Time Saving Tip #4

Welcome to Day 4 of our 5 Ways to Save Time Tech Opportunity

Today you will learn how QR codes can save you time.  Follow this link to go directly to the QR code information in our course on Schoology.  It would be great to hear your thoughts and experience on each topic.  We have added a discussion thread inside each topic folder.

You will need a Schoology account to join our course in order to access the information.  See post from Monday on how to create an account and join our course.

Time Saving Tip #3

Welcome to Day 3 of our 5 Ways to Save Time Tech Opportunity

Today you will learn how your browser’s bookmark toolbar can save you time. Follow this link to go directly to the bookmark toolbar information in our course on Schoology. There are 4 videos to watch, but the total time for all the videos is 5 minutes. Also, it would be great to hear your thoughts and experience on each topic.  We have added a discussion thread inside each topic folder.  

You will need a Schoology account to join our course in order to access the information.  See post from Monday on how to create an account and join our course.

Time Saving Tech Opportunity

5 ways to save time in 5 minutes a day

We are excited to announce our first of many (hopefully) professional learning opportunities. Starting Monday March 28th, each day for 5 days, we will share a 5 minute video with a technology related time saving tip. We know you’re busy so each video is short and sweet and we feel will really save you time. Either way it is only 5 minutes out of your day.   Faculty have received joining information via email, but if you aren’t faculty you can watch this space for the videos next week.  The first video will be published on March 28th. We hope that you will consider joining us!


All Lower School students have had a chance to collaborate this year to program a KIBO robot in Spark, our Makerspace.   During their visit, students were introduced to the definition of a robot and the concept of programming.  These robot themed books were helpful to introduce the unit in the classroom:

In addition, students were exposed to the engineering design process since their challenge was to:

  • ASK
  • PLAN
  • TEST

KIBO is a robot kit specifically designed for young children aged 4-7 years old.  In pairs, students created a sequence of instructions (a program) using the wooden KIBO blocks.

They scan the blocks with the KIBO body to tell the robot what to do. Next, they pressed the button and the robot came alive (See video below).

If you would like to learn more, check out this interesting article about how to teach KIBO to young children in early education that appeared in The Economist.

Technology Guide for Parents

To help families navigate issues related to parenting and technology we have listed many realities, issues and solutions in the parent section of this blog including:

  • Useful resources and suggestions
  • Tips and Strategies for Parents
  • Helpful Settings and Distraction Tips
  • Internet skills our kids should learn

To access this information click here or you can click the Parent link on the upper navigation bar.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns please contact the Tech Department.


During Visiting day this morning the community had the opportunity to engage in many  hands-on learning and making activities in Spark, Pike’s new innovation space, and throughout the library.  Parents and family, Alumni and many more had the opportunity to:

  • Program a Kibo robot
  • Explore student circuitry projects and build a circuit 
  • Make a Pike button
  • Try a version of the Marshmallow Challenge
  • Create a word cloud that represented their family 
  • Use the Force to create Star Wars-themed origami or paper crafts 
  • Participate in the world-wide Hour of Code

The Tech/Library Team (The hosts of SPARKFEST)

An Innovative Idea Sparks to Life

by Aaron Hovel and Jennifer Zacharis – originally published on Pike Perspectives.

At this time last year, a small informal committee of faculty and staff was formed to investigate ways to promote making, building, STEAM, risk taking, and innovative problem solving at Pike. This wasn’t a committee requested by the administration, it was a group of passionate educators with questions and an idea. We eventually found that a Makerspace would be a perfect place to foster curiosity and encourage hands on experiential learning and creative exploration. Our team realized that a Makerspace was a big idea that would take quite a bit of work to organize, and a plan that would require a budget to purchase supplies and equipment. At another school this might have been a moment where a good idea could have lost steam, but not at Pike.  We knew that Pike is a place where innovation in teaching is nurtured and supported so our small committee had the confidence to move forward with an exciting new concept.

First, we wrote a proposal for a Makerspace describing the goals of the space and how it supported the mission of the school (develop lifelong, independent learners with a creative spirit) as well as the need for a budget. The proposal and the budget was submitted to Muddy Waters, the Head of School, and the administration. This was another moment where a good idea could have lost momentum, but with careful consideration, the administration gave preliminary approval and a budget for a Makerspace and we were asked to submit a detailed plan for final approval.  Once final approval was obtained our committee was expanded to include at least one teacher from each division and staff from the Library, Technology and the Advancement Offices.

