i3Detroit

6 posts

 

After 6 weeks, our team at i3 Detroit is unveiling our submission for the GGHC, we call it Interactive Quiz.

 

The concept is simple: a student response system (clicker) that automatically assigns students to groups to discuss questions, but allows them to answer individually, giving them feedback on the performance of their group.  We chose this idea because several of the teachers we interviewed told us that across the board, many students were afraid of making mistakes.  As hackers, we know that making mistakes is a key part of the learning process, so we set out to create a safe way for students to make mistakes, but eventually learn the right answer (or answers)!

 

The key idea behind Interactive Quiz is that students in a group try to all get correct answers to light up a green light for their group (all right answers).  If some of the group gets a question right and some of the group gets it wrong, they get a yellow light.  If everyone gets it wrong, they get a red light.  Students get feedback without being singled out, and they can discuss and revise their answers based on the feedback they receive.

 

We actually built two versions of the Interactive Quiz.  We had hoped to get a wireless version done by the end of the competition, but we knew it might not be possible so we started with a simpler wired proof-of-concept.

 

The wired version uses an ATMega16A microprocessor, and allows for a single group of three students.  Each student has a response unit with 5 buttons, and the teacher has a unit to select which answers are correct.  There is also a readout unit with red, yellow, and green LEDs to indicate how the students did on each question.

 

The wireless version uses an ATMega168 for each teacher and student unit, as well as a ZigBee module for the wireless communication.  In addition to the five buttons to indicate answers, each unit has a 7-segment LED display used to indicate group number and provide feedback to the teachers based on how students answer.  Although we weren't able to complete enough wireless units to play through a group quiz scenario, we were able to prototype one teacher unit and two student units to run our code and verify that it works.

 

Here are the final schematics for the student and teacher units:

http://www.i3detroit.com/wi/index.php?title=GGHC_Schematics

Schematic?  Check.  Parts ordered?  Check.  Caffine?  Check.  In the last two weeks of the Great Global Hackerspace Challenge, i3Detroiters start to piece together the real working guts of the Interactive Quiz - our group student response system.

 

In our video update this week, Roger Slykhouse, Ed Platt, and Ross Smith piece together some of this week's obstacles, achievements, and little victories.

 

 

As Roger discusses in the video, our team's collective design brain settled on a plan for the group response system.  By degrees, the plan became more articulated and informed as we baked it down into actual hardware requirements.  From there schematics were assembled for the two response modules - the teacher unit and the student units.  This made it possible for us to write software to verify the schematic.  As Ed describes in the video, we did our utmost to find areas where work could be done in parallel - project case design, schematics, software, documentation, and so on.  This would allow us to work on all fronts of the project possible, so long as we didn't encounter a process bottleneck that hung up every aspect of our work.

 

Here is where our real challenge began.  To build the final project enclosures, we needed the final dimensions of our printed boards.  To get the design of our printed boards, we had to finalize our schematics.  To finalize our schematics, we needed to author enough software to test the schematics and verify that all was laid out correctly and that our hardware choices are good.  Testing our software means we needed to get two radios talking to each other.

 

We hit the process bottleneck we were nervous about in the form of software.  Getting the MRF24J40MAs to talk to each other proved to be a challenge, especially given the steep learning curve most of our software team had to overcome.  Most of our software team have slim to no experience with microcontrollers.  Thus our embedded systems experts were busy tutoring the learners, getting them to the point of being equal to the task at hand.  This gave the team less time to disentangle some of the critical software issues that held up the rest of the project.

 

Thankfully some members of the open source wireless community answered our calls for help and offered some pointers.  Another hacker on the Internet was modifying the Chibi stack to use - as luck would have it -  our project's microcontroller of choice!  With a fresh code checkout of this developer's Chibi stack code and a photo of his breadboard, Paul, our team's embedded programming expert, set to work on the radio communications code and the state machine, thus far to good results.

 

In tandem, a wired prototype of the multi-student response system was created practically overnight - one which cuts out the troublesome radio layer entirely by wiring three student response units to a single teacher's unit.  This allows the teacher to set question answer states, give students time to answer, and observe the results.  We will do more testing with this wired prototype in week 6 and we'll be sure to update you on the state of the true wireless prototype.

 

Until then!

i3detroit

GGHC Week 4 - Puzzle Pieces

Posted by i3detroit Apr 20, 2011

In week 4 of the Great Global Hackerspace Challenge, our team continues to hack away on our group response system.  The theme of this week has been figuring out how to fit all the puzzle pieces together.

