21st Century learning and ongoing professional development

Integrating Coding into the Classroom

As part of Friends School’s commitment to 21st century  learning and ongoing professional development our teachers had the opportunity to attended a sold-out workshop at Maret School in Washington DC that shared tips for integrating computer coding into the classroom, rather than just as a standalone in technology classes. Educators as varied as high school math teachers, middle school science teachers and of course technology leaders shared a-ha moments all morning long. Lower School Technology Integrator Andrew Hanyes, Middle School Tech Educator Erin Z. Hall and Middle School Librarian Tracy Thompson participated in the workshop.

Integrating Coding in the Classroom Curriculum Workshop at Maret School.


Quake at Sidwell- FTC Qualifier – 12/10/16

The Friends Robotics Team – Quake – took our robot to Sidwell Friends School this past Saturday December 10, to compete in the first qualifier competition.  Although Quake did not qualify for states (only five of the twenty-two teams there did so), our robot performed well, had no connection issues, was able to score points in a variety of ways, gracious professionalism was shown, and a good time was had by all!

During the lunch break, the Quake pit crew built a new feature to the robot to allow us to score points by changing the color of lighted beacons on the field, and the Quake coding duo were able to get our autonomous mode program working to score points in the first thirty seconds of the round.  Both new features worked well in the two rounds after lunch.

Next competition: Sunday, Jan 15, 2017 at Bullis School in northwest DC.


Our friend Max Pollack at DETAILs Baltimore has a new website. Check it out.


Max Pollack, Manager of Material sales and Production for DETAILs Baltimore visited the Friends Community last Spring to share what they do.

Construction builds new structures. Deconstruction takes old ones apart and repurposes the materials. With deconstruction comes economic, environmental, and social benefits that do not exist in conventional demolition. Nearly 300,000 houses are demolished in the United States every year, leading to large-scale waste and an enormous missed opportunity for social impact and environmental conservation.

Every material in your home has value from whole pieces like cabinetry to individual parts like lumber. Deconstruction rescues many of these pieces and gives them new life. It’s a process that requires attention to detail, and our crew has mastered efficiency. Whether your home renewal project requires partial or full removal of the structure, Details is ready for it. Hiring us is good for people, the planet, and you. Being a Humanim social enterprise, a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit, means the Details deconstruction can bring tax benefits to the owner.

Check out this flashback link to his visit. https://friendsbaltmakers.com/2016/03/09/brick-by-brick-details-baltimore-visits-upper-school/






Third Grade Native American Studies

Third grade has been busy in the maker space this month! Third graders were presented with this driving question: how can we as museum curators inform and educate others about Native American cultures past and present? A primary goal of this unit and project is to debunk common stereotypes associated with Native Americans. Each child researched, planned, designed, and built an exhibit that reflects an aspect of Native American life. Some examples of exhibits include an doll clothed in authentically designed Inuit clothing, a bow and arrow that Apache children might have practiced using, and a model of a Comanche home.

The museum will be open to the public in The Katz Gallery from November 29th until December 8th

Click on the link below to see the work.

The KATZ Gallery

Positivity, encouragement, and joy line the halls of Friends School.


By: Gwendolyn Comfort -18′

Positivity, encouragement, and joy line the halls of Friends School, since Thursday, December first. I started that week with a small idea–to make posters with positive sayings for groups of people; to gain strength from (“Black students, your lives matter in our community,” “LGBTQ+ students, you are valid and welcome in our school,” “Foreign students, your voice is important and your background is valuable,” etc.). I honestly didn’t have much hope for people wanting to help me with it, though I knew a lot of students would love the finished product. But I took a shot and shared my idea with Mrs. Rupani, our schools Director of Diversity, Equity and Social Justice, who leapt at the chance to introduce that kind of thoughtful, happy energy to the school, especially after the turmoil of this past year and, even more, the past couple weeks. I’m overjoyed that so many people took to it so quickly, that we had a great turnout at our poster- and button-making session, and that a large portion of the student body has spoken up about appreciating the existence and placement of the posters.

It was a lot of work, but all those who helped create or put up the posters made it the organization side fun, and and seeing the looks of relief and joy on the faces of those who pass them by in the halls made the whole week of planning worth it. A total of 50 unique posters and 25 original buttons were created in the maker space.- Gwendolyn Comfort -18′

Arduino days



This month, students in the Mr Antonio-Barnes’s Upper School ATMD (Art, Technology, Media and Design) class took there first steps into electronics with Ardunio. Ardunio is an opensource coding and open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments. These kits are one of the ways that our students are meeting the challenge of not being “passive users but active users of technology”.  Look out for some interesting interact projects coming soon.


Raspberry PI up and running in the Middle School

This month in our Middle School Maker Space, teachers Mrs Hall and Mrs Thompson introduced their students to the Raspberry PI platform. Raspberry PI  is a credit card-sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It is a capable little computer which can be used in electronics projects, and for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word processing, browsing the internet, and playing games.

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Bespoke Bicycles of Baltimore

On November 18th students and faculty had the opportunity of hearing Chris Bishop of Bishop bikes share about the process and complexities for building unique one of a kind bicycles frames. Bishop bikes is our second speaker this year in the Maker Speaker Series.


Bishop’s presentation can be viewed here. https://www.flickr.com/photos/bishopbikes/albums/72157676650392725

Later in the day at the Maker Space presentation students had the opportunity to see his most recent build and handle many of his prototypes along with raw frame building materials to help illustrate his process. Chris talked in great detail about the fabrication process is linked to the performance of his frames. Many questions were asked about his particular signature style and design choices. Many of our most avid bike riders in the Friends School community were present to ask questions and some even shared riding stories and favorite local trails.

One particular story Chris shared during his visit was his own education on the craft of bicycle frame building. Students learned about his fabrication under the tutelage of Koichi Yamaguchi, a Master frame builder for the legendary “3 Rensho” company in Japan. Click here for more information about this sought after teacher  yamaguchi bike school

Chris will be teaching a course at the renowned  Metal Guru School in NYC this summer . Interested students can find information here. http://metalguruschool.com/