Seating is limited so get your FREE tickets at piedmontmakers.org.

Wondering what “maker” means??  Piedmont Makers is a parent group that launched two years ago to support S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Design, Mathematics) education in our schools and community.  In May 2014 and 2015, with the encouragement of Maker Media, we held the first and second school district-based Maker Faires in the world.  Last May, we featured over eighty exhibitors including students, community, and expert makers, and had 1,000 attendees. If you’re not familiar with a Maker Faire, the founding organization Maker Media describes it as “a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness ” where “tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, food artisans, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors” come together to share and learn from each other. It’s also just plain fun!

Last Thursday, Piedmont Makers president David Ragones kicked off our third year in a well-attended evening at the Havens library. Several Piedmont Unified administrators generously participated including Superintendent Randall Booker, Director of Curriculum Dr. Cheryl Wozniak, and Director of Instructional Technology Stephanie Griffin, along with several science, math, art, and technology teachers. They presented many examples of how the district is collaborating at all levels to make STEAM education a reality in our schools. They also discussed challenges such as the need for flexible space that supports this kind of creative project driven learning.

In the spirit of the Maker Faires, Piedmont Makers wanted to create more ongoing opportunities for hands-on learning, community sharing, and mentoring.  Last year, we piloted two new ongoing events called Tech Social and Makerspace where everyone participates.  Tech Social typically happens the first Friday evening of the month at the middle school. For just five bucks you get a TED-style talk, hands-on making projects, and a pizza dinner too! Each month features a different theme and an expert who gives a short talk about the topic, followed by group projects. Distinguished speakers have included Hour of Code co-founder Ali Partovi; Pixar and ILM alum Alex Seiden; mechanical engineer and UC Berkley lecturer Ayyana Chakravartula; National Pi Day organizer Noelle Filippenko; and architect /urban planner Jane Lin. Topics included coding, engineering/disassembly, robotics, games, and architecture. The 2015-16 Tech Social season kicks off on Friday, October 2 at 6pm in the PMS Multi-purpose room with graphic design and and on-demand printing.

Makerspace is all about hands-on learning and doing. It takes place once a month on a weekend afternoon in the middle school shop. The event is free though some projects require purchasing supplies and reservations are recommended to ensure your spot. Projects are tiered for younger beginners to older students and mentors are on hand to help out. Topics have included LED wearable circuitry, rockets, design thinking and open making time. If you have cool projects hiding in your garage, contact us at piedmontmakers@gmail.com to share them at a future Makerspace!

We need you! Piedmont Makers programming is only as good as our volunteers are passionate about making. Jump in to the 2016 School Makers Faire, Tech Social, Makerspace, or maybe this column—contact us at piedmontmakers@gmail.com

Read More

“Most Likely to Succeed”

Posted on Sep 5, 2015

On Thursday, October 1, 7pm at PHS Alan Harvey Theatre, Piedmont Makers will present a screening & discussion of the 2015 Sundance-featured documentary “Most Likely to Succeed” that compares the traditional K-12 education model to project-based curriculums with a year-end exhibition much like our School Maker Faire.

A panel discussion on 21st century learning in Piedmont with PUSD administrators, Piedmont Makers leaders, and parents will follow the screening, which will run 86 minutes. Audience participation is encouraged! Panel members include:

  • Randy Booker – Superintendent, Piedmont Unified School District
  • Dion Lim – PMS Parent, CEO – NextLesson, Piedmont Makers board member
  • Teddy King – Beach Parent, Piedmont City Council
  • Larraine Seiden – Havens Parent, Artist, Piedmont Makers board member

Eventbrite - "Most Likely to Succeed" screening (presented by Piedmont Makers)

Read More

Welcome Makers!

Posted on Aug 8, 2015

Welcome back for another school year. We at Piedmont Makers are incredibly excited about continuing to partner with the Piedmont Unified School District to support and inspire K-12 STEAM education.

Some of our programs include:

  • Piedmont Makerspace – Monthly project-driven events at the Middle School shop where students build upon classroom work or try something entirely new.  Last year, we made wearable circuits, built rockets to launch at Moffett Field, programmed Arduinos, and more.
  • Piedmont Tech Social – Part TED talk, part tech show-and-tell, part social hour, and all fun, Piedmont Tech Socials occur first Fridays monthly.
  • After School Enrichment – Piedmont Makers offers classes for Middle School and Elementary enrichment
  • Piedmont School Maker Faire – Our capstone event each year is the PUSD School Maker Faire event held in May on the Piedmont High School campus as a district and community-wide celebration of K-12 STEAM education.

We will host our Kickoff event on Thursday, September 17, 7pm in Havens Library where parents (and students) can learn more and get involved.  If you have any questions until then, please email piedmontmakers@gmail.com.

Read More

Meet the Makers!

Posted on May 17, 2015

We are excited to kickoff the 2nd annual Piedmont USD School Maker Faire May 30 11am-3pm at Piedmont High School! Check out below some of the 70+ projects from Beach, Havens, Wildwood, PMS, and PHS students along with community and outside makers. Tickets are FREE and available now!

