First Grade Force and Motion in the Makerspace

Students in first grade at both Glenvar and Oak Grove used the Makerspace to build hands-on knowledge of force and motion.  They rotated through six centers to investigate and understand Science SOL 1.2:  The student will investigate and understand that moving objects exhibit different kinds of motion. Key concepts include a) objects may have straight, circular, and back-and-forth motions; b) objects may vibrate and produce sound; and c) pushes or pulls can change the movement of an object that moving objects exhibit different kinds of motion.

Maker Center Planning Sheet and Student Reflection

Center 1: Spinning Tops — Circular motion and elapsed time

Prompt: Make a spinning top.  How long does it spin?

Center 2: Air Tube

Make something that will fly.

Center 3: Zipline – pushes and pulls/ straight and circular motion

Design a car that can carry a toy dragon across the room on a zipline.  Explore ways to make the car move smoother and faster.


Center 4: Musical Instrument – Vibration

Create a musical instrument with rubber bands.  Find ways to include higher and lower pitched notes on your instrument.

Center 5:  Racetracks

Build a racetrack.  Experiment with different types of cars, marbles, and balls.  Which ones go faster?  Slower?  Why?

Center 6: Robots On the Move

Make Dash the Robot Move!

 Cross Posted at the Learning Collaboratory.


I’ve been playing around with the app, Tinkerplay.  I started with my MakerMonday group of students and successfully printed one to the delight of the child who made it!

Then students in our FACES Special Education class designed characters during their Makerspace time.

Finally, I brought in a class of 22 third graders who are reading The Indian and Cupboard.  They designed action figures to place in the cupboard.


From those three trials, here’s what I’ve learned.

  • The smaller the scale, the easier it is for the action figures to break.  I found 75% was perfect.
  • Students can easily be given parameters to keep their figures from getting out of hand.  In the beginning, I had one action figure with 75 pieces!  I limited students on the amount of filament (grams) and the estimated print time.  They had no problem with this.
  • Saving is a bit complicated.  I attached Tinkerplay to our school dropbox account and saved to there.  I found that it automatically named the file with a number based on the time of day it was saved.  That meant, theoretically, if I didn’t clear out the folder before a group began saving the next day, things could get messy.  I also found that it was important to stagger saving so that people didn’t save on top of each other.  One save per minute.  I showed the students how to find the file name after it had saved so they could write it down.  It made it much easier to know whose was whose later.
  • Taking a picture of the finished creation helped students put them together when printing was finished.


Mouse Traps with 3rd Graders

Mrs. Weikle’s class, with the help of Mr. Clark, visited the Makerspace for a STEM activity. They created Mouse Traps that contained at least one simple machine and one 3D shapes. Then they used Pic Collage to display their creations. Take look below!

Take a look at a few of their traps in action!

 Cross posted at Oak Grove Digital Archive.

Kicking Machine with a Tech Twist-VCEC15

kicking machine

Lynda Graves and I presented at the Virginia Children’s Engineering Convention. Here is our Kicking Machine presentation:

Kicking Machine Video from elemitrt on Vimeo.

Here are our handouts:
Design Brief

Cross posted at

Conversations with Characters

Mrs. Barger’s class has been reading Howliday Inn and Blood on the Water.  They designed a 3D model of a character from one of the books, then used the app Chatterpix to animate their characters.  Take a listen below!


Chester from elemitrt on Vimeo.

Harold from elemitrt on Vimeo.

Jill from elemitrt on Vimeo.

Harold from elemitrt on Vimeo.

Harrison from elemitrt on Vimeo.

Chester from elemitrt on Vimeo.

First Grade Pigs and Wolves

First graders in Mrs. Mitchell’s and Mrs. Glowczynski’s classes read the Three Little Pigs. The teachers had students create adorable pigs and wolves. Then, we brought them to life using ChatterPix! The project challenged their Children’s Engineering skills as they created their characters, their writing skills as they wrote their scripts, and their oral language skills as they recorded their writing. Take a listen below!

VASCD Presentations

Meg Swecker and I presented at VASCD on Augmented Reality. Here’s our presentation:

You can download other files from our presentation here:
VASCD AR Dropbox Folder

Alisa Downey and I presented at VASCD on STEM and PBL in the Differentiated Classroom. Here’s our presentation:

You can check out our blog here:
STEM Crazy Teachers

Spookely STEM Project


Kindergarteners in Mrs. Kelley’s class created pumpkins (with moving parts) after listening to the story, Spookley the Square Pumpkin.   Then students used the app, Story Kit, to take their own picture and record their voices naming and describing their pumpkin.

Their final creations are below!  Turn up your volume and take a listen!

Table 1

Table 2

Table 3

Table 4