Piedmont Makers

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

School Maker Faire April 23!

Meet the Makers!

Posted on Apr 9, 2016

We are so excited to kickoff the 3rd annual Piedmont School Maker Faire on Saturday, April 23 11am-3pm at the Piedmont High School campus! Check out below some of the 75+ projects from Beach, Havens, Wildwood, Piedmont Middle School, and Piedmont High School students along with community makers. Tickets are FREE and available now!

What’s New This Year? Keynote from Pixar’s Tony DeRose, Talks from Cal Professors Alessandra Lanzara & Alex Filippenko, Student Film Festival, Student Bands, STEAM Expo projects, and more!

Hands-on Making!:

Community Art Project
Exploring Natural Dyes
Fixit Clinic – Bring your broken stuff to fix & learn
Learn to Solder!
Oakland East Bay Symphony – Instrument Petting Zoo
PAINTS Rube Goldberg Project
So Sew Station
Wind Tube & Flying Paper Rockets
Wreck-It Destruction Lab – Bring stuff to break & learn

Piedmont High School Makers:

Computer Science Class Projects
LED Wheel
“The Martian” demonstrations by PHS Chemistry teachers
PHS Makers Club
Physics of Alternative Energy Class Projects
Service Learning Student Films

Piedmont Middle School Makers:

“Lucy’s Home Alone” Student Band
PMS Maker Club
PMS Maker Class Projects
Robotic Elephant
Soap Bubbles

Beach Elementary School Makers:

3D Printed House
Cat Tracker Citizen Science
Comparing Burn Rates of Drought Resistant and Non-Drought Resistant Trees
Holding Cookies Robot 160
How to Make Soap?
Lego Creation
The Life of Elephants
Popsicle Stick Bridge
RC Race Dynamics
Singing Glasses
Soap Makers
A Tea Investigation
Troll-Bear Robot
Vincent van Gogh and His Style
What is the Science of Tennis?
Which Liquid Will Seeds Grow Fastest In?

Havens Elementary School Makers:

Flippy The Tumbling Robot
An Isaac Clone
Lego Master Builder
Nails and Screws: Which is Stronger?
Pet Rocks
Pinball Machines
San Francisco’s Amazing Buildings
Scorpion Coaster
Stop Motion Video
Sugar Crystallization
Wind Power

Wildwood Elementary Makers:

Car-Generated Electricity
Dry Ice Bubbles
Model Mania
Solar Still
Squishy Circuits
Team Robomaster
Which dog breath freshener is most effective?

Community Makers:

Boy Scouts – Piedmont Council
Chabot Space & Science Center
CHIME Student Concert
Dress Best for Less
Eclipse Chasing
Girl Scouts of Northern California
Moog Synthesizer
OakLabs Laser Fabrication
Oculus Rift Virtual Reality
Piedmont Student Film Festival
Piper – DIY Minecraft Computer
PUSD Instructional Technology
Suitcase Amp
Tape Heads

Food Trucks:

Streetdog Chicago-Style Hotdogs
Tonli Dumpling
Izzy’s Frozen Custard

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Piedmont Post – April 2016

Posted on Apr 6, 2016

Why the “A” in STEAM?

by Larraine Seiden

Tonight is the first ever Piedmont Unified Elementary Tri-school STEAM Expo! The Expo adapts the traditional science fair format to be more interdisciplinary and process oriented which reflects 21stcentury learning.  Come to the PMS Multipurpose room from 6 to 8 pm to see what it is all about.

Why the “A”?

Parents, you’ve probably heard the acronyms S.T.E.M. and S.T.E.A.M. a lot.  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, with the “A” in STEAM meaning Arts & Design. When the Science Fair changed to a STEAM Expo, the science teachers heard the question “Why the ‘A’?” more than once. As an artist and art educator, it’s something I think about a lot. It’s also a question Piedmont Makers asked early on, as we debated supporting STEAM vs. STEM education.

So, yes, why the “A?”  I’ll focus mostly on the “A” as visual arts and design, because this is what I know best, but music, writing, and performing arts are also rightly in the STEAM mix.

First, let’s be clear what “STEAM” is not. Supporting STEAM does not mean that other subjects like language arts, social studies, history, and foreign languages are not valuable and relevant to a complete education. It also doesn’t mean that the individual subjects of the acronym are taught only in service of the others.  Discipline-based learning is necessary and art is no exception.

