Piedmont Makers

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


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Piedmont Post – March 2017


Posted on Mar 26, 2017

Piedmont Makers is proud to join PAINTS and CHIME in presenting this year’s School Maker Faire celebrating Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math in Piedmont. We will feature over 100 S.T.E.A.M. projects from Beach, Havens, Wildwood, Piedmont Middle School, and Piedmont High School students and community makers. Come enjoy hands-on projects, live music from student musicians & bands, student art, and food trucks! Piedmont K-12 students, parents, and community welcome.

Submit your School Maker Faire project today — it can be a school project, STEAM Expo project, or your own project — http://www.piedmontmakers.org/school-maker-faire/

New to the Faire this year is Maker Mini Golf! Even as you’re reading this column, your Piedmont neighbors are getting together to tinker, saw and glue to create one-of-a-kind miniature golf holes. And next month, Maker Faire attendees will have a chance to test their golfing skills and marvel at their fellow makers’ imagination and creativity.

“This activity epitomizes the Maker movement combining creativity, hands-on building, and a lot of fun, all to celebrate S.T.E.A.M. education,” said Piedmont Makers Board President David Ragones. He continued, “We hope to create an annual Piedmont tradition,” likening the activity to the popular scarecrow competition at Piedmont’s Harvest Festival.

“Maker mini golf is a community building activity” said Piedmont Maker Board Member Jane Lin who organized a mini golf-themed MakerSpace in February. “Around 25 young makers showed up to brainstorm mini golf holes, sketch their concepts, then prototype the holes using cardboard, tape, and whatever else they could find. I was really excited to see all the creativity and look forward to playing a round next month!”

There is still space for more mini golf holes, so grab a friend, classmate, or neighbor and sign up at http://www.piedmontmakers.org/school-maker-faire/ to make a hole for the Piedmont School Maker Faire.

The details:
Piedmont School Maker Faire
Sunday April 23, 2017, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Piedmont High School
Free tickets at http://www.piedmontmakers.org/school-maker-faire/ and donations welcome
Submit your project or Mini-Golf hole: http://www.piedmontmakers.org/school-maker-faire/

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March 2017 News


Posted on Mar 2, 2017

FIRST Robotics Info Session - Tuesday 3/7 7:30pm – Beach Library: Please come to the FIRST Robotics info session to learn more about the new FIRST Lego League teams for rising 4th through 5th graders and FIRST Tech Challenge teams for 6th through 8th graders organized by Piedmont Makersfor the fall season (all-girls, all-boys, co-ed).  FIRST Lego League is a Lego Mindstorms-based robotics competition.  FIRST Tech Challenge is a more advanced robotics competition.  Like a sports team, each team will meet for weekly practices with weekend scrimmages and tournaments.  The season will run from August to November and. if the teams qualify, will continue to California regional and national competitions in 2018.

Call for Makers! – 4th annual Piedmont School Maker Faire - Sunday 4/23 11am-3pmSubmit your School Maker Faire project today — it can be a school project, STEAM Expo project, or your own project. Piedmont K-12 students and community welcome!  Deadline March 31.  Piedmont Makers is proud to join PAINTS and CHIME in presenting this year’s School Maker Faire celebrating Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math & Music education inPiedmont. We will feature over 100 S.T.E.A.M. projects from Beach, Havens, Wildwood, Piedmont Middle School, and Piedmont High School students along with hands-on projects from community makers, live music from student musicians & bands, student art, and food trucks!

Food Science! Tech Social - Friday 3/17 6:30pm - Ellen Driscoll Playhouse: Save the date for the first Tech Social potluck featuring a Food Science theme!

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Piedmont Post – February 2017


Posted on Feb 16, 2017

Robots are coming to Piedmont!

Building upon the success of the FIRST Tech Challenge robotics teams at Piedmont Middle School and Piedmont High School, Piedmont Makers is excited to announce new robotics teams for the Fall 2017 season.  Our goal is to form two teams for rising 4th and 5th graders and two teams for Piedmont Middle School students.

