MS Tech‎ > ‎

News MS Tech

New Tool: Vacuum Forming Machine

posted Aug 22, 2016, 4:41 AM by William Farren

This year we are fortunate to have a new piece of equipment in our design tech lab. It is a vacuum forming machine from Formech, a UK company. This new piece of technology will extend our creative abilities in exciting new ways. It should nicely complement our 3D printing and 3D routing tools, as those can be used to create molds (tools).  Vacuum forming technology is used widely in many different industries. If you watch the video below, you'll notice that this is how many toys are made. These machines are also used for the creation of Halloween masks, medical devices, chocolate molds and gelatin molds, to name just a few.

The video below explains what a vacuum former is and how it operates.  The challenging (and interesting!) process will be in the creation of original molds. These can be made with traditional tools or with computer aided design (CAD) tools which output to a CNC device like a router.

Math and Science Boat Project

posted Dec 3, 2015, 3:13 AM by William Farren

Students have been looking at ways to create strength using shape both for their 3D printed designs in Design Tech as well as for their boat building project in math and science classes. We've been using ideas from the Autodesk Sustainability Workshop video series.

The boat building project is providing us with excellent opportunities to apply what we are learning in class. Only being able to use a limited amount of cardboard and duct tape means we really have to think about how to best use these materials to create a functional boat. This is similar to how nature has to design: with limited supplies and energy. In the end, designing with limits creates more sustainable designs and teaches us to use our resources well.

Discussing, planning, trying.
Students began their boat projects by creating designs in Sketchup.

New Work Space

posted Sep 29, 2015, 1:10 AM by William Farren

Over the summer break, a new space was created for the design technology work being done in school. This space incorporates a divider wall which allows for one side to be used for dust-free technology like computers, 3D printers, etc., while the other side can be used for sanding, cutting, routing, etc. In one of the images below you'll see our CNC routing machine which allows computer designs to be cut out of various materials like wood, plastic and aluminum. You can learn more about this machine here.

This space is also used for Lego robotics and various computer uses like graphic design and computer-aided design, to name just a few. It's exciting to now have a dedicated space for the use of these specialized tools. 



E-Books in Grade 6

posted Mar 16, 2015, 3:56 AM by William Farren   [ updated Mar 16, 2015, 4:00 AM ]

Over the last few weeks, students in grade 6 have been creating e-books about evolution and the rise of early humans. This project culminated with 5th grade students visiting 6th grade classrooms to see what students had created.

Students worked on a variety of technology skills during this project. They worked collaboratively, using shared documents within the Google Apps for Education suite. Students also used the green screen (wall) to record themselves. Later, using the chroma-key feature in their favorite video editing app, they were able to virtually place themselves in interesting situations within the video. These videos were later uploaded to the cloud where they could be embedded into their e-book for playback. A big part of this project from a technology perspective, was to concentrate on page layout. Using a grid format, tables were created for the consistent and esthetically appealing placement of media. Media such as text, images, captions and videos placed into a grid allows for better distribution and balance of content. Students also used hyperlinks extensively to connect content throughout the book. For example, a glossary or table of contents using hyperlinks would take the reader directly to the page in question, improving the book's overall usability.

Tech Skills in this Project

  • Collaboration through shared documents
  • Advanced video editing using chroma-keying
  • Layout and design using grids (tables)
  • Hyperlinking within a document
  • Image manipulation to create annotations, arrows, captions, etc.
  • Versioning; reverting to previous versions of document when needed
  • Creative use of an assortment of technology tools
  • Use of multimedia in one document: videos, images, text...
  • Creating media for cross-platform utilization  (web, computer, tablet...)

Maker Club Update

posted Jan 16, 2015, 6:54 AM by William Farren   [ updated Jan 16, 2015, 7:05 AM ]

Last Thursday we had our third session of Maker Club and things are going great. Students are enjoying the variety of tools, materials and options available to them in our ever-improving maker space. Students are involved with electronics, wood working, paper crafts, airplane models, 3D printing, Lego robotics, etc.  We are fortunate to have access to many great tools and resources. And it's about to get better. Over the winter break, our new CNC router came in from Laguna Tools in California. We still have some work to do to set it up and get it running but when we do, we'll be able to do some pretty interesting things.  Both our 3D printers, and now, our CNC cutter, will allow students to continue exploring 21st Century fabrication methods which fuse computer aided design (CAD) with computer aided machining (CAM). It's never been a better time to be a maker!


Our new CNC Router which just arrived!

Laguna CNC IQ One
Example CNC Work
Images: Laguna Tools 

New Maker Club Starting Soon

posted Nov 25, 2014, 2:50 AM by William Farren   [ updated Nov 25, 2014, 2:52 AM ]

Soon we'll be starting a maker club for middle school and fifth grade students. The goal is to give students opportunities to experience what it's like to create and problem solve using tools and materials that they would probably not encounter otherwise. Students will be given ideas about what kind of projects they might want to work on. Freedom and choice are important. Some examples of technologies we will be using are computer aided design (CAD) to be output to a computer controlled cutter or 3D printer, prototyping with Lego Mindstorms (programmable machines), working with Arduino micro-controllers and Raspberry Pi micro-computers, woodworking, sewing, etc.