 

Although we have a lot of coders on our team, most of us are new to microcontroller programming, so many of our work nights have focused on "here's how to write C for an AVR, compile it, and program a chip."  Let's just say there have been a lot of blinking LEDs here at i3 Detroit lately.  Ladyada's AVR Tutorial has been particularly helpful.

 

We've also been working on figuring out how handle radio communication with our ZigBee and USB communication.  We wound up scrapping our ATMega48 for an ATMega16A in order to get more I/O pins and for better power/clock compatibility with the ZigBee and USB.  Our new micros arrived today, so we're hard at work trying to turn our blinking LED into a radio-controlled blinking LED.

 

We also found a few libraries that we hope will help handle the low level radio and USB communication.  In particular, we're looking at the Chibi library from freaklabs, and the V-USB library.

 

We'll have a video update next week with some juicy shots of our hardware-in-progress, but for week 4 we've decided to keep you in suspense while we hunker down to work.

We've researched, we've brainstormed, we've debated, and now Team i3 is rolling up our sleeves to start hacking!  "But wait!" you say "Who *is* Team i3?"  We have hackers of all kinds, about a dozen of us in total.  We put together a video to introduce some of our members.  Be sure to check back next week to meet the rest of the team!

 

 

We also received our first parts order this past week, and we've got  some cool parts to work with!  We chose an ATmega48 for our  microcontroller, mainly to take advantage of the open source tools and  community surrounding it.  We're hoping to use a 10F Supercap to power  our units, but we might have to go with plain ol' batteries depending on  time.  We also picked up a ZigBee MRF24FJ20 to use for radio  communication.  It's not the cheapest option, but it handles a lot of  the nasty details that we probably won't have time to handle in code.

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One of our biggest challenges so far has been to keep the spirit and uniqueness of our original idea alive, while cutting away any unnecessary features that could keep us from finishing on time.  We want to get our project in the hands of real teachers and students, and not just after the contest, but before it's over!

The Plan

 

We began with hopes, inspiration, and a very vague idea of what we intended to accomplish in the next six weeks.  Help the teachers!  What a thought - but what does it mean?  As with any open-ended project, our team's ideas were wildly divergent.  Ed, with a background in neuroscience, emphasized the importance of physical movement to stimulate the generation of dopamine, which in turn increases mental focus and observation.  On the other hand, Teammate Mario - an experienced middle-school art teacher - half-jokingly threw out the idea of a cell-phone signal scrambler to increase student attention spans.  The team's computer scientists agreed that logic blocks - a bag full of small plastic electronic modules, which create and break current connections based on a series of logic gates - would be a great project, though quite limited to a certain age group and subject material.  The more we talked, the more we saw how our backgrounds dictated the ideas we brought to the table.

 

A diverse set of skills and viewpoints makes our project team strong, able to build and deliver a multi-faceted project.  However, our narrow fields of specialty worked against us in the form of experience "blinders."  What *is* a meaningful, global problem to solve in education today?  What, really, do teachers want or need any help with?  What solution could we provide without presumptuously offering a solution in search of a problem?  Especially with Mario's insight, it became clear to us how much we did not know.  We did not have the collective experience of actual teachers in the field.  So, we decided to do our homework.  To synthesize a project that soles a real problem, we had to fill a void in our experience: what is it like to be a teacher right now?

 

Our plan emerged from this premise - learn about what it means to be a teacher today, and from there, a solution that involves electronics will present itself.

 

We broke this plan into four steps:

  1. Learn.  Talk to teachers with various real world backgrounds in education.  Leave electronics and the GGHC completely out of the picture.  Ask teachers how they communicate with students, what their success strategies are as teachers, and the pain points they struggle with in reaching students.
  2. Brainstorm.  Based on our learnings, come up with a huge basket of ideas.  In this step, no ideas are bad; put everything on the table.  Let loose the creative floodgates.
  3. Filter.  Ruthlessly cut the field of ideas down to a narrow set of candidates.  Consider feasibility, price, and worst case scenarios.  Look for the weakness in each idea and leave the strongest standing.
  4. Take-off!  Settle on one idea.  Begin the process of pricing, tire-kicking, and organizing around the building of our newborn brain child.

 

1. Learn

 

We could not operate with experience blinders.  To take them off, we met with three groups of teachers - those at Mario's school, two from a local magnet school for gifted children, and a group in another nearby school district.  With their ideas and input, we would have the data we needed to spot a meaningful problem and synthesize a solution to answer it.

