FETC: Building a Steampunk Presentation Manipulation Apparatus with a Raspberry Pi

These are my notes from the “Building a Steampunk Presentation Manipulation Apparatus with a Raspberry Pi” session at the 2016 FETC conference.



  • Showed his Steampunk conference badge. More information at http://drtorq.com/uncategorized/steampunk-badge-is-a-hit-at-fetc/
  • He is running the presentation from the presentation device.
  • Materials used to create his device.
  • Skills needed:
    • Steampunk spirit.
    • Hands-on fabrication
    • Programming
    • Electronics
  • Software
    • Libre Office
    • guvcview – camera capture UNIX utility.
    • Linux
    • Python is the default Rasperry Pi language.
    • xdotool – imitates key press.

Dr. Torq's Steampunk conference badge running on a Rasperry Pi.

Side view of Dr. Torq's Steampunk presentation device.
Side view of Dr. Torq’s Steampunk presentation device.
Another view of Dr. Torq's Steampunk presentation device.
Another view of Dr. Torq’s Steampunk presentation device.

FETC: One More Thing

These are my notes from the “One More Thing” session at the 2016 FETC conference.



  • As participants enter, he is playing a Jimmy Kimmel skit on the screen: “Movie: The Movie“.
  • Started as a teacher, then tech director, then did start ups.
  • On a resume, you can say “I have been teaching for x number of phones”. The slide shows a lineup of several dozen smartphones that he has used.
  • Presentation philosophy
    • Slides are free
    • Say it now, you could be dead tomorrow.
  • “Edupreneur”: I make stuff
  • I even bought Applecare for my Kool Aid.
  • Overtime, our personal computers become portable.
  • Reviewed history of release of iPhone, App Store, and the iPad.
  • Portable learning has a long history.
  • Classroom technology misses the point because it puts too much emphasis on presentation devices.
  • We have 1:1 since the chalkPad.
    • Netbooks were not successful.
    • First iPad was not well received.
  • As a tech director, he refused to let a school to have an iPad for each teacher because they weren’t planning to let the kids use them.
  • There are no apps to fix the eduproblems.
  • Districts give technology, but not time.
  • Ed tech is often just digital replication.
  • Innovation is not just iteration. Innovation requires bravery.
  • “Solutions get cooked up in board rooms and fed to us in classrooms.”
  • “Date the device, but marry the abilities.” Don’t get attached to one type of device, but think about how other devices offer similar functions, and be ready to switch platforms.
  • Being an early adopter can be painful, “we are from 5 years in their future”.
  • Consumption vs. creation. Our job is to teach kids to cook, not just to eat.
  • Teach kids to upload apps, not just download them.
  • Learn to code because it gives you the keys to unlock your imagination.
  • Demonstrates apps that allow creation:
    • GarageBand – you can try any instrument.
    • Shows a full functioning CAD program.
    • Floors: draw a Mario level on paper, scan it, and it creates a game you can play.
    • Super Mario Maker for the Wii U.
  • It’s not hour of code, it is hours of code.
  • If you want to build a ship, give people a love of the sea (quote from the Little Prince)
  • Shows video of old man learning to read so he can read his son’s book. It turns out to be a scotch commercial.
  • The worst f-word is “fear of failure”. That is the greatest barrier of success.
  • Old arcade games made you fail every 30 seconds so they could take your money, but you would keep coming back.
  • Uses Tickle app to fly a drone over the audience. Shows journal entry of his son describing the experience in his writers notebook, and merely got a check from his teacher.
  • “The beauty of technology is differentiation of creation.”
  • #edchat and Ed Camp are bringing teachers together.
  • The magic is what students create with the tools.

FETC: Sean McComb Keynote

These are my notes from the Sean McComb keynote at the 2016 FETC conference.

