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Special Content: Repraps for Education

This is part of a series of posts about starting and facilitating a project-based 3D printer club at a local elementary school, with the ultimate goal of replicating the program at schools everywhere. We'll be posting as many details as possible, including lesson plans and supporting materials. For more information about the entire project, including a listing of posts related to it, please visit the 3D Printer Club for Schools project page. 

I’ve been attending open meetings at Splat Space, our local hackerspace, for over a year now. They’re familiar with our school build project, but I wanted to remind them that I wanted to bring in some outside help and presenters as well.

At the open meeting, I got up and explained the project again, and asked members to come talk to me if they had any interest in helping, or if they were willing to make a short presentation to the kids on something interesting that they’re making. I got a couple of people to take me up on the offer, and I arranged for each of them to visit the club during a meeting.  

Special Content: Repraps for Education

This is part of a series of posts about starting and facilitating a project-based 3D printer club at a local elementary school, with the ultimate goal of replicating the program at schools everywhere. We'll be posting as many details as possible, including lesson plans and supporting materials. For more information about the entire project, including a listing of posts related to it, please visit the 3D Printer Club for Schools project page. 

One of the build team leads send out a lengthy email to the whole team. (He’s young, so it was mostly dictated.)

I recognized during the previous meeting as they were developing the build schedule, that it was very aggressive. At this point the build team is planning to have all the rods cut and the frame completely assembled during the next meeting! This is a mistake I’m willing to let them make and learn from, though. Personally, my hope is that we can at least start cutting.

Hi everyone!

This is [build team lead]. I hope you had a good break. I’m looking forward to the next meeting on the 11th. Make sure you remember your notebook, if you have one.

[Other build team lead] and I made a build schedule, and according to the build schedule, it looks like we should be cutting the threaded rods for the frame the next time we meet! According to my research, in order to build the frame we need threaded rods, 5/16” nuts and washers, and 6 plastic frame vertices. We already had the threaded rods, we ordered the nuts and washers, and we printed the frame vertices, so we have everything we need to start building the 3D printer!

We’ve been getting some crucial parts to build the 3D printer.

The other day we got the motherboard (or the circuit board) with all the components that go along with it. My dad found a really good deal on ebay, and he just ordered it because there were only two left in stock. We still need to solder the motherboard all together before we can use it. We also need to program its “brain.” The “brain” is a computer chip. He also found good deals on motors and motor controllers so we have those now, too. According to my schedule, we should be putting the electronics together at a later meeting.

We got two hot ends. Hot ends are the things that heat up the plastic and squirt it out. We got these before the last meeting as you probably know. We will only need one of the two for the 3D printer.

We got the threaded rods before the last meeting, too. The threaded rods are for the frame mostly and also for the Z axis. We still need to cut the threaded rods to size and put them together. We’re going to cut them with a hacksaw. We are probably going to do that at the next meeting. We might need some help with that, and it would probably be a good job for some of the makers.

We got a bunch of hardware from McMaster-Carr. McMaster-Carr is this online hardware store. I congratulate the BOM team for finding those products on McMaster-Carr. We got nuts, screws, bolts, and all that kind of stuff. We also got the smooth rods from McMaster-Carr. The smooth rods are for the Z, Y and X axes. They allow the axes to move back and forth, up and down, or side to side. We need to cut them, too. According to my schedule, we should be doing that at a later meeting also.

We got some high-temperature wire from McMaster-Carr also. High temperature wire is wire that doesn’t melt in high temperature. We need that because we need some wire to give the power to heat up the hot end without melting.

I’m looking forward to getting started building!

Special Content: Repraps for Education

This is part of a series of posts about starting and facilitating a project-based 3D printer club at a local elementary school, with the ultimate goal of replicating the program at schools everywhere. We'll be posting as many details as possible, including lesson plans and supporting materials. For more information about the entire project, including a listing of posts related to it, please visit the 3D Printer Club for Schools project page. 

With the new year rolling around, I wanted to express my sincere thanks to all the teachers and other adult advisers that are helping to make this club a success — and provide a little vision as well.