 

Mario met with his peers at a teacher meeting after school.  He ran them through our questionnaire and picked their brains.  He came back and gave us the highlights.

  1. Students struggle with focus.  In public schools, many students detach completely from the classroom material.  They are non-participants in a system they want nothing to do with.  The abundance of cell phones only worsens the situation.
  2. Excitability and contagious enthusiasm are powerful assets.  Quiz games with buzzers and other contests in the classroom prove out very well.
  3. Anything we build has to be tough enough to be hit by a bus and walk away.  School kids will make quick work of any object not built to withstand them.
  4. Physical movement of any kind is a welcome change of pace.  Kids are planted in desks, do near work, and frequently have indoor recess or detention.  A solution that addresses physical motion would be seized on!

 

Ed,, Nate B, Rocco, and I (Ross) met with two teachers from Roeper, Linda and Emery.  They possess more than three decades of professional experience at Roeper, a school for gifted children - the kids who exhibit early on a proclivity for science, math, and the arts.  Linda and Emery filled in a very different portrait of educational experience and challenges.  Our fascinating conversation left us with plenty of food for thought.

  1. Electronics tools - smart boards, for instance - come off as faddish, and pass as quickly as buzzwords.  Too often these are overbuilt solutions in search of problems (or at least dollars) and not genuine responses to an educational need.  As such, Linda and Emery use virtually no technological teaching aids in the classroom, apart from a laptop to manage their notes.  Electronics for hands-on labs are different, as the electronics become the object of the lesson.
  2. Their best teaching strategies are rooted in the scientific method.  You feed a student's curiosity with questions - "What are you trying to learn?  What are you observing that seems curious?  How did you, when did you see it?  What causes that?"  The questions progress toward a hypothesis, which requires a test or experiment to validate.  From there, students examine conclusions and ask more questions.  In different subjects and settings, the nature of gathering data and doing experiments varies, but this philosophy is always at work in the classroom.
  3. Students must be active agents in the learning process - partly being their own teacher at all times.  It's not enough for a student to carry out an experiment to test a hypothesis.  They have to design the experiment as well.  Students as passive question-answering vessels do not learn as well as those who actively participate, and participants don't learn as well as those who are required to direct themselves with critical thinking.
  4. Gifted children face awful hurdles in social settings.  They often feel to be without peers and have tunnel vision - thinking exactly one way solves their problems 95% of the time, so why listen to other people?  Other students feel it is actually unethical to look at another person's ideas or plans - if the student can't work out a solution from first principles, they haven't "earned" the answer.  For these and other reasons, interacting with peers is difficult for gifted children, and as adults they suffer from a systematic failure to socialize.  Getting the advanced students to teach and interact with the less apt students is incredibly valuable.  The less learned students can improve and the more advanced ones learn vital social skills.  It is a disservice to both parties to think that the top performing kids are "held down" by spending time with less advanced peers.
  5. Students learn successfully when the lesson rotates from theoretical learning to hands-on learning and back again.  When explaining a concept like heat transfer, the lesson begins with theory and principles - radiant, convective, and conductive transfer of heat, for instance.  The students are then asked to apply the principles in a hands-on experiment that would validate or challenge the principles of heat transfer.  As the students design and carry out experiments, they observe unexpected situations and sometimes odd results.  These bring them back to the theory and principles in the abstract to explain the phenomena... and so on.  This teaches students to learn in both abstract and hands-on modes, but always to think critically and from the vantage point of testing and validation.  Knowledge is quantifiable, testable, and observable.
  6. Brilliant students rapidly excel their teachers; as a result, teachers don't know how to feed the student's fire.  When a student learns everything the electronics lab has to offer, what is the tech teacher to do?  Knowing where to point advanced kids, to help them prosper even further, is highly sought and frustrating to lack.
  7. Teaching content does not matter as much as teaching skill and worldview.  The science lessons and art history learned in the classroom will either be forgotten or will evolve over the student's life.  No matter what, though, the outlook the student is taught to apply - about life, and about learning - is what they will keep and seldom question.  Thus, being an active, self-directed agent in your own learning is the most important lesson.  By the same token, it is tragic when a student gains the outlook that school is a system to be gamed by barely skirting failure, that curious exploration is a distraction from a cell phone social life.

 

Lastly, we met with several teachers from the Royal Oak school system.  They had these insights to contribute to our teacher brain download.