iWill: Activating Empowered Teachers and Students

  • @Mr_McComb
  • 2014 teacher of the year.
  • He discusses wow far we have come with technology. Imagine a clock representing the last 3,000 years. A minute would last about 50 years.
    • It took 49 minutes until the printing press was invented.
    • 6.5 minutes later the telegraph was invented.
    • 2.5 minutes later came television.
    • 1.5 minutes later the Internet was invented.
    • 30 seconds later came smart phones.
  • The rate of change has quickened!
  • We should reframe the idea that “schools must change” to “how can schools improve?” (and not just change for change sake) to “why should schools improve?” What is the real rationale for why schools have to improve? It is not just because other countries score higher on standardized tests.
    • Student engagement drops off over time.
      • 76% of elementary students report feeling engaged in work.
      • 64% of middle schools are engaged.
      • 44% in high school.
      • Kids feel tired, stressed, bored in school.
      • Kids will face challenges of social inequity (99%) and climate change.
  • Can we use technology to make learning engaging, equitable, empowering, and effective? Is technology disrupting inequity in schools?
  • Education technology vendors should have companies as diverse as their clients.
  • Learning should be interest driven, personal inquiry, and authentic outcomes.
  • He shares a recent unit from his class.
    • Gave students 10 topics and asked what they want to learn about. They choose racial, criminal, refugee, and LGBTQ+ justice.
    • “I am learning with my students because I gave them this choice.”
    • Daily work is small group instruction, writing, Skype/Google interviews, peer revision, and research.
  • Put “hearts before hardware”.
  • Hyperseeing: the ability to see what is not there, but could be. “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo
  • What can schools do that have the greatest impact: developing student self-expectations.
  • “As a teacher, I need to be in the boat with the students. There might be rough waters”.
  • We are always doing high–5’s in my classroom. The brain is more productive when it is positive.
  • How can we empower teachers, so that they feel that they have the ability to truly care for students.
  • Gallup poll: Teaching is 2nd most stressful job (1st is doctors), 69% of teachers are “not engaged” in their work, and are least likely to agree “my opinions seem to count”.
  • Teachers need to be able to rely on each other for support.
  • Teachers need to feel like they are involved in meaningful work.

FETC: Scratch for High School

These are my notes from the “Scratch for High School” session at the 2016 FETC conference. I did not take very good notes because I was working in Scratch at the same time.


Pen Tool

  • Pen = used to draw paths on the screen.
  • One of the first lessons is to draw basic shapes like a square.
Code to draw a square in Scratch.
Code to draw a square in Scratch.

Creating Interactivity

  • Kids have assignment to write a program with 20 questions.
  • Uses variables and sending/receiving message.
Code to broadcast messages in Scratch.
Code to broadcast messages in Scratch.

Brick Breaker Game

  • When key pressed as an event is slow. Use an if statement instead.
Code to move the paddle in a Block Breaker game.
Code to move the paddle in a Block Breaker game.
Code to animate a ball in a Block Breaker game.
Code to animate a ball in a Block Breaker game.
Code to animate a brick in a Block Breaker game.
Code to animate a brick in a Block Breaker game.

Math Based Programs

  • He showed how to make a new block, which is like defining a custom method.
Code for creating a custom code block in Scratch.
Code for creating a custom code block in Scratch.

Questions and Answers

  • Do you teach any conventions like how to organize code blocks on screen?
    • You can zoom in and out.
    • You can right-click and select “Clean up”.
    • You can right-click on block to add a comment, which can be expanded and collapsed.
  • How do kids make transition to other coding languages?
    • He has students do the same program first in Scratch, then Python, and then finally Java.

Student Examples

  • He has students do a project where they calculate density by looping through 2 arrays of values.
  • Student did a project where the user could move a putter to hit a ball, which moved with accurate and realistic velocity and angle.
  • He showed a student project that drew fractals.
  • A student made a Street Fighter game where each sprite had 100 costumes.

FETC: Double-Click to Edit: Hacking Keynote

These are my notes from the “Double-Click to Edit: Hacking Keynote” session at the 2016 FETC conference.


Presentation Styles

  • Shows video of Worst Presentation Ever.
  • It is great when people can’t tell you are using Keynote, they think you are using an app they have never seen.
  • Every Keynote has a style.
  • Showed Dick Hardt presentation style video.
  • Showed clip of Steve Jobs introducing the iPhone and comments on the Keynote design style.
    • “Is a widescreen iPod, a phone, and an Internet communication device.” Those are actually 3 bullets points, but each has own slide with a big icon.
    • Then he repeats the slides, but sped up, to create a visual joke.
  • @ambyburvall has a unique style. She draws everything in Paper by FiftyThree and uses white and pink on black background.
  • “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Picaso.
  • “I am not the expert. I am a practitioner”

Focus on Keynote for Mac

Designing a theme

  • Think about
    • Colors:
      • Not too many.
      • The desired mood should drive color choices.
      • Have enough contrast.
    • Fonts
      • Serif vs. sans serif.
      • Size: font size should be double the age of the average person in audience.
    • Animation style
      • Don’t distract.
      • Tell a story.
      • Timed events verses programmed animations.
      • Consistency
    • Image type: photos vs. clip art.
    • Aspect ratio: he no longer uses 4:3.
  • Design, content, and delivery all work together. Think about the rate of presentation, such as talking quickly through many simple slides.
  • The Honey Slap: Sweet story to pull in the audience, followed by harsh statement.