With the full support of the Administration, a larger Innovation Committee was energized to start researching and planning for a space that would come to life this school year at Pike. We read books, visited other schools with Makerspaces, attended workshops, developed a list of supplies and analyzed how students would have an opportunity to use the space this year. Finally, with all of this research completed we began the work of ordering the materials and setting up the new Makerspace.

Our pilot Makerspace is already off to a great start this fall.  Faculty were introduced to the space during opening meetings, and students in each division have had an opportunity to go to the Makerspace during elective, club, and choice times or with their classroom teachers.  The name of the Makerspace is Spark, because we felt that it was a fitting title for a new stimulating and inspiring environment located at the center of our school.  Upon reflection, Spark also feels appropriate for the journey that ignited this idea into a reality at Pike.  Like many new initiatives at Pike, Spark was fueled by faculty and staff who were willing to put in extra time and positive energy to improve the student experience.

You can find Spark in the classroom located in the rear of the Library.

Marshmallow Challenge

During opening meetings the faculty and staff took part in a Marshmallow Challenge activity after a presentation about our new makerspace, Spark.  Small groups embraced the difficult task and worked together to turn spaghetti, tape and string into a tall structure strong enough to support a marshmallow at the top.    Nice work everyone!  We look forward to many more collaborative activities in our makerspace in the future.

Innovation @ Pike

Originally published on Pike Perspectives

In Tony Wagner’s recent book titled Creating Innovators, he writes about the fundamental economic change that is occurring now and that will continue in the future.  He emphasizes that we are no longer in a knowledge economy, where knowing more than someone is a competitive advantage.  We now live in a society where any information can be “googled,” and what you accomplish with your expertise is more important than the knowledge itself.  Wagner and many others indicate that our current innovation economy requires a new generation of innovators that will be essential to America’s future. Pike students will be entering a world where problem-solving, multidisciplinary solutions, creativity, and collaboration will be very important skills. Pike has always provided opportunities for students to develop these innovation skills and qualities, and next year we will be building and extending that effort by creating a makerspace in the library.

What is a makerspace? I often describe a makerspace as a combination of Art and Science classes, mixing with technology, Shop and Home Economics class.  This will be a place where students are encouraged to “Invent to Learn” with tools like 3D printers for fabrication, electronics (Arduino and other microcontrollers), robotics, cardboard, hammers, and conductive tape.  In this space you will see students working together to build elaborate cardboard cities or pop-up books, completing Lego challenges, building toothpick bridges, programming a robot, building simple and parallel electrical circuits, and many other hands-on science, art, and engineering projects that promote the joy of learning. This new dedicated space, blended with a deliberate focus and the access to tools, equipment, and supplies will provide countless opportunities for creativity and innovation.  Our makerspace will offer an environment that fosters curiosity, and individuals can engage in hands-on experiential learning, creation, and exploration.

Throughout this past school year we have had a dedicated group of faculty (one or more from each division), librarians, staff, and administrators working in partnership to procure funds, design curriculum, and order materials for the new makerspace, and over the summer this same group will be working to transform the Tech Office behind the Library computer lab for this purpose.  A makerspace supports and extends Pike’s mission to develop lifelong, independent learners with a creative spirit and we are very excited to launch this new innovation space in the Pike Community.

Photo App Smash

We were so happy to see the awesome display of art from the iPad Photo App Smash Elective currently hanging outside the Upper School Music Room.

Here is a description of the elective from Upper School Art Teacher Chris Vivier:

Using their iPad cameras and a variety of apps in various combinations, the students in this elective course have created these amazing images!  The exercises performed in each class are designed to expose students to the excitement of creative exploration and discovery.  With no preconception of what their work “should look like”, each student visually experiments with and manipulates their own images, responding intuitively to each unpredictable twist and turn in its evolution as they continually edit and alter it from one app to the next.  Ultimately, they arrive at a unique and personally determined conclusion with a new creative work of art.

Enjoy a few examples below and if you have a chance make sure that you pause the next time you are walking by and enjoy the entire show in person.