Crafting your Own Manipulatives

The traditional approach to teaching molecular bonding has been through the ball and stick method. With any useful tool or object we use to learn and teach through, we should at least consider reimagining how it can be delivered in a more empathically way. Making learning through real life experiences will engage students, but it will allow for purpose in student academia.
Peter Hennigar saw this as an opportunity to have his student make their own 3D models using Tinkercad. The groups of 3 to 4 students needed to figure out how designing a model that would be 3D printed in class would be applicable to anyone wanting to learn molecular bonding. Once student finally printed their models, they have to craft simple direction for any end user to use and learn from the manipulative models. We caught up with Peter to find out more about the teaching and learning through a 3D printer in Chemistry class.
Looking at the standard and benchmarks why did you feel this was currently the best way students could demonstate their knowledge of covalent and ionic bonding of elements?
Having students create their own models through the design process, pushes students to indirectly learn content and demonstrate their knowledge by applying that information to their design.
Why have students CAD their molecular structures?
Because the focus was on the design process. This allows students to dive deeper into the key characteristics of molecular bonding. 
What types expect student learning results were achieved throughout this process?
Students develop a mastery level of understanding of molecular bonding. This would entail effective communication, critical thinking, visual representation, and large amounts of collaboration with their design teams. 
Why did you feel it was important to have students learn to use CAD demonstrate their learning?
Typically this process has been taught and learned through experiences that are 2D. By having the accessibility of a 3D printer, I was inspired to give myself and students a challenge to make their experience come to life. Thus creating an actual 3D model.
What science standards did you have the students meet?
Describe the build-up of electrons in ‘shells’ and understand the significance of the noble gas electronic structures and of valency electrons


Describe the formation of iconic bonds between elements from Groups I and VII
Describe the formation of ionic bonds between metallic and non-metallic elements

Describe the formation of single covalent bonds in H2, Cl2, H2O, CH4 and HCl as the sharing of pairs of electrons leading to the noble gas configuration.

How does this tie into real world applications that society is exposed to everyday?
Development of a product that is related to content that gives students a purpose behind their learning of Chemistry.
What will you do differently next time?
Scaling of final product of their 3D molecular manipulative structures and set limitation.
How did you use the pedagogical approach to Understanding of Design?
The most important piece to this process is that it gives the students the excuse to indirectly learn the actual content that they then can turn around to apply to create a 3D model. 
A part of the journey of having your students create 3D models, you found the exact same educational product that was being funded to go into production. How did your students feel about this?
They were interested that professional were making and marketing the same type of tools that they were making.
How does this apply in other aspects of curriculum. Function verse Product
Creating 3D models for boards games that recreates pandemics. Mythology Talisman
Creating 3D models that represent a character of a story. This is how G.I. Joe was born.
Creating 3D model models to create tessellation and modular (Art, Math, Science).
Possibility are ends with the intent to focus on design through a 3D modeling.
City X design in Elementary School
Elementary School math manipulative for ratios or fractions
3D printed jewelry for art

Wearable Technology And Their Role In Health.

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Mark Knudsen (@PhysEdDude) enthusiastically begins by posing the question “Do you even know what MinZ actually means?” – Before I get a chance to answer, he explains it’s a play on words and his term for “Minutes in the Zone.”

As he continues, I come find out that an upcoming fitness franchise in the US has come up with the “Orange Theory,” which he loves for two reason. First and foremost, his favorite color is orange, and he can’t help but support the love for orange and fitness coming together. The more important reason why he like the Orange Theory, however, is the technology integration and transparency for participants to monitor their MinZ. The sensors SIS uses allows the students to see when they are in their target zones for that particular activity. This allows him to both quantify effort in a quality way. It’s making his assessment of physical activity objective rather than subjective.

ORANGE is the new GOLD…STAR!

The Why?

According to the most Physical Education Standards & Benchmarks, students are to engage in Moderate to Vigorous Activity AT LEAST 4 Days a Week. According to the CDC kids from ages 6­-17 should be getting 60 minutes of activity in per day, this is where the magical number 240 comes into play. The question remains, how should Moderate to Vigorous Activity be defined?

As most physical educators know, you can’t just judge students by the amount they sweat the speed they run or if they can talk after during the exercise (Subjectively). Although the Borg RPE Scale is very helpful to gage fitness activity, schools can be even more accurate by using one of many wearables on the tech market. Apple Watches, Garmin, Polar, Fitbit and so many other companies have developed ways for people to objectively MEASURE their activity level.


Here at #SISPhysEd we are fortunate enough to have H6 & H7 Polar HR Sensors for ALL our students, EVERY class. This means the following:

  1. Students are to wear their strap and sensor EVERY CLASS, being mindful that the MinZ gained in class contribute to their required MinZ per month.
  2. Students are to record your MinZ on a SINGLE Print out that will be turned in to verify you’ve completed the MinZ.
  3. Students are responsible for the bare minimum of 30 MinZ per day for the entire month. That  amount of time is considered to be a Proficient, not and Exemplary. If students want to achieve an EX for this assessment, they’ll need need to exceed the 30 MinZ per day every month.

How can the students get the time in the zone?

  • Borrow A Sensors
    • Students can borrow sensors at the end of the day to do activity outside of school in order to get MinZ. Students borrow sensor and attach it to a device via POLAR goFit App or another running app that can be paired with the Polar Sensor.
  • Fitness Apps & Wearables
    • Running Apps – Nike+, Garmin, RunKeeper, Etc.
    • Apple Watch, Loop Bands, FitBits, Etc.
  • What other ways can you record your time in the “ZONE?”
    • After School Activities (Part of SIS or not)
    • Students are allowed to record HALF of their practice time as MinZ. The reasoning behind this is because participants generally are not in the target zones all of the time. HALF has been the standard of what people have come back with in terms of wearing their sensors, so it’s a good place to start.
    • Students can still wear sensors during these activities and will get every minute they record using the Polar Beat app.
    • How are students going to prove they’ve practiced? Mark requires them to record it on the sheet and then get the student’s coach to sign off on it at the end of each month! No signature, it doesn’t count.
  • Other Fitness Classes Outside of School
    • Yoga & Pilates – Students are allowed to record ONE THIRD of their class time. This is not meant to say that there isn’t as much benefit doing fitness classes, there is an amazing amount of of benefits, but for MinZ, it will count for ⅓ of the time.

There are many ways to record this, but the most important thing to make sure is that it’s recordable and quantifiable. The teacher must approve any other form of recording MinZ other that what is listed.

Just as in everything else we do at SIS, students have to prove they have completed the MinZ. As a professional, Mark is open to suggestions but generally starts with the easiest way to prove something, pictures. Screenshots and photos are the most ideal way to show the information. Along with the picture, there needs to be an identifying name and date. Collect them all in a PicCollage, PDF or any other way and turn it in by the end of the month on Edmodo under the Fitness Performance Assignment.

Quick review of what is needed to PROVE IT!

  1. Screenshot and Photos of the Activity Readout (needs to include HR/Intensity)
  2. Pictures must have Identifying Name and Date
  3. Collected on a SINGLE PDF. Maximum of 1 Page!
  4. Submitted by the end of the month on Edmodo.

Just as every teacher goes through, Mark has continued to retool the MinZ recording process and is currently on his second version of it. He believes in sharing all of his work and keeps an updated website with lessons, blog posts and other useful tools. Have a visit to his website (, tweet him (@PhysEdDude) or drop him and old school email ( to see what else you could get to use in your class.