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Make your own iPad Stylus for less than 10 cents!

We had an incredible first week at Anastasis Academy.  It was amazing to see all of our hard work come together in the form of a student body.  Walking through the classrooms this week it was obvious: this is a place of learning. One of our first-week of school activities was creating our own iPad stylus.  Since we are a one-to-one iPad environment, this seemed like a good beginning for everyone. We learned that to make a stylus, we first had to find some soft, conductive material.  A Google search informed us that we could use conductive foam (the kind that is used to pack electronics), conductive thread, conductive yarn (we thought this would be PERFECT for our pens but couldn’t get any delivered fast enough), or a Scotch Brite sponge.  I was a little skeptical of the Scotch Brite (it just seemed TOO easy) but it worked like a champ! The kids had fun exploring how the yellow, soft part of the sponge would draw on the iPad when they held it in their hands.  Some of the kiddos were a little baffled when they put the sponge into the plastic pen body and they found out that it no longer worked.  Students added a little wire and soon the pens were working again!  It was a great way for all of the kids to experiment with conductors and insulators. Below are the steps for making your very own $0.10 or less iPad stylus. *I bought a pack of Scotch Brite sponges, cheap, penny pens from a local office store, and a small roll of craft wire.  We made about 50 pens for $6.00! 1.  Separate the Scotch Brite sponge from the abrasive green backing.  Cut the yellow sponge remaining into small wedges. 2.  Take the ink out of some cheap plastic pen casing.  Drill a hole near the head of the pen with a small drill bit. 3.  Cut 6 inches of wire. 4. Tightly wrap the wire around the small end of the sponge wedge. 5. Thread the sponge through the head of the pen (our pen head separated from the pen body). 6. Bend the end of the wire farthest from the sponge into a 90* angle.  Thread this into the pen body and through the pre-drilled hole. 7.  Pull the wire through the drilled hole and wrap it several times around the pen body. 8.  Cut the exposed end of the sponge into desired pen-nub shape.  9.  To use the pen, make sure that your hand is touching the wire at some point. Draw or write with your stylus! The kids loved making their own stylus.  There was a lot of talk about perseverance (when we tried to thread the wire through the small drilled hole), conductivity and exclamations of “I did it!”. It was a wonderful exercise in frustration and success.  Every student was proud of their finished product that actually worked!  Students learned about conductivity, perseverance, insulation, and building with every-day materials. One of our students, Benton, made a short stop motion animation with his pen…you can see it below:   Now for our next trick- working with @ianchia to figure out how we can construct conductive manipulatives that work with the iPad.  Should be fun!

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Playfic: create, play and remix text-based games

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, History, Interactive book, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 08-01-2013

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What it is: Playfic is a site that let’s users create, play and remix online text-based games.  I may have lost some of you already…but don’t leave yet! A text-based game is a genre of game that uses no graphics or sound, but instead, uses text to tell a story in an interactive world.  Think of a choose your own adventure tech-style.  Students can create a story that others can interact with by directing the story using words and phrases.  As an example, the story might be about a forest, describing what you can see East, West, North and South.  The player would type in a direction “East”, hit the return key, and the story progresses.  You can try out a sample text-based game here.

How to integrate Playfic into the classroom: Playfic has all kinds of good stuff for classrooms.  To create a story, students must first learn a little bit of coding.  Tutorials are included on the Playfic site, and are easy enough to get your students up and running in no time.  There is even a link to an Inform 7 (coding language) recipe book that will have your students dreaming up new scenarios and actively researching how to make them come to life.  Students can create games for each other while strengthening their writing and grammar skills.  This is wonderful for fictitious writing, but could also be used for students to explore “what ifs” in history and science.  Students can take a moment in time and dream up what might have been different about the world if the event hadn’t happened the way that it had.  As they are researching and learning about the actual event, they will also be analyzing why the event is important and critically thinking about it’s impact on the world we live in.  Similarly, students could explore a science experiment, hypothesizing what will happen and the different outcomes that might occur.

Teachers could create these choose your own adventure stories for students for new learning or review of a topic.  Wouldn’t it be cool to have a story using sight word vocabulary that prompted practice with the sight words?

I know a handful of students who really struggle with writing…it is PAINFUL.  These students are brilliant. They have great ideas to share. One of the students I have in mind came up to me today and said, “over break I taught myself Lua (programming language).”  Students like these will be all over this type of writing.  What a cool way to engage them and excite them about the writing process in a new way.

One of the things that I really like about Playfic is that it takes a lot of planning, organizing, and thought to create this type of story.  For some students the planning/organizing portion of writing is a real struggle.  This site would be so useful in teaching students the importance of those steps.  I also love that it will have them researching and looking up solutions for how to make their ideas come to life.  Just like we do every day in the “real world.”

Tips: The Inform 7 Recipe book can be found here. 

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Playfic in your classroom.

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