 

  1. Their problems with technology in the classroom come down to training and usability.  A smart board is a faddish piece of equipment, asked for by some teachers out of fashion.  But learning to use it - and consistently training new teachers in the school system to use them - was cumbersome.  The technology contributed little compared to the overhead of time and training it required.  As such, technology in the classroom necessarily implies an infrastructure - training, maintenance, best practices, documentation, replacement parts - that are much bigger than just the electronic block that sits in the classroom.  Compare this to the beautiful simplicity of the overhead projector, and you can understand the trepidation around new classroom tech.
  2. Besides operating a machine, managing data going into or out of a machine can be onerous.  For teachers who are good educators but not great technologists, the learning curve of a smart board is daunting.  As such, the adoption rate of technology is very personnel-specific (and thus perhaps difficult for a school system to justify from a budgetary standpoint).
  3. Software solutions are more reliable, generally.  Moodle has done great things and while adoption rate is spotty, based on teacher comfort levels, the results and usability are better than before.  Software solutions for turning in assignments or doing entire assignments online exist.  These allow the classroom time to be more hands-on and dedicated to group activity.  Students can take silent, focused work home and finish it according to their own pace and needs.
  4. On the flip side, software is easy to acquire and distribute without any follow-on training.  Dreamweaver suddenly appears on every computer in the tech lab but no staff know how to use it, and thus no staff can teach students to use the resource.  Was that a good use of funds?
  5. "There's not enough time in the day."  Time spent grading is a huge hurdle.  Takes away from lesson planning.  Time in the classroom is brief, time preparing for the next class is brief.  Time is precious.  (Thus the training and maintenance time costs of technologies are made much worse!)
  6. Advanced kids eventually outstrip their teachers in knowledge.  Where do you send these kids to keep them advancing on their rapid pace?  Especially true of technology.
  7. "The best technolgies are the ones that enable us to do what we've been trained to, well."
  8. When kids have cell phones, classroom student response clickers are a transitional technology.  They will be useful only as long as students don't have their own super-clickers that tie into a web service they can link / text into.

 

2. Brainstorm

 

Rocco, Ed, Ryan, Nate, Mario and I each grabbed a seat from among i3's assortment of odd, mismatched office chairs.  Pulling up to the common area tables, we started cutting up quarter sheets of paper and distributing sharpies.  Time to brainstorm.  At this phase, no ideas are bad; let the energy of the conversation take over and spin out of control.  Go off-the-wall, use your imagination, and throw practicality to the wind.  That's for a different meeting.  With that mindset and our new-found understanding of the life of an educator, we set to work.  Here are several of the candidates we came up with, in brief form.

 

  • Mistake counter!  As kids work on a project they count how many  mistakes they made.  Perhaps kids get half a point for a mistake and a  point for a right answer.  Encourage them to try things that they don't  think will work; alter their thinking about reward systems as all-or-nothing affairs.
  • Color-coded voice recorder.  Different brightly colored buttons on a hand-held device that lets students record voice notes.  Tactile, engages the senses.
  • "Shake to Answer" clicker.  Like other student response  systems, except it powers itself by being shaken.  Kids have to shake it  a certain amount to get it to work.  Cures the fidgets and induces  dopamine to focus the brain.
  • "Scientific Method" monitor. ?  Not sure how to make this  physical!  Includes digital notes journal to support texting with  *proper* grammar to encourage digital and verbal literacy.
  • Have kids come up with a functioning electronics project and have them teach it  to other students.  Or, make a device whose design evolves to a  "perfected" state using group technology (you search for a part and its  design before you try building a part from scratch).
  • Student response system or mistake counter with a noise maker.  Kids love noise - encourages them to try and get engaged.
  • Student response system with buttons at far or dispersed  locations.  Gets kids to move around more physically to respond to  answers, a la DDR.
  • "Rocky's Boots" - modular, child-proof logic gate system.   Sends beams of light piping around individual modules that do logic  operations, returning to a terminal of some kind.
  • A student response system where students have to use their whole body, run from place to place, etc, to submit answers.
  • Collaborative response system.  Makes students sit around one  response system, they all enter their answer, and the system indicates  if one of them got it right.  They then have to talk to each other to  figure out which answer is the right one and submit it.  Perhaps the  machine occasionally gives you misleading or incorrect responses, and  forces the students to think for themselves about which answer must be  the right one.  They can then press a button to "call its bluff."
  • Logic gates plus sensors to solve challenges.  "Build something  to identify an orange / a loud sound" etc.  Open-ended,  objective-driven.
  • Pedal-powered projector.  Pedal-powered anything!  These are children we're dealing with, let's harness that energy somehow.
  • Dial-a-mentor.  Have someone available to answer a kid's  questions when they dive deeper in a subject than a teacher can speak  to.
  • "Scientific method" recorder and publish system.  Get kids to  record the things they see and do and push the content out for others to  consume through a digital journal.  Teach kids to observe, relay  conclusions, and communicate.
  • Simple lego logic system that builds a graphic that appears on a  screen - one that correlates with the blocks the kids put together.   Just get them to the point that they see they can do something that  makes an image appear on a screen - make the idea of programming  accessible to them, even if the work itself is very simple and not  totally programming.  (Also include noise or sound generation.)  Or have  words chained together based on the blocks - perhaps for younger kids.
  • Super stripped-down clicker - uses color/shape combos with a  numeric read-out by each color.  Language-independent.  No fine  resolution of data, just a rugged, cheap, easy-to-distribute clicker  system.
  • Mechanical clicker system - each clicker has a different sound  frequency.  Single audio base station would pick up different signals.

