Guest Blog: Canadian & Korean Differences (Lina)

Lina ESL 2016I had a lot of experience while I was in Canada. Also I felt many things. First I realized the difference between Canada and Korea. I think Canada is filled of individualism. I’m not saying it is not bad, but in Korea, we are so different to Canada, so I had a lot of time to used to it. When I was in the hotel, the young kids were singing, screaming and running, so some people who was in the hotel called cop. When I heard of that thing I was so shocked.

Second thing that I experience was Canada education makes student comfortable and understand easy. Mr Reimer and Mr. Dueck was good listener to us. And if we speak wrong sentence or speak lowly, the were always good listener. And they knew the way that how to make a class mood good and active.

I learned lots of things in Canada and I want to study more in Canada. And one more thing: the Canadian guy is so handsome!

Guest Blog: Santa and P-K (Tony)

Tony ESL 2016I’m in Canada. I don’t take English but now I like English because I have good masters name is Mr. Reimer, Mr. Dueck. Mr. Reimer like my grandfather. First impression like Santa. He is very kind and he is very funny. Next Mr. Dueck. Mr. Dueck is like P-K because he is very handsome. And he is very sporty.

I’m have many lunch is delicious or taste it so bad. My favorite lunch is hanburger because it is very delicious and so good. We are make board games: Catan and Taboo. I like Catan because it is so funny. Come in to a chance I again go to this camp.


Guest Blog: Canada’s Good Points (Daniel)

Daniel SeoI’ve lived in America, but not in Canada. It seems like the two countries were almost the same, but they are very different. In Canada, there are kind people. People in Canada treat you with their best. An example is when you just saying hi to each other when going past a stranger. In South Korea, that is very rare. People ignore you. Second, there are so many awesome wildlife adn deers run around. Lastly there is so much beautiful nature. There are splendid lakes and hundreds of trees everywhere. I believe that every country has a good point and these are the good points of Canada.

Guest Blog: Hamburgers? No! Canada? Yes! (Tina)

Tina ESL 2016We went to Canada on 7/20/2016. We went to Canada to learn English and evangelize. I went to many attraction include Vancouver. We went to swimming pool, too. I though that Canada had many swimming pool. There were hotel, Mission and Mill Lake area.

Also, I ate lots of hamburgers and Coke. At first time I had stomachache often. I loved hamburger at Korea, but I hate hamburger right now. Sometimes I ate Korean food include rice, black bean noodle and kimchi soup.

We saw many beautiful scenery at attraction. One of my favorite things is that the sun is long. If sun is long we can play more! because its not dangerous. I learned many things here. My view =point changed after I went here. I met good friends and teachers at here. At school I met Mr. Reimer and Mr. Dueck. They taught us and loved us. I don’t want to go to Korea back. I want to live in Canada.

Guest Blog: Tae Kwon Do in Korean & Canada (Ted)

Ted ESL 2016When I was in Canada, I could have an opportunity to visit Tae Kwon Do (Korean martial art) gym. On the day of visiting, I wore my Tae Kwon Do cloth (called do-bok) and got on a car. About 30 minutes later I arrived and met the grand master. Then I did wasm-up exercise and participate in a class.

After I finished the class, I felt differences from Korean Tae Kwon Do. First thing is thinking of “black belt.” Black belt is the last level of Tae Kwon Do (of course there are levels in black belt, from Dan 1 to Dan 9.) However, in Korea, everyone have learned when they’re children and have “black belt.” So Black Belt is common in Korea. In Canada, not only is black belt uncommon, but also it takes long time to get it. Only people who make efforts can get Black Belt.

Second one is language. Some work are not translated to English but many words are done. It took some time to get used to the words.

Last, Canadian Tae Kwon Do emphasize mental power. Also it separate mental and physical power clearly. In Korea, parents usually send their children to make theirs strong. For this reason, the gym often teach physical power only.

I think if you want to learn “Tae Kwon Do,” properly, Canadian gym will be better for you. Those differences make Tae Kwon Do more attractive.


Guest Blog: School During Vacation? (Ben)

Ben ChienWhen I was in Korea, I was excited to go to Canada. However, when I was in Canada I was so tired so I just wanted to sleep.

Actually travelling was not fun much, but to see a huge nature of Canada was good. It was very good experience when I started ESL. I felt annoy about that I got to school during vacation. However, it was quite fun because we talked a lot and played board games. It’s little stressful (maybe), but it’s quite fun. Also it will be one of the best experience.

Demonstrating Understanding


[Image from]

One of the things about interviews is that there will be some unexpected questions; by design.  “Expect the unexpected” is a clever axiom, but, of course, it is inherently self-contradictory.

Today I had a great interview question, “What would you do for projects if you did not have a 3D printer?” I was asked. I suppose I enthused so much about the interesting things my kids were creating and producing that it sounded like I was all about 3D printers. “They designed and printed…” “They came up with an interesting way to …” This caught me totally off guard because I am all about using junk to make neat projects. I intentionally include in requirements that students invent or re-purpose all the parts of their tangible artifact.

You see, if I give you a diagram and give you the parts shown in the diagram then show you how to assemble the parts like the diagram … well … what are you learning? To follow instructions?

I believe you show evidence of understanding when you can take information and use it in a new context; when knowledge can be applied to novel situations.

[ASIDE: Curiously, interviews rarely tax this domain of application. Interviews are a lot like tests: you need to prepare then you will be asked questions you are largely prepared for, the unexpected notwithstanding. There is not often “application” questions. Although I did have one in my first job interview. Denny Clark handed me a piece of cement and said, “What kind of rock is this?” Then he asked me – on the spot – teach a lesson impromptu on something in biology (the position I was interviewing for.) That was just one dimension of his extraordinary leadership.]

