Jaymes Dec: Innovation Specialist

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jaymes Dec and I am a technology integrator and teacher at the Marymount School of New York. My official title is Innovation Specialist. I started a digital fabrication lab (Fab Lab) at the school in September 2011 and primarily teach 4th through 8th grade technology in that lab. My role at Marymount is to experiment with using different and innovative technological tools in the classroom. I test them with students, and if they work out, I’ll try to help other teachers find ways to integrate those tools into their classes. I am also a partner in http://www.htink.org, a technology education cooperative. We are a small group of people in New York City that share a common goal to teach people how to use technology as a creative medium. To that end, we teach workshops and classes to children and adults all over NY, NJ, and CT. I tweet about technology and education: @jaymesdec

What hardware are you using?

My favorite piece of hardware is the Arduino microcontroller, a small open-source computer that you can use to prototype any digital invention that you can dream up. Just connect the appropriate inputs and outputs, and then program it to act accordingly. It’s so simple to make novel and complex human-computer interactions: like a device to tell you when your plants need watering or a basketball hoop that automatically keeps score. 

The Arduino is actually the “brains” inside my second favorite piece of hardware, the MakerBot 3D Printer. Marymount has several Thing-o-matics. They came as kits that I put together with my students. 

The work horse of the lab is our lab is our 40 Watt 24″x18″ Epilog Helix laser cutter. Everyday we use it to cut out or engrave acrylic, cardboard, wood, or paper.

What about software?

For software, I like programming in Processing, an open-source language built on Java. It’s great for artists, hobbyists, and students. Of course Arduino has their own programming environment, but it is modeled on Processing. Arduino and Processing play very well with each other. For any other programming (mostly Ruby), I use TextMate. For 3D design I really like Rhino and OpenSCAD, but I teach with TinkerCAD.com and I find it to be an excellent web application. I love Twitter as a content curation and discovery tool. I use Getpocket to save interesting looking content from Twitter for later browsing. I use Evernote a lot for collecting notes and other bits of information and Rememberthemilk for task management. 

What would your dream set up be?

I’ve pretty much got my dream set up in the Marymount Fab Lab. The only changes I’d like to make are to put more of our furniture and equipment on wheels so that we could reconfigure the space for various tasks and to have drop down retractable power cords for better cord management

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