Something we’ve been enjoying since the summer is introducing teachers to laser cutters. Teachers are always being creative when making lesson plans so teaching them how to use a laser cutter gives them another resource to use in their creative endeavors.
At the end of June, Abdulkarim presented to math teachers at the Math Teachers’ Circle of Austin. He invited them to learn about laser cutters at an Informal Laser Session that evening at MakeATX, which is a membership-based laser cutter co-op. This introduction would then allow teachers to decide if this is a resource they think would be valuable to them. If so, we would register them to take a 3.5 hour class called Laser Cutting Basics, which would certify them to use the laser cutter by themselves.
At the Informal Laser Session, teachers learned about designing items in the CorelDRAW software and how to cut those on the laser cutter. One of the teachers designed her own little project which showed how triangles can be folded to show that their interior angles add up to 180 degrees. Another teacher, Ms. Mardi, wanted a mini unit circle which we had shown her previously, so I made the parts for that and she put it together by gluing. Ms. Mardi was surprised that our wooden models stayed attached so well with only Elmer’s glue.
At the end of July, we presented to teachers at the AISD Science + Mathematics Conference, also known as ASMXCon. We showed off the math models we made using laser cutters, then invited teachers to attend an Informal Laser Session that evening. We had two teachers from the session show up, and one of the teachers brought two teacher colleagues. Some teachers designed custom name tags in CorelDRAW and cut these out for themselves. One teacher even wanted to make area models that showed the same area in differently-sized rectangles.
In addition to the four teachers from the Informal Laser Session, we had two other teachers and a Texas State University student join for a Laser Basics class led by two experienced employees of MakeATX, Zoe and Devon. The teachers had a great time at the training and were now certified to use the laser cutters.
One teacher, Ranti Valdez, has excitedly contacted us a couple times to use the laser cutter to make wooden models/materials for her students. The first time, she was mentored by Lauren, but the second time, Ms. Valdez went by herself, which goes to show how quickly using a laser cutter can be learned.
We are excited to continue introducing teachers to laser cutters and helping them make amazing materials that they can implement in their classrooms.