Projects for 2015 AT Class

  • Review daily goals at the start of every class, keep posted at front of room
  • daily goal sheets that groups must fill out at the start of e

Project 1 – Cardboard Tables

Groups must design and test a table made from a limited amount of cardboard and packaging tape. How many books can your table hold?

Goal: the value or prototyping quickly, often, and how to work as a team

Materials: cardboard, tape, lot’s of heavy books

Project 2 – Business Cards & Hipster Glasses

Students create their own business card with logo and personal motto.  The cards are then cut out on 110 lb card stock on the vinyl cutter

Goal: Learn to use design software and vinyl cutter

Equipment: Vinyl Cutter, Inkscape, GIMP (or other online graphics program)

Project 3 – Tangle Free Headphone Holders

This is always a fun one because it’s a shared problem and everyone has their own solution.  Groups prototype and design tangle free headphone holders.  First with paper, then on the computer where they create a 3D model (TinkerCAD or 123D Design) of their final prototype and print it out on our 3D printer.  Groups also create a market plan for their headphone holders and have to make a pitch for their product to the class.  Kickstarter is an amazing resource for real products that demonstrate the process that students go through in this project.  I stopped collecting examples at 20.  The company TurtleCell has a great video describing their product and the story behind it.  They even did a video chat with my class last year.  Hearing from two guys that made a real business out of what my students just finished doing was amazing.

Goals: Prototyping, 3D modeling, 3D printing, Marketing

Equipment: 3D printer, cardboard, tape

Autodesk curriculum

Project 4 – Re-Use/Hack with 3D Printing

Students re-purpose existing things with 3D printing.  Re-invent/invision how things are used.

Skills: Precise measuring, prototyping, brainstorming

Tools: calipers, 3D printer

Project 4 – DIY Gaming Console

This idea seems so obvious I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier.  Last year our two day lesson using the Hour of Code tutorials turned into a 4 day programming party (that or it was going to turn into a mutiny).  I had never used Scratch in my classes before because we would just jump into Processing or Arduino right away.  The Hour of Code tutorials were a god send.  They teach the basics of programming into a fun game.  I had never heard, nor ever will hear my class so quiet and working so intently as they did during those four days.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a follow up planned so we just left it and moved onto Processing and then Arduino.  Well after being reintroduced to the Makey Makey by our guest speaker and Assistive Tech wizard Jason Webb, I knew this was the secret.

Students learn the basics with Hour of Code tutorials, then create a game that uses the Makey Makey as a game controller.  If you’re unfamiliar, see this video about the Makey Makey, it essentially turns anything into a keyboard or mouse.  Students will create an original game and unique gaming controller that goes with it.  It’s another topic where everyone loves games but have their own opinions about what would make a great game.  Students could turn the whole room into a controller with making players run from one side to the other, or turn hovering balloons into buttons they must jump for, or maybe a bobbing for apples game…  I’m excited to see what they come up with.

Goals: Learn programming logic, what it takes to make a fun game, rethink video games and the controller

Equipment: Makey Makey, Computers, Scratch, building materials (wires, tinfoil, plates, etc.)  optional: 3D printer, vinyl cutter

Project 5 – Interactive Suncatcher

The last project before their final assistive tech project is to make an interactive suncatcher.  It’s essentially a tall narrow box with silhouette cutouts on the front and back and filled with electronics.  Students will learn to program the Arduino and wire up basic circuits.  We’ll experiment with different types of sensors (light, motion, sound, etc.) and learn that one simple circuit can have hundreds of different actions based on how its programmed.  They will solder together all of the wires and make a custom design for the front and back of the suncatcher.  I taught an after school class at the Mahtomedi FABLab where students made a Light Trinket.  It was very similar with laser cut wood and acrylic and an Adafruit Trinket controlling the LED strip.  It’s simple, challenging, teaches the basics, and looks awesome.

Goals: Program a microcontroller, see the world as inputs and outputs, circuits, soldering, advanced digital design/Vinyl cutter

Equipment: Arduinos, vinyl cutter, 5V digital RGB LED (adafruit Neopixels), sensors or this link, Inkscape


Final Project

Students meet other students with different disablities and learn about their strengths and what they have trouble doing.  As a class we brainstorm and collaborate on solutions to particular problems.  Students vote on the ideas as a class and then organize around ideas that they would like to work on.  They spend a month inventing the device, write a business plan for it, and deliver the assistive device to the student at the end of the class.


