So Many Pieces! Assembling a Robot Arm

When I opened the box of our new Robot Arm Kit and saw the number of pieces, I wondered how on earth I was going to put it together! Once upon a time, I would cringe at having to get a screwdriver to open a battery compartment!  I’m proud to say that, not only did I manage to put the Robot Arm together, it actually worked too!

To my surprise, I found the assembly process enjoyable, relaxing and very rewarding.  The most challenging aspect for me was identifying the variety of screws, nuts and bolts, as many were quite similar.  The kit also came with a controller that also required some assembly.  We also purchased a USB Interface Kit, allowing us to connect the Robot Arm to a computer and program it via the supplied Robot Arm software.

Curriculum resources are also available for this technology such as Robotic Arm Edge Activities & Curriculum.


A Scratch Project Thank You!

Star Wars Day Scratch Screenshot

After creating our “Star Wars Day” Scratch project and publishing it at the end of March, I hadn’t revisited it until the day that it was to be used for our “Star Wars Technology” display.  When I logged into my Scratch account I was totally amazed to discovered that the project had been viewed more than 13,000 times and had more than 400 comments!  It was also exciting to see that the project had been remixed more than 30 times meaning that other Scratch users have used this project as a basis for something new.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to view, play, like, favourite, comment and remix this project!

Star Wars Day – Tablet & Keyboard Version

Star Wars Day – MaKey MaKey Version


If Luke Skywalker was here today…

I am currently working with one of our ICT teachers, Roger Barrow, planning a unit of work about Computer Aided Design and 3D Printing.  In particular, this unit of work will focus on the themes of “Star Wars Technology” and “Life Changing Technology”.

The famous scene from Star Wars Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, where Luke Skywalker confronts Darth Vader, provided the inspiration to pose this question, “If Luke Skywalker was here today, how could we provide an affordable and functional prosthetic arm?”  If you Google the term, “3D printed prosthetics”, you will be presented with incredible projects such Robohand and Project Daniel.

Apart from researching ways 3D printing is changing the manufacturing of prosthetic limbs, students will be introduced to Tinkercad, one of our favourite, free CAD tools.  Ideally, we would love to give students the opportunity to design and print their own full size prosthetic limbs, but are limited by time and the capabilities of our much-loved UP PLUS 3D printer.  So, we have scaled down the project giving students the opportunity to design a prosthetic arm for our Luke Skywalker action figure.

Star Wars Technology

I recently created and 3D printed my own designs and, by the time I got to version 3, I was please with the results.  Of course, there are many different ways to approach this design and I can’t wait to see how our students approach this task!

Skywalker Arm V3 Screenshot




Make Magazine: An essential resource for Maker Ed!

After reading about Make Magazine in Invent to Learn by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager, I immediately ordered some back issues and took out a subscription.  Make has quickly become an essential resource for me!

The format has changed slightly and increased to six issues per year so there’s just enough time between issues to read it from cover to cover, explore the many online resources that accompany the articles and try some of the projects yourself!

I now have copies of Make in our eLearning Room and have noticed that students have also started to take an interest in it.  The recent special feature about Drones and the amazing PiPad Raspberry Pi Tablet were some favourites that inspired our students to read, explore and create their own Maker projects.

Make Magazine Makerspace

Image from the Make Magazine article, Kickstart a Kids’ Makerspace at

Star Wars Day Scratch Project

I’ve had so much fun creating a special Scratch project that will form part of an interactive poster for an upcoming school display.  The Scratch project, “Star Wars Day” has two versions – one for a tablet and/or keyboard device, the other for use with a MaKey MaKey invention kit.

Inspiration for the project came while I was listening to some music from Star Wars as my 13 year old daughter played the violin.  As I listened to “The Imperial March” by composer, John Williams, some of the notes played by my daughter just happened to correspond with the famous Darth Vader theme.  This gave me an idea to create a type of Scratch tutorial that would give people the opportunity to learn how to play part of the them.

Soon after came the MaKey MaKey version, that allowed us to connect real world objects such as a small Darth Vader toy wrapped in wire that could be touched to hear an excerpt from The Imperial March, as well as an egg carton covered in foil that could be used as a keyboard.

But it didn’t stop there!  Students are still being asked to “Make a poster…” on a regular basis.  I thought this might be a good opportunity to show what was possible when you explore the concept of an interactive poster.  The MaKey Makey invention kit, connected to an old laptop running the Scratch project, Talking Point recording devices, QR Codes and lots of different items and surfaces provided an interactive and tactile experience for the display.

I’ll provide further information about the interactive poster in a future post but, for now, I’ll leave you with a look at the Scratch project, “Star Wars Day”.

Star Wars Day – Tablet & Keyboard Version

Star Wars Day – MaKey MaKey Version