PechaKucha Night D.C. – Vol. 19

I recently presented at a PechaKucha night in Washington D.C. with the theme Elements of Science & Design: Stories of InspirationIt was a great experience and I wanted to share some lessons learned.

PechaKucha Logos

Laser cut PechaKucha logos as gifts for presenters

PechaKucha is a short presentation format. The presenter talks while 20 images are projected for 20 seconds each. Typically the talks center around creative projects or work. PechaKucha 20X20 is similar to the Ignite presentation format which is 20 images for 15 seconds each and is popular at technology conferences.

PechaKucha 20X20 is a great format to use for the classroom. Creating and/or curating 20 images that stand alone without bullet points is challenging. Below is a screenshot of all 20 slides from my presentation which includes a collaborative art piece created just for the event. (slide 14) The time format encourages students to practice and edit without being an artificial requirement. A presentation like this is a natural way for student to share their Maker projects including the design and making process.

PechaKucha Presentation Screenshot

While trying out a new presentation format was valuable, the best part was listening to and interacting with the other speakers. As an educator, I don’t often get a chance to talk with other adults outside my field.

Genna Davidson: @WitsEndPuppets : Loved the creation of a world from found objects and paper. So much of hands on education now is focused on STEM that seeing Making as a means of story telling was mind opening. I really like the idea of having puppet making as a Maker activity.

Lori Steenhoek: @capitalpixel : Seeing the process of 3D rendering made me think about the nature of how it is more and more difficult to determine what is a real image versus computer rendered. I want to explore the idea of taking student 3D designs or scans from STEM camp and dropping them in a rendered environment.

Anthony Dihl: @anthonydihl : Photography and printmaking is cool but printing with fish is super cool! We use fish during STEM camp. I need to convince folks that we need to do fish prints before the dissections. I’m also interested in possibilities of 3D printing and screen making cross-over.

Sara Caldwell: @SciencingSara : One of the points I took away is that scientist see the world differently. The idea that perspective and viewpoint is integral to a role is important for anyone working with students. Bonus: Sara is a scientist that works just a few mile from my school.

Jane Pinczuk: @musicinme501c : Teach kids to find their super powers! How do we enable schools to be a place that students can find their true selves?

Delonte Briggs: @MrBriggsManager @SongPoets : I identified with this talk about the work needed to promote indie artists. In many ways, I feel like educators are niche, indie artist struggling to be heard against all the commercial content out there. The strategies Delonte talked about to collaborate with others and create collectives of artists to keep growing really resonated.

Lauren Worley: @SpaceLauren : Sometimes you get so wrapped in things you forget that we are here for a heartbeat of time on a tiny soap bubble. Nothing like seeing a photo of the Earth as a tiny dot from Mars to put things in perspective. I think Lauren’s superpower is getting rocket scientists to look down long enough to tell the rest about the wonders out there.

Tegy Thomas: @PechaKucha_DC @supernova7 : Recruited all the presenters from Twitter to have this awesome night.


Presentation Script

1. A year ago I was staring at a concrete wall waiting for a technology initiative that was pushed back another year. You see my school district stopped buying textbooks 10 years ago but somehow the richest county in the US can’t afford to buy an iPad or a Chromebook as a replacement.

2. So I started reading about the maker movement and wondering if there was something I could do under the radar to excite students about technology. So I pulled out the post-it notes and filled that wall with a model of kids learning by Designing, Making and Sharing solution to real problems.

3. At the time there wasn’t a book or a class about Makerspaces for schools but there were a lot of articles about makerspace equipment especially these new 3D printers. I decided to go all in and buy one.

4. You see a company named Printrbot was selling a 3D printer at a price that a teacher could afford. $500 was cheaper than the tuition for a grad class. The photo shows a test cube that was 3D printed out of threads of plastic, layer by layer. It has a smooth bottom, layered sides and a a textured top.

5. So, in a story right out of Date Lab*, the week after I get my 3D printer I had to go out of town. As I’m driving, I’m thinking about that cube and have an idea. What if you print all the sides flat on the print bed and then fold it up into a cube so that all the sides are smooth? As soon as I stop the car, I write down this flood of ideas.

6. When I got back, I found a free CAD program and taught myself 3D Design and Printing and then publish the Foldable Cube design on  a site called Thingiverse. Thingiverse is a repository of Creative Commons designs for 3D Printing. My first design and it is my one big hit.

7. After that I start publishing a ton of stuff; a foldable tetrahedron, a historical marker template, a tactile writing prompt AND I’m writing lesson plans on my blog to to go with these designs and I start tweeting and posting to Instagram. I am working harder than I ever have for any grad class.

8. I’m just a couple months into this but suddenly I am an “expert” because I’m one step ahead of everyone else. I’m presenting at teacher conferences and I get invited to be the 3D Printer guy at STEM camp. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

9. STEM Camp wanted fish. A Japanese museum had published a 3D model of a fish for animation. I converted it for 3D printing but the fins were too thin to print. A software company in Germany heard about the problem and fixed it then I printed the fixed model for kids in Virginia. Global collaboration on a 3D printer project.

10. Another STEM Camp project. Creating models of houses damaged by different intensities of tornadoes. This allows students to directly compare ratings on the Fujita scale from F0-F5

11. Here is a Tiger statue at the Virginia Zoo by Matthew Gray Palmer. On summer vacation, I was able to use the 123D Catch app on my iPhone to 3D scan the statue and then 3D print the head of the Tiger. The scan is in the upper right.

12. Now this is something I would love to have for my school, a 3D scanner. An artist in Chicago named Tom Burtonwood has been scanning a lot of stuff including a pack of ramen noodles which he published to Thingiverse.

13. I took that model and remixed it to create this piece. Unfinished Ramen #1 using ink on PLA. The ink travels along the layers and creates an organic texture. This is the one thing that I’ve made in my entire life that actually feels like art.

14. So 3D printing is great but what does this have to do with schools? Well we’ve locked ourselves into a system where we judge students by their ability to bubble the right answers. Well students are more than bubbles! Student don’t learn by bubbling but students can Learn by Making.

15. Kids need to know how things works, how to make things, how to use a screwdriver, how to fail over and over agin until they succeed. We need to bring Making and Maker culture back to America.

16. Here is a photo of kids in my 3D printer club. They are building a 3D printer from a kit. These are future scientists and engineers. 3D printing is giving these students the opportunity to research and invent. To make their ideas a reality.

17. This is an experiment I tried after reading about a project to 3D print umbilical clamps in Haiti. I connected a 3D printer to a car charger. This printed for 2 hours on 1 charge. Awesome possibilities for people around the world to solve their local problems. (Just needs a solar charger.)

18. A month ago on Thingiverse there were 66 Yoda models and 0 for Martin Luther King. My model on the left. To the right is a scan for a commercial by Direct Dimensions. They couldn’t get permission to release it to the public. We need to advocate for more and higher quality education models.

19. Last here is LEO the Maker Prince by Carla Diana. A book about 3D printing in which all the characters are available to download and print for free. This is a glimpse of the future of content for education: text, photos and 3D models.

20. My name is Josh Ajima and that is the story of how 3D printing inspired me to become a Designer, a Maker and hopefully a better teacher. Follow me on Twitter @DesignMakeTeach and visit my blog Thank you.

*Date lab is a weekly series in the Washington Post Magazine that chronicles blind dates arranged by the magazine.