Purposeful Making by Adam Singer

(written by Adam for Designing Purposeful Making Experiences, Jun 2017)

Children inherently love to build and create.. And when students have a their own meaningful connection to their work, feel their ideas are valued and that they are part of a collaborative and trusting class community, students can leverage that joyful love of making for the benefit of affecting positive change, bringing purpose to the deep struggles which come with problem solving.


Parent Creativity Lab Workshop – Creating Chairs from Cardboard

Welcome to our Parent Creativity Lab Workshop Blog Series where, this time, it’s the parents’ moment in the spotlight as they participate in a monthly designing and making activity.  Here at Lighthouse, we have parents apply themselves in these projects to experience maker-centered learning for themselves.  My teammate, Maritza Ortiz, translates as I do my best to facilitate and explain the parameters of each workshop.


Designing Making Experiences (DME) Workshops

Designing Making Experiences (DME) is a two-day workshop, hosted by Aaron Vanderwerff and Angi Chau, where educators gather to engage in hands-on making and design their own making curriculum to take back to their classrooms. The training alternates between the Creativity Lab at Lighthouse in Oakland and the Bourn Idea Lab at Castilleja School in Palo Alto. 


Student Making Spotlight – Stomp Rockets

Our 3rd graders built stomp rockets as a science project centered around design and redesign.  They started the unit by building rockets and as they learned more about their mistakes and successes they refined their design to perform better. This blog is a snapshot of one of their earlier tries.

Making allows students to tap into their passions, developing and exploring ideas as they learn.  This week, students’ excitement spilled over as they collaborated and designed stomp rockets.

A stomp rocket and launcher consists of PVC pipe, cross joints, end caps, a soda bottle and tape where the pipe is cut into the specs such as the diagram.  After all the PVC parts are assembled, the students created a rocket out of paper and secured an empty 2-liter soda bottle with tape.  When all parts are secured, the next and final step is to stomp on the empty soda bottle.  The air propels the rocket into air.  Here is one way to build it.

Ms. Hurley and Ms. Greig, the students’ teachers, challenged students to:

  • Form working groups
  • Assemble the materials
  • Test out the Rocket
  • Document results

Once they built their rockets, the assembled students gathered on the playground and tested out their creations. The energy was high with anticipation for testing their stomp rocket.


Student Spotlight: Learning through Mentoring

Antonio and Amani are working to create an automatic firing marshmallow gun, and in order to get to their final goal, they started out by building a manual marshmallow gun.  In this series of blog posts we are shining a light on our bright students as they create making projects in their in-school making class where they have complete control over the projects they are preparing to showcase at the Bay Area Maker Faire.


Student Spotlight: Mini World (Phase 1)

Welcome to our blog mentoring series where it is my goal to shine the light on our bright Lighthouse students as they create making projects throughout the 2016-17 school year.  One area we will focus on is developing student agency which is one of the core values associated with maker-centered learning. This is one of the findings of our colleagues at the Agency by Design project out of Project Zero.I’m happy to present our first 2 students as part of this mentoring making series.  Isela and Diana both are seniors here at Lighthouse with college aspirations in the very near future.


Paper Problem-Solving With First Graders

1stgrade1It was a weekday afternoon, and Ms. Monroe’s class was getting ready to embark on their next project – folding paper squares into the shapes of various animals. A chart tacked to the wall clearly described each of the project options, with pictures and directions broken down into easy steps.

“So class,” Ms. Monroe was asking, “If you don’t know how to fold a particular shape, what can you do?”

“Ask a friend!” the class answered in unison. The alternative, of course (as Ms. Monroe had also mentioned) would be to look at the folded shapes already on the wall, and to practice-re-folding the shapes posted there along the pre-folded lines.


Making a Mess to Make a Mosaic


“And you know, sometimes we make a mess when we make art, and that is okay!” Mr. Guzmán told the crowd of eager second-graders gathered before him.

Soon the students were working busily at their tables, crayons scratching away against paper cutout squares. The students were working on creating a symbol of community. More specifically, they were choosing one of the core values of Lodestar (social justice, love, agency, community, or integrity) and creating a visual drawing of it using crayons and paper.


Crafting Community From Paper Bags, Crayons, and Cutouts

craftingcommunitypictureOn a sunny afternoon, Mr. Guzmán’s second-grade class was buzzing with the sound of second graders turning the pages of books and whispering words aloud. All along the wall were drawings of cats, people, and other creatures from the children’s book Stone Soup.


humanimageblog2The kids were connecting the characters and story with the idea of community in their lives. They were showing their thinking visually, by re-creating  the characters from the story as puppets put together from paper bags and colored paper.


King of the Hill 2016

We recently had our annual King of the Hill competition with our 12th grade Physics students!

Each year our Physics students build mousetrap cars as they begin to study forces and motion.  The first round of cars don’t work very well; the students don’t really know yet what it takes to make a durable and fast car.  Once they’ve finished building and testing the first round, our teacher asks them how they can make their cars better.  The students come up with ideas, and figure out what concepts they will need to learn more about in order to improve their cars. More