With the removal of "shop class" and home economics classes from most college preparatory programs, students today have fewer opportunities to make, repair or tinker with the tangible world. A maker space is a great way to help students be creative and to experience real, authentic problem solving. Maker spaces give students a reason to develop their math, science, arts, tech and entrepreneurial skills through real-world application. Creating in these environments allows students to learn from one another and to see new possibilities. This is the first year we are doing this at AISB. No doubt, everyone involved will learn a lot, and in keeping with the the maker ethos, even when we fail, we will have learned what doesn't work.

Assembling 3d Printer
Assembling 3d Printer

Sanding Tech Deck

Design Tech Class and CAD

posted Oct 14, 2014, 2:52 AM by William Farren

In design technology class, students have begun using computer aided design (CAD) software (Sketchup) to  design something useful. Below are some images taken from last year's 3D Printer Club where students took on the challenge of designing and printing a camera tripod adapter. 
This year, in DT class, we are looking for ideas that we can design using our new equipment. Just yesterday, two new 3D printers arrived from the US. We'll soon be testing them out using some of the new plastic colors and plastic types that arrived with them. There is still a lot to figure out with our new printers (they have two extruders for dual color printing) but we're up to the challenge!

The final product.

It starts with an idea. And a lot of good measurements.

The original item

3D printing takes patience. Failures = learning.

Creating the design in CAD software.

Welcome New Year 2014-15

posted Aug 28, 2014, 3:21 AM by William Farren

Welcome to a new school year. This should be an exciting one in the middle school as we will be 100% Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Many students have already begun to bring in their laptops and are off running. Parents should be receiving an online form, sent to their email of record, which they can use to register their child's machine. Registering the machine will help us at school retrieve the computer should it become lost or stolen. The form also has tips and suggestions for securing the computer and making your child's BYOD experience a better and safer one.
    Please remind your child to fully charge their computer each night so that they can get through the next school day with no battery problems. This is really important. Also, please remind your child that when they do not have their computer with them, it should be in their locked locker. Thanks for your help with this.

A hard case will protect from bumps and drops.
A carrying case is needed to move laptop around. 

Inexpensive earbuds are needed to watch videos, edit video, etc. These should be brought each day and kept in carrying case.

Tech Mindfulness Data

posted May 9, 2014, 5:34 AM by William Farren   [ updated May 9, 2014, 6:48 AM ]

Middle school students recently took a survey about the  mindful use of technology. Below you can see the anonymous results.  By using the filters you can look at the data in different ways. For example, you might want to compare how girls view their tech use compared to boys. Or you may want to see how sixth graders compare to eighth graders. 

Our goal is to introduce the subject of mindful use of technology to help students and staff develop ways of being more conscious and deliberate about their technology use. Students in the middle school have had four mini-lessons to date. Please ask them about it.  You can see the lessons here.

Our current working definition of mindful use of technology: The conscious use of technology in a way that helps one accomplish goals, improves well-being, and leads to long-term self-improvement.

Filter Data Using Dropdowns

Design Tech Club

posted May 9, 2014, 12:55 AM by William Farren   [ updated May 9, 2014, 1:24 AM ]

The design tech club has been hard at work (play) over the last few weeks. We started by putting together our Printrbot Plus 3D printer kit. This took about 15 hours of construction time. We had a few challenges to overcome due to some missing pieces which required some work-arounds. We are glad to say that the printer is working well. After several test prints and a lot of calibration and trial and error, we have managed to get some interesting prints out of our Printrbot. Having built the printer from the ground up gives us a good understanding of its workings and allows us to control it better than if we had just bought a completely assembled unit.
Club members are learning how to use Sketchup, a 3D modeling tool. This tool is quite capable but requires some time to learn. They are learning how to use it by designing something that has a real-world application. One student is designing the part that connects a camera to a tripod, as an example. There is still a lot to learn but the important thing really has to do with the skills of learning, problem solving, asking good questions, and tinkering. All the information we need to meet our 3D printing goals is out there for the taking/asking. Being a good learner and problem solver are two of the most important skills a student can acquire these days.

Club members with finished printer.

Early in the building process.

These are some of the items we've managed to print. You can see the learning curve from top to bottom. It took many prints before we were able to get the plastic to stay on the print surface. As the plastic cools it shrinks. This makes it want to curl off the print surface. After some searching online we learned that sanding the print surface and using hair spray would help the material adhere. There are many variables to consider every time we print something since each shape is unique and has different print and shrink characteristics. Lots of good problem solving involved!

Printing Gears

Working on Sketchup
Designing in Sketchup

1-10 of 33