3D Printed Cells!

The time has come to teach animal and plant cells in 5th grade. I’m pretty sure it’s been the same lesson for a while now.

“Look at this diagram of a cell. Here are the parts. Great, now label it on this handout.”

Ms. Grigg and I wanted to break this boring cycle and do something new for her students to show their knowledge of cells. We decided to have the students design a three dimensional cell on the computer, and then print it out using a 3D printer.

We first had the class get on Tinkercad to start designing their cell. Tinkercad is a super easy way to create 3D figures for free. All students need to do is create an account, using their Google sign in information. Once in the accounts students just dragged and dropped shapes to create their cells.

The students had about a week to work on their cell design. Mrs. Grigg made sure her class had about 10 to 15 minutes a day to work on their cells. Some of the students were so excited that they worked on it at home!

Once the students were satisfied with their design we started printing. They were amazed on how what they designed on the computer was now something they can hold in their hands. The best part of the lesson was seeing the students’ faces while they were explaining the parts of their cell.

Mrs. Grigg’s class learned that the 3D printer wasn’t just a fun toy, but a powerful tool. They can’t wait until we use this tool again.

#TechTakeout Arrives at Seven Pines!

Last Friday, the Tech Takeout team visited Seven Pines Elementary! The fifth grade teachers noticed that students needed some review with the fourth grade SOLs 4.7 and 4.8 (the solar system) with a connection to their fifth grade SOL 5.6 on oceans. Everyone was super pumped for a Science themed Tech Takeout, because who doesn’t love Science?? Mrs. Gross, the librarian was kind enough to let us use her awesome library to host the three classes and we worked with laptops and IPads that are housed in the fifth grade classrooms. Special thanks to Mrs. Hall, Mrs. Marazzo, and Mrs. Bottari for letting us borrow their fantastic fifth graders on Friday morning! #SevenPines is a great place to be!


In Miss Aquilina and Mrs. Robinson’s group, students used the PicCollage app (in freestyle mode) to create an inspiration collage. We pulled in photos from a Comemories site, added a selfie, and played with the background and stickers. Then, we saved the photos to the Camera Roll on the IPads and opened the ChatterKids app. We pulled the photo into ChatterKids, drew a mouth over our selfie’s mouth, and record some narration of the photos. Most fifth graders chose at least one ocean photo and one solar system photo, which was cool! It was so hilarious to see our selfies talking; everyone had a blast with this activity! Here’s Michael’s:


Students in Mr. Covais’ and Ms. Browne’s group focused on how the Earth’s tilt in relation to the sun create seasons. Using Google Slides, the students imported pictures of the sun and Earth. They duplicated the slides and they then selected a sticker to place on the Earth. After rotating the picture to demonstrate the tilt of the Earth they downloaded the slides to their desktop and imported them into Windows Movie Maker. Finally they copied and duplicated the slides to make the movie about a minute long. The students published the movie to share with classmates. Everyone did a great job!


Students in Mr. C’s and Mrs. Green’s group created 3D models of the solar system using Tinkercad. They used different resources to gather information about the relative size of each planet. Then they logged into Tinkercad using their HCPS Google information and started tinkering! They referenced their resources as they built to make sure that the sizes, colors, and order was correct. Take a look at this awesome example:


To celebrate Computer Science Week, the student in Mrs. Hues & Mrs. Taylor’s group used Scratch to code the movement of the Earth, Moon, and Sun. They were provided a template with the sprites, but they had to add the background image, code for each sprite, and voice recordings to explain their model. When students were finished, they shared their projects and uploaded them to this studio. Check out this great student example!


Thank you again to Mrs. Hall, Mrs Marazzo, Mrs. Bottari, Mrs. Gross, and Mrs. Mothershead for having us for an awesome TechTakeout at Seven Pines Elementary!

CovaisTech Roundup Episode 1

Round UpI find it hard sometimes splitting my time between four schools. When you only see a staff once a week it’s difficult to tell them about new ideas or lessons they can do in their classroom. That’s the main reason why I maintain this blog. As much as I put into the blog it doesn’t convey everything that I want. I started to think about it and I think I found a way to fill that gap somewhat.

Every month or so I’m going to make a short video talking about some of the lessons I’ve done. This will hopefully give you some ideas for you to use in your classroom. I’m calling it CovaisTech Roundup because, why not? My thinking is if you don’t have any time to read the blog you can watch a short video.

The videos will be posted to my YouTube channel, Vimeo and the blog. The only downside right now is that you have to see my face. I’m aware that my face is best for radio, that is why I’m currently in talks with Ryan Gosling to start hosting. By talks I mean I’m sending a bunch of unanswered tweets.


Hour of Code – December 5th – 11th!

The Hour of Code week is coming up December 5 – 11! The hope is you take one hour out of that week to do a coding activity. A ton of activities can be found on Code.org’s Hour of Code page. The hour of code is great because it is a self contained lesson that will be finished in an hour or less. You don’t have to worry about students not finishing their work or having to extend the lesson into another subject.

What is the Hour of Code?
Just as the name states, it’s an hour of coding for your students. Students can choose from a few different lessons. Each lesson lasts no more than an hour. Students watch a short video and then follow an interactive tutorial. At the end of the tutorial students will have a playable game that they created. One of my favorites is having students complete a Flappy Bird game.

Are my students too young to code?
Nope! The interactive tutorials are great for any elementary age child, even pre-readers!

Do I have to make an account?
Nope! You can go through all of the tutorials without signing in. You can create accounts for your students to save their work but it’s not required!

How do I get my students excited about the Hour of Code?
Check out Code.org’s YouTube Channel. You’ll find a bunch of short videos that explain the Hour of Code and why coding is important.

I’m ready to go beyond the Hour of Code. What do I do now?
Check out henriCode! We have great lesson starters to get your class coding with the curriculum!

If you’re ready to get started let me know! I would love to help you get you rolling!

Sound Patterns!

I recently had a planning meeting with Mrs. Grigg at Ratcliffe Elementary. We were talking about patterns in math and we were both over doing the same old thing with her 5th graders. Mrs. Grigg and I started planning it out and we decided to do patterns with sound. We figured not only would this be covering our math SOL but we could use this as a little preview for the sound SOL in science.

We started off by showing the students this example.

After the class determined what type of pattern this was Mrs. Grigg and I showed the students the pattern visually.

Now was the time for each student to create their own sound pattern. Before the lesson I pulled a sound pack from freesound.org for the students to use. You can download the sound pack here for free. The students had a blast picking out the right sounds to make their patterns. It was most definitely loud at times, but every student was engaged.

Once the students created their video, they uploaded it to a shared google folder. Now other students can watch their classmates’ videos and figure out the pattern. Mrs. Grigg can use this later on as a quick 5 minute review before or after a lesson. Check out one of the examples below!