muse: n. a source of inspiration

Using 3D Printing to Foster Students’ Creativity, Collaboration and Design Skills

“I’m working on a design for the Apple Pencil holder.”

“I need to print a poster that I designed.”

“We’re designing logos for the Israel Experience trip.”

This is what I hear as my 6th, 7th and 8th grade students gather in our new Innovation Studio for their innovation exploration specials. They can’t wait to spend time learning how to use the new iPad Pros with Apple Pencils, GoPro cameras and green screen, poster printer and electronic paper cutter, and especially the 3D printer.


While the tech staff had experimented quite a bit with 3D printing over the summer, we had only worked with designs that were sourced ready-to-print. When I created “Innovation Go,” a game designed to teach my colleagues about the new innovation studio during faculty planning week, my tech colleagues assisted by finding and printing various Pokémon Go characters for prizes. That was easy—designing and printing our first “from scratch” project has certainly proven to be much more of an interesting challenge.


Our first student-designed project is most definitely an ambitious one. We discovered right away that the Apple Pencil styluses are really cool but cumbersome to store when being charged. They kind of look like an electronic octopus, and it’s been difficult to keep them organized. So my Innovation Studio co-teacher and I posed the challenge to our 7th and 8th grade students: could they design and print an attractive, functional holder?



The 20 Pencil mess…

One of my 8th graders rose to the challenge. He began by using 123D Print to design a holder. After spending a couple days (and evenings) working on his design, we were ready to print our first project. We were shocked at the length of time that it took to print! 7th and 8th graders regularly popped into the Innovation Studio on their way to other classes to check on the progress, peering into the 3D printer to watch the tiny thread of filament build the object.

Three days later, when we returned from the Labor Day weekend, we found a beautiful, structurally sound, perfectly printed Apple Pencil holder. It was everything we hoped it would be…except it was too tight for the Apple Pencils to fit properly!

My students aren’t daunted in the least. We explained to the class that this is simply the first step in learning how to engineer. One 8th grader led the class in a spirited discussion of the process, including what worked and how we can improve on our design and building skills. The students debated important questions like how we can better test designs before committing hours of printing time and how we can avoid the 3D printer having to create wasteful supporting structures. Having seen a design go from an iPad Pro screen to an actual item that you could hold was powerful, and we could not have had the discussion before we had actually gone through that process.

We explained to the students what going “back to the drawing board” really means, – and off they went!


In the meantime, these 6th, 7th and 8th grade students are learning how to use the iPad Pros to design for the 3D printer, and we’re excited to see their ideas coming to fruition. We’re carefully planning how to test, test and test before printing, and how to continue to build on what we’ve learned to ensure future successes. Stay tuned for updates on our design and manufacturing processes as we continue to collaborate and innovate our way to 3D printing success.

Cross-posted from Solomon Schechter of Metropolitan Chicago

September 18, 2016 Posted by | iPads, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Jacob Richman has created a really nice three-year Jewish calendar which you can access here.

Here’s a Hebrew keyboard that you can download for your iPhone or iPad. Why another Hebrew keyboard? Simply long press any key to access nikudot! This is very cool!

Snapstouch is a cool website where you can convert photos to sketches, paintings, drawings or single shade images. Check it out!

September 2, 2016 Posted by | Links You'll Love, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

“Rainy days and Mondays always get me down…” Ahhh – spring is near, and that means rainy recess and squirmy kids! I just wanted to remind you about the fabulous website GoNoodle, which features brief videos to get your students moving.

Shoutout to the folks at PosterMyWall. I had some concerns about how the website performs on iPads and reached out to their tech support. They responded immediately, and sent me some tips on how to use the website to our best advantage on an iPad. Impressive response!

Were you aware that there’s an election going on? Newsela has a site where you can set up a class account, access articles about the primaries, and your students can vote.

If you’re using Google Slides, you’ll want to check out these great tips for a powerful presentation.

Here’s a great video to share with your students to help visualize the world population.

How has technology changed campaigning for president? This article talks about the increasing impact of data, the Internet and smartphones.

March 18, 2016 Posted by | Links You'll Love, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Why go 1:1?

One of my professional goals is to determine our course of action regarding a 1:1 initiative. We began this year with 3rd and 4th grades after a pilot of sorts last year with increased accessibility in 3rd grade. Each of the students in those grades has access this year to an iPad all day, regardless of class. The iPads stay in school.

This year we’re piloting using iPads in language arts in 5th grade. Week one brought the question of “where’s spellcheck in the Docs app?”

We’re also dealing with the issue of sharing iPads in 5th grade, since there are two carts for four sections. Students have to remember (and their teachers have to remember to tell them) to log out of the Docs app at the end of each session and to make sure they’re the one logged in at the beginning. It no doubt is cumbersome for the teachers, and I’m sure chaos will ensue at some point when that procedure isn’t followed.

So I started thinking about my own digital life.

