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Friday
7:30AM - 4:00PM

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is a dynamic space that brings together the Windward community to exchange ideas, learn together, and grow. Through the collective talents of faculty and administrators who are teachers, librarians, curriculum specialists, and instructional technology professionals, the CTL enriches teaching, learning, and thinking at Windward.


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Friday
Apr172015

Space travel. Wage sharing. Justin Bieber antics. What's happening at Windward?

Thursday
Apr162015

1st Annual Edible Book Contest 

Tuesday
Apr072015

Making at Windward: Joan and Rich's Blog

Creating a Dress With A Mind of Its Own

You have clothes. You have a laptop and a smartphone. Now, what about a dress with its own ideas about how it should be worn, depending on how you wear it and what the people around you are doing?  Rich and Joan are working with Lyn Hoge of the Performing Arts Department to bring “wearable tech” to Windward.

What is “wearable tech”? There are a lot of different definitions. Some devices, like Google Glass, are really just a computer that people happen to wear. Others, like a Fitbit, are designed to take a specific measurement and tell you about it, like how many steps you took. But suppose you could create a hat that lit up when you turned your head fast, or a pants leg that pulled up if it detected the hem was getting wet?  Or a skirt that has lights that twinkle when you move?

But how does all this work? There are now “sewable” microprocessors, like the Adafruit Flora, which can be programmed like an Arduino (see our last blog entry about those) to control lights and motors.  The Flora can detect the conditions around it by talking to sensors, many of which now also come in “sewable” versions.  The picture shows a Flora controlling a NeoPixel LED, which is three tiny LEDs and control electronics. It can be programmed to create any color light (including white light) from one tiny package.  In this case it is getting power from a USB cable, but ultimately it can be powered with batteries.

The Flora and NeoPixel are talking to each other through conductive thread. You can also get cables that look like a ribbon.

There are now tiny sensors (accelerometers with a compass) that can detect what direction you are going in or whether you have moved suddenly. The clothing you create can react to that by moving something or lighting up. If you combine that with 3D printing, you can make just about anything you can imagine!  We have a pretty cool idea that we are helping Lyn try out. It’s a secret for now, but let’s just say you should keep an eye on any blue evening gowns you see on campus….

Got a project you would like to try out with 3D printing, robots, sensors or other technology? Joan and Rich are both at Windward on Wednesdays and Joan is here one other day a week. Drop by room 425 to see what’s possible. 

 -Joan Horvath is a recovering rocket scientist, and Rich “Whosawhatsis” Cameron is a 3D printing and electronics hacker. Together they have founded Nonscriptum LLC, a consultancy to help educators and scientists use low-cost prototyping technologies. They are also writing books on the subject: next up is “The New Shop Class: Getting Started with 3D Printing, Arduino, and Wearable Tech,” coming from Apress in May.

Friday
Mar132015

Making at Windward: Joan and Rich's Blog

7th Graders Asked to Help Save Southern California's Trees

We often think of “science” as something that is beyond the reach of the average person. However there are now many “citizen science” projects that can involve the public (including 7th graders!) to help out professional scientists.  One area where citizen scientists can really help is to track the spread of invasive species -- plants, or bugs, or animals that are not native to an ecosystem, but get introduced when people or goods travel around the world.

Windward students may be able to help out a group of scientists trying to fight a particularly nasty invasive species - a bug called the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB). “Poly” means “many” and “phagous” means “eat.” It’s (unfortunately) a great name for this beetle, which can chew into many different trees. A female beetle ready to lay eggs bores into a tree, and while she is doing that releases a fungus (Fusarium euwallacea) which then makes it hard for the tree to pump water to its leaves. The tree dies back slowly from the branch tips, frequently eventually dying completely. In its native Southeast Asia, there are other things that keep in it in check. In Southern California, though, it seems to have no natural enemies, and most common ways of dealing with a beetle like this won’t work for one reason or another, so it is spreading fast.

It’s also pretty hard to see. In the beginning there’s just the holes the beetles went into, and sometimes fluid leaking from the tree from the holes. Here is what one Western Sycamore that might be infected looks like.

 

Right now it is very early in the effort to contain the beetle. One thing that scientists want to know is how much it has spread, and what kinds of trees it can live in. They also want to figure out what kinds of things make it more likely to bore into a tree.  Is the drought making trees more vulnerable, and how do we measure that? Do they go from drier areas into damper ones, or cooler ones, or…?

