3D print the missing piece

We all lose pieces to toys, games, and puzzles, especially in a school setting. One of the benefits of having a 3D Printer in the classroom is being able to recreate a missing piece. Not only is it nice to have the part back, but the process of recreating it is a great learning opportunity.

Recently, a piece to a Tetris Cube went missing. From the directions we knew what it looked like, and we could measure other pieces to extrapolate the dimensions. This was a perfect collaborative problem solving opportunity, as well as an occasion to introduce precision measuring techniques.

Using Vernier Calipers, students measured existing pieces to determine the dimension parameters of the missing piece. Once the dimensions were agreed upon, a 3D model was created using Autodesk 123D Design which is free for education. The model was then exported to the 3D Printer, and the missing piece magically reappeared! Next time a part goes missing, use the opportunity as a 21st Century Learning project.

3D Printing in the classroom
The missing piece
3D Printing in the classroom
The 3D Model
3D Printing in the classroom
Ready to 3D Print
3D Printing in the classroom
The missing piece magically reappears

Starting Robotics Early

What is the appropriate age to start students with robotics? Based on my observations from the Lego Robotics Camp I taught recently at Saint Paul’s School, I would advocate no later than Kindergarten! Unless we challenge our students early, we will never know what they can do! Maybe not all Kindergarteners are ready for Lego NXT or EV3, but they probably could do the Lego WeDo. You do not need to able to read to build or program a robot! Take a look at the following video from my camp. There were two 4th Graders, five 3rd Graders, six 2nd Graders, seven 1st Graders, and two Kindergarteners. At Saint Paul’s School in Clearwater, we will be expanding robotics from PreK through Middle School for the next school year.


ROV Underwater Robots

Teaching at a school that is located on a large creek has many advantages. To study Marine Ecosystems for Science, your field trip is right to your own backyard!

A great STEAM project for Marine Science in Middle School is making ROV Underwater Robots. Constructed out of easily available materials and components, students design and build a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to navigate and explore the local ecosystem.

PVC ROV designed and built by Saint Paul's Students
PVC ROV designed and built by Saint Paul’s Students

Utilizing the new Makerspace at Saint Paul’s, students built ROVs of their design completely from kits. We chose to use kits from http://pvcrov.wix.com/pvcrov because of the value and support. The kits provide a better cost value than sourcing the components separately, and the company provides excellent support and guidance.

Projects like these are not only excellent STEAM activities, they also foster 21st Century Learning Skills. Students engaged in, and learned:

  • Design and Engineering
  • Project Management
  • Measuring, Cutting, and Assembling
  • Soldering, Wiring, and Electronics
  • Propulsion
  • Buoyancy and Ballast
  • Watercraft Navigation
PVC ROV Designs
Students came up with their own PVC ROV Designs

The project was very successful keeping students engaged throughout the entire process. All teams successfully constructed and operated a working ROV! One team added a video camera to record their exploratory voyage:

Inexpensive Makerspace Projects

Some of my most favorite projects to do in the Makerspace are also the most inexpensive. These projects are great for developing creativity through repurposing and upcycling. Teaching students to source items that may otherwise end up in the trash is a great service to education and the environment!

These two projects are also great introductions to robotics without the need for expensive kits or components!

Toothbrush Battle Bots:

Materials needed:

  • Toothbrush new or used (free or cheap)
  • 3 Volt Cellphone micro vibration motor (Amazon.com approx.$1-2)
  • 3 Volt coin cell battery CR2032 (Amazon approx. 50 cents each)
  • Double sided tape

Cut the head off of the toothbrush. The amount of the handle left will affect movement, so have fun experimenting! There is a good clue in the video!