There are several points to consider when we think about STEAM in education. One is what kids learn and how they learn.  The other is the professional world they will enter after their formal education.

Art and the Brain

Education is moving toward more student led inquiry, and the thinking habits of every discipline are critical resources in the student’s toolbox.  To take a couple of examples, drawing is a powerful skill for communication and protoyping. Theatre teaches presentation skills and the nimble thinking of improvisation.  Just as we want our children to be able to express themselves through writing, we should enable them to use the arts to design, communicate, and persuade!

Scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs, and others use art tools and processes for planning, investigation, visualization, and communication. DaVinci comes to mind as a great example. Many scientists describe their discovery process in creative and visual terms.  In addition to traditional art skills, today’s art and design education also teaches design thinking and the development of one’s creative process. When the “A” is left out of the equation, students miss crucial tools for inquiry and ingenuity.

Recent brain research shows that learning happens best when kids have an emotional connection to the content. The arts provide exactly that, while making abstract technical concepts concrete.Cognitive studies have outlined at least eight types of learners. For many students, art may be their best path to STEM subjects.  Making learning visible through animation, video, illustration, or graphics, may also be many students’ best method for synthesizing and sharing their knowledge in those subjects.

Creativity in the Professional World

Beyond school, STEAM reflects the interdependency of academic subjects in the professional world. This is especially true in the technology cradle that is the Bay Area.  It’s hard to imagine Apple, Google, Pixar, Tesla, Facebook, Adobe and other tech companies without art and design being woven into their fabric.

Many tech companies now have artist-in-residence programs. At Autodesk (who make software like Autocad and Maya), their intentions for residents go well beyond philanthropy. Working at Pier 9, perhaps the ultimate makerspace, the artists pioneer new uses for the company’s products. Their discoveries in turn lead Autodesk’s engineers toward new developments.  In this way, the resident artists are a crucial link in the company’s design process. And as I’ve noted in this column before, creativity is an ability that CEO’s in all industries seek, not just in tech.

Nurturing the Creative Process

The arts provide tools for creativity and STEAM gives it expression through many forms. Robotics, film, built environment, and graphic design are just a few examples of STEAM in action.

When a kid’s creative confidence isn’t nurtured from the earliest grades, they may grow up thinking they’re not creative. That’s a missed opportunity for both personal and professional accomplishment.

Upcoming Events

The Tri-School STEAM Expo is tonight, Wednesday, April 6, from 6pm to 8pm, at the Piedmont Middle School Multipurpose room.

The Piedmont Makers Third Annual School Maker Faire is Saturday, April 23, 11am-3pm, at Piedmont High. The Faire will feature over 75 student and community exhibits. Get your FREE tickets at piedmontmakers.org. We are excited that Tony DeRose, Head of Research at Pixar Animation Studios, will give a keynote talk on “Math in Movies.” We also look forward to live music from student musicians & bands, student films, and food trucks!

Join us for Inventing, the April Tech Social on this Friday, April 8th at 6:30 pm in the PMS Multipurpose Room.  After a pizza dinner, there will be a short fireside chat with Boris Sofman, co-Founder and CEO of Anki (robotic supercars) and Michael Plitkins, an early employee at Nest (smart home devices) with multiple patents to his name. Register in advance at piedmontmakers.org so that we can make sure to have enough pizza and cookies! For $5 a person, you won’t find a better value!

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April 2016 Newsletter

Posted on Apr 6, 2016

Don’t miss these upcoming Piedmont Makers / S.T.E.A.M. related events this month.

Arduino Day! Makerspace SOLD OUT – Saturday, April 2 1-4pm - Piedmont Middle School Shop Rm. 125 – Our Arduino Makerspace is sold out but Havens Science Teacher Mr. Taylor will be on hand to answer any remaining S.T.E.A.M. expo project questions from elementary school students.

Tri-School S.T.E.A.M. Expo - Wednesday, April 6 6-8pm - Piedmont Middle School Multi-Purpose Room - Whether your students are contributing a project or not, we’d love to see you this week at the event.  As students wrap up projects see the STEAM Expo Public Documents folder https://goo.gl/lTTEWL for details.  If you can, please volunteer! Here is the link to the tri-school Sign Up Genius page http://goo.gl/4KnfzS.  Be on the lookout for Piedmont Makers reps handing out invitations to join us at the School Maker Faire to showcase your project to the community at large!

