Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Sensor Makers at the Faire

This Saturday I accompanied two students, Cam and Michael, from Sandwich STEM Academy to the Cape Cod Mini Maker Faire at Mashpee High School.  It was my first time at the event, now in its third year.  I was thoroughly impressed by the number of Makers present and the breadth of their makings.  It was great to see our students represent STEM Academy and myObservatory with their Arduino based weather sensors that they are building for the Scortons Creek Project.

myObservatory purchased the parts for students to build their own sensors.  We are using the experience of our first students to create a teaching and learning module on sensors and data collection.  I visited STEM Academy four times over the last two months to work with students during engineering class.  The two students chosen for this special assignment, Cam and Michael, have thrown themselves into the project whole-heartedly.  They work hard during our visits and are interested in how they can help teach other students how to solder and build sensors.  They both spent their recent April school vacation soldering and coding to prepare for this Faire.

Attending Saturday's event was a milestone for the team.  The boys brought two built sensors with some minor sketch issues to the Maker Faire.  They fixed the original prototype and got it working while they were there.  They shared their experience with visitors stopping by their table.  They even got to look at code with a fellow Arduino fan.  More than anything it was nice to see them blend with all of the other student and adult makers present at the event.

Over the next few weeks the sensors will be installed out at Scortons Creek where they will start collecting weather data.  This data will be uploaded into myObservatory.  It will become a part of the shellfish feasibility study that is being done in collaboration with the Sandwich Department of Natural Resources and the STEM Academy.  I look forward to sharing myObservatory with the entire 8th grade later in May.  Hopefully by then we will have some data collected by sensors built by the students' classmates.

It is great to watch the process of Michael and Cam's build.  Listening to them work together and watching their constructive learning experience is a teachers dream!  I feel lucky to have the opportunity to work with such talented and motivated students.  I have learned so much from watching them...I almost feel like I could build a sensor myself (*almost*). This is community-based, project-based, inquiry-based learning at its best!

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