This week, I ventured out into the Hickory community to our local thrift stores in search of an item that I could repurpose. I did not come to this point without a fair bit of hard planning and thinking, though.
I will admit that I struggled a bit through the brainstorming process. To explain, the maker kit that I am using is a 3D Printer by Makerbot–click here to see what the printer looks like when it is set up.
Thankfully, one of the teachers from the other high school in our district (where I completed my student teaching experience) raised the funds through DonorsChoose a while back to provide their students with access to Maker technology. After confirming with Mr. Dixon (@moriartytth) about whether or not I could use the printer, I started brainstorming about the possibilities of items that I could repurpose. Unlike a Makey Makey or other interactive Maker Kit, the 3D Printer creates items you design that remain static. Admittedly, though I came into the activity with the understanding that technologies have been around for centuries and certainly don’t have to involve technological interaction with an item to be an “educational technology,” this was foreign territory for me–but I welcomed the challenge.
At first, I thought that I might take a cookie sheet I found and repurpose it as a tic-tac-toe board of activities that could be used in my classroom, but this seemed like too much of a copout for this assignment. It would be just as simple to achieve the same end by going to the dollar store and purchasing a tic-tac-toe board with pieces. So, desperate to wrap my mind around how I was going to repurpose an item with a 3D printer for use in my high school English class, I e-mailed Professor White, who so graciously gave me some excellent ideas and helped me to redesign my thinking. One of her ideas, related to printing a QR code, did not work because of the amount of resources we had to print the size needed for the project I had in mind at the time.
After some thinking about what I am teaching right now with colleagues (@CrossonEdu, @cindygeddes and @carolinablondie), and what I had a need for in my upcoming lessons, I decided to let the waves of the thrift store hit me as I looked through a new lens.
I’m gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my pocket…
Amidst all of this, I found a gem: this clock.
Now, what would I do with a clock, you might ask? Well, after reflecting on my needs for the last few weeks of my classes, I focused on a couple of lessons I am teaching regarding the concept of time. For a secondary English course, a clock is chock-full with symbolism. On the promise of later explanation, you should know that I decided to gut the clock–quite literally.
The idea that I decided to move forward with involved the printing of a sundial. There will be an elaboration further into the post regarding my choice, but for now, yes–I designed and 3D printed a sundial.
Makerbot printing the Sundial.
Here are instructions for how you can do this, too:
1) Since the printer is a MakerBot, I used the accompanying software for design, Makerware. You should make sure that you download this software on your computer before you proceed any further.
2) After downloading the software, play with it. Attempt to design something simple at first–perhaps a ball, or a square, or something of that nature. After playing with Makerware, I took to Thingiverse to seek out some templates that I could modify to create the sundial. It may take some time to find what you are looking for; for me, it took about thirty minutes to find a model that I wanted to redesign. Click here for a basic video tutorial on how to use Makerware and Thingiverse.
Here is an example of what the software looks like (and what the sundial should look like).
3) After you have tweaked the sundial to your liking (this took me about an hour and a half), export the file onto an SD card (click here for a video tutorial on exporting the files from MakerWare).
4) Insert the SD card into the printer, and follow the instructions on the printer to select the file from the card and begin printing. It will take approximately 100 minutes to print completely.
5) Once the sundial has printed, take a standard clock and unscrew the back.
6) Remove the clock itself, and take the glass/plastic cover out of the frame.
7) Take a set of pliers and unscrew the minute and hour hands from the battery pack on the back from the clock.
8) Once this is done, screw the clock itself back into place.
9) Take the sundial and apply hot glue. Press the sundial down onto the center of the clock. It should look like this:
Once you have the sundial clock, of course, you will need the rationale: As I review for end-of-year assessments with my classes, I am revisiting poetry to reinforce close reading skills with my students. Two of the anchor texts that I am using for this unit are the poem “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, and “The Sun-Dial at Wells College” by Henry Van Dyke. In the first poem, Shelley’s focal point is that nothing mortal can outlast the decaying powers of the sands of time. Hearkening back to the ages that this poem describes, time was reflected using sundials that utilized shadows cast by the sun. Shockingly enough, many of my students did not even know what a sundial was before having it explained to them. This poem will serve as a great introduction to the second anchor text, Van Dyke’s poem.
Additionally, Van Dyke’s poem explicitly discusses the sundial’s literary merit. One of the things that my students need some reinforcement on are the close reading skills that they will need for their end of course assessments. Specifically, they need some help being able to identify symbols and analyze their greater impact on the holistic meaning of texts. The sundial is perfect reinforcement for this idea, because it can be analyzed in its tangible form to make it easier for students to translate their literal interpretations into metaphorical ones (where the poem comes in). This is one of the major learning goals I have for my students for the rest of the semester. The 3D printer has also made it possible to access a real, working sundial, because we do not have a life-size one nearby, and it is just as functional as a conventional one. To see the lesson activity that details how the sundial will be used, please click this link.