Monday, December 7, 2015

Help Wanted! Someone to Help Teach and Prepare Young Entrepreneurs!

This past May, I received a grant for a 3D printer.  I have to admit, I was both excited and terrified to get the contraption.  While I thought that the implications for this technology for students and their future was profound, I had no prior experience with these machines, and designing things has never really been a strength of mine.  Since then, I have been learning, slowly but surely, about what these machines can do, and I and a few of my students have been able to print off some pretty neat little projects on the thing.  It is a pretty incredible process to see an object being printed, layer-by-layer, from the build plate up to a finished object.  Needless to say, staying productive while it is working is hard!

In the meantime, I have been thinking about ideas and entry projects to get more students into designing and printing on the 3D printer.  I have also thought about ways to make a 3D printing program at Searsport Elementary School more sustainable, so that we are not relying on taxpayers and budgets to buy the filament and supplies that we need (which adds up over time).  It dawned on me that the best way forward was to accomplish both of those things at the same time!  Students could gain valuable, multidisciplinary, real-life experience in creating products on the 3D printer that be sold to others, with the proceeds going toward expanding the "business," buying needed supplies, and pursuing projects of personal interest to them.  Sounds awesome, right?

There's just one problem.

I don't have any experience starting or running a business.

Of course, I would prefer to not allow my personal limitations from keeping a valuable learning experience from taking hold, so this is where I need your help (hence, the help wanted sign)!

My colleague Mrs. Capwell with a sign I 3D printed for
Pirate Literacy Night at SES.  Awesome, right?
I am looking for somebody with experience in business or in starting a business to help my students write a "business plan."  Starting a business usually requires a capital investment or loan of some sort (at least that's what Shark Tank has taught me), and I would like to simulate that process with the students.  I have lined up our school's amazing parent group (Searsport Partners in Education, or PIE) to provide us with some money to buy the supplies that we will need to start our "business."  It will be up to the students to come up with ideas for what they would like to make, and what they think they could sell to make money while respecting copyright laws and patents.  After that, students will need to get an idea of what they want and need for supplies, and at some point, we will need to throw all of that together into a business plan.  I have no idea what that might look like, so I would love whatever help we can get.

Preferably, I would like for someone within the immediate coastal Waldo county area who can visit with our students in-person to help with this project.  However, I can be flexible, and tools like videoconference and Google Docs make it possible for us to work with whoever, wherever.  If you think that you can help me provide this kind of learning for students at Searsport Elementary School, please contact me by email ( or drop by the school.

This is a project that I have been thinking about for awhile.  Please let me know if you can help me make it a reality!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Hour of Code 2015: Bigger and Better Than Ever!

The Hour of Code returns to Searsport Elementary School, starting next week!

The Hour of Code is part of Computer Science Education Week, which runs from December 7 to December 11. Participating classrooms commit to taking at least an hour of time to engaging in activities that introduce computer science and programming concepts like sequences, events, if/then statements, loops, and more. Students can try activities that use visual, block-based programming, like Lightbot for younger students or Scratch for older students, or write actual text-based code in Code Combat or Khan Academy as they solve puzzles, make games for their friends, and try their hand at one of the fastest-growing career fields in the world.

In my experience facilitating Hour of Code activities over the last couple of years, I've noticed very high levels of student engagement that extend beyond the classroom. I've also observed that Hour of Code activities have often become "Weeks" or even "Months" of Code, as students and teachers continue to work on these activities long after CS Ed Week has ended.

I have created a page on the Searsport Elementary School website for the Hour of Code.  On it, you will find various activities for students at all grade and difficulty levels.  You'll also find information on the types of devices these activities will run on (with the exception of Android devices, since we do not have any of those at our school).  These are all activities that can be done at home as well as at school, so parents can take part in the Hour of Code too!