 

3. Filter

 

Having come up with a roster of potential solutions, we met again to cull them down to a short list of candidates.  The project hit a pretty rough spot here.  When the rubber hits the road, many of these ideas turn out to be impracticlal, infeasible, or altogether too vague to implement.  Many project members were turned off by the student response system-oriented solutions.  They seemed, by and large, to be unimaginative or gimmicky alterations of the basic idea behind a student response system.  At heart, the argument for such a response system is that it's a facilitatory technology that can be adapted to many teaching styles and subject areas, and has a reputation for actually being useful to teachers in the classroom.  If the student response system felt gimmicky, some of the other solutions felt moreso.  The end result was a short list that the group itself admitted did not feel compelling.

 

  • Logic bricks, a la Rocky's Boots.  Individual IC-like blocks that chain together to create a physical logic circuit, teaching kids about logical combinations in math, chemistry, etc.
  • Group response.  A student response system where the students discussed quiz subject areas in small groups before having to answer individually.
  • Roger's microcontroller
  • Laser/IR shaker
  • Hot potato
  • Timebomb hallpass.  Teacher giving a hallpass to a student sets a timer on it with a docking station.  Teacher can read the timer on the hall pass as the student returns to ensure they weren't out for more than the allotted time.
  • RFID attendance.  Student attendance is registered automatically by RFID chips in small ID cards and door sensors.

 

After discussion, the team settled on the Group Response solution.  As a student response system, its electronics are not especially complex or remarkable.  But as a solution in the classroom - electronics that meshes into a curriculum and quiz plan - it has the potential to serve a host of educational concerns.


4. Take-Off

 

This, then, is the workflow of the final idea - IQ (Interactive Quiz), the multiple student response system.  Think especially about the flexibility of this technology - it is simple in function, highly adaptable to other formats, and adjustable to teacher style.

 

  1. Teacher directs students to review a list of subject areas for a quiz.  Let's say the class is history and the quiz will cover Europe's involvement in World War II.  The students have many historical figures, dates, key events, and concepts to cover as they study for this quiz.
  2. On the day of the quiz, the teacher has the students form a line and pass by the teacher's desk, each accepting a clicker.  The clickers have an on-board display and set of 4 buttons.  The display indicates which team the student is part of - team 1, 2 , 3, etc.
  3. Students get together in their teams and sit down at tables facing each other.
  4. The teacher announces a question area - "The question will be about Winston Churchill.  You have two minutes!"  The students discuss among their peers at the table everything they know about Winston Churchill from their notes.
  5. At the end of that time, the students go quiet, and the teacher asks the question.  "When did Winston Churchill become the UK's Prime Minister?"  On an overhead projector, four answers are given beside the letters A, B, C, and D.
  6. Students individually use their clickers to submit an answer, pressing answer A, B, C, or D.
  7. On the student's unit, once all answers are collected, an LED lights up.  A green LED indicates that all students on the team got the right answer, and will receive extra points.  A yellow light indicates some students in the group got the right answer while others got it wrong; they will receive 1 extra point each.  A red light indicates all the students got the answer wrong, and they receive no extra points.
  8. The teacher, at their discretion, randomizes the groups from time to time - perhaps to blend a very high-performing group with other lower-performing ones, so that the high-achievers interact more with the detached or struggling students.  After the "shuffling," another question is asked - the students discuss - and then answer.  This continues until the end of the quiz.

