Voices from the Field — Making, IoT & Civic Engagement for #CSforALL
In part two in the series, teacher Jeff Solin shares example student projects and summer engagement opportunities for students. Learn more about Jeff and his 16-year long journey as a Computer Science teacher here.
The Chicago Flag project was designed give students an opportunity to integrate their own experiences, cultures, communities and passions into a tile in the overall mosaic. Students used laser cutters, 3D printers, 3D carvers, and a variety of other tools to build their tile in the mosaic. When this particular project was finished, I wrote a short blog piece about it and published it on the way to school in the morning. It was my first blog post, and it blew up in a way I never expected. By noon I had completed three phone interviews with newspapers and magazines, by 2pm WGN 9 News came to the school to do a piece, and by the end of the day there were over 5000 views on my post. WGN News posted their story on Facebook as well which within a week had over 80,000 views. Soon after, major local institutions started reaching out about showcasing the flag, and that lead to its current tour of Chicago. There was a full-wall installation at Navy Pier for 8 months that included information about the lab and the names of every student that worked on the project. Student after student visited the display and posted pictures of themselves standing next to it, beaming with pride. Following the flag’s stay at Navy Pier, it moved to its second tour location, the Museum of Science and Industry as part of an exhibit on Making within the community called Make Shop. After Make Shop, the flag was moved to the Group Entrance part of the museum where it will stay until the end of the summer when it becomes part of a new longterm exhibit on Making. When the tour is done, it will come back home to Lane Tech for a permanent installation.
Along with my Lane Tech CS colleague Daniel Law, and Array of Things team members Douglas Pancoast (SAIC), Robb Drinkwater (SAIC), Satya Basu (SAIC) and Kate Kusiak-Galvin (University of Chicago), we’re on our third year running a curriculum that we call the Lane of Things (LofT). The project is a spinoff of the large-scale Array of Things, an urban instrumentation, open data, and civic science project in Chicago. Written into the grant, the curriculum is being packaged for free along with a paid one-week professional development workshop for teachers this summer. Motorola Solutions, Motorola’s philanthropic arm, has continued to fund the grant for the past three years. This will get our curriculum into the hands of many more students and teachers in many more schools across the city and beyond. Our expansion of the curriculum beyond Lane is dubbed the School of Things (SofT). In this curriculum, students learn about using low-cost micro-controllers, environmental sensors, switches, triggers, events, cloud-based data collection, data analysis, large dataset visualization, digital design and fabrication, prototyping, client questioning and more. The students learn how to use these tools to design and build devices that can help them solve problems for themselves and for their communities. In our second year of the project, we started having students build Hackster.io project pages to share out their work with others. You can see last years projects here. For the most recent iteration, we decided to take a big risk and partner with an outside organization as a client and see how that would go. We were lucky to partner with the Chicago Cubs and have the students work with them to design, prototype, and build multiple sensor nodes to deploy at Wrigley Field. The Cubs were interested in fan sentiment, upper-deck environmental conditions (wind, light, temperature, humidity, etc), and sound levels as you work your way from the stadium out into the neighborhood. Working with an organization like the Chicago Cubs was really exciting for the students and it included multiple visits to Wrigley Field to both survey for design and eventually deploy the devices. Follow the LTMakers on Twitter.
Array of Things
The Array of Things is a collaborative effort among leading scientists, universities, local government, and communities…
One more project I’d like to share is a collaboration between one of my students, Manali, and my sister Laura who is a professional stylist in NYC. Laura is the personal stylist for Diana Taylor, Michael Bloomberg’s long time partner. For last year’s Met Gala which focused on technology in fashion, Manali and I worked on two projects with Laura and her tailor. Manali designed and laser cut a “living hinge” bowtie for Michael Bloomberg, and I laser cut pieces of cashmere and suede for a shoulder piece for Diana Taylor. Manali knocked it out of the park, and at the age of 18 has a piece in her portfolio worn by the former-mayor of New York City on the red carpet of the Met Gala.
Summer Engagement Opportunities for Students
At Lane, we run a blog where we post anything and everything related to student opportunities that crosses our path. The blog has helped us disseminate information about hackathons, scholarships, internships, jobs, events, competitions and more to not only Lane students, but all Chicagoland students. Some upcoming opportunities for students this summer include but are not limited to:
Jeff Solin is a Computer Science teacher and a founding member of the Chicago chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association. He is the first recipient of the 2018 National NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award for his commitment to bringing Computer Science education to thousands of underrepresented students in Chicago Public Schools. In this piece, Jeff shared the stories behind some of his projects and a list of Summer engagement opportunities for students. You can learn more about Jeff and his 16-year long journey as a Computer Science teacher here.