If my students have said anything about Bloxels and you are wondering what is going on, you came to the right place.

Bloxels is a new way for anyone to create a video game.  ANYONE!

Bloxels uses the typical assets of an animated story – the characters, environments, and challenges – and combines them into a video game to play, share and collaborate alongside friends.

Student can design directly on the app or use the app in conjunction with a a pixel board.

The bloxels website has a ton of resources available to help anyone create a game and make any character they can imagine. 

"Bloxels helps kids achieve their nearly universal desire to create video games (seriously, just ask any kid), rather than just playing them. By using the unique combination of hands-on toys and their love and understanding of classic video games, we've made video game creation accessible and fun for all ages."

To fully comprehend the simplicity and magic of Bloxels, you must first see it in action. Watch below to learn the basics of creating with Bloxels. 

Bloxels Overview from Pixel Press on Vimeo.

Video Chat with Local Motors

This morning we had a special opportunity to have the students visit with Local Motors in Arizona.  Being able to talk to any car company would have been pretty awesome, but Local Motors isn't your average car company.  Their cars aren't built on huge assembly lines like most other manufacturers.  They specialize in 3D printed electric cars.  They were founded by CEO Jay Rogers in 2007.  You can check out the rest of the team here.

The cars are printed on a very large and very expensive printer in their microfactory.  Our small Makerbot costs around $3,000, but their car printer is closer to $1,000,000.  Their printer is also roughly the size of a one car garage, while ours fits nicely on my desk.  Ours printer also uses PLA plastic that we buy in small 2 pound spools, while theirs prints out of huge vats of plastic pellets that are sucked up a vacuum and melted down. It takes a fork lift to refill their printer which is pretty awesome.  I didn't bother to ask what that costs.

We learned that their cars right now come only in black and are not painted, which allows them to recycle any piece of the car in event of an accident or part that simply needs replaced. If a customer wants to change the color, they wrap the pieces with a vinyl wrap that can be swapped out and repaired at any time.  

A normal automobile has round 40% recyclability while the end goal of a 3D printed car is to be 100 recyclable/reusable.  Imaging being able to drive your car into their shop, tossing the car into a gigantic shredder and then starting work on your next vehicle.  A typical metal car is owned for an average of 10 years while the 3D car process would allow for a person to have a new custom car every few years.

Another crazy part of the process it that an entire car can be built in around 48 hours, which means if someone wanted to order their car, they could potentially watch the car being printed and built over the course of a few days and then hop in and drive it home.

The students had a lot of question such as if the car was flammable.  It's not.  But if the car was heated to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, it would essentially turn into a puddle of goo.  It is printed at a temperature of around 450 degrees Fareinheit. We also found out the original Strati 3D printed car could go around 35 mph and the new car called the Swim could go 75 mph and faster.

Printing the car instead of using traditional methods also means that you could aid in the design of your own car and make the car unique and truly one of a kind.  

There are certain features right now that the car does not have, such as a heater, but as the technology progresses more and more can be added to the design of the cars.

A final thought was shared by a teacher after our video chat and was perhaps the highlight of the entire video call.  At the end I asked what it would take for a student to work for a company like Local Motors.  While many who work there have college degrees and are very text book smart, they told our students it's not just about that.  They have machinists, production managers, marketing directors and a variety of people with experience in several fields.

Many companies of the future need people who have a wide range of skills.  People who can build things, tinker with what exists and get their hands dirty are great candidates for jobs at companies like Local Motors.  There has been a push in education and around the world for Maker Spacers that allow students to explore and learn through hands on activities.  Math and Science are huge avenues for students which fits with the push to incorporate more STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineer, Arts & Math) activities into school.

As of now Local Motors is not taking public orders for the car, but they are hoping to provide a consumer grade version that will available sometime soon.

A huge thank you for them taking their time to chat with us and show us some pretty crazy parts of their world.

2nd Grade Storymakers

This past month Second-grade students have had a unique opportunity to co-create a story with Mr. Uhing’s high school English IV class.  Many students commented that they learned new vocabulary, colorful adjectives, and added humor to their stories while interacting with their high school partners.

I assisted Mrs. Hyer with this project and am pretty impressed with their end products.

There are some videos coming down the line, but in the mean time, check out Mrs. Hyer and Mrs. Brown's blog to see what their groups have been working on.

Kindergarten high flyers!

Kindergarten has been working hard on their TuxPaint Airplanes.  We use a stencil on TuxPaint and I load their school photos into the stamp library so we can add their own faces to the plane windows and they can also choose to add some of their friends.  It's a great exercise in patience as the students add photos in and then have to paint around the windows to trim down the photos.  It teaches a lot of fine motor skills as well as the use of the "undo" feature to help us get a do-over when we make a mistake.  We talk a lot about how it's great that computers let us fix our mistakes right away :)

Rocket Flights 2016

This year we used to continue our rocket design skills and talked about layers and marquee tools to strengthen our digital skills.  We had some amazing rockets and a lot of fun flying them.  Special thanks to Mr. Cogdill and the use of his new iphone to get some super slow-mo videos.

All our photos are at the link below if you want to check them out along with our video clips.

Rocket Flight Photos

2nd Grade Word Clouds

FYI: I love getting a chance to know more about my students and what motivates them!  Almost every year I have had the chance to make word clouds using with the 2nd grade and it's always a favorite activity of mine.  They select words that they feel identify them or showcase their talents and interests and then get to customize to make theirs unique.  They are pretty cool and look great in our hallways.

This the first year that I have put them up online though, so feel free to view the classes and you can print your students off as well.  The 2nd grade students do have a laminated copy they will be bringing home sometime in the near future.


I was able to help Mrs. Hyer's reading group with a spoider project this past week and it was great. The students had been using the Chromebooks to research spiders and gather information.  They worked very hard writing their reports and sorting out what they felt was important.  The students came into my room during a reading time and we had a few special guests help us with Prezi creation to give the students an avenue to present their research with the aid of technology.  They did a great job adding facts, picures and video.

Check out the Prezi's by clicking the link below.

Custom Made Solutions

Since I travel back and forth between two buildings I am always tripping over cords that can quickly become a tangled mess. As a design challenge, I put one of my students on the mission of creating a custom built holder for my projector cable and the headphone cable. Preston used TinkerCAD and a with a little guidance, was able to create a cord holder to clean up my mess. This is exactly what 3D printing allows us to do! We can see a problem, design a solution and then have it in our hands in a matter of minutes! The best part too is that if the design needs changed we can make improvements quickly and easily to fine tune the final product.  Preston printed his holder off and after using it we figured out some changes to make that would speed up the print, use less material and not change the strength of the design.