 

 

Without getting into the proposed construction, we intend for the student units and the controlling teacher unit to be extremely simple.  A limited number of buttons, switches, and moving parts will make the devices easy to operate and inexpensive to repair or replace.

 

We feel this solution addresses many of the concerns we heard voiced by our teachers, namely:

  • The strength of the solution is not in the electronics, but in the teaching method it espouses.  Causing students to focus intently on quiz material, in a team-competitive format addresses a number of voiced concerns.  Students get excited and focused by the contest nature of the quiz, the anticipation of seeing if their whole group will answer a question correctly, and of course the active recall of lesson material.
  • It forces students to blend and interact with each other in ways they otherwise may not in a classroom.  This forces the application of social skills in order to perform well on the quiz, as the group is largely (or entirely) scored based on the team's overall performance.
  • Shuffling the deck and moving students around among teams gets the body moving and blood flowing every few minutes and enriches the variety of social interactions.
  • The design of the device will allow a simple stand-alone operation mode for teachers without access to laptops.  It will also have a laptop "pass-through" mode where the teacher unit acts as a peripheral device communicating to the student units.

 

There you have it!  We seek to apply the lessons our teachers have taught us, and the biggie is this - successful learning happens with mental focus, communication,taking active roles, and making the best use of time.  By starting with an educational strategy that happens to use electronics, we've found a way to address focus issues with an approachable, simple to use piece of technology for students and teachers alike.

 

Over the next week we will refine the idea and arrive at a much tighter specification.  Until then!

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Hi there! We're i3Detroit. We're a place where hardware hackers, crafters, machinists, prop-makers, and carpenters work side by side on their interests. We teach public classes and share our skills with each other in our 8,000 square foot facility in Ferndale, MI.

 

Our mission: "To provide work space, storage, and other resources for projects related to art and technology through talks, workshops, collaborative projects, and other activities, to encourage research, knowledge exchange, learning, and mentoring in a safe, clean space."

 

Meet Our Team

 

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Nate Bezanson - Serious hardware hacker and founding member of i3Detroit. He works every day he can to build our organization - quite literally in this pic as he holds up an I-beam.Ryan Busch - Information security expert by day and a hacker by night.Karen Corbeill - Video editor, stage technician expert, and prop fabricator.Mario Corsetti - Art teacher, prop builder, and creative thinker.Aaron Dubin - Information technologist and duct tape textile fabricator.
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Rocco Marras - Developer and print shop entrepreneur.Ed Platt - Co-founder and current board member at i3 Detroit, Edward L. Platt studied physics and computer science at MIT, and is currently working as a web developer in Metro Detroit. He draws a snowflake every day.Ross Smith - Developer, airbrush artist, amateur voice actor.Matt Switlik - Developer, electronics wiz and EL wire junkie.Nate Warnick - Linux junkie, podcaster, and part-time luchador.

 

This Week

 

Our first week went by quickly and yielded valuable early direction for our project. Ed Platt, the de-facto leader and strategist for the project, led several meetings to hash out our initial game plan. We decided early on that researching the experience, frustrations, and triumphs of teachers near us would inform us about the realistic challenges they face. Once that real-world context is set firmly in our minds, we will be in a strong position to conceive a piece of electronics that will respond to those needs.

 

To this end, Karen and Ross put together a teaser video soliciting educators to contact i3Detroit to participate in the project. By re-posting this message in our extended social network, we increase the chances of meeting and speaking with more teachers, and thus have more real-world data to inform our project.

 

i3Detroit Call for Teachers: Great Global Hackerspace Challenge 2011

 

Mario led a meeting with the teachers in his own school, running them through a questionnaire designed to provoke thought about which creative strategies really "reach" their kids in the classroom. The group met with two seasoned educators from Roeper, a local school for gifted kids.

 

With these two "real-world teacher downloads" under our belt, we commenced brainstorming project ideas. We've amassed a list of project ideas growing out of these conversations.

 

In our brainstorming session, we went back many times to the thought that the invention should be useful and *itself* a project that students can build. Learning through fabrication is central to our philosophy, as is using the projects you create. A project that allows for open-ended problem solving while also serving a key educational function is at the fore of our minds. The next big question, of course, is what that project actually looks like!

 

Next Week

 

Several more teacher meetings are in the hopper for next week, and as those wind to a close, we will refine our brainstorms down to a short list of project candidates. With this research strategy informing our project, we're confident that our eventual creation will be fun for kids and useful for educators.