  1. Use double sided tape to attach the micro vibration motor to the tooth brush.
  2. Use another piece of double sided tape to attach battery to motor.
  3. Connect one of the motor wires to the bottom of the battery being careful to make sure it has a good connection.
  4. Tape the other wire to the top of the battery to complete the connection.
  5. Experiment with different toothbrush shapes and motor positioning.
Toothbrush Battle Bot Components
Toothbrush Battle Bot Components
Toothbrush Battle Bots
Toothbrush Battle Bot


Yogurt Cup Robots


  • Empty yogurt cup
  • 3 pencils or dowels. You may also use markers to make an artist bot.
  • 3V DC  Toy Motor (Amazon.com $2-3)
  • Dual AA Battery Holder (Amazon.com $1-2)
  • 2 AA Batteries
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Hot Glue Sticks


  1. Attach the 3 pencils or dowels to the inside of the yogurt cup evenly spaced (or not!) to make a tripod.
  2. Hot glue the battery holder to one side of the yogurt cup.
  3. Hot glue the motor to the other side of the cup with the motor shaft over the edge of the cup.
  4. Place a 1″ piece of hot glue stick offset on the motor shaft.
  5. Connect the wires to the terminals on the motor.
yogurt cup robot
Yogurt Cup Robot Components
Yogurt cup robot
Yogurt cup robot

Your Name as a Domain Name

As you may have noticed, the domain name for this blog is my actual name. Being an early adopter of the Internet, I registered my name as a domain name almost 20 years ago.

Having an uncommon name was an advantage in the availability, but I am not the only Paul Haberstroh out there. I am sure there are several other people with the same name that wish they registered it before I did.

Owning your name as a domain name is very important for many reasons. Your name is your brand, and your online presence is important regardless of your vocation. Having your own website or blog at an eponymous domain helps get you found and gives you considerable control over your online image.

SEO experts agree that having an exact match domain (EMD) is beneficial to search results in several ways. In addition to basic search relevance, any external links to your site automatically contain the relevant anchor text.

If you have a common name, you may need to get creative with a middle initial or name, or number, or use a subdomain from another domain. It may be available, but at a premium price. Currently, johnsmith.com is accepting bids starting at $50,999.00 on godaddy.com

Parents, please register your children’s domain names for their future. They will eventually need to make a website in school and having a mature presence on the web will impress high school and college admissions as well as future employers. The investment is minimal considering the value of the future implications. I like godaddy.com, their prices are competitive and their U.S. based service is very good. You do not need to do anything with it immediately other than register it, but your child will thank you when they do need it.

Give your student a head start in cyberspace and register their name as a domain name!

Register Your Student's Name!
Register Your Student’s Name!


The Hour of Code

December 7-13, 2015 is Computer Science Education Week. The Hour of Code is a global grassroots initiative to introduce students to computer programming. Launched by code.org in 2013 with a vision that “every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science”, it went viral in a short period of time.

To participate in the Hour of Code movement, I conducted the Hour of Code classes for the K-8th graders at Saint Paul’s School in Clearwater. St. Paul’s is committed to teaching computer science to all their students. Pre-K through 5th have regular classes every week in technology and coding is offered as an elective for middle school students. Using resources from code.org, K-8th grade students programmed animations and games using block programming software. The themes that are used by code.org are very popular and appealing to students of all ages. Minecraft, Star Wars, Angry Birds, and Anna and Elsa, are some of the choices new coders may select from. The enthusiasm and participation were outstanding with many students continuing to use the programs at home. Because of the overwhelming interest, we spent several classes exploring some of the other coding resources available.

In addition to the truly excellent resources on code.org, some additional coding resources I like are:

The Hour of Code is a tremendous opportunity for educators, and provides all the resources to successfully conduct the event. No experience is necessary for the students or teachers, and excellent videos and tutorials are provided. Even if you missed Computer Science Education Week, don’t wait another year! These resources are available all the time so you introduce your students to coding!

The Hour of Code Certificates
Happy 1st Grade students from St. Paul’s with their “Hour of Code” completion certificates.
Hour of Code Certificate
Hour of Code Completion Certificate

Developing a Makerspace

Makerspace St. Paul's School
Makerspace at Saint Paul’s School Clearwater

Developing a Makerspace provides a place for the resources and guidance for students to create. Having a designated space to make things allows students to explore and transform ideas into models and prototypes. A Makerspace fosters the 4C’s of the 21st Century Learning Skills.

Makerspace St. Pauls School
Makerspace at Saint Paul’s School Clearwater

Since resources vary, and are often scarce, a Makerspace could be in a dedicated space or it could be part of a shared space. While having a 3D Printer and Power Tools is nice, I have seen amazing creations made from things like empty yogurt cups, pencils, wire, magnets, and potato chips.