Hi, everyone. Most of my emails are directed toward the kids, but this email is for the adults who are helping with the 3D printer club.
  • First, thank you all so much for all your help with this project! I really appreciate it, and I think your help will be the key to this club’s success. The build plan that [build team leads] worked out has construction starting this week!
  • I love that everyone seems to be letting the kids do a lot of the work. (I’ll of course continue to include the advisers in team updates.) I think we’re helping the kids succeed and learn a lot by guiding them along as they figure out how to best do their work — even if they make some mistakes along the way. When I work with them, I try to help them think things through. I’ll let little mistakes happen, but I’ll try to help them catch the big ones — usually by asking lots of questions. (“Would somebody be able to go out and buy this part the way it’s described?” or “What else might the reader need to know?” for example.)
  • As you might already be aware, we’ve set up group emails to make it easier to communicate. You can email everyone in a specific team by sending a message to one of these addresses: [team email addresses]. The [adviser email] address is all of us — just the adult advisers listed below. (Thanks, [blog adviser] for all your effort in getting this blog and email service up and running!)
  • I’m not convinced that all of my lists are correct, but hopefully they’re close enough. In particular, though, I wanted to be sure I have the correct adult advisers matched with the correct teams. Please take a look at the list at the end of the email and let me know if you see any problems. (For example, I had [three advisers] all helping with membership, and I’m not sure that’s right.)
  • I realize that some of you might feel a little lost sometimes, but I think to some extent that’s okay, because it gives us a chance to sit down with the kids and say, “Let’s figure this out together.” But if you ever feel completely lost or feel like you don’t have enough information to help the kids on your team along in a meaningful way, then please just let me know so we can work it out.
  • I’m planning to send a message out that is directed to the *parents* this week, and I’d like to suggest to them that this might be a good time for them to talk to their kids about the club — just to make sure they’re really still interested in giving it their all. The club is still a lot bigger than I originally expected, and so we might need to get a little creative with things to do from time to time — particularly once the excitement of “taking stuff apart” wears off for the makers. Does anyone have any concerns about this?
This is how I have the advisers broken up. Any mistakes or omissions here?
Accounting: [accounting advisers]
Blogger/P.R.: [blog team advisers
BOM: [BOM team advisers]
Build: [build team advisers]
Makers: [maker team advisers]
Membership: [membership team advisers]

Special Content: Repraps for Education

This is part of a series of posts about starting and facilitating a project-based 3D printer club at a local elementary school, with the ultimate goal of replicating the program at schools everywhere. We'll be posting as many details as possible, including lesson plans and supporting materials. For more information about the entire project, including a listing of posts related to it, please visit the 3D Printer Club for Schools project page. 

I didn’t want to leave the helpful advisers out of the updates, either. Over the break I’d heard a concern about expectations and overall direction, so I wanted to provide a little more information about these things just for the advisers of each team. With all these kids, the meetings can be a little chaotic and scattered, and because we’re asking the ids to do so much, we never really end up doing exactly what we planned.

My goal for the maker team advisers was to remind them of how I see the kids on their team fitting in moving forward.

As this next quarter starts up, I wanted to take a moment and share with you a bit of my vision for the maker team. The team is a bit different in size and scope than we had originally intended, but I hope that can work to our advantage. I think it could give us an opportunity to get creative with how they contribute in the future, and even if that contribution is only tangential at times, I think each member of the team can take away some valuable lessons.

During the first quarter, the team has been focused on taking stuff apart, and I had a few goals in mind for this. First, I wanted to try to help demystify mechanical devices by showing that they’re not just magic boxes — they contain a bunch of stuff that works together to do something useful. The goal for disassembling a machine is not to see how quickly or completely it can be done, but instead to try to figure out how it works: “What are these wires for?”, “What makes this part move?”, “How does it know when to stop?”, “Why is this shaped the way it is?”, etc.

Second, I wanted the kids to see subassemblies in place, and how they relate to the function of the machine as a whole. For example, in inkjet printers there is usually a print carriage that moves back and forth along smooth rods using a motor and belt, and that’s exactly what happens in a 3Dprinter as well. One motor moves the print carriage, and another motor moves the paper through. Each of these motors is attached to a circuit board that serves as the brain, and that circuit board is fed power from a power supply that’s connected to the wall.

