SchoolArts Magazine

MAY 2019

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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1. Ask After dismantling their products, students were set with the task of considering how the parts could be used to design a robot of the future. Students needed to ask themselves what kind of problem they might foresee being solved by a robot. I stressed the importance of consid - ering the problem first and then thinking about how this machine could help solve that problem. 2. Imagine Students described the specific func- tion the robot would be designed to fill. During this process, students discussed possible functions with other members of their group. These discussions were rich in higher-order thinking and problem-solving. 3. Plan The design was to be planned out in students' sketchbooks by look- ing at the parts prior to assembling. Students had to share their proposals with me before proceeding, so I could ensure that they were using this vital step of the design process. 4. Create I created two different supply stations in the classroom. One station held the tools, wires, safety goggles, screws, and disposable gloves. Another station provided a place for the wireless glue guns to be charged. I kept the glue gun on my desk, so I could remind students of the necessary precautions to take before they used it. Students also had access to a stor- age closet full of found objects and embellishments. Some students were "purists" when it came to creating their robots and enjoyed the chal- lenge of only using parts taken from As we educate these future dreamers, thinkers, and doers, we need to be open to new ideas and dream up new wa s to get them to think, plan, and make. computers. Some students exchanged parts with one another. During the creation process, students took own- ership of their designs, and as the robot began to emerge, they interacted with the "personality" of the robot. 5. Improve As students began the assembling, they encountered new problems to solve. Attachments were made The plan that evolved was for students to design nonmechani - cal Steampunk-inspired robots by assembling these parts in a new way. I didn't have enough parts for all of the students in my seventh-grade class, so I contacted our tech support department with a request for any broken computers that might be tak - ing up space in storage. When I was ushered to a storage room where the broken computers wait to be shipped off for recycling, I felt a bit like a kid in a candy store. I selected enough monitors, laptops, and modules for students to have a field day taking them apart and discovering what goes on inside something they use every day. Safety First Before allowing students to take apart the computers, I asked the tech spe- cialists if there were any precautions we should take, especially with the capacitors. I was assured that these computers had been inactive long enough so that there was no danger. I did some further research and found that precautions should also be con- sidered in cutting into the mother- board because it is made of fiberglass. I decided if any cuts were to be made in those components, I would ask stu- dents to mark where they wanted cuts and I would do the cutting. Dismantling The dismantling took about a week of class time, but it was well spent. During this process, students learned the importance of having the right tool for the right purpose and the importance of taking care of those tools. As students learned the difference between a Phillips head and flat head, wire snips and pliers, they also saw the delicacies of how the inside of the machines were designed. "Mrs. Weintraub, this motherboard looks like a city!" one student told me. An Engineering Design Module We began by reviewing the five steps in the engineering design process and relating them to our robot project. 16 MAY 2019 SchoolArts

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