  • Cardboard furniture
    • make durable equipment with layered cardboard and paint/urethane to make structural furniture/equipment
    • Tools:
      • Cardboard, box cutter, cutting pads, white glue, spoon, rulers

3D Printing:

Science Standards: how the traditions and norms of science define the bounds of professional scientific practice and reveal instances of scientific error or misconduct.For example: The use of peer review, publications and presentations. how societal and scientific ethics impact research practices.For example: Research involving human subjects may be conducted only with the informed consent of the subjects. sources of bias and explain how bias might influence the direction of research and the interpretation of data.For example: How funding of research can influence questions studied, procedures used, analysis of data, and communication of results. how changes in scientific knowledge generally occur in incremental steps that include and build on earlier knowledge. how scientific and technological innovations ─as well as new evidence─ can challenge portions of, or entire accepted theories and models including, but not limited to: cell theory, atomic theory, theory of evolution, plate tectonic theory, germ theory of disease, and the big bang theory. a testable hypothesis, design and conduct an experiment to test the hypothesis, analyze the data, consider alternative explanations and draw conclusions supported by evidence from the investigation. the critical assumptions and logic used in a line of reasoning to judge the validity of a claim. primary sources or scientific writings to identify and explain how different types of questions and their associated methodologies are used by scientists for investigations in different disciplines. that engineering designs and products are often continually checked and critiqued for alternatives, risks, costs and benefits, so that subsequent designs are refined and improved.For example: If the price of an essential raw material changes, the product design may need to be changed. that risk analysis is used to determine the potential positive and negative consequences of using a new technology or design, including the evaluation of causes and effects of failures.  For example: Risks and benefits associated with using lithium batteries. and give examples of how, in the design of a device, engineers consider how it is to be manufactured, operated, maintained, replaced and disposed of. a problem and the associated constraints on possible design solutions.For example: Constraints can include time, money, scientific knowledge and available technology. possible solutions to an engineering problem and evaluate them using conceptual, physical and mathematical models to determine the extent to which the solutions meet the design specifications.For example: Develop a prototype to test the quality, efficiency and productivity of a product. a system, including specifications of boundaries and subsystems, relationships to other systems, and identification of inputs and expected outputs.For example: A power plant or ecosystem. properties of a system that are different from those of its parts but appear because of the interaction of those parts. possible careers in science and engineering in terms of education requirements, working practices and rewards., justify and defend the procedures and results of a scientific inquiry or engineering design project using verbal, graphic, quantitative, virtual or written means. how scientific investigations and engineering processes require multi-disciplinary contributions and efforts.For example: Nanotechnology, climate change, agriculture or biotechnology. how technological problems and advances often create a demand for new scientific knowledge, improved mathematics and new technologies. and use appropriate safety procedures, tools, computers and measurement instruments in science and engineering contexts. For example: Consideration of chemical and biological hazards in the lab. and use appropriate numeric, symbolic, pictorial, or graphical representation to communicate scientific ideas, procedures and experimental results.
9P. changes in society that have resulted from significant discoveries and advances in technology in physics. For example: Transistors, generators, radio/television, or microwave ovens.
9P. and calculate the work, power, potential energy and kinetic energy involved in objects moving under the influence of gravity and other mechanical forces.
9P. why currents flow when free charges are placed in an electric field, and how that forms the basis for electric circuits.
9P. and calculate the relationship of current, voltage, resistance and power in series and parallel circuits.For example:  Determine the voltage between two points in a series circuit with two resistors.
9P. how moving electric charges produce magnetic forces and moving magnets produce electric forces.
9P. the interplay of electric and magnetic forces to explain how motors, generators, and transformers work.
9P. the nature of the magnetic and electric fields in a propagating electromagnetic wave.