Finally, I wanted them to be on the lookout for useful parts. To be sure, we won’t actually find a lot of parts we can use from these machines, but we will likely be able to use some for different projects in the future — things like motors and belts that are too small for a 3D printer might be just right for a robot that draws on eggs, for example, and I’d like them to think creatively about uses like these. (As an example, one of the kids found a belt last time and then came up with the idea of making mini 3D printers when we discovered that the belt would be too small for our project.) What we should be able to find, though, is a couple of power components like cords and cables, and maybe even things like a power supply, glass, switches, belts, and motors.

This quarter things will hopefully be a bit different. Soon I believe the maker team will be a little more involved with the actual build process, and hopefully some of the other processes, too. (I’ve been trying to encourage other teams to tap maker team resources when they need help.) With the build schedule in place, one of the first things we’ll need to do is prepare some parts for assembly, and I’m strongly suggesting that the build team use maker resources for this. But because you’re probably new to this process, too, I thought I’d give you a heads-up with some specifics.

We have several 3-foot rods (both smooth and threaded) that will need to be cut to size. This will involve some thinking ahead, including how to efficiently lay out the cuts to preserve stock, how to measure and mark the parts, how to cut the rods straight, how to secure the parts that need to be cut, and how to clean up the parts after the cut. You can guide them through this, but they’ll need to lay everything out first, then thread nuts onto them, clamp the parts down, saw them into pieces with a hacksaw, deburr the ends, and then unscrew the nuts to clean up the threads.

We also have several printed plastic pieces that will also need to be prepared for assembly. Because 3D printed parts aren’t absolutely accurate, we’ll need to carefully drill out the holes to the correct sizes so that they fit the hardware they’re supposed to fit. This is also something you can let them discover: Try to fit the plastic frame vertex over the threaded rod, and when it doesn’t fit, ask, “Okay… so what can we do to make this work?”

But here’s how I hope this will work: I’d like the kids on the build team to explain what specific parts are required for the scheduled work. I’d like the makers to ask questions if necessary and then work through how they’ll accomplish the task with the supplies they have. Allow them to make little mistakes, but save them from the big ones. For example, if they decide to try to cut without clamping the work, I’d let them try (supervised, of course), but then suggest that there’s probably an easier and safer solution if they give it a little more thought.

I’m going to try to bring several tools in this Friday, and my plan is to review them and some safety guidelines at the start of the meeting. Among the tools I plan to bring are a hacksaw, clamps, a cordless drill and drill bits, files, wrenches, tape measure, and calipers. I’m also going to bring a lot of hardware and begin to introduce it.

I hope this helps a bit going forward. I’ll see you on Friday!

Special Content: Repraps for Education

This is part of a series of posts about starting and facilitating a project-based 3D printer club at a local elementary school, with the ultimate goal of replicating the program at schools everywhere. We'll be posting as many details as possible, including lesson plans and supporting materials. For more information about the entire project, including a listing of posts related to it, please visit the 3D Printer Club for Schools project page. 

This is one of several emails directed toward each individual team to get them on track for our first meeting of the new quarter: (redacted)

Hello Blog/P.R. Team!

I hope you had a great holiday! Are you ready to hit the ground running again at our first meeting this Friday?
Here are a couple of important updates and requests: 

  • Our first order of parts came in before the holiday. I posted some information about it on our new website at http://cpsfcmaker.org/?p=85 — please take a look at it. I also found a couple of good deals on some of the electronics we’ll need. I’ll share what I have either in an upcoming email or at the meeting.
  • One of the blog team members needs to be prepared to give a brief overview of what your team is working on at the start of the next meeting. All of the teams should be doing updates at the next meeting, so pay close attention to these updates so that you can write about them on the blog.
  • This is very important: Now that the blog site is up and running, your team needs to document the club’s progress toward its goal with both photos and words. Try to be as complete and descriptive as you can when you write about what’s going on — take some pictures and do your BEST work because your blog posts will be seen by people all over the world! (Let me know if you need a camera to use for the meetings.) You might want to focus your meeting time on deciding what to write about (and taking photos), and then do the writing between meetings so you can do a complete job.
  • You have a new and easy to use email address! You can email *all* your team members (including adult advisers) by sending an email to [blog team email]. Use this address when you need to communicate with your team. Right now this list includes the following email addresses (Please let me know if you need any changes to this list!): [blog team members and advisers]
See you again soon!