Fortunately, as bugs have spread more easily around the planet, it has gotten easier and cheaper to take data in the field.  Windward students will be learning about how to use an Arduino (pictured below).  Arduinos are small microprocessors that can handle taking data from humidity, temperature, methane and similar sensors. Or an Arduino can monitor a sensor to notice when a bug has fallen into a trap and store the results on an SD card to be picked up later.  

 

Joan explained all this to the 7th graders (after a kind invite from their teachers!) as part of their planning for their Challenge Based Learning projects this spring, in which they are supposed to have a measurable effect on biodiversity.  They will have access to 3D printers, sensors and other things that will let them design experiments to carefully measure aspects of whatever ecosystem they decide to study. And maybe one of them will figure out what an invasive species is doing and help stop it! Stay tuned for later installments about Windward excursions into citizen science.

Want to know more about this invasive beetle?  The official UC Riverside site, with links to lots of resources, can be found here.

Or to see how the bug has been spreading, you can use an interactive map here.

Or you can join an ongoing citizen science observation project yourself here.

Got a project you would like to try out with 3D printing, robots, sensors or other technology? Joan and Rich are both at Windward on Wednesdays and Joan is here one other day a week. Drop by room 425 to see what’s possible. 

-Joan Horvath is a recovering rocket scientist, and Rich “Whosawhatsis” Cameron is a 3D printing and electronics hacker. Together they have founded Nonscriptum LLC, a consultancy to help educators and scientists use low-cost prototyping technologies. They are also writing books on the subject: next up is “The New Shop Class: Getting Started with 3D Printing, Arduino, and Wearable Tech,” coming from Apress in May.

 

Wednesday
Mar042015

Making at Windward: Joan and Rich's Blog

Can a Fish Spot 3D Printed Coral?

Have you wondered what it takes to use a 3D printer, or to make a dress that can move on its own and light up? What about being able to make just about any model for a class, or being able to put a temperature, humidity, or methane sensor out in your yard to understand your local ecosystem?   We have been at Windward for a little while helping people think about how to use these new “maker” technologies, and we will be writing this blog periodically to tell you about cool things Windward faculty and students are doing.

One of the first projects we have been working on is with science teacher Tom Haglund. Tom and his students wanted to know whether fish would be able to tell the difference between real coral and coral that was the same shape, but 3D printed.

Making a 3D print requires three steps: coming up with a 3D model of what you want to create, then “slicing” the model into layers a printer can build up step-by-step, and then finally loading it onto the printer.  

One way to do the first step is by using a 3D scanner to “copy” an existing object, like a piece of coral. Scanners need to illuminate the interior of the structure, so scanning something like a piece of coral can be tricky. If the structure creates shadows on some parts of itself (like a partially-closed hand) the light beam(s) that the scanner uses to capture an image of the surface can’t get to the partially-shadowed structures.  Right now, that requires some patience and manual fiddling to overcome. We helped the Science Department’s lab techs Regina and Glen overcome these obstacles to get some great scans. 

Here's a picture of Regina comparing the original piece with the computer model that is ready to print. 

 

Since the 3D printer starts printing from the bottom and lays up a layer at a time, if part of the coral sticks way out the programs used in the middle step of preparing a 3D print create “support.”  In the picture below you can see some of the full-sized pieces of coral (and their support structure) being built up. 3D prints can take a while (some of these prints took just about a day to print) but fortunately Windward has a lot of capacity and could print three pieces at once.

In the final picture here you can see a mix of printed pieces and original real coral.  Can you tell the difference?  Will the fish be able to?  Stay tuned for our next installment when Tom puts them in his fish tank.

Got a project you would like to try out with 3D printing, robots, sensors or other technology? Joan and Rich are both at Windward on Wednesdays and Joan is here one other day a week. Drop by room 425 to see what’s possible.  

-Joan Horvath is a recovering rocket scientist, and Rich “Whosawhatsis” Cameron is a 3D printing and electronics hacker. Together they have founded Nonscriptum LLC, a consultancy to help educators and scientists use low-cost prototyping technologies. They are also writing books on the subject: next up is “The New Shop Class: Getting Started with 3D Printing, Arduino, and Wearable Tech,” coming from Apress in May.