Inventing! Tech Social - Friday, April 8 6:30-8:30pm - Piedmont Middle School Multi-Purpose Room - We will have social time, a pizza dinner, and a short fireside chat with Boris Sofman, co-Founder and CEO of Anki (robotic supercars) and Michael Plitkins, an early employee at Nest (smart home devices) with multiple patents to his name. Dion Lim will facilitate an intimate conversation covering topics such as 1) technology’s role in their childhoods, 2) stories of inventing cool stuff, 3) thoughts on future trends (drones, driverless cars, robots), and 4) thoughts on how they plan to approach technology with their kids.  $5 tickets available here (which covers pizza dinner, drinks, & facilities).

Have a great month!

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School Maker Faire tickets!

Posted on Mar 20, 2016

Please join us at the 3rd annual Piedmont School Maker Faire – a celebration of K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math (S.T.E.A.M.) education in Piedmont schools! We will have 75+ student projects from Beach, Havens, Wildwood, PMS, and PHS students along with community and outside makers.

Eventbrite - 3rd Annual Piedmont School Maker Faire

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Piedmont Post – March 2016

Posted on Mar 2, 2016

by Wendi Sue

The other day I was talking with a friend about my interest in a Piedmont Unified makerspace. He asked me, “Why? I never built anything in school, so what?”  I had to think about this a little bit.  What is the importance of a makerspace and what is its relationship to a strong S.T.E.A.M.(Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) education?  And why now?

In a makerspace, kids are learning more than just how to hammer a nail.  Through project exploration, they are practicing a process and approach to learning that is fundamentally different from mainstream academics.

When a kid tinkers a robot, or makes a model rocket, or tests the design of a paper airplane, she is in a state of play.  She is also developing her creativity, resourcefulness, and planning abilities.  Along the way, she may apply physics, math, computer sciences, or even chemistry.

When she does this in a group, she may witness a range of solutions that can be tested and observed.  She also exercises soft skills such as empathy, communication, and collaboration.

When her rocket fails to fly, she has the opportunity to learn resilience by trying again.  She learns that “failure,” is not to be avoided, but is a valuable part of the process.  In fact, it provides key information for the next iteration.

Most important, in a makerspace, she shifts from passive to active learning.  By engaging with the physical world, ideas are put to the test over and over. In project driven learning, questioning is a necessary part of the process, not a disruption.  The focus is on process rather than knowing the “right” answer, and solutions evolve out of diverse viewpoints.

This kind of active learning is intrinsically motivating and taps into kids’ love of play.  When kids get to use their own creativity to solve real problems, they also experience true empowerment.  In a makerspace that supports this sort of open-ended exploration, kids learn in a community built through discovery.

Why now?  Because now, the possibility and even necessity of having direct impact on the world is within the reach of anyone with internet access. Projects and ideas can be shared and showcased via Youtube and the blogosphere.  Sites like Kickstarter even make funding possible.  Tools for manufacture, such as 3D printers, CNC (Computer Numerical Control) mills, Arduino and Rasperry PI motherboards, among other tech products, are cheaper than ever before.  Ideally, a makerspace would make such resources available to our kids.

A well-designed makerspace, that serves as a hub to support thoughtful S.T.E.A.M.-based programming, would give our kids the tools to become confident innovators and agents of real change in the world.  These goals are key to a 21st century education. Ultimately, that is what Piedmont Makers is advocating for in PUSD’s facilities master plan.

If you are like my friend and haven’t yet experienced the thrill of making or tinkering, come check out one of our upcoming events: Digital Music! Tech Social on Friday, March 4, 6:30-8:30pm at Piedmont Middle School’s Multi-Purpose Room.  This will be an exciting event featuring Mike Fink of Pandora.  $5 tickets at PiedmontMakers.org.

Also, Arduino Day at the next Makerspace, Sunday, March 20, 1-4pm in the Piedmont Middle School Shop Rm. 125.  Arduino gives students the power to write code to craft the world around them.  Tickets & Arduino kits to purchase will be available later this month.

And don’t forget to submit your project for the 3rd annual Piedmont School Maker Faire! It can be a school project, STEAM Expo project, or your own project.  The Piedmont School Maker Faire is a celebration of K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math education.  Piedmont Makers will host the Piedmont School Maker Faire on Saturday, April 23, 11-3pm at Piedmont High School.  Piedmont K-12 students and community welcome and admission is free!


