Monthly Archives: September 2012

Pizza Dot Awesome

When Eli and I arrived at the AHA on friday for his 3D modeling lessons, some of the Digital Ops employees had gone in on a pizza and invited us to partake. Of course we did, because everyone loves pizza. The best part of this mundane, yet awesome consumption was that the best idea I’ve have all week came from this boring event.

I had planned on the lesson being a recap of everything we’ve done, with the assignment at the end of the class being incorperating all the buttons and options into whatever shape he wanted to make. I’m a firm believer in creative freedom and love to just let students go and invent whatever they want to. There are some problems in this occasionally, and that is that sometimes the amount of options and lack of direction is overwhelming and nothing ends up being produced. So I devised something basic that could incorporate everything we’ve learned thus far.  This worked better than planned, because his assignment was to make a pizza… in 3D.

First we explained how we would make one of the peices, but had to fit all together. We thought the best way to handle this was to make the basic shape of the crust, removing all other pieces besides one slice. We then worked with all the kinds of shapes and commands he’s learned thus far, comparing the real world pizza to the digital one. We added little circles for pepperoni, made a slightly risen crust by creating a curved line and making that into another shape, and finishing with adding some color.

After finishing the single peice, we then copied it and made the other peices, but rotating is weird in the almost any computer program, and is hard to get procise. To be accurate, one has to input how many degrees one would like the object to turn. This was the most awesome part to me. We taught a 10 year old angles. I don’t even remember learning that until the end of middle school or beginning of high school.

At the end of the class, Josh and I determined that Eli would certainly have creative freedom, but throughout the course, we would occasionally go back to the created pizza and add more and more features, all of curious how realistic we could get that pizza looking in 12 weeks.

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Why Do We Fall?

photo copy-written by Batman awesomeness

Turns out we will not have as many students as anticipated, which I could easily take as a personal defeat. After the long talk Josh and I had about what we should do next, for approximately two hours, I did. Then something clicked and I realized that this is still freaking amazing. We can focus on each student much more and make sure they learn as much as they can and have as much fun as possible. The only way this is a defeat is if no one learns anything, which is near impossible.

I remember when I went to high school, which was an “at-risk” alternative school, the class size was very small. In normal high schools, the class capacity was somewhere around 32. There were never more than fifteen or sixteen student in any given classroom where I went, and only sixty to seventy students in the whole school. Due to this small student population, the five amazing teachers that taught us demon-spawn, had a much closer relationship with every single student. They got to know everyone’s quirks, what did and didn’t work, and how to approach situations as they arose in a personal way. We also got to know their flaws, and more than once had I witnessed a few students push their buttons and try to get the teachers to snap, but that comes with the territory doesn’t it?

I’m not saying I’m as amazing as the one’s who taught, disciplined, and counseled me through some of the hardest years of my life, but you gotta start somewhere don’t you? I’m very excited and grateful for this opportunity that the world has given me and my organization. My hope is that the next semester will be bigger, better, and way more awesome.

Human Test Subject: 371

It’s only a few weeks until the after school programs start. I cannot seize to express how excited and petrified I am. I’ve determined that I will be doing an Ignite Ann Arbor talk about us hacking education, not for promotional purposes, but I just want people to know that there is a place that promotes DIY everything. Literally. We don’t how to properly do research, and so we’ve set up a day to have people just come in and play video games under the pretense that we will be watching them and asking them questions after. I don’t think any of us have made a curriculum for anything until 4 months ago, now we are learning how to ace that. We don’t know how to teach 3D modeling formally, but we’re gonna learn real quick.

I love the people I’m working alongside. Josh (far right in picture) is looked at as a leader around here, and his organizational and communication skills are that to be admired. Ivan (center in picture) is smart and enthusiastic, and eager to learn himself. This makes him open to constructive criticism, which I love.

My cousin is gracious enough to let her son be our guinea pig and have us test out our curriculum out on.  Last week, while we were having our weekly meal together, he asked how much video games he would be playing. I laughed and made a deal with him, stating that as long as he made something new every week, he could play video games with the rest of the time we had with him. Yesterday he came in for our first class with him, which he had been excited about for the whole week from what I hear, and we started sorting how how we should teach the 3D printing class. We got him on a computer and Ivan ran with it with few interruptions from Josh and myself. He did really well, and we ended up figuring out exactly how we should run the class. It worked better than I had ever hoped.

It’s amazing how that ends up happening sometimes. It happened during the summer camp, and I can’t be more appreciative that we have a young mind to test what we have set up, because I have a sneaking suspicion that we would have ended up throwing out our whole plans during the first week of classes. We’re learning and adapting to what’s needed, and I can trust that we will do so in a fashion that will ensure that makes sure the kids are the first priority. I am truly grateful for everything and everyone involved.

Goodbyes and New Starts

Tonight is the night we officially say goodbye to one of our most contributing members of our little community, and wish him well on his journey. Xander is one of the founders of AHA, been a board member for a long time, and has gotten the word out to so many people. A lot of us can thank him for bringing us down here and getting us excited to be part of whatever we’re doing.

As a close friend of mine, the goodbye is bittersweet. Of course I am glad he’s moving on with his life and trying to do bigger and better things. I know he would be embarrassed for me to say it, and especially publicly, but he was the best kind of inspiration I think a lot of us could have ever hoped to have. The friendship we had/have isn’t one of who was most experienced or more educated. He isn’t that much older than me, so I never felt as if he was talking down to me. It’s something I never had. There have been very few people in my life that made me as motivated, ambitious, and tested as he has.

I think about how everyone has to have someone in their life like this, and then I remember how odd he is and how long I didn’t, and I start to think that maybe not everyone is blessed with this kind of person in their life. It makes me grateful.

…and Xander, I know you’re going to read this and go “OMG, why does everyone look up to me, I’m not that awesome!” My response is, again, take it as a compliment. So few of us get such commendation. Do something with it, you jerk 🙂