10-Rep Learning ~ Teague's Tech Treks

Learning Technology & Tech Observations by Dr. Helen Teague


Design Journal 8: Yes and No in the Maker Lab

A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble ~Mahatma Gandhi



Opening the orange boxes from SparkFun and reading carefully (with my glasses on!) I notice that there are different numbers on the Sound Recorder and the Lilypad. The Sound Recorder runs on 5V and the Lilypad which uses 3.3V. The difference between 5V and 3.3V matters. The Transformer part will connect the two components.

I appreciate the MKOs in the Maker Lab for telling me about this distinction. They delivered the gentle “no” on not purchasing a Transformer very casually and matter-of-factly. We move quickly from “need to” to “how to do it.” We have several parallel conversations on the merits of different shipping options and shipping carriers. I really don’t have time to wait on shipping. One person is going to a bigger city and could source the Transformer, one says to “bite the bullet” and pay the $24.00 shipping charges. We digress to discuss the Transformers movie franchise but eventually I click “Enter” and order the tiny part with the hefty shipping:





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Happy Halloween

WPA Halloween Poster, circa 1936

See more WPA posters at this link 





Design Journal 7: What to do while waiting for Arduinos to arrive

Just a few quick musings while I wait for my Adruino components to arrive.

** The Blue LED light just won the Nobel Prize: http://sco.lt/4o4iZd.


On Tuesday, Oct. 7, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that they awarded the prize to Isamu Akasaki of Meijo University in Nagoya, Japan, Hiroshi Amano of Nagoya University in Japan, and Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara for:

“…having invented a new energy-efficient and environment-friendly light source — the blue light-emitting diode (LED). In the spirit of Alfred Nobel the Prize rewards an invention of greatest benefit to mankind; using blue LEDs, white light can be created in a new way. With the advent of LED lamps we now have more long-lasting and more efficient alternatives to older light sources.”


*Demographically speaking, I also find it interesting that the average age of Arduino and Lilypad users was 26-27 years (Buechley, 2010).

*I found this interesting listing of articles for Arduinos on Scoop.It : http://www.scoop.it/search?q=arduinos


Buechley, L., & Hill, B. M. (2010). LilyPad in the wild: how hardware’s long tail is supporting new engineering and design communities. In Proceedings of the 8th ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (pp. 199-207). ACM.

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Weekend Ed. Quote~October 25

Literature is humanity talking to itself. ~Norman Rush



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Design Journal 6-My Arduino Shopping List

Recent studies by Buechley and Hill conclude that Arduino purchasers were 78% male 9% female (p. 202). After today’s order,  I am in the 9%. In addition to my previous order, my project needs a Voice Recorder. There are two vendors that have been recommended as suppliers for the voice recorder and sound file. One vendor is SparkFun

Voice Recorder and Thin Speaker :

thin speaker


Voice Recorder Breakout

These two items are listed at SparkFun under these item numbers:

Another vendor to consider for next time is Adafruit: http://www.adafruit.com/Adafruit was founded in 2005 by MIT engineer, Limor “Ladyada” Fried.  Limor was the first female engineer on the cover of WIRED magazine and was recently awarded Entrepreneur magazine’s Entrepreneur of the year. Limor’s goal was to create the best place online for learning electronics and making the best designed products for makers of all ages and skill levels. Adafruit has grown to over 50 employees and a 15,000+ sq ft. factory. Adafruit is more than a webpage or online shopping site. It include tools, equipment and electronics that Limor personally selects, tests and approves before going in to the Adafruit store.
In 2014 Adafruit was ranked #11 in the top 20 USA manufacturing companies and #1 in New York City by Inc. 5000 “fastest growing private companies”. I really like the web site map for Adafruit. There are forums and a blog. Both encourage collaboration and communication. Every Wednesday there is a live chat at 8:00pm ET. I am slowly moving passed lurker status!
Buechley, L., Hill, B.M. *20100.  LilyPad in the wild: how hardware’s long tail is supporting new engineering and design communities. In Conference on Designing Interactive Systems, 199-207.


Design Journal 5- The possibility of Soldering


If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin. ~Ivan Turgenev

One of the important things I’m from watching the other talented folks in the Maker Lab is that failing is not a scary event to be avoided. “Fail-fast” is a common phrase in this lab. “Fail-fast” encourages an iterative design approach with messy prototype design. “Try to push yourself to the ‘messy test’ in the fewest number of steps as soon as possible,” says Lyndell in the lab.

This is already happening for me. My initial idea of buying a Hallmark card and plopping it in the the fabric of my wearable fails because this method would require someone opening the card. My mom’s hands are sleepy so we need to have an automatic way for the sound to commence.

So, with a nod to Turgenev, I jump in order a sewable speaker ($0.95) and a voice recording board ($20.00). I am also geekily excited about the possibility of soldering* in the final stage of the project as one of the girls indicates is a possibility.

Teague Maker Lab 8

The blue box (my favorite color of blue, btw), is for soldering.



Soldering: Soldering is a process in which two or more metal items are joined together by melting and flowing a filler metal (solder) into the joint, the filler metal having a lower melting point than the adjoining metal. Soldering differs from welding in that soldering does not involve melting the work pieces. (Wikapedia)

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Design Journal 4-A Visit to a MakerSpace

We are crayons and lunchboxes and swinging so high our sneakers punch holes in the clouds. ~Laurie Halse Anderson

I visited a MakerSpace today. It was tables and calm and noise and production.

Maker Lab

The lab I visited is located in one of our town’s universities. I am hoping to find some resources and use some tools and see if anyone has done a project like mine.

There is Lots of creative conversations and brainstorming.

There was electricity for the tools and electricity in the air for the ideas.

