In the past 9 months, my school has been fortunate enough to gain access to many different tools and opportunities including Sphero balls, a makeymakey, 3D printers, Osmo, littleBits, and Snap Circuits. No, there is no endless budget that I am allotted.
We have gained these tools by me simply asking.
I felt passionate that these items would enhance the learning opportunities at Brooklyn, so I asked. I had nothing to lose.
My journey all started with Karie Huttner and a Discovery Education PD day. Karie introduced me to 3D printing and how she was using it with her students. I was so intrigued. Then, I went to EdCamp Madison and learned that there was a company called Printrbot with an ambassador program that allowed a school to gain a 3D printer for $400!
At the same time, I wrote a grant to the Oregon Education Foundation for $1800 to get a Cube printer package. After this was granted, I inquired with our PTO about investing in the $400 printrbot also. If you know anything about 3D printing, it takes some time to print your product. So, having more than one could be handy. :)
I had one Sphero ball, purchased by my technology director, Jon Tanner. I thought that it had great potential for coding and classroom use. So, I also put a class set (12) on the PTO wishlist. Our PTO is so generous. They granted both requests.
So, it's February/March and I have now been granted two 3D printers and a fleet of Sphero balls! WooHoo! How was I going to start sharing these with students??
That is where coding club came in. One lunch recess every week, I offered time for 3rd and 4th graders to come down to the lab and explore. They were hooked! We played tag and drove obstacle courses with the Sphero balls, learned about the x,y, and z axis while creating our own 3D creations, and just enjoyed coding! When this year began, I had many students asking when coding club was going to start back up. I am excited to know that they enjoy it so much!
This summer, I read a great book on Makerspaces, given to me by Naomi Harm. Worlds of Making: Best Practice for Establishing a Makerspace at your School by Laura Fleming is a quick, inspiring read. I was so inspired, that I decided to give Donor's Choose a shot. I did a Donor's Choose page for 4 sets of littleBits. I thought adding a littleBits bar to our growing makerspace would be vital. My page sat for awhile and a few of my friends donated a bit. I wasn't sure that it was going to be funded, and I was ok with that. All of a sudden, I got an email that a wonderful donor had donated the rest of the money and I got to order some littleBits for Brooklyn!
I was pretty excited about the littleBits, however, I was also waiting on a grant that I wrote in May to the Technology Education Foundation (Berbee Derby). September came and went. I kept checking my spam, just in case an email from them had gotten lost. During the time, I had already had several rejections from other grants I had written, so I was just waiting...
One morning, I checked my mailbox and found a letter from TEC. The rejection! I was feeling pretty bummed, but when I opened them envelope, to my surprise, a check for $2000.00 fell out! Brooklyn is getting 3D pens! Thank you Berbee Derby/Technology Education Foundation! My request was for 3D doodlers, however, they don't recommend those for students under 14. So, I did some research and found the Creopop pen which works with UV light and is much safer for my learners. The order has been placed and I eagerly await their arrival!
Today, I just found out that we will also be getting Dash and Dot for our makerspace. Funded graciously by our Brooklyn PTO. :)
This is not a journey that I have traveled alone. I have had so many great people inspire and support me. I am also lucky to work in an environment that is supportive of innovation and the flexibility to allow our students to explore and learn in different ways.
If there is anything that I can take away from the past few months, it would be -don't be afraid to ask. The worst answer would be no, but , what if the answer is yes?