NGSS Standards:

HS-ETS1-1.Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
HS-ETS1-2.Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
HS-ETS1-3.Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
HS-ETS1-4.Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.
HS-LS2-1.Use mathematical and/or computational representations to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on quantitative analysis and comparison of the relationships among interdependent factors including boundaries, resources, climate, and competition. Examples of mathematical comparisons could include graphs, charts, histograms, and population changes gathered from simulations or historical data sets.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include deriving mathematical equations to make comparisons.]
HS-LS2-2.Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales. [Clarification Statement: Examples of mathematical representations include finding the average, determining trends, and using graphical comparisons of multiple sets of data.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to provided data.]
HS-LS2-6.Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem. [Clarification Statement: Examples of changes in ecosystem conditions could include modest biological or physical changes, such as moderate hunting or a seasonal flood; and extreme changes, such as volcanic eruption or sea level rise.]
HS-LS2-7.Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.* [Clarification Statement: Examples of human activities can include urbanization, building dams, and dissemination of invasive species.]
HS-LS2-8.Evaluate the evidence for the role of group behavior on individual and species’ chances to survive and reproduce.[Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on: (1) distinguishing between group and individual behavior, (2) identifying evidence supporting the outcomes of group behavior, and (3) developing logical and reasonable arguments based on evidence. Examples of group behaviors could include flocking, schooling, herding, and cooperative behaviors such as hunting, migrating, and swarming.]
HS-LS4-6.Create or revise a simulation to test a solution to mitigate adverse impacts of human activity on biodiversity.*[Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on designing solutions for a proposed problem related to threatened or endangered species, or to genetic variation of organisms for multiple species.]
HS-ESS3-1.Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity. [Clarification Statement: Examples of key natural resources include access to fresh water (such as rivers, lakes, and groundwater), regions of fertile soils such as river deltas, and high concentrations of minerals and fossil fuels. Examples of natural hazards can be from interior processes (such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes), surface processes (such as tsunamis, mass wasting and soil erosion), and severe weather (such as hurricanes, floods, and droughts). Examples of the results of changes in climate that can affect populations or drive mass migrations include changes to sea level, regional patterns of temperature and precipitation, and the types of crops and livestock that can be raised.]
HS-ESS3-2.Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.* [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the conservation, recycling, and reuse of resources (such as minerals and metals) where possible, and on minimizing impacts where it is not. Examples include developing best practices for agricultural soil use, mining (for coal, tar sands, and oil shales), and pumping (for petroleum and natural gas). Science knowledge indicates what can happen in natural systems—not what should happen.]
HS-ESS3-3.Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity. [Clarification Statement: Examples of factors that affect the management of natural resources include costs of resource extraction and waste management, per-capita consumption, and the development of new technologies. Examples of factors that affect human sustainability include agricultural efficiency, levels of conservation, and urban planning.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment for computational simulations is limited to using provided multi-parameter programs or constructing simplified spreadsheet calculations.]
HS-ESS3-4.Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.* [Clarification Statement: Examples of data on the impacts of human activities could include the quantities and types of pollutants released, changes to biomass and species diversity, or areal changes in land surface use (such as for urban development, agriculture and livestock, or surface mining). Examples for limiting future impacts could range from local efforts (such as reducing, reusing, and recycling resources) to large-scale geoengineering design solutions (such as altering global temperatures by making large changes to the atmosphere or ocean).]
HS-ESS3-6.Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity. [Clarification Statement: Examples of Earth systems to be considered are the hydrosphere, atmosphere, cryosphere, geosphere, and/or biosphere. An example of the far-reaching impacts from a human activity is how an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide results in an increase in photosynthetic biomass on land and an increase in ocean acidification, with resulting impacts on sea organism health and marine populations.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include running computational representations but is limited to using the published results of scientific computational models.]
HS-PS3-3.Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.* [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on both qualitative and quantitative evaluations of devices. Examples of devices could include Rube Goldberg devices, wind turbines, solar cells, solar ovens, and generators. Examples of constraints could include use of renewable energy forms and efficiency.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment for quantitative evaluations is limited to total output for a given input. Assessment is limited to devices constructed with materials provided to students.]
HS-PS3-4.Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that the transfer of thermal energy when two components of different temperature are combined within a closed system results in a more uniform energy distribution among the components in the system (second law of thermodynamics). [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on analyzing data from student investigations and using mathematical thinking to describe the energy changes both quantitatively and conceptually. Examples of investigations could include mixing liquids at different initial temperatures or adding objects at different temperatures to water.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to investigations based on materials and tools provided to students.]
HS-PS3-5.Develop and use a model of two objects interacting through electric or magnetic fields to illustrate the forces between objects and the changes in energy of the objects due to the interaction. [Clarification Statement: Examples of models could include drawings, diagrams, and texts, such as drawings of what happens when two charges of opposite polarity are near each other.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to systems containing two objects.]