The elementary school teams will be FIRST Lego League teams. FIRST Lego League is a Lego Mindstorms-based robotics competition.  Like a sports team, FIRST Lego League teams would meet 1-2 times per week with weekend scrimmages and tournaments.  The Middle School teams will either be Lego League or FIRST Tech Challenge. FIRST Tech Challenge is a more advanced robotics competition and requires a more significant commitment.  Both the Piedmont Pioneers and Scotbotics are at this level.  Prerequisites include a keen interest and demonstrated follow through by taking school electives e.g. Maker, Artbotics, doing independent projects and after school programs.  The season would run from August to November and if the teams qualify, they would advance to California regional and national competitions in 2018.  You can learn more at www.firstinspires.org

Piedmont Makers is developing a FIRST Robotics infrastructure in Piedmont to encourage the pursuit of S.T.E.A.M. excellence.  By building the pipeline of interested girls and boys at the elementary level, we can field more diverse teams at the middle school and high schools.  The ultimate goal in two years is to start a team at the most advanced level, FIRST Robotics Competition at the high school, which will require a much bigger team and a bigger budget.  It will all add up to a comprehensive program at various age levels whereby we can develop talent, foster mentors, pool resources, host competitions and be a real contender in regional and national competitions against the best from Silicon Valley and beyond.

Another key goal is to encourage girls to participate. Despite a concerted effort at the Piedmont Middle School level, we have not been successful in recruiting girls to the existing teams.  We believe by capturing girls interest earlier at the elementary school level in a fun environment with friends, excellence and interest in S.T.E.A.M. topics among our girls will be expected and encouraged by peers.

We are working with the school district and after school providers to provide lead-in programs to teach basic skills in programming, design, mechanics and 3D Printing.  We are also currently applying for grants and sponsorships to support these teams.  With the success of current Piedmont robotics teams and the passage of Measure H1 with a specific emphasis on S.T.E.A.M. facilities, momentum is on our side in Piedmont!

Interested to learn more?  Piedmont Makers is hosting an info session on Tuesday March 7 at 7:30pm in the Beach library.  Expect registration to go live in March with teams formed by the end of the school year.  We need parent volunteers to help coach and organize teams — if you have coached youth sports and/or have a S.T.E.A.M. background, please consider volunteering.  Help continue to transform Piedmont into Makerville!

 

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February 2017 News


Posted on Feb 10, 2017

Mini-Golf! Makerspace - Sunday 2/12 1-3pm - Piedmont Middle School Rm. 125: Please join us in the Piedmont Makerspace for a Mini-Golf Design Session!  Our goal is to have 18 holes of mini-golf ready for the 2017 PiedmontSchool Maker Faire.  This Makerspace session will include brainstorming and creating simple mock ups — think windmills, Rube Goldberg, and roller coaster tracks… Tracy Broback, Tri-School Science Specialist will also be on-hand to introduce the STEAM Expo process – a process which will be very relevant to mini-golf hole design! FORE!!  Seating is limited so please get your FREE tickets today.

Call for Makers! – 4th annual Piedmont School Maker Faire - Sunday 4/23 11am-3pmSubmit your School Maker Faire project today — it can be a school project, STEAM Expo project, or your own project. Piedmont K-12 students and community welcome!  Deadline March 31.  Piedmont Makers is proud to join PAINTS and CHIME in co-presenting this year’s School MakerFaire celebrating Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math & Music education in Piedmont.

FIRST LEGO League / FIRST Tech Challenge Info Session - Tuesday 3/7 7:30: Thank you for the great response to last month’s FIRST LEGO League interest survey.  Piedmont Makers is moving forward organizing FIRST Lego League teams for 4th and 5th graders and additional FIRST Tech Challenge middle school teams for the Fall 2017 season.  FIRST Lego League is a Lego Mindstorms-based robotics competition.  FIRST Tech Challenge is a more advanced robotics competition.  Come to the info session to hear from this year’s PMS Pioneers team and learn more!

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January 2017 News


Posted on Jan 9, 2017

Lights! Tech Social - Friday 1/20 6:30pm: Please join us for a Lights-themed Tech Social at Ellen Driscoll Auditorium at Havens.  Beach parent Maria Topete will be discussing the qualities and importance of light in our lives as well as the latest light technologies.  Ms. Topete is currently Director of Applications Engineering at Bridgelux — a light technology company that helps people experience the power and possibility of light. Bring your light and glow toys!  Social time with your tech friends, a pizza dinner, milk, and cookies for only $5 ticket per person!  Please make sure to buy tickets in advance so we can buy enough pizza!

New FIRST LEGO League for 4th/5th Graders - Piedmont Makers is considering organizing FIRST Lego League teams for 4th and 5th graders for the Fall 2017 season.  FIRST Lego League is a Lego Mindstorms-based robotics competition.  Like a sports team, each team would meet 1-2 times per week with weekend scrimmages and tournaments.  The season would run from August to November and if the teams qualify, they would advance to California regional and national competitions in 2018.  If there is sufficient interest, we will hold an info session and registration in the Spring.  Please complete our survey if you are interested!   