Anyway, the question caught me off guard because the interviewer could not possibly see the context of my 3D printing – and that was my fault for not providing it! I use the 3D printer, not because it is a secret weapon, but because it is one of my currently available tools that kids enjoy and tap into. And that is what we always do. We use what is at hand (prepared by me scrounging stuff up usually). In Korea we used laptops and Youtube for kids to make up words to familiar songs – thanks Stephen Taylor! We use heaps of Costco cardboard boxes – thank you Costco! We use paper clips – thank you TOP Science! We use dollar store “party favor” tops as mousetrap wheels. We use hot glue (by the mile) though the real adhesive is the creativity of kids that holds things together.

And I love this crafting and creating because it is unique to each student. I just point them in one direction and then I watch them branch off as far as they creatively can.

[In fact, you could make a case for objectively measuring creativity by the degree of “recognizable” variance from the intended target. Hmm… that might me a way to objectify creativity … I need to think about that some more…]


Is It Ok to Have Fun?

GageCalvinAli (2)

As I mentioned previously, the curriculum in this course originally used different topics in each grade until, last semester, I noticed that most kids take STEM-Tech only one time in middle school. In other words, if you disperse topics across grades, then some kids will not see any of the content. Toward that end I am trying to make sure each grade gets what they need most (according to high school teachers): hands on building and making stuff.

Why is that important? Abstract content  is hard to understand if only studied on the level of abstraction. However, when you have a “sense” of how things work by actually manipulating them, then you can apply the abstract ideas to particular -in this case, mechanical  – examples. So one project we are building in grade 7 is “trebuchets.” These are an application of levers and machines. We have made a one piece trebuchet, a trebuchet from paperclips and, lastly, an original trebuchet.

Building so many trebuchets is not the main goal, but doing anything well requires iterations, so students have built several different kinds of trebuchets to permit them to develop their ideas. Design takes time; good design takes several iterations.

And it has simply been a LOT of fun. As the picture below attests, we are designing and building /printing like crazy! The district CTE department has been really supportive and these students have turned learning into what sometimes feels like a party with a lot of fun. And a lot of smiles. [Full disclosure: I did not ask students to pose for the picture; their expressions are their own ideas. Aren’t they great?]

field of treb dreams

“I Can Do It!”

Treb by Eve

For a teacher there are few things that are as exciting as seeing one of your students become excited about learning or flush with the sense of achievement. One of my 7th graders (above) was not the keenest Trebuchet builder, but she was giving it an honest effort. She submitted a “trebuchet base” and an “axle” in her Google Drive folder. They weren’t quite printable so I tweaked a couple things and did a few adjustments for scale (a common oversight in you students.)

Then over the weekend I printed like mad to get all my trebuchet products printed on our 3D MakerBot Replicator 2 printer (purchased by the school district.)  It takes a lot of time, so I have take to combining several students work into one large file in Sketchup; convert file format to STL (using free Sketchup extension) the open in MakerBot Desktop and print! Largest print took about 9 hours, so I run these overnight. That means on weekends I have long print session: Friday night, Saturday, Saturday night, Sunday, and Sunday night permit me an accumulated print time of 45 hours ( 5 sessions up to 9 hours each).

Of course, it does not always (ever?) go as planned so I don’t get 45 hours of printing. It takes about 1.5-2 hours per accumulated print to compile the files and fix student design mistakes or problems. One of the most common mistakes is too much material. Large, solid surfaces can be thinned or cutouts can be added to reduce material (and time!)

Anyway, in the end it was a treat for me – and the students pictured above – to see that her trebuchet not only worked, but it easily met the standard (throwing a small plastic ball an average distance of more than 3 m over three throws.

Her smile is an understatement, but the gleam in her eye and the smile while she was shooting, clearly said, “I can do it!” – and she did!

Making 3D Printers

Kerrby Day 1 image

Teaching technology has been a blast at Fairhaven Middle School this year. A little coding (we used to call it “programming”), a little 3D design and printing, a little trebuchet and mousetrap car design and building.

I was excited that in the first semester we almost tripled the number of printing hours on the MakerBot 3D printer in the classroom. I have had to order 5 rolls of filament so far (if I recall correctly.) In any case I have not been able to keep up with student demand for 3D printed products.

When visiting the Seamonsters Robotics club at our local high school I saw some home-made 3D printers chugging along making parts for their competition robots. Sehome practical engineering teacher, Kevin Criez, told me they were designed by a local engineer. I found that our local makerspace (Bellingham Foundry) has been working in conjunction with a retired mechanical engineer, Jeff Kerr to produce these printer kits. For $350.00, you get all the parts and free advice and coaching from Jeff and other makerspace enthusiasts and space at The Foundry to assemble your printer.

I have been working on “my” two printers for two evenings so far. Frankly? This has been some of the best fun I have had in ages. I get to build my own 3D printers! Then they go into my classroom and kids will have access to printing on their own. We’ll have a battery of 3 printers (1 Makerbot Replicator II and 2 Kerrby’s – as Jeff’s printers are being called). My goal is to make the design and printing even more accessible by kids.

Right now I receive their files (made in Sketchup) and I export them to .STL format (using a free Sketchup extension). Then Makerbot prints directly from those files. I would like to stop being a bottleneck and have a “PrintMaster” in each class. A student whom I teach to use the printer and respects the technology who can coach other students to preparing and setting up their designs for printing.

This is getting such an enthusiastic response from students that we probably need some kind of after-school time for students to make designs and get them printed.

In the meantime, I am enjoying this at least as much as the students are!