Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ripple Effect

Hurricane Sandy moves over the East Coast, United States. Image Credit: NASA GOES Project

The threat of Hurricane Sandy making it's way to Vermont, especially in the wake of the devastation Hurricane Irene brought to the area last Fall, was a study in preparedness.

And justly so.

Preparing for disasters like this is key. Reacting to such disasters is when things get very messy. One look at what's going on in New York City and Atlantic City will show you why.

Looking at the news over the last few days, it looks like some folks planned to the best of their ability. Others simply went into denial about the coming storm. Some, the thrill seeking type, even went out for jogs, wake boarding, and went out to take pictures when the worst of the hurricane landed.

Some others simply couldn't do anything about it. When the devastation is that large and wide spread, sometimes... you simply endure. I've heard many people on the news over the last few days saying things like 'I just can't believe it was this bad.' It's a study of what went on here in Vermont last year.

Now that the Hurricane has moved on from this area in Southern Vermont, it's easy to say 'we over prepared.' If the storm turned east toward Vermont though... my guess is we'd be singing a different tune.

My hope after watching Katrina years back overwhelm the Gulf Coast, Irene's tromp through New England, and now Hurricane Sandy... is that we'll lend some serious thought to how, where, and why we build things in the future. And how we can orchestrate disaster plans most effectively. Error on caution... good idea.

This event once again led to some great discussions in class, and we're all watching in hopes that the places rocked by Hurricane Sandy can dig out.

With school canceled here Monday and a delayed opening Tuesday, we postponed our 'Student for a Day' project and rescheduled to next week.
We'll have updates soon.

Resting up. Preparing. Moving forward.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Teachers being a Student for a Day

We've been collecting books for our 'test subjects.'

In Tech Research class we stir up a project called 'Education Revisited' where we look at how technology has challenged and shifted learning, education... and schools.

... and a discussion on 'what is it really like to be a student?' quickly evolved into 'Teachers becoming students for couple of days.'

We've proposed some great things over the years in the Lab to administration and this idea took off like a rocket in discussions.

We drafted up the idea that three teachers become a student over two days, along with with all appropriate expectations each student has placed upon them. We polished it up a bit and presented the idea to the administration. The school's Executive Team discussed the issue and approved a schedule where 5 teachers would participate for one day instead.

Modified... but approved!

Teachers were hand picked to reflect diverse subjects taught and at different stages of their teaching careers. Here's a list of of the teachers who will be 'Student for a Day.'

Oct 30th:
Scott Clausen, English
Meg Kenny, Administration
Mary-Rita Manley, Math
Pete Nicholson, English

Oct 31st:
Dave Miceli, Social Studies, Psychology

Students in Tech Research designed full academic schedules for each participating teacher and also the following guidelines:
  • Pick up their class schedule in the Lab the day before their assigned student day
  • Teachers must negotiate getting the appropriate supplies for their classes
  • Park in the assigned student parking lot in the morning
  • Attend all classes and advisory as a regularly scheduled student
  • Eat in the cafeteria with no special privileges aka cutting in line and must pay for their lunch before eating
  • Attend an extra-curricular activity and participate in some way for the full duration
  • Be assigned an equivalent amount of homework in each class and prepare it for the next day to hand in
  • Report on their perceptions of the student day (see Project Goals below), and on the hours spent after school to complete tasks/work and balance home life to their peers

Project goals:
  • Is the school schedule designed as effectively as it could be for learning?
  • Are the duration of classes, transition times between classes, advisory time, and lunch time / scope structures appropriately meeting the needs of students?
  • Open up discussions on the demands and expectations placed on students during the school day and also in their personal lives: Understanding the length of the overall 'school day'
  • Encourage discussions on the purpose and role of homework
  • Reminding teachers of the demands of 'having 4-5 different subjects (jobs / classes) per day,' and an extra-curricular activity, and homework of new material
  • Encouraging reflective practice on teaching students and not just subjects

When we started to bounce the idea around on campus with teachers to get their feedback the idea spread VERY rapidly. Many teachers expressed disappointment they couldn't participate in this round and have already asked if they can be included in the next.

Also... MANY students and teachers have been dropping in with ideas to consider for the future... and they are all excellent.

  • Run the experiment for two days
  • Run the experiment for a week
  • Incorporate a 'game day' where an athletic team has a game where the demands of students participating are stretched further
  • Build in a part-time job for a few participants after school
  • Do this again in the Winter... which has a much more chaotic extra-curricular activity schedule

I think we're on to something ; )

We'll be reporting how it all moves along.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Way Things Work

We took a break from our Education Revisited assignment in Tech Research A block class and dove into a recurring assignment here called 'The Way Things Work.'

The mission:

Bring in something that's broken or no longer used, dissect it, discover how it works, repair it (if applicable) and then put it back together, and then tell your peers what you discovered.

On occasion we need some parts to repair things. Makes me wish we had a 3D printer ; )

Discovering how things are manufactured, what's under the hood...

Who knows where those skills could lead.

A broken digital camera, photo printer, and dvd player were our first missions.

