We are just from Riverview, NB, Canada. What can we do? You can LEAD!

Being from small town New Brunswick, the poorest province in Canada, we are bombarded with negative stories and the mass migration out of our province. When once we were the richest province in the country, no one wants our forest, our fish, our gypsum, or grind stones, our shale gas. Students quickly develop a sense that nothing good comes from New Brunswick, including themselves. Many think they have to leave or they have given up if they stay. We cannot compete this the rest of the world.

This trip to NYC has much deeper lessons than literacy, or engineering or graphic arts or sewing. The purposeful theme is to teach lessons that fight the negative narrative that students hear every day. You are from New Brunswick and not only can you can you compete with the rest of the world, YOU CAN LEAD!

The World Maker Faire invited you to the Faire and gave you THE prime location. The NY Times spent 30 minutes with you and are quoting you for their magazine focused on learning. The Maker Faire Editors gave you an Editor’s Choice Award.

Just to drive the lesson home, We went to the broadway show, “School of Rock”, where my previous student who sat at their same desks, was the lead. Justin took us back stage and described his unique wandering path as he followed his dream backed up with lots of work, dedication, and hope. There is a whole post dedicated to Justin and the School of Rock and how his story parallels the themes in the musical.¬†

The lesson was received by more than just the students. In addition to my students, there were almost 40 teachers from the Maritimes also attending the MakerFaire, in large part because of the efforts of Brilliant Labs. The teachers walking also saw that NB students could compete and excel on the world scale. My students are no better and no worse than their students.

I believe that there will be many more student run booths from NB at the World Maker Faire next year.

Next year, I am hoping to show that not only can NB students compete on the world scale, but I also want to show that the Anglophone and Francophone sectors can cooperate. Can we go to the MakerFaire in the UK and Paris as a bilingual team? Can the Anglophone students coach the Francophone students at the UK MakerFaire and shortly afterwards, can the Francophone students coach the Anglophone students at the Paris MakerFaire.


The Canadians are Coming: WORLD MAKER FAIR NYC, Sept 22-23rd, 2018

We were given THE PRIME location in the young builders section of the Word Maker Faire.


Six students shared duty with 1 person out in the crowd inviting passers by, 1 person giving the elevator pitch and follow up questions and 1 person showing little kids how to solder. Communication in real life. This strategy seemed to work well because the booth was rarely empty. The invitation with elevator pitch was long enough to get the kids to sit down and learn to solder. This in turn gave an extended time for E-B students to talk with the adults while they waited for their kid to finish. A lesson in not only communication, but in group dynamics. So many more lessons than just how to 3D print cases and solder circuits.

Girls in Engineering

Everyone was impressed with the student run booth. The other booths in the Young Builders section were mostly adults catering to the young or booths with young projects, with parents running the booth and kids running around. At our booth, the adults were close by, but out of sight. I only spoke with 4 participant adults, and that is because they specifically sought me out. Three of them spoke about how well spoke the students were.

Interviewed by NY TImes

Interviewed by NY Times

Both the New York Times and one of the MakerFaire Organizers each spent about 30 min at our booth. They both mentioned that they were impressed by a few things.

#1. That we were using engineering to solve a real problem in the world. As fun as making cool robots that fight each other might be, we were doing something real.

#2. That 5 of the 6 high school students were female. That is an oddity. What is it that we are doing different? It was fantastic to see these elementary aged girls looking up to the older high school girls as mentors as they learned how to solder. One little girl with a pink NASA hat left the booth saying, “Mom, I want to be an electrical engineer for NASA.”


#3. That students were in charge of the booth. While the adults gave advice, suggestions and a few ground rules, it was the students who made decisions on who would have break when, who would fill what role etc…

As a result, we are going to form a “significant” contribution to the NY Times Sunday Magazine dedicated to Learning.

One of the Editors of the MakerFaire actually took time out of her very busy schedule, knelt down on her knees in the grass and spoke with our students. She said that Engineering Brightness booth was brought up twice in the planning meetings in a positive way in between comments about the huge Google or Digikey booths because of our “raison d’etre”. She awarded the students with an “EDITOR’s CHOICE” award. ‘

The interview with the NY Times, the Editor’s Choice Award and the meeting with Justin Collette at the School of Rock, all combined together to give a new perspective of what it means to be from New Brunswick Canada, the poorest, but yet the best province in Canada?

Group at World MakerFaire

Graphic Arts and Sewing: Preparation

In order to get ready to go to the World Maker Faire in NYC, The RHS Engineering Brightness students had to prepare a booth. That included making decisions about a table cloth, a banner, sponsor signs etc. Should we get a pop up poster? Where will people sit? Who will do what activity? Where will we put the soldering iron to teach kids how to solder? Should we purchase the table cloth or make it? What should we make it out of? Does anyone know how to sew?

They choose to omit a popup poster, purchase a perforated banner and sew their own table cloth. We sent the graphics away to a print company, but that still meant they had to learn how to sew.

They borrowed a sewing machine and brought it into the physics lab. Over 4 lunch hours, with some coaching from another student, they taught themselves how to sew, the ability to sew over pins if they are placed horizontally or vertically, the ability to rotate by keeping the needle down and folding the edges.

Learning to Sew

Some of them were good, some of them were terrible. At best, they learned that they could make their own things by sewing and at worst, they appreciate that different people are skilled at different things and that school usually only focuses on one kind of SMART.

It is more about “HOW ARE THEY SMART rather than “How Smart Are They?”

Literacy Matters: Prep for Makerfaire NYC

RHS Engineering Brightness students were invited to the World Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science.


During the summer holidays, students came to my classroom while teachers were in pre-season meetings, to fund raise via letter writing. All of a sudden, spelling, voice and paragraph structure are very important. Students who were once bored of the mechanics of English, are now arguing over the use of semicolons and topic sentences. They were building, discussing, communication, problem solving…COLLABORATING as they made multiple drafts, not because their first draft wold be graded, but because the work had to be perfect. A 90% is not good enough. A single spelling mistake could mean the difference between receiving the financial support or not. The Silos of disciplines are removed. Purpose for learning makes all the difference.