K’nex club and Digital Learning Day

Students collaborating to design a tripod

Students collaborating to design a tripod

In the four years that I have been at my school, we had never had clubs that met during school.  But this year, we started holding clubs every other Monday with the 6th graders.  I was so excited when I found out about this opportunity, and I immediately knew what I wanted to start: a K’nex club.  I don’t have enough diversity in materials yet to hold a full-on Maker’s Club (that will be next year). Since I had been given several tubs of K’nex to start out our Makerspace, I decided to make that our focus.

Students testing out their tripod prototypes

Students testing out their tripod prototypes

Our first club meeting fell on the week of Digital Learning Day, so I incorporated that into the program.  I gave my sixteen students a task: work with your groups to design a tripod that can hold an iPod touch or iPhone.  The goal was to use the tripods and devices to create a stop motion video of our activities.  Before they were allowed to start building, the students brainstormed their ideas on paper.  It was great to see them all working together coming up with completely divergent solutions.  After the brainstorming, the building and field testing began.  Some of the designs were perfect; most needed some tweaking.  Finally, the students were ready to make their videos.  They set up their tripods, started recording (we used Stop Motion Studio), and got to work on free building projects.  Every few minutes, they would move their tripod set-ups to different locations.  At the end of the meeting, I worked one-on-one with several of the students to edit the videos and import them into iMovie, where they added music and sound effects.

Student showcasing their creation at Digital Learning Day

Student showcasing their creation at Digital Learning Day

For Digital Learning Day itself, my K’nex club students got to bring their lunches to the media center and we Skyped with fourth graders from a local elementary school.  My students came up to the mic and showed off their creations.  It was so awesome to hear the elementary kids ooh and ah over my students’ projects.  You could see the pride in their faces.  Several of the students are shy, but they lit up when they talked about their projects.  One of my students showed our video, while another gave a basic K’nex demonstration.  Now the media specialist (@OkleMiller) of the school we Skyped with is telling me that all her kids are asking for K’nex 🙂

It was an amazing opportunity to connect with another school, and I think it was a great way to start out our new K’nex club in our Makerspace.

Our Skype chat with elementary students

Our Skype chat with elementary students


Diana Rendina, MLIS, is a middle school media specialist/teacher librarian in Tampa, FL. She is the creator of the blog RenovatedLearning.com & is also a monthly contributor to AASL Knowledge Quest. Diana is the winner of the 2016 ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award, the 2015 ISTE Librarians Network Secondary Award, the 2015 AASL Frances Henne Award & the 2015 SLJ Build Something Bold Award. She is an international speaker on the Maker Movement and has presented at conferences including AASL, FETC & ISTE. Diana co-authored Challenge-Based Learning in the School Library Makerspace with Colleen and Aaron Graves (to be published August 2017). She is also the author of the forthcoming ISTE book, Reimagining School Libraries.

Comments

  1. […] may remember that a few weeks ago I wrote about how I started a K’nex club at my school.  We’ve only had a few meetings so far, but the kids are loving it, and I feel like […]

  2. […] Digital Learning Day […]

  3. […] clubs but was piloting during school clubs with 6th graders, so we had a small but mighty K’nex Club where we had tons of fun.  This gave me a chance to experiment with what running a club was like, […]

  4. […] given.  I’ve seen my students come up with amazing projects through design challenges: awesome phone stands with our K’nex club, catapults, crossbows and trebuchets for our Catapult Challenge, robots, reading caves and rockets […]

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