Can we fix a digital camera? Erin dives in to find out.

James and Russell explore a DVD player that won't read discs that are slightly scratched.

A printer that won't feed paper? Andrew, David, and Matt begin testing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Innovative Study Projects

Here is a list of innovative projects students in the Research Lab have worked on to date. Each student chooses their own topic, sets their own time frame for the project and all material is archived for future students to use.

Each project must last a minimum of there weeks. Some do two projects per semester. Some do one project per semester. Some extend projects over multiple semesters and even years.

What skills can you learn by immersing yourself in something you love, something you want to pursue? What are the links to writing, research, history, math, science, and professional mentors that can be explored? What will you learn about collaboration, communication, and even learning itself?

3D Design: Unity Engine, Maya, Sculptris
Alternative Energy: Wind, Solar
Amphibious Vehicle Technology
Architecture: Modern Design, Energy Efficiency, Open Housing Project
Audio Editing / Engineering
Aviation: piloting, mechanics
Bass Guitar Engineering
CAD design: Google SketchUp (free) and Pro
Deep Sea Diving
Digital design: Photoshop, Fireworks, GIMP, Paint.Net. Beginning, intermediate, advanced
Digital Photography
Digital Story Telling
Domestic feline behavior
Education: Evolution, Online Ed, Technology, Theory
Equine Technology
Farming Technology
Fashion Design: Process, design, manufacturing
Fish and Game Wildlife Management
Game Conversion
Game Design
Gaming History
Golf Technology
Google Apps
Guitar Design: Pickup replacement
Hiking Technology
History of Computing
History of Sound Recording, Acoustics
Horse / Thoroughbred Management and Nutrition
Humanitarian Relief
Human Intelligence
Hybrid Vehicle Technology
iPhone Technology
iPod Technology
Language Studies: AP French, Italian, German, English
Magnetics: Mag lev propulsion
Mixed Media: Mashups, viral video
Mountain Bike Manufacturing and Design
Movie Making
Movie Technology
Music Genome Project
Myth: Monsters and Legend
Native American Reservation
Networking: Security, Hardware: Routers, Switches, LAN/WAN Design
Observatory Refit
One-to-One Laptop Project: One laptop per student
Operating Systems: Windows (XP, Vista), Apple OSX, Linux, Edubuntu, Fedora
Playing the Piano
PC Hardware
Programming: Ajax, C, C++, Flash, Java, Visual Basic, Visual C
Robotics: Scrap, Vexx
Running Technology
Ski / Snowboard Technology: Manufacturing / Materials
Small Business: LLC, Non-Profits, Taxes, Business Economy in VT vs other States.
Snow Making Technology
Snow Mobile Performance an Modification
Social Media
Sound engineering: Acoustics, recording techniques, principles
Stem Cell Research
Stock Trading: Market Analysis
Stop Motion Animation
Swimming Technology
Survival Technology
Tennis: Racquet construction, restringing, performance analysis
Theatrical Lighting
Typing: 9 words per minute (in a second language) to 85 ; )
Web Development: Basic web page construction, CSS
Welding: MIG / TIG
Wikis: Wikipedia / Collective Knowledge Editing / Contributions

Thursday, May 24, 2012

San Marzano Tomato Sauce Networking

Who says you can't cook in a tech lab?

We tossed together some fresh pasta sauce today in Social Networking class.

Learning to cook... how it effects your health, how it can bring folks together... all worthy goals for learning how to leverage social networking tools.

Here's a summary...

We diced the garlic (showed folks how to peel cloves), and white onion. Chopping ingredients consistently... a finer art

Used two cans of San Marzano tomatoes, and pureed them gently so the sauce had a a thick consistency

In a hot pan we tossed in some extra virgin olive oil and then the garlic and onion. Sauteed until very slightly brown

Added the tomatoes

Brought to a boil, then simmered

Added more garlic, salt, pepper, and about 4 pinches of sugar (it was a very large batch)

Then we added fresh chopped basil

Kept adding here and there, seasoning to taste.

We had to cook the sauce fast. Elapsed time to bring this sauce from start to eating was 40 minutes. Not too shabby.

Charlie Robbins (the BBA kitchen) helped us out by cooking our pasta. We picked it up hot and with some extra virgin olive oil mixed in (keeps it from sticking together).

... and the we ate!

Many folks saw how to make their own fresh pasta sauce for the first time. We fed 16 in class, plus Neil Freeburn, Kevin Morrison, Bill Muench, myself... and a few others... 24 total for $28.01. 

Many thanks again to everyone for making cooking, researching our ingredients on the web while we prepped, and cleaning up a social event too.

Good company and good cooking. A spice of life.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Good tinkering

We're shifting around classrooms here this Summer. I'll be moving down the hall to a room just like this one...

The trick... lay the room out 'as is' or refit? 

I'm guessing it's time for a refit. We need more community discussion and worktable space. Meeting that need though, we may need to drop 'the pods' of computers we've had.

Here's the current layout below, an arc... bit like the bridge of the Enterprise ; ) We move portable tables around the space in the middle to rip into things as needed (not pictured).