Makerspace St. Pauls School
Makerspace at Saint Paul’s School Clearwater

Once you designate a space, equipping it can be easy and economical. Reach out to Teachers and Parents, I am sure everyone has some tools or materials they could donate. Old computers and electronics make wonderful projects. Cardboard and packing materials can be transformed into engineering masterpieces. Parents tend to be more generous for hands on activities, and may have resources to share. Ask the local Home Improvement store for scraps of wood and other materials that may get tossed out.

The Makerspace is a place for all classes to share and is not just about STEM. Rather than just read about a Roman Aqueduct, a student will have a better appreciation of the concept by actually building a model of one.

I am very fortunate that at Saint Paul’s School in Clearwater, we have a dedicated space that was created as part of an overall renovation project. While we do have a 3D Printer, much of the other tools and materials has been provided by the generosity of parents and staff.

Following is a list of resources that you may find helpful in developing a Makerspace at your school and joining the Maker Movement! Please contact me if you need any help or advice on developing a Makerspace.

C-TEC Conference PowerPointMakerspace Development

TEDEd Video: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/a-call-to-invention-diy-speaker-edition-william-gurstelle

Guides and Equipment Lists:

Makerspace Playbook


Makerspace Equipment List


62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer ISBN 978-0761152439

Make: Electronics: Learning Through Discovery ISBN 978-1680450262

Making Makers: Kids, Tools, and the Future of Innovation ISBN 978-1457183744

Make: Wearable Electronics ISBN 978-1449336516

The Basic Soldering Guide Handbook ISBN 978-1500531140

STEM to STEAM ISBN 978-1452258331

Web Sites:




Materials Source:



Lego Robotics

At Saint Paul’s School in Clearwater we have a dedicated Lego® Lab. Having a Lego Robotics program is an essential component of any STEM curriculum and authentic learning experience. Lego Robotics engages students with real world design and engineering challenges. Students build and program very complicated robots. Some of the directions are over 80 pages long just to build the robot! Students also learn computer programming skills and techniques to control their creations. By working in teams that foster collaboration and communication, students learn problem solving skills.

Saint Pauls Lego Lab
Saint Pauls Lego Lab
NXT and EV3 Lego Robotics Kits
NXT and EV3 Lego Robotics Kits
Several tables were covered with Lego base plates to build off of. Most of this was created by Pre-K and K students.
Several tables were covered with Lego base plates to build off of. Most of this was created by Pre-K and K students.
The new Lego® EV3 robots interact with an iPad App.
The new Lego EV3 robots interact with an iPad App.

The programming requires students to convert what they want the robot to do into flow chart style programming. For example students must know the circumference of a robot wheel to convert it to a specific distance traveled. The students are learning a higher level of math without realizing it, and because they see the result in motion, they understand the mathematical concept.

If you are interested in starting a Robotics program at your school, please contact me!

The 21st Century Classroom

Much has been written and discussed about what is obsolete in the classroom and what the 21st Century Classroom should be like. Following is a photo essay of a recent makeover of the Middle School at Saint Paul’s School in Clearwater Florida. Through the generosity of parents and supporters, the Middle School Building underwent a complete makeover to become the model of what a 21st Century Classroom should look like!

21st Century Classroom
21st Century Classroom
School furniture should be comfortable and conducive to collaboration.
School furniture should be comfortable and conducive to collaboration. Displaying Student Projects inspires quality.
Areas for breakout groups accommodate project based learning.
Breakout areas foster group discussion for project based learning.
A modular stage for impromptu performances adds creativity to a lesson.
A modular stage for impromptu performances adds creativity to a lesson.
The table tops are actually whiteboards that can be drawn on providing a means to communicate ideas.
The table tops are actually whiteboards that can be drawn on providing a means to communicate ideas.
These are not your father's lockers. Wider to accommodate back packs and space on top to display student projects.
These are not your father’s lockers. Wider to accommodate backpacks and space on top to display student projects.
A Makerspace is a key part of a 21st Century School. This is the ultimate resource for the "4 Cs"
A Makerspace is a key part of a 21st Century School. This is the ultimate resource for the “4 Cs”
3D printing at Saint Paul's School in Clearwater teaches students rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing.
3D printing at Saint Paul’s School in Clearwater teaches students rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing.
All rooms have tables can be easily rearranged to accommodate different group sizes.
All rooms have tables that can be easily rearranged to accommodate different group sizes.
At Saint Paul's School in Clearwater we have a dedicated room for Legos and Robotics. We start Pre-K using the more advanced Legos.
At Saint Paul’s School in Clearwater we have a dedicated room for Legos and Robotics. We start Pre-K using Legos.



Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge

Schmidt et al. (2009) present a very detailed study which resulted in the creation of a statistical model to quantify Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge in future teachers. According to tpack.org “Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) is a framework that identifies the knowledge teachers need to teach effectively with technology”. Below is a graphic representation of the TPACK components.

Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by www.tpack.org

This is an extremely relevant construct for the K-12 classroom in that it can help prepare future teachers in the effective implementation of educational technology. Having a reference point for preservice teachers can help guide professional development to better prepare them for the “21st Century Classroom”.

Having a tool to quantify and help develop TPACK is extremely valuable for educational technology. Lack of professional development is often cited in the literature as a reason for inconsistent implementation of educational technology.

Whether TPACK level improvement can resolve all the barriers remains to be seen. Tsai and Chai (2012) offer a positive view:“We would like to highlight that the key essence of TPACK lies in the dynamic creation of knowledge and practice by teachers when they are confronted with the advancement of ICT and its associated pedagogical affordances. We term this capacity as “design thinking”. It moves beyond the TPACK knowledge perspective, which tends to be associated with codified/justified true beliefs, into the design mode of knowing. Design thinking seeks to change and improve current situations and create what is desired. It may therefore tackle both first and second order barriers as it treats all barriers as problems that need to be tackled and resolved through human creative thinking”.

While professional development is a critical factor in the efficacy of any technology implementation, it is not the only issue educational technology faces. Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich (2010) identify an important dynamic that is also a barrier to the implementation of educational technology: “For many teachers, possessing the relevant knowledge, confidence, andbeliefs is enough to empower them to integrate technology into their classrooms in meaningful ways. We probably all know teachers who have managed to be successful users, despite facing multiple barriers, including the lack of support (Ertmer, Gopalakrisnan, & Ross, 2001). Yet, for the vast majority of teachers, this is still not enough, as research indicates that innovative teachers are easily overpowered by pressures to conform (Roehrig et al., 2007). “Teachers are not ‘free agents’ and their use of ICT for teaching and learning depends on the interlocking cultural, social, and organizational contexts in which they live and work” (Somekh, 2008, p.450). And, unfortunately, for most, the culture to which they must conform has not adopted a definition of effective teaching that includes the notion of technology as an important tool for facilitating student learning”.

Quantifying and addressing TPACK for preservice teachers is a significant step in the future success of teachers’ effectively implementing educational technology. I would suggest that the TPACK framework studies be extended to include not only more advanced students but also current inservice teachers and administrators. Subsequent follow up studies with the same participants would also prove to be extremely valuable.

Until all educators and administrators have a reasonable TPACK level, there will be barriers to effective implementation and use of technology in education.


Denise A. Schmidt, Evrim Baran, Ann D. Thompson, Punya Mishra, Matthew J. Koehler & Tae S. Shin (2009) Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK), Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42:2, 123-149, DOI: 10.1080/15391523.2009.10782544

Peggy A. Ertmer & Anne T. Ottenbreit-Leftwich (2010) Teacher Technology Change, Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42:3, 255-284, DOI: 10.1080/15391523.2010.10782551

Ertmer, P. A., Gopalakrishnan, S., & Ross, E. M. (2001). Technology-using teachers: Comparing perceptions of exemplary technology use to best practice. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 33(5).

Roehrig, G. H., Kruse, R. A., & Kern, A. (2007). Teacher and school characteristics and their influence on curriculum implementation. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 44, 883-907.

Somekh, B. (2008). Factors affecting teachers’ pedagogical adoption of ICT. In J. Voogt & G. Knezek (Eds.), International handbook of information technology in primary and secondary education (pp. 449-460). New York: Springer.

Tsai, C. C. & Chai, C. S. (2012). The “third”-order barrier for technology-integration instruction: Implications for teacher education. In C. P. Lim & C. S. Chai (Eds), Building the ICT capacity of the next generation of teachers in Asia. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28(Special issue, 6), 1057-1060. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet28/tsai-cc.html (Links to an external site.)