There was an incredible amount of learning in the space.


The folks at the MakerLab talk about lithium batteries and Lilypads one minute and Maker Movement and Dale Dougherty in the next minute. Bring your pen and notepad and wear your Vans if you want to keep up.

One of the MKO’s in the Maker Lab actually constructed this huge 3D printer:

Made in the Maker Lab: 3D printer

This jewel is called a “BreadBoard” which I learn is a board for making an experimental model of an electric circuit.

There’s that word again: experimental. As in “Fail Soon to Succeed Sooner” (Dyer, 2012)


On my Christmas wish list:

ceiling electric cord

We have some initial discussions about the projects everyone is working on and designing. One girl is getting ready to use the laser cutter to carve pumpkins for Halloween. A group of engineering students are creating a huge trebucet to fling pumpkins. I ask them if they know a local science teacher who every Halloween hosts a “Punkin’ Chunkin'” contest. Not everyone knows him but all agree that this is a great idea. Another project is a Darth Vadar costume with wearable technology, customized voice and breathing and maybe some sort of lighting. I find out that this is part of Cos-Play, a new word for me.



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Dyer, J., et al. (2013). The innovator’s DNA: Mastering the five skills of disruptive innovators, Harvard Business Press.


Weekend Ed. Quote~October 18

This week’s quote arrives from my friend Dr. John Barell, prolific author and creative thinker:

https://inquisitivetoafaultdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/milkywaythailand.jpgI would show my mother, Elizabeth Barell, a picture like this of Melotte 15, an emission nebula, and say, “Look, Ma, this is where stars are born–a stellar nursery.” She’d quickly respond, “How do you know?” I’d say, “Look, it says here `Astronomers say this is where stars are created.'”
And she would respond with such alacrity, “Well, how do they know?

I then used my very basic knowledge of astronomy to explain what I thought I understood. “How do they know? How do you know?” Two of the most important questions we should be asking about all sorts of things besides star formation. ~Dr. John Barell


Thank you, John!! I’ve learned so much from Dr. Barell’s many books, among them:

Why Are School Buses Always Yellow?: Teaching for Inquiry, PreK-5

Developing More Curious Minds

Problem-Based Learning: An Inquiry Approach

How Do We Know They’re Getting Better?: Assessment for 21st Century Minds, K-8


Additional Ed. Quotes

Image Source


Reflections on Innovation

Reflections on Innovation by Helen Teague

There is tension with innovation. The tension is often between change and status quo, between goal and process orientation.  Innovation is a process-oriented trek (Brown, 2009, p. 134) that is non-linear and sometimes “messy” (p. 17). For those raised with production quotas, fixed goal orientation, and inflexible deadlines and due dates, the unpredictability of  innovation can be downright scary and threatening. Brown (2009)  and Dyer, et al (2011) offer ideas for nurturing change and innovation from idea to practice.

The Design thinking required to implement innovation proceeds from a systematic approach that is flexible, non-hierarchical, and “constantly evolving” (p. 187). Innovative companies exhibit an interrelationship between People, Process, and Philosophy (Dyer, et al, p. 170). Drilling a little deeper, there are five qualities that innovators share. One quality is a cognitive ability and the other four are observable behaviors. Specifically, the cognitive ability of Association and the behaviors of Questioning, Observing, Networking, and Experimenting make up the profile, the “DNA” of design innovators.

Teague rendering of principles in Innovators DNA

Brown is unique in his advocacy for empathy as a component of observation, which he describes as a mental habit that looks deeply into the lives that we borrow when we observe (2009, p. 49). Empathy fosters an advocate rather than adversary relationship with customers and colleagues (Brown, 2009, p. 54).

Brown cites Toyota’s Steven Spears’ that direct observation and experiments are essential by managers who serve as coaches rather than fixers (2009, p. 189). Dyer, et al offers three ways to experiment: “try out new experiences, take apart products, processes, and ideas, and test through pilots and prototypes” (2011, p. 138).

Prototyping is vital to this experimenting phase of design thinking. Brown describes the process of prototyping as “inspirational” (2009, p. 106). Acceptance of failure, trial-and-error, and many iterations are necessary for innovative design thinking. Dyer, el al make the distinction between two types of projects: breakthrough innovation and derivative innovation (2011, p. 230). Some projects are inventive and some are re-invented or re-engineered. All projects are comprised of three distinct phases each needing unique design thinkers: Entrepreneurial Discovery, Delivery organizers, and Execution experts (Dyer, et al, 2011, p.

There is tension in leading from innovation (Brown, 2009,  p. 138) and promoting the kind of “combinatorial play” advocated by Einstein (p. 41). Business schools matriculate “deliverers not discoverers” (2009, p. 37). Daniel Pink (2009) notes the “mismatch between what science knows and what business does” while trying to solve the challenges of 21st century life. The importance of this concept is also addressed by Brown who describes the 21st century’s “epochal shift in the balance of power as economics evolve from a focus on manufactured products to one that favors services and experiences” (2009, p. 199). That there is continuity among influential thinkers such as Brown, Dyer, Gregersen, Christensen, Pink, and many others attests to the dynamic importance of design thinking for schools, businesses, and communities.



Brown, T., & Kātz, B. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York: Harper Business.

Dyer, J., Gregersen, H. B., & Christensen, C. M. (2011). The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the five skills of disruptive innovators. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press.

Pink, D. (2009). The Puzzle of Motivation. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation/transcript?language=en#t-1097899



Design Journal 3-My Arduino Sketch

Here is my (very rough- RISD grads need not worry about competition) sketch for my Arduino project:

My Arduino Project

Now I need to add where the circuits will be placed.

For that, I need to search for the correct parts and go to a MakerSpace.


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