We have 20 computers in the room... and there begins the challenge...

It's worked well over the years, but we're craving more community and project space.

Here's one of the layouts we're giving a think...

The layout solves the needs of community conversations and workspace in the middle, and flow of guest speakers. But... its, for lack of a better term, a bit... 'labby.'

The glass coffee table shown in the middle would actually be a work table. The work benches are a needed addition. I'll be writing up a framework for a new course that threads students deeply (at last) into professional development and tech support here at school and the benches are, like everything else in the room, a minimalist approach at meeting those needs. We'd project on the wall behind the desk, and add a giant whiteboard somewhere... we tend to use it a ton to draft ideas in groups.

We're kicking around designs and would love your help. I don't think were thinking deeply enough about it or seeing all our possibilities.

Submit ideas / comments here on the blog, on Facebook, or send messages to me directly. I can also send the Sketchup model too if that helps.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lime chicken tacos w/ fresh salsa

We whipped up some lime chicken tacos with fresh salsa, sour cream, mixed lettuce, fresh cilantro, and fresh lime squeezed on top today in class. We made everything, ate, and cleaned up in class. Easy work with so many contributors!

Cooking, fresh cooking, just takes a bit of planning, prep, some patience and time. Adding in some care, those little details like fresh lime squeezed on top (common in Mexico), and warming the tortillas makes all the difference. We fed 15 today with everyone having seconds for $23.76! We also had a over a half bowl of salsa left over.

Great tinkering for about 55 minutes. Many hands make light work!

Exploring healthy cooking, how to extend it into your life, seeking out new ideas, and getting people involved... a perfect use for social networking tools, and to explore in a Social Networking class.

There's no magic to cooking. It takes effort, time, and patience to build culinary skill.

Tastes good too ; )


-- Posted from batphone

#edchat #education

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Copter tests

Robotics tinkering.

Experimenting with design, engineering, aerodynamics, lift to weight ratio, technical manuals, programming modules, accelerometers... And shipping problems ; )

-- Posted from batphone

Friday, February 10, 2012

Social Media Explained

Saw this one on a few websites today. Pretty accurate site function summary actually ; )

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lab tinkering

3D modeling in Sculptris, some advanced Photoshop work, and dissecting an iPod touch. Just a few things going on in the Lab this morning.

Note: The slideshow has captions... click on the comment icon to activate.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Character Animation: Andrew

Andrew's building on some great work he did in eDesign in the Fall semester with a project in character animation. Here's what he's up to this semester.

post from:

"My name is Andrew Gayda, I am currently doing an independent study for graphic design. Last year I took E-Design and wanted to continue in that same path. I have narrowed down my interests and have chosen to start doing logo design. I really wanted to design cartoon characters on the computer. I figuring that I could incorporate them into my logos. Some people may think that drawing cartoons is immediately drawing the finished product. There are many different steps that help you get that finished product. If you think that I drew this wolf without any steps you are mistaken. I did about 3-4 steps before the wolf was finish. Im going to walk you through what I did. The first step was I found a cartoon character that I liked and began to SKETCH out the shapes of the animal. I put “sketch” in all caps because it does not have to look pretty or anything like your picture. The sketching is just a guide line. Once I got all my shapes matted out I began to go over the sketching but with more detail. I really brought all those crazy lines together into one. That is when you will be able to really see your object. When you go over your outline dont trace those lines, have fun and give it real shape. As you can see on my wolf I didn’t draw a strait line for the back, I curved it and over lapped the lines to give it an arc. Overall it will look a lot better. The third step is all about color. Always do the color after you get the entire body assembled. The color is not as hard as people would imagine. It doesn’t have to been that complex, pick one color for the base. I picked a nice grey, not to light and not to dark. Use the Paint Bucket tool because if you were to draw it on there it would mess up your lines. After you have picked a color, find the darker version of it and lightly paint on the sides of the lines. A tip in doing that is when you use the Magic Wand tool it will highlight the body. After you have dont that turn down the opacity of the brush to about 45%. Paint the sides of your object but not all. The last step is refining your picture. Anything you see that does not look good try to fix it if you can. Some examples of things that I had to fix were color, thick or small lines, and shape. Dont stress in how your picture doesn’t look anything like the picture in the book, make it your own."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA, PIPA and 'The Blackout Protest'

Browse around the internet today and you'll see 'blackout' protests on Wikipedia, Google, Wired, Wordpress, BoingBoing and, so CNN reports, thousands of others.

What's SOPA and PIPA all about?

Good question.

Here's Wikipedia's explanation, and what Google put up today... and I'd encourage you to look at a few others.

I framed up a few discussions on this with a tale about something called 'Act 60' in Vermont education, a 'ready, fire, aim' sort of legislation which many of my long standing friends viewed as, well, let's just say 'less than than stellar.'

SOPA and PIPA as written would have a dramatic impact on the web as we know it. Some support it, some vehemently oppose it, and some are calling for it to be much more refined and by a wider audience before it's goes to vote... hence the 'ready, fire, aim' analogy.

Where do you stand on this?

Interesting questions indeed.