LittleBits, in Bins

Look at this meticulous display of LittleBits — electronics components that magnetically snap together to form circuits– organized into bins.

The LittleBits company was just bought by the Sphero robot company, fyi.

Bubble Wands at 811Q

I brought the 3Doodler printing pens and the plastic filament; the students brought their imaginations and bubble-blowing skills!

The activity started with a demonstration of how the pens work, including how to feed the filament in, how to charge the pens, how to turn them on and off, and how to start and stop the extrusion.

Next, I drew a small rectangle on a piece of paper, to use as a template to trace over with the pen. The melted plastic sticks nicely to the paper, and cools in a couple of seconds, so it can be easily peeled off.

It was the students’ turn. They drew shapes on paper, chose three favorite colors of filament, turned on their pens, and pressed the orange button! The trick to getting the plastic to stay true to a design is to press the end of the pen right onto the paper.

Some students got the gist of it right away and started working on their bubble wands.

Other students designed their favorite characters…Sonic anyone?

The students made a variety of wands, some from their imaginations and some from screen shots of wand designs that I had printed from off the internet. 3Doodler has some great 2D and 3D bubble wand ideas.

Here are wands the students made:

The last step was to go outside to the school yard and test them out. I am happy to report that there was 100% success rate for the bubble wands. We used Five Below bubble solution ($1.00 for a big bottle!) and the kids had so much fun!

Thank you Bonnie Glass for these photographs.


3Doodler Start Pens – First Try

When the students first started using the 3Doodler 3D printing pens, they had mixed success:

  • PRO: I had exactly 12 pens, so each student could use a pen.

  • CON: The pens took about an hour to charge, and had to be recharged often.

  • PRO: I had three powerful usb chargers and there was a good surge strip in the room

  • CON: The filament was old and brittle. It had not been opened during the 18 months of covid/remote learning. Subsequently, two of the pens became jammed when we tried to use the filament, and all the filament had to be tossed.
  • PRO: When I explained how, because of covid and remote learning, we had not been able to use the kit for almost two years, the company replaced the two jammed pens and the whole box of 1200 filaments for free!

  • CON: The company did not include the light green color filaments in the replacement.

  • CON: Waiting for the replacement pens and filaments pushed the project start time back by two weeks.
  • PRO: The kit provided plastic templates that had circles on them, so students could trace the circles with the pens.

  • CON: Circles are really hard to draw and the filament did not stick to the plastic, but instead kept lifting off = frustrating to the students.
  • PRO: The students “drew” on paper instead. The filament stuck much better on paper, and could be peeled off when cool.

  • CON: Students did not press the filament onto the paper, but held the pens ever-so-slightly above the paper. Because filament was above the paper, it formed strands that did not stick in place and tended to buckle.

  • CON: It took many sticks of filament to fill in even a little shape, so the students were not just making flimsy outlines.

  • PRO: The students made flags, plates of spaghetti, abstract designs, scribble scrabble, their signatures, pyramids, etc.
  • BOTTOM LINE: The students LOVED it!

Robot Race

We built the course together. The students programmed their robot mouse racers.

Robot race

Demolition Derby

We built them by hand, and crashed them by cabinet!

Crash Derby

Bristle Bots


My one suggestion is to figure out a better way to attach the motor’s wires to the battery – this was the weak spot in the activity.

More photos of students and bristlebots below

811Q Machine, Technology and STEM Shop


Orange Shirts, Cloudy Skies, V-Formation

Almost the entire district 75 staff met to oversee the 5th annual STEM Fair, this year held at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

Here is a view of Manhattan from the flight deck. That one skyscraper in the background is much too high for anyone’s good.

Here is a view of the D75 staff wearing orange shirts, standing in V-formation, not unlike a flock of geese, or, more appropriately, a squadron of 1942 TBM-3E Avengers.


The school I visited had their first STEM club meeting on Friday. I hung around to get some ideas. Okay, I admit I stayed to play with the metal marble drop toy.

Yeah, I walked it.

My choice for this year’s NYCDOE STEM Institute was on water engineering in NYC. We talked aquaducts, reservoirs, pipes, etc. The highlight was a trip to the Highbridge aquaduct that connects 173rd Street in Manhattan over the East River to the Bronx. The birdge scared the tar out of me when I drove underneath on the Harlem River drive.

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March 2023