Our Maker Mission

Semester two has just begun and the die-hard Help Desk students who have returned for another round are beginning to investigate new concepts and potential projects. Myself and senior Mira Mehdi‘s main project for this semester is the creation of BHS’s first ever Makerspace. As of right now we have the space for the room and just ordered a Makerbot 3D printer which will be the first piece of equipment we add to the space. Our Makerspace is going to be in the room located right next to HelpDesk in the library and this entire project is student driven. The students of Help Desk have been given the freedom to both explore the potential of the room, design it, and collaborate with our teacher to clearly define the mission and purpose of the space. Our plan is to use Google SketchUp to design the room and then work from our drawing to order and construct everything inside it. We hope that by the end of this year we can have a pre-grand opening and next year, new Help Desk students can finish the job and prepare for an official grand opening.

So what are our goals for the Makerspace?

Makerspace logo designed by junior Timmy Sullivan

Makerspace logo designed by junior Timmy Sullivan

Before the end of this semester, our hope is to have the 3D printer installed and functioning, as well as a green screen and Google Glass. If all of these are accomplished before the semester is over we hope to begin working on the implementation of a Minecraft workshop and explore the potential of Makey Makey Kits.  We are also going to use the artwork of BHS students, posters made by Help Desk students with Google Drawings or notability or decorations we find at stores (Ikea here we come!) to give the place some life and color. We feel as though the design of the room is important because that is the aspect of the room that will capture interest and draw people in. We are even contemplating adding a coffee machine into the Makerspace because nothing draws sleepy teenagers into a room faster than caffeine!

Where are we getting our inspiration?

Notability drawing by junior Timmy Sullivan

Notability drawing by junior Timmy Sullivan

My teacher, Instructional Technology Specialist Jennifer Scheffer has connected with and been inspired by many teachers who have successfully implemented Makerspaces into their schools and is the driving force behind this project. I have been constantly referencing the blogs of Laura Fleming and Diane Rendina and recommend both as examples of what a Makerspace should look like and how it should be used in a school system.  A video on the fascinating and creativity invoking Makey Makey kits can be found here and images of our Makerspace inspiration can be seen below.

Diane Rendina's Makerspace

Diane Rendina’s Makerspace plan

Diane Rendina's Makerspace final

Diane Rendina’s Makerspace final

What is the benefit to a Makerspace at BHS? 

We anticipate that a Makerspace at Burlington High School will be extremely beneficial. The activities available in the Makerspace will promote the creativity in BHS students as well as encourage collaboration amongst peers. Not only do the Help Desk students have free reign over the development of the space in terms of design and equipment but we will also play a major role in the Makerspace itself as we plan to instruct and work alongside our friends and classmates so that the entire space is student run. We hope there is a balance in the Makerspace between students exhibiting creative freedom and exhibiting a desire to learn from their peers who already understand the equipment and the purpose of the space.

Below are images which show what our space looks like now. It’s small, but we think it has lots of potential. Our mission for the upcoming weeks will be to take out all of the furniture that is in there now, design the room the way we want in with Google SketchUp and then order and install that furniture. Continue to check my blog and the blog of the BHS Help Desk for updates on our Maker Mission and stay tuned for the opening of our first ever Makerspace later this year.

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Presenting, Public Speaking, Podcasts, and More: An Educon Reflection

It has been quite the weekend. It’s hard to believe that myself, Mrs. Scheffer, Mira, Kelsey and Kristin accomplished so much in less than 48 hours.

For those that were unaware, the four female members of the Help Desk at Burlington High School and our female teacher Jenn Scheffer drove down to IMG_1995the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia to present at the national education conference known as Educon. Our presentation was titled Closing the Gender Gap in Innovation: Engaging Girls in STEM and we discussed with a fairly large crowd both our research regarding the gender gap and STEM education as well as our personal experiences as female students participating in STEM classes. We were the first presentation on Saturday morning and I can honestly say I feel as though we set the bar high for the sessions following after us in the conference.

Photo via @andycinek

Photo via @andycinek

Unfortunately, our session was not one of the few that were live streamed but the slides from our presentation can be viewed here. One of the coolest things about our presentation was how engaged our audience was. We actually didn’t even get through the entirety of our presentation because everyone was so engaged and kept asking questions and introducing new topics for discussion. Our slideshow was shared with all of the attendees and I find it awesome that even as I log onto it at 10:30 pm to link it to my blog post there are three people scrolling through the slides. It really goes to show that there was genuine substance behind our presentation, so much so that even days later people are returning to our slides to relive it. It’s also very cool to me the amount of people who shared images and comments of our slides to their social media sites. I’ll share a few below but if they spark your interest, I’ve retweeted all of them on my twitter account @cathoyt_.

We even went to get pizza after our presentation and there was a group of Educon attendees sitting at a table discussing presentations and one of them said “Hey those are the girls I was just talking about” when we walked in. We truly felt like rockstars.