4th annual Piedmont School Maker Faire - Sunday 4/23 11am-3pm -Piedmont High School: Save the Date!  Piedmont Makers is proud to join PAINTS and CHIME in co-presenting this year’s School Maker Faire celebrating Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math & Music education inPiedmont.  Stay tuned later this month as we open our Call for Makers!

More S.T.E.A.M. Grants awarded: Because of your generosity, PiedmontMakers has now donated $8050 in grants to support S.T.E.A.M. education for the 2016-2017 academic year to teachers in the Piedmont Unified School District.   Additional grant recipients include:

  • Ms. Feiger – Wildwood 5th Grade ($300) - Ms. Feiger will purchase a 30 pack of solar car kits / 15 per class in 5th grade to complement Bridges Math Unit 8 constructing solar houses.
  • Mr. Kessler - Piedmont Middle School ($200) - Mr. Kessler will construct an earthquake shake table to simulate the types of waves produced by earthquakes that could potentially damage a building. This structure will be used to evaluate students’ simulated earthquake-safe building designs which students will research and construct using the engineering design process.
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Piedmont Post – December 2016


Posted on Dec 14, 2016

Helping Our Kids Find Their Place in the Digital Revolution Through Robotics

by Sally Aldridge

The accelerating pace of technology has got many of us worried about our kids’ future. We wonder what skills will they need?  Will they have jobs? What will machines do ? What will be left for people to do?

Above all we ask, how can public high school and college education keep up with this rapid change?

Based on my work in the technology industry and as an advocate for STEAM education the answer is, with difficulty. Our education systems move slowly and are still more oriented towards educating for the industrial revolution than the digital revolution. They can’t change fast enough to keep pace. Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards are heading in the right direction by moving our kids’ education away from rote memorization to a problem solving framework.  Still, the time it takes to implement these changes is just too long in an underfunded and often struggling education system.

Meanwhile, technology continues its onward march.  Machines can already do most mechanical tasks that humans can do.  And now with artificial intelligence, their brains are just as good, or even better than ours. The job displacement we have seen so far is just a start.

So where does that leave our kids in Piedmont? What do we do as parents?

My hypothesis is that people will still be better at creative problem solving and collaborating than machines. Like many parents and educators, I wondered how could we teach our kids those skills?

To find out, I first got involved with Piedmont Makers.  Then, I worked on the District’s facilities steering committee to get our H1 bond approved, a process which involved seeking input from Bay Area thought leaders on project based learning.  To better understand where students and teachers are, I organized a 21st century learning workshop with a team of designers and the District. With the Makers board, I helped get grants to science and maker teachers this fall.  Besides all of this, I became Vice President of a Parents Club and launched a middle school robotics team.

The activity with the most immediate impact so far has been the robotics team. We are doing the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) competition this season www.firstinspires.org, entered as the Piedmont Pioneers, an all Middle School Team. We have been involved for three months and I’ve seen that it is the most effective path for teaching engineering excellence to kids. Along the way, they learn mechanics, software, 3D printing, problem solving, collaboration, time management, organization, and more. My son is completely hooked and he can’t wait to get to the work sessions. Some weeks the kids volunteer to spend ten to fifteen hours outside of school working on the robot. The kids involved all now see themselves as STEM-focused and pursuing a STEM path.

Now, I wonder if we could expand this activity into the Piedmont community to impact more kids? Piedmont Makers is considering helping to guide such an expansion. We could field multiple teams next season and easily share resources like workshops, tools, mentors and parts.  Piedmont Makers is a 501(c)(3), so all monies going through will be tax deductible. We already have two FTC teams (Piedmont Pioneers and Scotbotics) in Piedmont and there is gathering interest for expanding with an all-girls team as well as elementary school teams.  At the high school level, Scotbotics has been around for a while, but they have been independent with no involvement of the school district or an outside organization. What would happen if we all combined under a common umbrella and committed resources to these teams? We could even host competitions here in Piedmont.  Imagine a Maker league similar in size and scope to sports leagues in Piedmont!

Piedmont parents are great at coming together to make a difference and this is one actionable thing we can do today to make a real impact. If you are interested in putting your name on an email list or getting more involved, please contact me at sally.aldridge@mac.com.  Stay tuned for more articles as this program develops.

Save the date for the next Tech Social on January 20! Theme to be announced in after the New Year.

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