3 Big Tips

  • Magic move
  • Instant Alpha: remove background of image
  • Layering animation: he demonstrated how he made a couple of slides, such as an elevator door opening. He keeps saying each animation takes many hours.

Recommendations for Presentation Tips

FETC: Amp Up Differentiated Instruction Digitally

These are my notes from the “Amp Up Differentiated Instruction Digitally” session at the 2016 FETC conference.



  • http://www.tpack.org
  • Technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge.
  • Overlapping from three areas of knowledge that teachers need to use technology effectively.
  • Not all students from other languages have a paradigm for written language.
  • Text-dependent skills and strategies, such as using text structures.


  • https://todaysmeet.com/FETC_JenBoyle
  • TodaysMeet
  • Students can post messages to the screen, similar to functionality within Nearpod.
  • Appears to have very limited functionality. Users can’t reply to each other.
  • The teacher can create rooms for discussion.

Benchmark Universe

  • http://www.benchmarkeducation.com
  • She demonstrated an ebook with voiceover that highlighted the words as they were read aloud.
  • ebooks can be modified for specific needs.
  • Filters for product type (ebook, eposter, ), language (Englis or Spanish), and subject area.
  • Readings can be narrowed by lexile level.

More Resources

FETC: Leland Melvin Keynote

These are my notes from the Leland Melvin keynote at the 2016 FETC conference.


They are playing David Bowie before the keynote starts!

STEM Excellence Awards

Before the speaker begins, they are giving away the FETC STEM awards. Several nominees are from Washington! More information in both 1805 in the Expo Hall.


  • Played for the Lions and the Cowboys.
  • BS in chemistry and MS in material design.
  • Flew on Space Shuttle Atlantis.
  • 24 years with NASA.

Keynote Adress

Leland Melvin delivering a keynote address.

  • The right stuff is the never give up stuff.
  • Everyone literally had a hand in my development, makes smacking gesture with hand:)
  • Parents were both middle school teachers.
  • Was 4 for moon landing in 1969.
  • Talking about actress Grace Nichols who played Uhura on Star Trek, and influence on race and gender in 1960’s. She met MLK and he told her not to quit the show. NASA later hired her to recruit women and minorities.
  • Made his own skateboard, example of childhood engineering.
  • Tells a story of the Merita Bread truck his dad bought to use as an RV. They re-engineered it over the summer. “Anything we do can be a teaching moment”. “That is when I became an engineer”.
  • Got a chemistry set was age inappropriate. “I blew things up in the living room”, “that is when I became a scientist”.
  • Played high school football. He dropped the ball during the homecoming game. Coach told him to try again, ran the same play and he caught the ball to make a touchdown. This led to him receiving scholarship for University of Richmond.
  • Played for the Lions and then the Cowboys, then went back to college after an injury prevented him from playing.
  • Worked on a design for a replacement to the Space Shuttle, eventually applied for astronaut program.
  • Shows picture in which he was the only black astronaut in his class.
  • Lost hearing during EVA suit training in a pool. It s lowly came back, but was medically disqualified from flying space.
  • Became a recruiter to get kids interested in space.
  • After the Columbia disaster, was sent to talk to David Brown’s parents. They tell him “we must keep flying”.
  • Gets a medical waiver to be allowed to fly.
  • Path from blue flight suit to orange pumpkin suit was full of mistakes.
  • 2008 and 2009 went to ISS. Job was to work on the robotics. He had to use the big robot arm first flight. Added a module for the German program.
  • The orbital perspective, or orbital shift: seeing a sunrise or sunset every 45 minutes, seeing all of humanity below, and working with an international family.
  • Shows video of Space Shuttle launch.
  • “Only possible because I had a team that believed in me.”
  • Stupid astronaut tricks get kids stoked to be astronauts.
  • Shows picture of sketch notes with 3 questions:
    • How to prepare students for jobs we can’t image?
    • How to ensure all students can meet level of rigor?
    • How to build learning experiences that spark passion?
  • Parents taught him empathy, to care about others.