We also got the very cool experience to participate in a podcast with Joe Mazza
(@Joe_Mazza) from PennGSE to talk about our experience as members of Help Desk as well as our experience speaking at a national conference. The podcast is also directed IMG_2025-1towards administrators, so we got the chance to share our opinions on the requirements of people in leadership positions interested in implementing a program similar to ours. If you weren’t already intrigued, there is some bad singing involved in the podcast which may be worth checking out. You can listen to all of it here. To the right is one of many selfies taken in the recording studio.

All in all, it has been an incredible weekend and I couldn’t be more grateful to have gotten the chance to participate and share alongside such innovative minds. As a student, I can confidently ascertain that it’s experiences like these that we remember forever because there is no better feeling than when you are truly making a difference and inspiring others by way of action.

IMG_2041P.S. Voting for the Follett Challenge closes at midnight on January 30th!! Remember to vote every day via email or Facebook by following this link: http://www.follettchallenge.com/video.cfm?id=545

’till next time Philly, it’s been real.

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VOTE BURLINGTON FOR THE FOLLETT CHALLENGE!

Today’s the day! (Well, this week is the week!)

It’s finally Monday, January 19th which means today is the first day that voting is open for the Follett Challenge! The ten videos which receive the most votes win $8,000 and the score for the semifinalist and grand prize winners which are $30,00 are partially based of the video voting as well. My promotional video titled “Burlington High School Help Desk” is found HERE and all you need to vote for it is to select either Vote with Facebook or Vote with Email. You can also find the video by going to the Follett Challenge webpage and searching key words such as “real world” or “help desk” in the search bar. You can vote once a day, every day for the next twelve days and I strongly encourage you to do so!

I would like to remind everyone of the purpose of the Follett Challenge. Follett’s goal was to provide educators with opportunities to receive publicity and recognition for the unique programs and accomplishments being implemented in their school systems. Upon submissions of the videos, Follett encourages those who have submitted videos to promote their video excessively. Their reasoning for this is because regardless of wether a submission were to win or not, the program would have received global recognition. That being said, I am quite competitive and would really like to win, SO at the risk of sounding like a broken record I encourage you to share these images, send out tweets, Facebook statuses, chain emails, and anything that will get the word out to the Burlington Community. It’s just as easy as one click so let’s come together as a team Burlington and win some money (and some bragging rights) for our schools!

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The link to my post about my video entry in the Follett Challenge is found here. Check it out for more information!

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“Help Desk is Not a Real World Simulation, Help Desk is the Real World”

As of today 2/3rd’s of my Help Desk Individual Learning Endeavor is completed. I recently completed my video entry for the Follett Challenge after two months of taping, editing and re-editing and I am very proud of the results. To put it briefly, the Follett Challenge is a contest structured so that even if you do not win the contest you have broadcasted your program to the world and received global recognition. The video I have created is a promotional video for the Burlington High School Help Desk and it explains what the program is, what it does, it’s benefits to the school and district and the innovative ways in which we integrate technology. The video is embedded below.

Additionally, 5 essays were required upon submission of the video to the Follett Challenge to provide Follett with a description of the program, the objectives and outcomes of the program, the methods, strategies and action steps, a discussion of previous approaches and an endorsement statement. The essays were written by myself, Mrs. Scheffer and Mr. Larkin and links to each of them are below.

Program Description: (By Cat Hoyt)

Objectives/Outcomes: (By Cat Hoyt)

Methods/Strategies and Action Steps: (By Jennifer Scheffer)

Discussion of Previous Approach: (By Jennifer Scheffer)

Endorsement: (By Patrick Larkin)

So now that you know what the challenge is and what I have submitted, I would very greatly appreciate your vote. The winner of the Follett Challenge is picked partially based off of the reviews of judges and partially based off of the amount of votes it gets on the Follett Challenge webpage. Voting takes place between January 19th through the 30th and you can vote more than once. All I ask is one vote per day and you could be putting BHS one step closer to winning our share of $200,000 which is either $30,000 for the Grand and Semifinalist Prizes or $8,000 for a People’s Choice Video Winner. So PLEASE vote for BHS and the Help Desk every day from January 19th through the 30th!

To encourage others to vote for us spread the word! Send out tweets reminding people to vote for us or share these images to your social media sites. Thank you in advance and happy voting!

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Weekly Reflection 1/5/15 – 1/9/15 (Seventeenth Week)

This week I finished my entry for the Follett Challenge as the second part of my three part ILE project. I was already very pleased with the results of my video before I went to school but the feedback I received from the people who watched it in school boosted my pride even higher. Having a teacher tear up because they are so proud of you and blown away by your work is an incredible feeling and speaks towards the unbelievable confidence the teachers at Burlington High School have in their students abilities to achieve greatness.

