Inventions Submitted!

KMOV's Andre Hepkins stopped by to check out some of the inventions!

KMOV’s Andre Hepkins stopped by to check out some of the inventions!

In our Design Thinking Course we’ve been busy working on submissions for the ePals Invent It Challenge.  The process for inventing outlined by ePals is closely aligned to the model of design thinking we’ve been learning, and so it was a natural fit for the course.  Students brainstormed challenges, researched previous solutions, prototyped, tested, tweaked, and developed a marketing campaign for their inventions  They documented the entire process in their tome, and submitted pictures and notes to ePals.

Submissions were due today, and we’re pleased to have entered the following (with product teaser included):

B.A. – Customized locker organization system.  Based on your personality, choose a set of accessories to organize your locker!

J.B. – Hey Lefties, imagine if you could prevent the smudging on your hand while writing!  The “Lefty Blocker” will!

A.B. & D.D. – Capture a photo of people who enter your room with the A&D security system!

M.C. – This iPhone dock will keep your phone charged and room rocking!

D.C. – The Mouse Glove – control your computer with a glove.

M.D. – Feed your lizard without touching those nasty worms.

K.D. – Classroom space shaper.  Efficiently morph your classroom into any arrangement, from “cubicles” to a open circle!

C.G. – Community stray dog shelter.  This shelter includes all of the automated necessities for rescuing a stray dog.

A.G. – Solar Panel 2 Go Go.  Charge your phone on the go!

G.H. – Tired of losing your keys?  This invention “game-ifys” your evening routine!

S.J. – Are you feeling bored on the weekends or during summer?  Visit the Bored Box – “Boredom no more!”

K.J. – Is your water bottle condensation getting all over important paperwork?  Not anymore!

E.L. – The NEW Tool Belt.  It’s flexible, versatile, and durable!

N.L. – This helmet will make your morning routine much more bearable and efficient.

R.L. – Binderize your life with the new space saver!

S.L. & S.S. – Is your younger sibling constantly asking you for help on homework?  Check out the “Sibling Helper App!”

C.M. – Having trouble remembering tasks?  The cat app never forgets!

D.M. – What if our lockers had TV?  Now they can!

M.M. – This sliding door system makes it easy to find the books or paperwork you need.

S.P. – Introducing the “Book Bag.”  Read your books in the bath!

P.P. – This robotic tire cleaner will keep your hubcaps squeaky clean!

M.S. – Sibling sneaking into your room?  They’ll be scared straight with the “Room Guard.”

R.S. – Grab that item that’s just out of reach!

T.S. – The Go Garden – like a pet rock, but with a living plant!

B.T. – Use hotkeys with 1 push!

M.W. – This bed mounted organizer will prevent lost items.

D.W. – “Helping Hand” – this device will turn pages without using a hand!
Winners will be announced 5/2!

Design Thinking with Pixel Press

M.M. observes S.J. playtest her Pixel Press Level, and notes feedback.

M.M. observes S.J. playtest her Pixel Press Level and notes feedback.

In our Makerspace Design Class we have been collaborating closely with professional app developers from a St. Louis-based startup, Pixel Press.  Students have been utilizing the design thinking framework to create a game level using the soon-to-be-released Pixel Press app.  The Pixel Press app makes level design seamless.  Students draw a level on graph paper, capture the drawing using an iPad camera, and then use the Pixel Press app to edit, test, and stylize.  It’s extremely cool, and we’re so fortunate that Pixel Press is being developed in St. Louis.

The Pixel Press team has been wonderful, volunteering their time on multiple occasions to visit the Makerspace, participate in interviews by students, give feedback on level designs, and help students through the capture & testing process.

Like all projects in Makerspace Design Class, our Pixel Press Project is rooted in “Design Thinking” a user-centric approach to innovation made popular by IDEO and the Stanford d.SchoolThis 8-minute Nightline feature does a wonderful job summarizing design thinking through the innovation of shopping carts.  This December 2013 New York Times article is also worth a read.

Students document project progress in their class tomes.  For each portion of the project, students glue a “sticker” into their tome and then write the observations, notes, brainstorms, or reflections that are associated with that part.  It’s a project logbook system adapted from the Stanford d.School’s Ramen Project.

The Design Thinking Approach - credit: Stanford d.School

The Design Thinking Approach – credit: Stanford d.School

The steps to our project and how they connect to design thinking are below:

Empathize:  If students are able to put themselves in the shoes of their users (level players) then they will be able to design better game levels.  Students started the Pixel Press project by identifying important people involved video games, writing questions to ask, and then interviewing them.  Video gamers Danielle, Jason, and Tyler visited the Makerspace to be interviewed about their favorite games, challenging levels, and frustrations.  Then students interviewed the Pixel Press team about design techniques, prototyping, and testing. Students also observed and made notes of popular game levels (Mario, Sonic, Flappy Bird) while being played.

Interviewing gaming expert J.F. for the Pixel Press project.

Class interview of Jason – gaming expert

Define:  Students summarized what they learned from the interviews and observations and defined the design challenge.  They used the sentence starter:

“Based on what I’ve learned about the needs of my users, I need to design a level that _____________.”

This sentence becomes the “Mission Statement” of the design process, and is referenced throughout the project.

Ideate:  With a clearly defined challenge, students brainstormed level obstacles.  Josh from Pixel Press whipped up paper similar to the Pixel Press grid, but without the grid lines.  This helped to promote quantity of ideas versus quality, knowing that sometimes it’s the “crazy” ideas that can be nurtured into the best ones.  Whereas on the Pixel Press grid paper it’s important to have straight lines and use symbols that the app will recognize, during our ideation phase students focused on the concepts of obstacles rather than drawing precisely.

This is his favorite place to brainstorm Pixel Press obstacle ideas.

