Hands On With The Maker Movement

A recap of our experience with this year's Winterim at Holland Christian

This January, three of us had the opportunity to take part in Holland Christian’s Winterim. This is a week long program where students take classes that expose them to new ideas and career fields. This year, David, Troy, and I chose to teach Hands on with the Maker Movement, which maxed out at an enrollment of 20 students.

We got started working with Winterim last year when Brian was invited to get involved. He and David taught a class where the students created sumo robots and controlled them with game controllers. After learning all the steps along the way, they ended the week with a sumobot battle. This year, we decided to cover a broad range of topics, introducing the students to the vastness of the Maker Movement. We also made sure the students had the resources to continue exploring and making after the week ended.

We started the week by showing them a video to introduce what the Maker Movement is about, and spark their curiosity about what they could make. Following the video, and for the rest of the week, the students continued to ask questions that took our explorations to the next level.

After our flyover introduction of the entire movement, we started drilling down into individual topics. Among these were 3D modeling and printing, circuits and micro-controllers, robotics, programming, and IoT services. With each topic, we provided hands-on activities to get the students involved.

Building Interest

Jumping in right away the first day, we worked on 3D modeling with Tinkercad, discussed the principles, and got to work. The students worked through a tutorial that led them to create their own Minecraft bobbleheads. It was great to see the creations they came up with. Later in the week, they were able to see the result of their modeling when we brought in a 3D printer to print one of their masterpieces.

Collective Idea - 3d_print.gif

When we worked on circuits and micro-controllers, we showed them how to design and try out circuits using Autodesk Circuits. After covering all the basics they needed to know, we got out some hardware, and they got to work building the designs from the ground up.

Wednesday was one of our most exciting days. This was the day we tackled robotics. The project we worked on for most of the day was building up robotic tanks, uploading code to make them work, and controlling them from smart phones. The students brought out their creativity as they made adaptations to their bots and competed them against one another.

Collective Idea - bots.gif

In addition to the tanks, the students each made their own bristle bots, tiny robots made with a toothbrush head that run around the table. They were able to experiment with what changes would make their tiny robot run better.

Collective Idea - bristle bots.gif

The week wouldn’t have been complete without covering the Internet of Things and a bit of programming. We played with some IoT integration services, such as IFTTT, and learned how to create custom skills for Amazon Alexa’s Echo. In addition, we showed off some programming for Sphero and an AR Drone using Artoo.

Keeping Up the Momentum

At the end of the week, we made sure to provide them with the tools they needed to continue. By showing them websites such as Adafruit and Thingiverse, their exploration didn’t need to stop when class ended. We continue our own involvement in the maker movement with Hackster Holland, which often meets right in our office. There, we tinker and make together with others in the community. We hope you join us sometime!

Photo of Victoria Gonda

Victoria is a software developer working on mobile and full stack web applications. She enjoys exchanging knowledge through conference talks and writing.