Many hackers are self-taught and avoid powerful math tools that might let them take creations to the next level. We aim to create a structured set of modules consisting of hands-on 3D printing and electronics projects, with thorough text documentation and minimal supporting algebra. These modules will teach calculus in this hacker style both for self-learners and others, like the visually impaired, who need hands-on learning.
When Isaac Newton developed calculus in the 1600s, he was trying to tie together math and physics in an intuitive, geometrical way. But over time math and physics teaching became heavily weighted toward algebra, and less toward geometrical problem-solving. However, many practicing mathematicians and physicists will get their intuition geometrically first and do the algebra later. We want to let people get to that point directly without passing through (much) algebra, particularly people who learn best by making something.
This project started as an entry in the Hackaday Prize. We are now developing a Hacker Calculus book to be published by MIT Press. As models are developed for the book, we will be putting them in a repository on Github. Check out the state of the project as we described it at the UC Berkeley Graduate Education Seminar recently.
Often students with visual impairments have difficulty with concepts based on visual/spatial relationships, particularly in math and science. 3D prints offer an unprecedented asset for their teachers, and 3D printers are becoming affordable. But these teachers need help designing models. We have been volunteer mentors to various groups working on figuring out the best ways to use 3D printing for the visually impaired. Our goal with this project is to document some simple, practical conventions for designing models, and lay the groundwork so that interested parties can create the needed designs. We know that schools have 3D printers and want to teach design thinking to their students. This project creates a minimalist open-source way to link teachers who need design files and (sighted) students who want projects to do. We want students to create the designs for the needed models, learning science, math and other subjects while helping their visually-impaired peers.
If you would like to make a request or help fulfill one, join our Google group.
The last three years at AAAS Pacific Division we've run "Scientific Maker Exhibits" that allowed people to show uses of maker tech in real science projects. This year we are changing it up to the new Town Hall format. If you'll be at AAAS Pacific Division in Ashland, OR, June 18-21, 2019, please join us for the Town Hall: "Different Styles, Different Insights, Different Science: Using Maker Tech to Teach STEM."
We will start off with brief remarks about their experiences developing maker-style STEM materials in formal and informal educational settings, including teaching the visually impaired. They have found that coming at teaching science and math hands-on often brings new insights, and will bring along some examples.
Attendees who have done their own explorations in teaching this way are encouraged to attend to share their successes and lessons learned. Those who are thinking about it will be welcome to join in the discussion about how they might adopt some of these ideas as well. Hope to see you in Ashland!