I showed the video to members of the IT department, members of BHS administration, all students taking the digital literacy class and more. I also tweeted the link out and had people coming up to me all throughout the week telling me how awesome they thought the video was.

The difference between Help Desk and other classes is how public everything is. You would never expect to see your English Term Paper plastered all over the internet, whereas virtually everything completed in Help Desk is posted to the globally recognized Help Desk blog, personal blogs, Burlington Public School’s blog, twitter and more. Many students would crack under the pressure of having all of their work sent out to be criticized by anyone who comes across it. The unique thing about Help Desk students is that they are more than aware of the impression they have on our community and not only do they not crack under the pressure but they thrive under it.

If you missed my video please check it out below:

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Hour of Code Reflection: Challenging the Way You Think

This week millions of students and teachers alike logged into the Hour of Code website and completed several coding tutorials. The concept behind that was that by encouraging participation in just one hour of coding we not only demystify what this scary “coding” thing is but also teach that virtually anyone can do it. Burlington Public Schools decided to join in on the movement and encourage participation in ‘The Largest Education Event in History” during Computer Science Week from December 8th through December 14th. The link to the BHS smore for Hour of Code can be found here. Students and teachers were encouraged to tweet out images of themselves or their classes taking part in the coding tutorials this week and all of those tweets can be found through the #hourofcode twitter hashtag

The Hour of Code tutorials that I participated in were Course 4: Stage 1: Tangrams, Stage 2: Maze and Bee, Stage 3: Artist, Stage 7: Play Lab: Variables and Flappy Code. I started out with Flappy Code because I’ve played the game before and thought it would be fun to work on the mechanics of it and after I had finished I wanted to challenge myself more so I chose different parts of the Stage 4 exercises. I used my Mac to complete each of the tutorials because I had heard that there were some restrictions on the iPad and I wanted to have as many options as possible.

I found some of the final levels of each stage in Course 4 to be challenging. I enjoyed how the games I was playing and creating seemed childish but when you began to get into the mechanics of how even the simplest of games function it was challenging even for me. Looking at each problem I would instantly think “Oh that’s easy” and would end up being stumped on it for ten or fifteen minutes because it was making me think in a way I wasn’t used to. I found the instructions for my tutorials specifically to be very helpful. Being the kind of person who skips past instructions and tries to figure things out for myself, whenever I was stuck on a level I would go back and review the instructions and I would instantly understand.

I also got the chance to assist Mrs. Chang’s class in their participation of Hour of Code. It was really cool to watch how tentative all the students were going into the tutorials and how reluctant they were to log out at the end of the period. In fact, the bell rang and every single student had made a premeditated movement to pack up or log out. Just goes to show that the world of Computer Science isn’t that scary after all.

Having completed Hour of Code I don’t know if I would say I am more interested in exploring the field of Computer Science as much as I would say I am interested in exploring the ways that Computer Science and coding can develop me as a student and the way in which I learn. I think that being given the chance to participate in Hour of Code has allowed me to use my brain and think in ways that I never have before and that participating in this experience can be beneficial to students and teachers alike because it promotes new styles of critical thinking that can be applied in many situations aside from the field of Computer Science.

All I have to say to future participants of the Hour of Code is Challenge Yourself! Find a tutorial that is interesting to you or seems manageable to get yourself comfortable with the concept but then begin to choose ones that seem difficult or interesting or unique. The experience is what you make it. If you go in there and pick the easy ones just to get it done you wont learn anything and you probably wont enjoy yourself. If you challenge yourself, there is a sense of accomplishment upon finishing and that cheesy digital completion certificate is more rewarding than you might think!

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Hour of Code Certificate of Completion

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12/1 Individual Learning Endeavor Progress

My three part ILE is 30% finished as of last week! As I have mentioned in former posts and videos my Individual Learning Endeavor is to create three short videos and enter them into the Follett Challenge, CSTA’s Faces of Computing Contest, and the Middlesex Partnerships for Youth “I’m Worth More” PSA and Poster Project. As of today, December 1st I have completed and submitted my video for the Faces of Computing contest and eagerly wait to see the results. This week I plan to begin working on my submission to the Follett Challenge with hopes to make this video even better than the last. I also continue to brainstorm the course of action I will take with my “I’m Worth More” PSA video as the guidelines are broad and I have the freedom to portray a wide variety of topics including being in a healthy relationship, standing up to peer pressure, celebrating differences and demonstrating self-respect and respect for others. I love and am really proud of the outcome of the video I created as an empathy building project for my Ted Talk last year and may make something similar but I am both receptive to and interested in feedback and suggestions for what message I should portray and how I should portray it. Please feel free to email me suggestions at catsempathyproject@gmail.com. My Empathy Building Project Video can be seen embedded below and if you if you have not yet seen my Faces of Computing submission it can be seen here.

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