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March 2016 Newsletter

Posted on Mar 1, 2016

All -

Happy March!  Below is a quick summary of upcoming Piedmont Makers / S.T.E.A.M. related events.

Digital Music! Tech Social - Friday, March 4 6:30-8:30pm - Piedmont Middle School Multi-Purpose Room - Please join us for an exciting event featuring Mike Fink of Pandora.  He will give an overview of their Music Genome Project, describing how their musicologists evaluate songs and leading an activity where students will be able to categorize their favorite song!  $5 tickets available here (which covers pizza dinner, drinks, & facilities).

Calling all Makers!  Submit your project for the Piedmont School Maker Faire - It can be a school project, STEAM Expo project, or your own project.  The Piedmont School Maker Faire is a celebration of K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math education.  Piedmont Makers will host the 3rd annual Piedmont School Maker Faire on Saturday, April 23, 11-3pm at Piedmont HIgh School.  Piedmont K-12 students and community welcome!  Submit your project here.

Arduino Day! Makerspace - Sunday, March 20 10am-1pm - Piedmont Middle School Shop Rm. 125 – Arduino gives students the power to write code to control the world around them - blink an LED, respond to light or temperature, connect to the Internet, and more.  Make sure you bring a Chromebook or laptop to the event.  Tickets & Arduino kits to purchase will be available later this month.

Have a great month!

-Piedmont Makers

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Piedmont Post – February 2016

Posted on Feb 1, 2016

by Larraine Seiden

With the PUSD Facilities Master Planning process well underway, Piedmont Makers has been eager to see how the new facilities plan will integrate science, technology, and art/design together to support S.T.E.A.M. programming, arguably a cornerstone of 21st Century learning. We believe flexible spaces that support project-based learning and making, in dedicated spaces and also integrated into classrooms, are essential to keeping our schools competitive and relevant.

First, let’s consider the makerspaces at the middle school and high school. For new construction at the high school, we can look to the Nueva School’s recently built iLab which is centrally located on campus among regular classrooms. Looking beyond the shiny 3-d printers and laser cutters, the space looks like a nice garage with cement floors, modular work furniture, and lots of accessible storage space around the perimeters of the room.

For adapted space, as is proposed for PMS’s wood shop space, we can look to the nearby public K-12 Lighthouse Charter School. Their robust maker program started with a high school robotics class, which grew into a maker track. Each year, that program culminates with students exhibiting their projects at the big Maker Faire in San Mateo.

At Lighthouse, existing classrooms have been modified to accommodate the program that has grown up teacher by teacher. Even the Kindergarten room has a maker corner with real tools. The classrooms-turned-makerspaces simply feature modular everything, enhanced electrical systems, and cords that retract to the ceiling when not in use.

Neither of these scenarios has to be expensive, but they do have to be thoughtfully designed.

Two main drafts of a facilities master plan are currently being considered. You can see the slides at http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us. We are encouraged to see that the district and architects are dedicated to creating more flexible spaces that support project-based learning, including makerspaces. However, we feel both draft versions miss a great opportunity to integrate across disciplines and can do more.

In the current plans, which will be presented to the School Board on February 10, art and science classrooms are separated across campus from each other, with a proposed wet/dry makerspace on the second floor near the art studios.  This makes collaboration difficult and inadvertently works to further compartmentalize art/design and science/engineering.

If the makerspace is to support truly cross-curricular projects, it makes sense to physically place it among the subjects it will serve most directly.  At this draft stage, we should be thinking outside the classroom box. With the proposed new performing arts theater and a thoughtfully designed makerspace or innovation lab, we have the opportunity to move creativity (in many forms) front and center.

Besides locating the new PHS makerspace in a S.T.E.A.M. building or corridor, what could it look like? Could it have a ground level orientation toward the quad? Could it have windowed garage style doors or sliding walls that could open to a canopied exterior?  This could effectively expand the workshop’s footprint and facilitate large group projects.  Such an intentional orientation could invite further cross-disciplinary pollination from the humanities, social sciences and the entire school community.

School facilities play a big supporting role in defining the education program. In response to the seismic shifts in the professional world, education is going through its biggest transition in a century. Let’s use this facilities master planning opportunity to make some “bold moves” and envision what Piedmont’s 21st Century education could be.

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