This is his favorite place to brainstorm Pixel Press obstacle ideas.

Embedded in the ideation phase was also a segment of user feedback. After students brainstormed level obstacles, they documented feedback from each other and the Pixel Press team.

“This obstacle would be more fun if. . .”

“This obstacle would be more fun if. . .”

Prototype:  After brainstorming 10-20 level obstacle ideas that align to their defined challenges, students began work on level prototypes.  Using the feedback from the ideation phase, they tweaked obstacle designs and then drew them on the official Pixel Press level design paper.  Since the time it takes to draw a level varies widely among students, this was completed for homework.

One student said, “Usually I don’t like to do homework, but now I can’t wait to do it!”

Test:  With prototypes complete, students captured their levels, made edits, noted feedback from play testers, and iterated the design accordingly.  The next step is to publish levels to the Pixel Press community when it launches with the app in April!

Special thanks to Robin, Josh, Katie, Brad, Daniel, and John from the Pixel Press team for collaborating with our students through this project!  As students have worked on their level designs, it’s been wonderful having app developers in the Makerspace who use a shared vocabulary and can empathize with struggles and joys of the design process.

Makerspace Projects Presented at edcampSTL

Makerspace Projects Presented at edcampSTL

A selection of Makerspace student projects were on display at the edcampSTL Makerspace Museum. Over 300 educators attended the event!

Exhibits included:

A.C.’s Skee Ball Machine with Scratch scoring system
S.C.’s Caine’s Arcade inspired circuitry game
R.M.’s Arduino-controlled Christmas tree
J.M.’s 3D printed coin bank
D.A.’s collection of back-scratchers
C.D.’s light up dress & robotic garden
U.A.’s propeller-powered car
D.D.’s 3D printed ball-launcher

Thank you to our exhibitors and edcampSTL for hosting! Special thanks to Tyler, our Makerspace Assistant for designing the project placards.

What’s being made in the Makerspace? (#16-#56)

ImageWe’ve continued to keep track of Design Forms via our numbering system.  Here’s what’s being made in the Makerspace:

0016 – Birdhouse for Geometry Class

0017 – College Savings Bank Tracker

0018 – Bed-attachable iPad/iPhone Holder

0019 – Diamond Heist Stop-Motion Animation

0020 – Ponytail Carrying Purse

0021 – Arduino-controlled Christmas Centerpiece

0022 – Dispensing Hat

0023 – 3D-printed LED Tree

0024 – Project Tripod/Stand

0025 – Tabletop Skeeball Machine

0026 – Duct tape painting

0027 – Stop Motion: The Struggles of Being Lazy

0028 – Doll house & Toy Holder

0029 – Handheld Whiteboard

0030 – Light-up Bow Tie

0031 – Friendship Flower

0032 – Bane Mask/Nose-Warmer

0033 – Lunch Box

0034 – Dog Food Conveyor Belt

0035 – Bridge for Science Class

0036 – Coin Sorter 

0037 – Earring Holder

0038 – Crank Elevator

0039 – Bridge for Science

0040 – 3D Printed Locking Coin Bank

0041 – Lonely Friend Puppet

0042 – Jack-in-the-Box Alarm Clock

0043 – Farm Themed Stop Motion

0044 – Slot Car Track

0045 – Bridge for Science

0046 – Birdhouse

0047 – Winter Gloves

0048 – Paper/Pencil Dispenser

0049 – In-class Whiteboard

0050 – Winter Themed Stop Motion

0051 – Winter Themed Stop Motion

0052 – Skit Themed Stop Motion

0053 – High Quantity Pooper-Scooper

0054 – Spinning Top

0055 – Arduino-powered 3D printed Birthday Heart

0056 – Spinning Top

Makerspace: The Class?

A school wide need has been identified for a middle school course during periods 1A & 1B next semester.  We plan to submit the below course proposal for a Makerspace/Design Thinking class during those times.

If approved, the Makerspace would still be available for drop-ins for 2nd-4th period, as well as before school & after school.

  1. Course Title:  Design Thinking
  2. Course Overview
    Content Description:
  • Students will exit the course with a strong understanding of Design Thinking and how it can be utilized to approach everyday challenges.  The Design Thinking approach will be utilized with a wide variety of “maker tools” including cardboard/low-tech prototyping, circuitry, 3D printing, Video Game Design, and app development.   As a continuation of students’ formal STEAM education, this course will develop essential design skills with emphasis on reflection upon the process used.  In accordance with National Science Education Standards students will continue to and implement technology to improve their projects.The classroom could be considered constructionist/constructivist, because most projects depend on tapping into the prior knowledge of students so they can create new things with additional learning.  Much of the learning and sharing will take place through social media, and all projects must have either an individual, community, or global significance.Students who successfully complete the course having achieved these understandings will be in a significantly enhanced position for utilizing technology and approaching challenges with a Design Thinking mindset.  Due to the nature of STEM professions, this could potentially have a direct and positive impact on their income and quality of life.  In addition, the knowledge and upper level thinking skills developed throughout the year will be applicable for a wide range of careers and opportunities.

    Students will be invested in the course do to the freedom involved with project selection and publicity of the design process.  Throughout the course, students will maintain a public blog documenting the process and open to peer feedback. The course will also be rooted in the practical applications of design with a push to create globally applicable projects for each unit.   This will provide all students, even those not deeply interested in science, with an explicit form of the overarching understandings.

  • Duration (Semester, Year):  Semester
  • Other:
    Proposed units -

Unit 1:  Intro to Design Thinking

Unit 2:  Cardboard/Low-Tech Prototyping

Unit 3:  Circuitry

Unit 4:  3D Modeling

Unit 5:  Video Game/Animation

Unit 6:  App Development