Special Content: Repraps for Education

This is part of a series of posts about starting and facilitating a project-based 3D printer club at a local elementary school, with the ultimate goal of replicating the program at schools everywhere. We'll be posting as many details as possible, including lesson plans and supporting materials. For more information about the entire project, including a listing of posts related to it, please visit the 3D Printer Club for Schools project page. 

I did a lot of writing this week. Here’s the (redacted) email that went out to the accounting team. In this email, I reminded the team that they are responsible for sending out thank you cards for donations. In this case, the donation was from Reifsnyder Precision Works (www.hotends.com), the original maker of the very popular J-Head hot end. 

Hello Accounting Team!  

I hope you had a great holiday! Are you ready to hit the ground running again at our first meeting this Friday?
Here are a couple of important updates and requests: 

  • This is very important: If we haven’t done so already, we need to get a thank-you card out to Reifsnyder Precision Works as soon as possible; this is the company that gave us the hot ends (an expensive part) for free. Ask around on your team (or ask the makers) for someone who can draw or paint a picture to make a custom card, and then plan to have it finished and ready to mail by our Friday meeting. At the meeting we can have everyone sign it and then send it off.
  • Also, your team is responsible for helping the team raise funds. Please plan to work on a letter (or flyer) that team members can use to explain what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, and to let people know how they can help if they want to. You can send it to the blog team and ask them to post it online, and you can provide it to team members so they can share it with friends and neighbors — and their parents can share it at their places of work. Let me know if you want some ideas about how people can help!
  • Our first order of parts came in before the holiday. I posted some information about it on our new website at http://cpsfcmaker.org/?p=85 — please take a look at it. I also found a couple of good deals on some of the electronics we’ll need. I’ll share what I have either in an upcoming email or at the meeting. I’ll send you a list of all the costs this week so that you can get them on the books.
  • One of the accounting team members needs to be prepared to give a brief overview of what your team is working on at the start of the next meeting.
  • You have a new and easy to use email address! You can email *all* your team members (including adult advisers) by sending an email to [accounting team email]. Use this address when you need to communicate with your team. Right now this list includes the following email addresses (Please let me know if you need any changes to this list!): [accounting team members and advisers]
See you again soon!

Special Content: Repraps for Education

This is part of a series of posts about starting and facilitating a project-based 3D printer club at a local elementary school, with the ultimate goal of replicating the program at schools everywhere. We'll be posting as many details as possible, including lesson plans and supporting materials. For more information about the entire project, including a listing of posts related to it, please visit the 3D Printer Club for Schools project page. 

Here’s the update for the membership team (redacted). You can see that I’ve been reminding the members that each team will be responsible for providing a group update at the next meeting.

Hello Membership Team!

I hope you had a great holiday! Are you ready to hit the ground running again at our first meeting this Friday?
Here are a couple of important updates and requests:

  • Before the holiday, I asked your team to contact [waitlisted student] about a spot on the team. If you haven’t already done this, please do it as soon as possible because I know that [waitlisted student] is waiting to hear from us!
  • This is very important: Your team needs to distribute member lists to everyone in the club so they know how to contact each other. You might want to keep keep a page for each team in your notebook and list each member on that team, along with his or her email address. You also need to keep track of who attends the meetings, but that doesn’t need to be shared with everyone else.
  • [BOM team member] isn’t going to be able to help out this quarter. She was on the BOM team, so please talk to that team about whether or not they need you to find someone to replace her.
  • One of the membership team members needs to be prepared to give a brief overview of what your team is working on at the start of the next meeting.
  • You have a new and easy to use email address! You can email *all* your team members (including adult advisers) by sending an email to [membership team email]. Use this address when you need to communicate with your team. Right now this list includes the following email addresses (Please let me know if you need any changes to this list!): [membership team and adviser email addresses]
Remember, if you need help with any of these things, you’re welcome to recruit helpers from the maker team! See you again soon!

