They Keep Us Running!

A machine with many rollers. The template of the letter, J, is featured prominently

This week is National Student Employment Week and yesterday was National Library Workers Day.  The Earl Center, which is part curriculum resource library, employs over 20 student workers and 5 supervising public services assistants (called PSAs).  They are crucial in the running of the Earl Center and in keeping the Earl Center open and available during evenings and weekends.  They support Wheelock College community by connecting them to the resources they need – from finding cuisenaire rods for teaching math to teaching us how to 3D print, and by setting up the Earl Center for the various classes and events that are held there.   Let’s get to know a few of them!

Jazmin Wallace

Student Worker

A machine with many rollers. The template of the letter, J, is featured prominently

J for Jazmin! Use the Accucut to easily create all sorts of cutouts.

What’s something about the Earl, most don’t know about?  3D Printing Pen
Fav Item? Accucut
What would I like to learn more about?  Library Box
Could you tell me about yourself in three words and a sentence about yourself?  Smiley. Pugs. Hearts.  I am basically a burnt marshmallow, crispy on the outside but really very squishy on the inside.


Laura Boegler

Student Worker

large black machine where you can insert pre-punched pages and a spiral binder and the machine puts them together.

Binding combs are available in various sizes.

What’s something about the Earl, most don’t know about?  The Earl has amazing art supplies for just about any project!
Fav Item?  Glitter
What would I like to learn more about? I would like to learn more about book binding.
Could you tell me about yourself in three words and a sentence about yourself?   My 3 words: Glitter. Kate Spade. Enthusiastic.
My sentence: “If you stumble, make it part of the dance.”


Nicole Cunha


a white machine that looks like an injet printer.

Cut out any design – no matter how intricate. An appointment with the Earl Center is recommended for first-time users

What’s something about the Earl, most don’t know about?   We offer work space for an area non-profit known as Artistic Noise.
Fav. Item?  The Hospital manipulatives! (Hospital playset & toys near the art area)
What would I like to learn more about?  How 3D printing and our curriculum materials are used in the child life program; how to use the CAMEO Silhouette
Tell me about yourself in three words and a sentence about yourself? Curious. Reader who has trouble reading top shelves. Tea drinker who can’t resist freshly baked bread.
I read a lot to satiate my curiosity…I want to do everything at once. That means piles of books randomly form (and topple) around my house.

A toy set of an emergency room at a hospital. The set is a box. There is a plastic figure of a doctor, wearing scrubs and a face mask, pulling a gurney. Off to the side is a toy ambulance.

This playmobil set is a great resource for all, especially educators and child life specialists, it is designed to allow children to grasps an understanding of medical environment and emergency tools.


Aziza Klingensmith


young woman in foreground. Lamination machine in background

Give your documents some polish. $0.50 per foot.

What’s something about the Earl, most don’t know about?  We have the Cameo Silhouette. It’s a machine you can use to make intricate shapes and cuts. You can overlays and more for your projects!
Fav. item? The lamination machine
What would I like to learn more about?  The 3D printer
Tell me about yourself in three words and a sentence about yourself?  Pusheen. Grey. That guy from Eraserhead.  I’m teaching myself Filmmaking and I am seduced by cappuccinos and deep arm chairs (my favorite RomCom is “You’ve Got Mail”).


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Play at the Earl Center

4 students (1 slightly off-camera) sit at table each carving a mini pumpkin with knives

Regularly, students come to play at the Earl Center.

That is, education classes taught by professors like Diane Levin and Kyoung Kim about using play in the classroom are set up in the Earl Center so that students have a place to get hands on with their education.

Here is an example of an educational play class from last Fall, 2016.

A table with long sticks of wood, measuring tapes, rulers, markers

Here’s the racing station nice and neat

Student pulling one end of a measuring tape and another student stands to watch

How far can these race cars go? Who can build the best ramp?

A plastic bin of water, 3 mini pumpkins, a blue scale, and a can of marbles

Pumpkin floating station (I didn’t even know pumpkins floated until I set this up! I have to confess to dunking a few ^_^)


4 students (1 slightly off-camera) sit at table each carving a mini pumpkin with knives

Students carve pumpkins in an experiment on floating

several students sit together arranging a playset of felt, construction paper, and long, lego people, rectangular wooden blocks to resemble a bustling restaurant.

Setting up a restaurant


A playset of felt, construction paper, rectangular wooden blocks, and lego people arranged to resemble a bustling restaurant.

I want to eat at this restaurant! Gourmet dining!


A station of the classics: pick up sticks, string for Cat’s Cradle, Tiddly Winks and more!

A station of the classics: pick up sticks, string for Cat’s Cradle, Tiddly Winks and more!

