Technology & Learning Innovation Blog

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3D Printers, Greek Tragedy and Creating a Lasting Impact in Learning

In grade 12 IB English Language and Literature we are reading a version of Antigone by Sophocles. The concept we are studying is how ancient tragedies apply to contemporary realities and struggles. The students will be performing dramatic storytelling of the play as an assessment. This will be replacing some of the traditional essay writing of the typical IB English classroom. It was for this we decided to explore 3d printing to add an extra layer of impact and resonance to the assessment; to create masks that kids could use in the dramatic storytelling assignment.

The process turned out to be much more simple than I thought to incorporate a piece of technology like 3D Printing into an English classroom. Working with Dale, we were able to quickly locate, download, set-up and send 3D PLA prints to the various machines in the Idea Lab, including the huge Z18 printer. It’s not often that we can use tools like this in English. I am very excited to continue to explore 3d printing as a means of getting kids to think about the way stories are told.

The masks that we printed are also going to create a level of stark imagery that will stick with the kids for long after the play is done.

-Greg Clinton


  • 3d Printing
  • Creativitiy
  • critical thinking
The New Definition of 'Handmade'

We have a new tool down in the Idea Lab; a shiny new Epilog 50-watt Laser Cutter! This extremely precise and powerful machine is truly a blessing; very few schools get the chance to even explore this technology let alone own one. However, from a perspective of learning, we are even more blessed. The Epilog allows us to create work that would be impossible to do by hand; even for a skilled craftsman!

Times have obviously changed greatly. I am 35 years old and I feel like my generation was the first to severely miss out on the idea that everyone should learn how to use and manipulate hand tools. I can pound a nail or crank a wrench, but when it comes to skilled or precise woodworking, power tools or soldering ; I am pretty much hopeless. Fast forward to our current generation of students and the disparity is even more stark; few of them know how to even hold a hammer let alone how to drive nail! This of course isn't their fault, but a sign of the times we are living in. You ever try to play Fortnite? That's not exactly something just anyone can pick up either!

But what is so exciting about the laser cutter is it gives our kids the chance to create beautiful, intricate and precise work just like if they were journeyman carpenters/metalsmiths/woodworkers. There is no danger of slicing off a finger-tip, no messy sawdust or months long learning-curve; students can efficiently, quickly and easily produce amazing cuts out of wood, cardboard, plastic and paper! In middle-school math classes, this technology is being applied to create geometric wood floor designs.

There is some great learning that happens the first time you miss with a hammer and blacken your thumbnail, but we need to honest about what time it is. If we want our kids to be content creators, we need to provide them with tools that allow their visions to come to life quickly to hook them with a love of making! Embracing the new generation of tools may be just the ticket to doing that!

  • innovation
  • maker
Ms. Rita's Arcade

Author: Rita Valencia

5th Grade begins the year with the hands-on Engineering unit. Through this unit, students are introduced to the engineering practices through a series of challenges. They go from very simple challenges (such as building a cart that will roll down a ramp) to more developed ones that require more planning and perhaps even some research. Initially, it all begins with a task they must accomplish. The client (me), is to hire an engineer that will meet my requirements based on given restraints. Our young engineers must develop a solution that considers these restraints and be ready to put their products to a test. Whether they meet the requirements or not, is up to me... the client. I will either hire their engineering services or not. They must prove that their product will be effective by showing evidence of the process they followed.

Within these challenges, students are presented with their final task. This is an arcade! Once again, the client will be opening an arcade and is in need of games that will attract potential clients. Our engineers must follow the Engineering Design Process to come up with a final product. This is the task they enjoy the most as they get the chance to try all the arcade games out. They get the chance to play with them before the client... hires or dismisses. 

This Engineering unit is a fun way for students to understand that every man created piece has had to go through a thought process that makes the product/creation useful. 



  • creativity
  • critical thinking
  • maker
Euclid, PacMan and the New Math

When you walk into Michael Waugh’s classroom in the FDR middle school, you get to see what the new approach to teaching math looks like. Geometry, computational thinking and video-games blend together into a unique learning experience. As Grade 8 students break into their first geometry unit of the year, Mr. Waugh uses the vintage video game ‘PacMan’ to help teach this challenging topic.

Describing a how Mr. PacMan moves through the maze is surprisingly difficult. When tasked with describing his movement for the first time, most students just repond ‘left, right, up, down’ or ‘north, south, east, west’. But the truth is that the movement is much more complex. Mr. PacMan slides, turns and even flips; highlighting important euclidian geometrical concepts like transposition, reflection and rotation. As kids begin to see this how these geometrical concepts play-out in the video game; their own understanding of how geometry works in the classroom begins to take shape. Their answers begin to develop depth and nuance as their understanding grows.

When I was a kid, this real-world, hands-on approach would have been greatly appreciated. For me; it was straight to shapes, a ruler, graph paper and formulas. The contextualization and hands-on practice highlighted in the PacMan lessons was skipped. So was my chance to use computational thinking to help wrap my mind around this new concept at my own pace. And you can probably guess how I felt about geometry when I was 13 years old.  

While the principles of Euclid haven’t changed in some 2400 years, the approach of how these key ideas should be taught definitely has! By forming connections to the real-world, and letting kids go through the steps to naturally cement their own understandings, this new math class feels very different than the ones of old!

  • Crea
  • Professional Development
  • stem
Self-portraits in the ES Art Class

Author: Johanna Pinasco

3rd grade students learned from the Italian artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo who was best known for creating imaginative portrait heads made entirely of such objects as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish and books.

The project first was making a self-portrait with a collage technique.

The students did their own representations of the things that they like to eat and reflected on the thing that they need to start eating to be more healthy.  Students practiced cutting and pasting skills and also learned to blend analogous colors to paint the background using watercolors.

After the collage was done they had fun with ipads playing with an application call "Pictoboldo". Students took pictures from themselves and transformed them into the style of the artist Arcimboldo.

Students love the activity, they were super engaged and were able to experience doing the same collage project but in a digital way.

We printed the images from the ipads and the students will be able to compare both digital and regular collage techniques.


  • creativity
  • ipad