I am not 1:1. I’m more like 3:1, with laptop, iPad and iPhone as my 3. I instinctively move from device to device, choosing the device based on the task I need to perform. If I need to do heavy word processing I reach for my laptop. If the laptop isn’t available (or, more likely, in the dining room and I don’t want to get up off the couch to retrieve it), the iPad is a suitable stand in, but only as a second choice. On the other hand, there are definitely things for which the iPad is better suited, like quick movie making. Apps like Show Me or Explain Everything are much more useful for video tutorials and much faster to use.

Is 1:1, defined as one specific device per child, realistic? Or does it make more sense to define 1:1 as the ratio of total devices available to the total student body as a 1:1 ratio, without assigning specific device to specific children?

September 2, 2014 Posted by | Mobile devices and apps, Technology, Thinking | , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love 9/13/13

The good folks at Edutopia have a great article on primary source documents and how to find them. Millions of images from Life Magazine? I’m in! Check it out!

Shoutout to my colleague Natalie for finding this fun YouTube video about kindergartners and how they created movies using the iPad about butterflies.

If you’re interested in learning how to use iMovie for the iPad, check out KQED’s video tutorial. What a great resource!

Here’s a lengthy but thought provoking read on “Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught?” The name says it all. You can read it here.

I love, love, love this article about a real life physics teachers who uses iTunes U to create courses for his students. He’s really pushing the envelope on integrating technology! Oh, and by the way, he’s my colleague Hallie’s son-in-law. Read more here.

September 13, 2013 Posted by | Links You'll Love | , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Want to explore using iPads in class? Check out our newly created wiki.

JEDcamp is coming to SSDS and we couldn’t be more excited! Check out our website and “like” us on Facebook. Click here for more info about the JEDcamp movement.

You know that I’m a proponent of teaching kids from a young age that you should always use copyright-free images from the web (just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s okay to use). Here’s a great article with lots of resources for finding public domain images.

I know everybody in my school would have been delighted if we could have given each class a dedicated set of iPads, but, alas, that’s not possible. Sometimes, though, sharing is just fine. Ed blogger Royan Lee posts here  about how he manages iPad sharing in class.

More on exploring mobile learning – in this Edutopia five-minute film festival there are videos about how educators are embracing mobile devices in the classroom.

We all knew this anyway… but here’s a nice article about the impact music learning has on higher test scores.

App worth watching: I’m intrigued by the TouchCast app – a free app that lets you create iPad presentations that integrate video, Twitter feeds and more. Check out their intro video here.

August 30, 2013 Posted by | Links You'll Love | , , | Leave a comment

Livebinder it bookmarklet for the iPad…

I love Livebinders. I love using it to organize papers and staff PD. The good folks over there have this tip for adding to a Livebinder from your iPad:

Adding “LiveBinder It” Bookmarklet to an iPad

There are two ways to add “LiveBinder It” to the iPad. One is to add it on to Safari on your Mac and then sync your bookmarks with the iPad. Here is an explanation of how to sync your bookmarks from your Mac to your iPad.

The second option isn’t easy, but it will add the LiveBinder It feature to your iPad. Hopefully Apple will soon come out with a better way to add bookmarklets!

In Safari, click on the square with the arrow icon at the top of your browser
Click on the “Add Bookmark”
For the name, type in “Livebinder It”
Click on “Save”
Click on the bookmark icon
Click on “Edit” in the top right corner of the bookmarks menu
Click on the “LiveBinder It” bookmark
Under “LiveBinder It”, cut and paste the following:‘’+encodeURIComponent(location.href)+’&description=’+encodeURIComponent(document.title),’LiveBinders’,%20’scrollbars=0,status=0,resizable=1,location=0,toolbar=0,width=850,height=700′);(function(){setTimeout(‘w.focus()’,1000);})();

Click on “Done” on the keyboard.
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February 9, 2013 Posted by | Hot tip | , , , | Leave a comment

Thursday hot tip

Buy a couple iPad stands. Once you have them you’ll find dozens of ways to use them. For our yearbook this year we took iPad photos of the graduates’ baby photos rather than scanning them. It was much faster and the quality was great. My teachers use them in class as document cameras, too. We bought the Justand brand – they’re really durable and versatile.

Here’s a video from the company:

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Technology | , , | Leave a comment

Looking for iPad apps for Jewish educators?

Check out this Google spreadsheet – lots of apps for Jewish educators. Nicely done!

February 6, 2013 Posted by | Mobile devices and apps | , , , , | 4 Comments

Thursday hot tip!

We’re fortunate enough to have a number of iPads, which are centrally managed by our IT department. That’s great, except for when we have special projects that require the students to access specific websites. It’s too time consuming to have our IT department add web links for a short project (and, let’s face it, it’s entirely likely that we need those links available pretty quickly – too quickly to go through IT). Rather than worry about getting the web links on the iPads, we just generate QR codes for them and have the kids use the QR code reader on the iPad to get to the site. It seems obvious, now that I’ve written it out, but it, um, took us a while to figure that out.

January 31, 2013 Posted by | Hot tip, QR Codes | , | Leave a comment

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