3 students sitting together. 2 students observe one student playing with pickup sticks

Let the games begin!

Now these students are ready to teach their own class, passing on playful experiments in physics, math, kinetic ability, creativity – and most importantly, fun!

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Hour of Code

three women looking at their ipads at a table.

The Earl Center will be hosting an Hour of Code lunch and learn on Friday, 12/9,  from 12:30 to 1:30.  Bring your lunch and the Earl Center will supply drinks and chips.

Hour of Code started as a non-profit organization and website headed by Hadi Partovi. Its purpose is to encourage people and schools in the United States to learn computer science. In 2013 90% of the schools did not teach computer science. It is estimated that 20 million people world-wide participated in the first Hour of Code.

Figure 1 Rear Admiral Grace M. Hopper -Wikipedia

Figure 1 Rear Admiral Grace M. Hopper –Wikimedia Commons

It is now offered voluntarily by schools and organizations during Computer Education Week, the first or second week in December,  to coincide with celebration of the birthday of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906). She was a computing pioneer who designed a compiler for the first computer programs among other things. She was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama on November 22, 2016. She was also the identifier of the first computer bug-a moth stuck in the relay of a Navy Mark II computer.

Participation in Hour of Code requires minimal resources. It can even be done without a computer, by any age group from pre-readers to adults. provides free resources for educators (who don’t have to know how to code when they start)

Information on computer science education in Massachusetts

iamge of graph paper with scribbles

photo of first computer bug – a moth stuck in a computer – Wikimedia Commons



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Raspberry Pi 3 – A Lot of Computing for the Money but Not for Everyone

The Earl Center has recently purchased the Raspberry Pi 3, which you can check out.

image of the pi 3, a credit card size motherboard with usb ports and other ports for peripheralsAt about the size of a credit card, the Raspberry Pi packs a punch. For example, the latest version, Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, comes with a host features including built-in wireless capability and powerful CPU cores that make it 64-bit compatible (Raspberry Pi 2 included an Ethernet connector and four USB 2.0 ports on the right-hand edge, and the Micro USB power socket, HDMI output and audio/video jack sockets on its bottom edge). You can order Pi 3 as a standalone bare board or as part of a starter kit package that contains a memory card pre-loaded with an operating system (like New Out Of the Box Software, available through Raspberry Pi. Foundation), a protective case, or other extras. Also included are an assortment of games, programming environments (most notably Python and Scratch) At $35, that’s a lot.

Like all other versions of the Pi, the point is to bring affordable computing to all. And like the previous versions, getting up and running takes a bit more effort than pressing the power button on a device running Windows or Apple IOS. But if you’re someone who likes like to tinker, get ready for a thrill (you may also feel like banging your head on the table from time to time, so be prepared).

When you order a Pi, you’ll receive a small cardboard box containing a single green board with circuits, chips and ports and a single page of instructions. Unless you’ve purchased some sort of starter kit, you won’t find a keyboard, monitor or cable. And that simplicity is by design. The computer is made by a non-profit in the UK, whose mission is to teach children 10 and up to learn how computers actually work. Founder Eben Upton says that the Foundation’s original intent was to bring back “engineer” back to engineering. Recalling the old machines of the 1980s (the Amigas, BBC Micros and Commodores) which inspired one to program, Upton noticed that the new, more closed systems don’t actually encourage it. By creating a platform that a kid could afford, Upton hopes to rekindle the days of interest in programing. “We’re doing this because engineering is an enormously fun thing to do and it’s sad that children don’t have access to this fun thing.” [Upton, Eben in Viches. Jose ‘Interview with Raspberry Pi Founder Eben Upton.” Techspot. 22 May, 2012.]

So you’ll want a few extras to get going including a microSD card (8GB or larger recommended) to store the operating system, a phone charger with a Micro USB connector to supply power, a USB keyboard and mouse, and a monitor that’s HDMI or composite video signal compatible. Also if you go the bare bones route, you’ll need some kind of device (e.g., another computer) to actually download and install an operating system on to the micro card, as well as an adapter. So you might want to consider a SD card that’s been pre-loaded with Raspbian (the Pi’s operating system) for a little more money (roughly $10 more). But if you’re the type who likes to tinker, go for the vanilla version and download an operating system of your choice. If you choose to go with Raspbian, you’ll get a Windows-style interface with some basic desktop options that provide menus and settings options. Using the pre-loaded Web browser, I was able to surf the Web and check email. What I spent the most time sampling were the pre-loaded games and fooling around with Scratch. I made Sprite, the little cat dance, but didn’t get much farther than that.

So what does this mean for a classroom teacher, and why would you even consider a Raspberry Pi? For starters, if you’re in a situation where money is tight, a Pi could be your way to get computing to your students. Because you can use older equipment, the initial outlay or request for funds does not have to be in thousands.