What’s New This Year? Speaker Series featuring community experts on S.T.E.A.M. topics, a Mini Maker Shed selling great items for Making, Food Trucks, and more!

Piedmont High School Makers:

Mr. Mattix Computer Science Class Projects
Dr. Raj Computer Science Class Projects
PHS Makers Club
Physics of Alternative Energy Class Projects
PUSD School Maker Faire Official App
Rubik’s Cube Mosaic
Soapers Club – Explain how soap is made!

Piedmont Middle School Makers:

PMS Maker Club
PMS Maker Class Projects
Small Crossbow
Solar-Powered Device Charger
The Shopping Channel – A Short Comedy Film
Foam Swords, Shields, and Weapons

Beach Elementary School Makers:

Amazing Furniture
BB8 Star Wars Robot
Camera Obscura
Homemade Refrigerator
How do leaves get crumply?
How my car works
Maglev Trains
Marble Game
Pneumatic Tube
Solar Oven
Swagbell – Robot that recognizes faces
Tornado in a Bottle
Tweety Code – Arduino-powered bird stuffy that sings and lights up!

Havens Elementary School Makers:

Marble Run

Wildwood Elementary Makers:

Air Rockets
Ball Ramp
How Light Affects Plant Growth
Modified Nerf Gun
Wind Tube & Flying Paper Rockets

Speaker Series:

12:00pm – Drought-busting with DIY Android Water Meter – Alex Seiden
12:15pm – Precision Engineering in Making Computer Chips – Matt Bjork
12:30pm – Blending Technology in Schools- Liz Arney
12:45pm – Drones, Planes, and Other Flying Robots – Mark Harrison
1:00pm – Movie Intermission – featuring Piedmont student films
1:15pm – Quick and Dirty Machine Vision with Raspberry Pi – Andy Scheutz
1:30pm – Next Generation Science Standards – Dr. Cheryl Wozniak and Tracy Broback
1:45pm – Coding with Kids – Dave Ragones
2:00pm – Making a Hovercraft – Kurt Fleischer
2:15pm – Learn to Code in 4 Months (or 8 Months) – Jordan Hart, LearnTech Labs

Community Makers:

ALPS Common Core Math
Bike Powered Smoothie Blender – Alameda County Safe Routes to School
CHIME Violin Duet
CraftCamp – Minecraft Camps
Drones – Mark Harrison
Fixit Clinic
Kudo3D 3D Printing
LearnTech Labs
LED Lamp Sculptures – Steve & Mira Wollenberg
LEGO Jeep & LEGO Projects
Modulo – Modular Electronics
Moog Synthesizer
Oakland East Bay Symphony – Instrument Petting Zoo
Oculus Rift
PAINTS Cardboard City
Piedmont Connect
Programmable Dance Floor – Alex Seiden
PUSD Instructional Technology
Rogue Making Wearables – Tenaya Hurst
Tynker – Coding for Kids
Woodworking – John Lambert

And last but not least Tod Pucket playing an acoustic set!

Food Trucks:

El Paisa Tacqueria
Tonli Dumpling

Read More

April 2015 Newsletter

Posted on Apr 19, 2015

Welcome back! Here’s your monthly summary of upcoming Makers activities:

5/1 – Call for Makers DEADLINE: Please submit your project for the 2nd annual PUSD Mini Maker Faire May 30 to reserve a table! It can be a school project, STEM/Science Fair project, or your own project. Piedmont K-12 students and community welcome!

2nd annual PUSD Mini Maker Faire tickets now available! Come celebrate K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math (S.T.E.A.M.) education in Piedmont schools – Saturday 5/30 11-3pm at Piedmont High School! We will have 75+ projects from Beach, Havens, Wildwood, PMS, and PHS students along with community and outside makers. Get your tickets today!

4/19 – Call for Art entries due: Seeking original student art for the 2nd annual PUSD Mini Maker Faire poster! Submit paper designs to your art teacher. Send digital designs and questions to art@piedmontmakers.org

4/25 – Piedmont Makerspace “Wearables Day!”: Wearables (or e-textiles) combine fabric and electronics to make cool gear. We will do an Open Make to learn how to sew and integrate circuits. For the upcoming Science/STEM Fairs and Mini Maker Faire, science teachers along with parent mentors will be on hand to help with projects and answer questions. FREE tickets, Wearables/e-textile kits, Makers T-Shirts all available on the eventbrite page. Saturday 4/25 12-3pm.

4/30 – April Board Meeting: We will hold our next Piedmont Makers board meeting Thursday 4/30 7pm in the Havens library. If you are interested in join the Makers organizing team, please RSVP piedmontmakers@gmail.com to attend.

5/8 – May Tech Social: Part TED talk, part tech show-and-tell, part social hour, and all fun, Tech Social is a Piedmont community event for K-12 students and their parents. Friday 5/1 6-9pm at PMS Multi-Purpose Room. $5/ticket includes pizza dinner.

Read More