This maker spotlight was brought to us through Maker Faire Rome.  You’ll be able to find them and many more creative and exciting makers at Maker Faire Rome: The European Edition on October 18-20. Get your tickets now!


 

where are you located

I’m from Portugal, more specifically living near Lisbon.

what is your day job

I’m an elementary school teacher, teaching ICT to 10 and 11 year old students at Agrupamento de Escolas Venda do Pinheiro, a public school near Lisbon. I’m also the school tech guy, in charge of digital systems, web, and GDPR compliance. Beyond that, I’m also involved in teacher training, spreading the good word on coding, robotics, 3D modelling and printing to teachers around the country. In this capacity, I work with CFAERC, our local teacher training organization, and nationally with ANPRI, the portuguese national ICT teachers association. Sounds rather exhausting, right?

 

what makerspace/hackerspace/fablab do you attend if any?

I’ve created with our librarian Jacqueline Duarte, [email protected], a small makerspace at my school library (one of the first library 3d printing spaces in Portugal), open to any student or teacher. It’s where my computer/3D/robotics club operates. I also cooperate with Lab Aberto, a fablab in Torres Vedras dedicated to educational projects.

What kinds of stuff do you make?

Actually, I “make” almost nothing beyond printing 3D models which I design. If that sounds weird, bear in mind that I’m a teacher, and my interest in Maker culture is in it’s educational dimension. So what do I actually make? Spark my students interest in 3D, coding, robotics and electronics. Either as curricular pupils, where I generally teach with blocks-based programming for games, digital storytelling, micro:bit projects and robotics, 3D modelling, and video editing. Or as members of our school robotics club, where any kid can freely attend, and experiment with technologies. Essentially, what I really make is finding strategies to diminish digital gaps and accelerate children into the tech world.

And that’s what I’m bringing into Rome Maker Faire: the TIC em 3D umbrella project, showcasing what we do in education in several settings: 3D printing in ICT class (our school was the first portuguese school to offer it), multidisciplinary projects with 3D in eTwinning and Europeana, the Anprino Robot, robotics club and school library makerspace, and Codeweek activities (to the non-european readers, eTwinning is a pan-european project connecting schools from Portugal to Lebanon, fostering partnerships between several countries; Europeana is the EU digital library, and one of my projects is testing and developing learning scenarios using Europeana content in pedagogical settings, wich in my case are, you guessed it, 3D and robotics; Codeweek is an yearly EU project to foster coding skills in children) .

what links would you like included?

Firstly, the TIC em 3D (ICT in 3D) project

The 3Digital project by ANPRI, a national 3D modeling contest for portuguese schools

And my favourite, maybe even my child (technically, it has three parents): the Anprino Pedagogical Robotics Kit

How did you get started making stuff?

Well, I was an arts teacher who really loved to learn how to do stuff with 3D but never had the chance to be taught. So I learned by myself.  That was about 15 years ago. At the time, laptop computers were starting to trickle into my school, and I’ve decided to bring them into my arts class, figuring that 3d modelling was as valid for children in arts as drawing or painting. Then, in 2014, something wonderful happened: Portugal had its first Maker Faire, and to my great surprise, my then 3D modelling in arts and ICT was one of the accepted projects. That’s also when I’ve got started with 3D printing, thanks to a grant from an institutional project which funded our first 3D printer. Either with 3D, 3D printing and now coding and robotics, the main goal is to spark kids interest in using technology as a creative tool.

What is something you’ve made that really stands out, that you’re proud of?

Every time one of my student’s eyes light up upon touching their first 3D model still hot from the printer, or creating his own game, or coding its robot, that’s when I’m most proud. Still, there are two things that I’m really proud of:

  • a couple of years ago I was the odd man out in teacher circles, with my insistence on 3D as a cool educational technology. Fernanda Ledesma, president of ANPRI, has made it a priority to evolve ICT teaching from office-based activities to a full blown project-based curriculum of computer sciences. Years ago, she challenged me to share my 3D experience with other ICT teachers, sparking what were probably the first educational workshops and training on 3D modeling and printing in Portugal. And now, 3D is a part of the national curriculum. I feel my path has contributed for this.
  • and the one I’m most proud of: the Anprino Robotics kit. It started very informally as a somewhat out of the box project created by Fernanda Ledesma and Luís Dourado, an informatics teacher, to address a very specific problem in education, the high cost of robotics kits. I was tasked with 3D design. From there, evolved an open source low cost educational robotics project. Arduino and 3D printing based, uses low cost components and 3D printed parts, and is programmable by children with a blocks-based coding tool (a customized version of Blockly). Our motto is that no child must be left behind. The project has proved to be an unexpected success, adopted as a robotics platform by over 150 schools, with more than 400 kits delivered. It’s a non-profit project, and can be freely downloaded, printed and tweaked by anyone. Two years since we started it, I’m still stunned by the enthusiasm generated by Anprino. Last year we took it to Rome and Galicia Maker Faires. And, weird tidbit: I actually enrolled into a post-graduate course on coding and robotics at Lisbon University, because I felt miserable for co-designing a robot and being unable to program it. I’ll be bringing my own Anprino to the Maker Faire, programmed by my ten year old students to create algorithmic paintings, a project inspired by the outstanding work of Leonel Moura on AI and Art.

What do you have on your horizon?

Evolving the Anprino project, with a personal focus on the interaction between robotics and art. I’ve also started working with the micro:bit platform, and I’m trying to understand if I can connect several devices to create a story… again, as a challenge to use in my ICT classes. Another idea is developing 3D teaching methodologies, from modeling to printing, using only android mobile devices (except for the printing part).

what is something you’d like to work with but haven’t yet?

Kind of would like to work on space-related projects, maybe 3D printed rockets or ESA Educational projects, but I never quite figured out how to begin.

Any advice for people reading this?

You know that crazy idea you have at the back of your mind? If you don’t try it, you’ll never know if it actually can become a cool project. Also, do it for the lols. As in, one of the cardinal rules of any project is that it should be fun.