The Pi allows a flexibility that PCs and Apple products do not. With it, you can create weird and wonderful things. You can use it to stream music and video, to create electronic monitoring systems like the one designed by students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago that monitors air quality, or a device that controls an electronic garage door opener.

If you’re looking for something that will teach programming and design thinking organically, the Pi can’t be beat. But if you’re like me–not a natural programmer– be prepared with a heavy dose of patience. And therein lies one the Pi’s greatest gifts: gratification isn’t instantaneous; you actually have to work for it.

Standard on Pi 3:

  • 1GB RAM
  • 4 USB ports
  • 40 GPIO pins
  • Full HDMI port
  • Ethernet port
  • Combined 3.5mm audio jack and composite video
  • Camera interface (CSI)
  • Display interface (DSI)
  • Micro SD card slot (now push-pull rather than push-push)
  • VideoCore IV 3D graphics core
  • 2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARMv8 CPU
  • 11n Wireless LAN
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
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Fish Printing

During the Curiosity and Learning Conference earlier this October, the Earl Center hosted some unusual guests – fish, fish, fish! Neon fish, spotted fish, sparkle fish – everyone joined the show! Take a look for yourself:

GIF flipping through pictures of brightly painted fish on cream-colored paper

GIF flipping through pictures of brightly painted fish on cream-colored paper.

But how did these fish come to be?

A great project inspired by Gyotaku and designed by Professor Lisa Lobel – making a fish rubbing!

Materials used:

  • acrylic paint (watered down)
  • cut up sponges
  • newsprint paper
  • eyedroppers
  • fish

Professor Lobel guided the participants in daubing the fish with acrylic paint using the sponges. Sometimes the eyedroppers added some unexpected spots!

Then the participants carefully placed the newsprint paper on the fish and tapped it gently to get the paint on the paper. That painting was a bit thicker with paint. Then the participants applied a second sheet of newsprint to get a more ghostly impression.

The results were impressive! Scales, eyes, and cheekbones all showed up like a 2D fossil on the paper.

So remember: you can have your fish – and paint it too!

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3D Printing in Educational Contexts

The Wheelock 3D printer in the middle of printing an orange sphinx. The sign next to the printer reads Now Printing: Hatshepsut Sphinx. Two additional red sphinx lie to the left of the sign.

When folks come face-to-face with the 3D printer at the Earl Center, you can usually hear “That’s so cool!”, “What’s printing?”, or “Can I use this? We have a little spiel that gives folks the rundown: Yes, you can print something, we can help you!  Right now it’s printing a map of Wheelock, or a sphinx, a turtle doorstop.

The Wheelock 3D printer in the middle of printing an orange sphinx. The sign next to the printer reads Now Printing: Hatshepsut Sphinx. Two additional red sphinx lie to the left of the sign.

The Wheelock 3D printer in the middle of printing an orange sphinx.

Another question to ask is how 3D printers can be used in educational contexts. In the classroom, and in the real world. Here are a few ways:

Teachers have tangible visuals for their students. Whether students learn better hands on, or use the model to form a visual of their own, 3D printing encourages inclusive classroom learning. For example, we’ve printed labyrinths for one class, and a made a 3D version of a frog skeleton, for another class.

Tangible artifacts can also include historical artifacts, or objects that students can create. Ask Mare, the Assistant Director of the Earl Center, or one of the Earl Center workers at the Service Desk for a demo in Tinkercad. Taking a project from start to finish allows students the chance to see examples of history while building new skills at the same time.

Students have better chances of retaining the information from class if they can interact with the material! There’s no way to go wrong- if you mess up, just fix and print it again. This trial and error process of paper to object helps students develop problem solving skills that are in high demand in today’s workforce. Students also have the chance to design their own curriculum based on what they want to learn.

Looking for some other examples of what you can print for the classroom? Here are a few ideas:

  • Molecules
  • Planets
  • Shapes or objects (Useful for math lessons!)
  • 3D models of student art
  • Historical models or busts (Check out our mini-Beethoven bust!)
  • Replacement parts or cases
  • Name tags (Keep a lookout for some at the Earl Center!)

To learn more about the industry take on 3D printing, check out this video! Closed captions available.


For lesson plan ideas and more from an education technologist’s point of view, check out Kathy Schrock’s blog post about 3D printing in the classroom.

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Learning by Messing Around: Play in the Service of Learning

Discover the different sounds you can produce with the rocks

Discover the different sounds you can produce with the rocks

Play is one of those institutions that almost all educators recognize as a critical part of children’s learning. Ironically it is often the first thing to get cut in pursuit of “high stakes testing” and rigor. There have been articles suggesting that kindergarten and even pre-school are the new “first grade”. These create situations where young children are expected to sit still and memorize letters, numbers and words at the expense of exercise, creative exploration that are the developmentally appropriate things for children to be attending to. It is impossible to envision how these two different philosophies will eventually resolve.