Special Content: Repraps for Education

This is part of a series of posts about starting and facilitating a project-based 3D printer club at a local elementary school, with the ultimate goal of replicating the program at schools everywhere. We'll be posting as many details as possible, including lesson plans and supporting materials. For more information about the entire project, including a listing of posts related to it, please visit the 3D Printer Club for Schools project page. 

As part of my effort to get each team back into gear for the new year, this was my email to the build team (redacted).

Hello Build Team!

I hope you had a great holiday! Are you ready to hit the ground running again at our first meeting this Friday?
Here are a couple of important updates and requests:

  • Our first order of parts came in before the holiday. I posted some information about it on our new website at http://cpsfcmaker.org/?p=85 — please take a look at it. I also found a couple of good deals on some of the electronics we’ll need. I’ll share what I have either in an upcoming email or at the meeting.
  • One of the build team members needs to be prepared to give a brief overview of what your team is working on at the start of the next meeting. Each of you needs to pay close attention to all the team updates, because it’s your responsibility to have a good understanding of what each team is doing. If you don’t know what a team is doing, be sure you talk to them and learn more.
  • This is very important: Now that you have a rough build schedule, you need to plan carefully for what needs to happen on each of the build days. For example, in order to build the X axis, you know you’re going to need a specific set of parts, and some of those parts might need to be modified. You need to know what parts you’ll need for which build days, and you need to work with the BOM team to be sure you have those parts in time. You also need to work with the makers to arrange help for the days you’ll need it.
  • You have a new and easy to use email address! You can email *all* your team members (including adult advisers) by sending an email to [build team email]. Use this address when you need to communicate with your team. Right now this list includes the following email addresses (Please let me know if you need any changes to this list!): [Build team member and adviser email addresses]
See you again soon!

Special Content: Repraps for Education

This is part of a series of posts about starting and facilitating a project-based 3D printer club at a local elementary school, with the ultimate goal of replicating the program at schools everywhere. We'll be posting as many details as possible, including lesson plans and supporting materials. For more information about the entire project, including a listing of posts related to it, please visit the 3D Printer Club for Schools project page. 

After the holiday, I wanted to get the kids back into the swing of things and provide each team with a concrete list of things they could work on. There’s a bit more attrition as well, but also a couple of kids on the waitlist to join.

The first over arrived before the holiday, and I also took the initiative of setting up mailing lists for each team. I would have liked for them to do this themselves, but I’m still not completely confident in the kids’ member list, and setting up these forwarders is more of a technical process. I hope to be able to pass list management off to the membership team at some point.

Here’s the email that went out to the BOM team (redacted):

Hello BOM Team!

I hope you had a great holiday! Are you ready to hit the ground running again at our first meeting this Friday?
Here are a couple of important updates and requests:

  • Our first order of parts came in before the holiday. I posted some information about it on our new website at http://cpsfcmaker.org/?p=85 — please take a look at it. I also found a couple of good deals on some of the electronics we’ll need. I’ll share what I have either in an upcoming email or at the meeting.
  • [BOM member #1] isn’t going to be able to help out this quarter, and so I’d love to see [BOM member #2] promoted into her role. Are you up for it, [BOM member #2]?
  • One of the BOM team members needs to be prepared to give a brief overview of what your team is working on at the start of the next meeting.
  • Your team needs to compile a complete and consolidated list of what parts we need, what we have already, and what we still need to get. [BOM adviser] sent out lists a few weeks ago to individual members, and she can probably help get this started, but you should probably plan to have this list completed by the end of this week if at all possible. The build team has a schedule in place and will soon be letting you know what parts need to be ready for which days.
  • You have a new and easy to use email address! You can email *all* the BOM team members (including adult advisers) by sending an email to [BOM email] Right now this list includes the following email addresses (Please let me know if you need any changes to this list!): [List of BOM team addresses]
See you again soon!

Special Content: Repraps for Education

This is part of a series of posts about starting and facilitating a project-based 3D printer club at a local elementary school, with the ultimate goal of replicating the program at schools everywhere. We'll be posting as many details as possible, including lesson plans and supporting materials. For more information about the entire project, including a listing of posts related to it, please visit the 3D Printer Club for Schools project page. 

Today the blog/P.R. team lead announced to all club members that the team website is now online. It’s at http://www.cpsfcmaker.org/ — go check it out!

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