At the same time the activity of play is coming into its own for a completely different audience. Adults and teens are becoming the subjects of a push to develop citizens who can manifest creativity and problem-solving skills. Experiential opportunities such as “makerspaces” and “hackerspaces” are being developed both as part of traditional institutions such as libraries and schools and in independent entrepreneurial opportunities with play as a motivator.

Play and learning cannot be divorced from one another. The characteristics of play—curiosity, experimentation, not fearing failure, repetition, self-direction, valuing the means over the ends, and imaginativeness—are touted as 21st century skills as well as being characteristics of many Nobel winning scientists.


finding a shared interest poster at the Hawkins ExhibitFrom September through January the Earl Center hosted the Hawkins Exhibit. This is a national traveling exhibit that is about learning science by “messing around,” the use of existing materials and the joint exploration of child and teacher without a preset curriculum. The richness of the exhibit and the timeliness of the subject matter poised a rich counterpoint to the continual exploration of “making” and creating in the Earl Center. It also stressed the value of play in learning—whether learning by building with rocks or learning by experimenting with our 3D printer. In both cases the play activities build the creative stamina of the user by allowing unstructured access to materials and encouragement to explore in a free form way. We can only hope that by encouraging adult play in the world that the trend towards making children grow up too soon will reverse itself and we will all have the opportunities to play well together.


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Tech À la Carte: Sampling Science and Technology Tools

Wednesday, February 3rd, 1:30-3pm at the Earl Center.    Join the discussion with math and science faculty on practical uses for some of the amazing tools available.  Stevie Rumney will present a menu of technology tools for your experiential pleasure. Join the discussion on practical integration of these devices into your work, enjoy hands-on experimentation, come and play. Meet the 3D printer, MakeyMakey, Arduino, Raspberry Pi and Minecraft. Refreshments. All are invited!  RSVP

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3D Printing Workshop

Please Join us for an introduction to 3D printing on Friday, January 15th, 12-2pm, in the Earl Center Glass Room. The Operations Manager from the NVBots company who supply our 3D printer will be at the Earl Center to demonstrate 3D printing and share examples and ideas around how you can integrate this tool into your curriculum. The possibilities extend far beyond design into STEM, SPED, science and disciplines such as history, English and math. Come and learn about how you can incorporate it into your areas also. Even if you are just curious about all the buzz come and explore the ways it might have applications for your own projects.




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Welcome OSMO!

OSMO is a new item in our collection that is really fun to learn for children and adults alike. It comes in a neat package that includes game pieces, a mirror reflector, and base. All you need to supply is an iPad, pen, and paper to play all the games.

A great feature of OSMO is after you download their free iTunes apps you do not need the internet.

osmoappsThis is a great toy to play at Grandma’s house, on vacation, or in the classroom. There is a word game (similar to hangman), tangram, and various drawing activities each with increasing difficulty levels you can master. The only important thing to note is that you can only use the OSMO on one iPad at a time which does encourage interaction between two or more players. It does not save scores or levels for player 1 and player 2, but you can save drawings that you make on your iPad video memory.

osmo2My entire family loved playing the Word Game together. You can take turns laying down letter tiles or you can race each other to place a tile down first. The game will note whether the blue or red tile wins that point.

If you create an OSMO account you can also create your own word file or download public files which have topics like music notes, counting, and, animals. This would be a unique way to study for your Spanish vocab test or create a “Continents of the World” test for your classroom.

tangramforosmoNext is the tangram game which allows you to select novice up to expert.



For those not used to tangrams the game will give you an outline and hint at the shape. More advanced features only give you a black shadow image and you need to figure out how to align the shapes. My 8 year old son and I were able to take turns easily and move between difficulty levels.


newtonforosmoNow the target practice game requires quick thinking and imagination.

OSMO calls their game “Newton” and you need to make the falling balls hit your orange target. To do this you will need a pen, paper, and other inanimate objects to create virtual walls, slides, and barriers for the bouncing balls to hit the target.

newton1Easier said than done!


masterpieceforosmoThe final free app offered by OSMO is called Masterpiece. My 10 year old daughter loved this activity. Not only can you draw like a pro, but the game video tapes your evolving creation as it appears on the paper.

A picture, OSMO supplies or you have downloaded, appears on the screen along with your real time pen in hand. You watch the iPad screen simultaneously as you “trace” the image on your paper. Truly, it feels and looks like magic.

It’s intuitive enough for kids to learn on their own and easy enough for adults to play along! Check out their website and have fun.

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