Where's Dale Basler? ... and what keeps me busy

Moving from 2D to 3D using Tinkercad and Google Drawings

September 10th, 2015

The concept of 3D modeling can be a challenge for young students. They may have little to no experience with the idea of 3D. To change this, teachers can build upon the prior knowledge students already possess.


An Introduction to Dimensions (Get these slides)

However, almost all of our students have experience with crayons, markers, and colored pencils. Creations done with these tools are done in two dimensions. Starting with a drawing is an excellent place to introduce the term dimension and the directions labeled X and Y.

The next step is to give students an experience with computer aided drawing (CAD). I like to use Google Drawings because it is free to use, easy to learn, offers a vast variety of fonts, and is already available to many schools as a part of Google Apps for Education.

Before diving into a tool like Google Drawing, I feel it is important to have a discussion with students about how the features in computer aided drawing (CAD) programs can help the creative process. For example, last year I worked with fourth graders that were creating a variety of U.S. maps. We encouraged the students to experiment with different styles and colors. The students learned that trying out different ideas in a digital drawing was much easier since it didn’t mean that that they had to start over.

To move to the third dimension, students need to move their 2D drawings into a 3D modeling tool. For 3D design, I like to use Tinkercad. It also is free and easy to use. Works created in Google Drawings can be saved as a .svg file that can be imported into Tinkercad. Once in Tinkercad, designs can be stretched in the third dimension- the Z direction. Below is a video demonstration of this process.


Fewer students feel overwhelmed when they enter gradually into the world of 3D designing and modeling. By providing students a way to transition from drawings on paper to Google Drawings to Tinkercad, they develop a foundation that often strengthens their confidence to attempt more complex designs.

Editable sign in screens for the Chromebook

September 6th, 2015

Sign in to GoogleI can never get good pictures of the Chromebook sign in screens so I decided to recreate them.

The screens are:

  • enter email
  • enter password
  • failed email example (with CAPTCHA)
  • first time users (Accept Terms of Service)

They were all created in Google Drawings so you can edit the text to display your school’s domain.

See them all here.

My thoughts on manhood (over the years)

August 4th, 2015

My thoughts on Manhood

Google Sheets missing full Autofill; Text Mechanic to the rescue!

March 26th, 2015

Let’s say you need a long series of numbers in your spreadsheet and you are trapped on a Chromebook. Yes, I could drag down to fill but this takes way too long if you have a long list of numbers.

I hate that Google Sheets cannot do what Excel can do below:

Excel wins at Autofill

Excel wins at Autofill

Fortunately, there is Text Mechanic– a website that provides a collection of text manipulation tools that work in your browser. I used the Generate List of Sequential Numbers tool get the series of numbers I needed.

Use Text Mechanic to Generate List of Sequential Numbers

Use Text Mechanic to Generate List of Sequential Numbers

From here, I can copy and paste my list into Google Sheets and start calculating.

Text Mechanic has some other great tools too. Take a look at Find and Replace Text and Add/Remove Line Breaks. They have been a big help.

Add QR codes to student login card at code.org

February 8th, 2015

Here is a bookmarklet that will add QR codes to the student login cards for your code.org class.


Below is a video explaining how to use this bookmarklet.


Post (and host) animated GIFs in Google Sites

January 26th, 2015

Google Sites does not fully support animated GIFs. If you try to insert one into your Google Site it will not be animated.

Here is a quick html edit that will get your animated GIFs moving again.

edit html source to properly display your animated GIFs in Google Sites

edit html source to properly display your animated GIFs in Google Sites

Learn more in this video:


Prevent related videos at the end of a YouTube video

December 2nd, 2014

Do you want to show a YouTube video but hate all those ‘related videos’ that show up at the end?

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 9.00.47 PM


Sure you can wait perched over the pause button to stop the video before they pop up but who needs that stress.

I made a little bookmarklet to make things a little easier.

Drag the link below to your bookmark bar.

YouTube Cleaner

Pull up a YouTube video (like this one) and click the bookmarklet (now in your bookmarks) to see it in action.

The Internet built my daughter an app

October 5th, 2014

In May, my nine-year-old daughter suffered a stroke. The stroke weakened the left side of her body severely. However, with therapy she has managed to improve each week. Because of the stroke, she has a lot of tone in her arm. This causes her arm to pull up close to her body instead of naturally resting down and at her side. She has to make a conscience effort to put her arm down and we are frequently reminding her.

One day I got an idea. Could we use sensors to measure when her arm is up and use a vibration to remind her to put her arm down? After a little digging online, I quickly learned that the Pebble smartwatch has an accelerometer that could be used to detect orientation.

As a physics teacher, I understand accelerometers and I have a little bit of programing experience but I had zero experience with the Pebble watch. So I reached out to the community of Pebble enthusiasts and developers in the Pebble Forums. I explained my situation and asked if my idea was even possible.

Pebble app at CloudPebble

Pebble app at CloudPebble

What happened next was truly remarkable. Within a day, I had a response explaining that my idea was possible. By the next day, another user made me a working prototype app. I learned how to install the app on a Pebble watch that my good friend loaned me. I made adjustments to the code using an online development tool called CloudPebble.

Watch app triggers a vibration in this position

Watch app triggers a vibration in this position

Another user offered to merge the app into a watch face “so the watch doesn’t have to look like it’s only there for the stroke.” From here, things really took off. With my feedback, we added several other features such as a learning mode so the app could be used by others in similar situations.

Info screen gives us feedback

Info screen gives us feedback

This experience has shown my daughter the true power of the Internet. She saw that it is so much more than a place to consume media. The Internet allows total strangers from all over the world to work together. She learned that people will volunteer their time and skill to create new things and help others.

It is the best lesson about the Internet I could ever hope for her to learn.

Kids from the 1980s answer “What is a computer?”

August 7th, 2014

Watch this clip from Sesame Street where young students from 1980s describe a computer and what can be done with one.


I love their answers:

a computer is something you write on

[with a computer you can] make designs

you can make pictures with it and it helps you read

it’s not human

[a computer doesn’t have] feelings

It can think but you have to tell it what to do, we are [doing the thinking]

By now, the kids in the video are about forty years old. They are my age. We grew up working with a computer. The focus was on what we could do with a computer. What could we write, design or create with a computer.

I wonder if today’s students have the same focus? Are we shifting from a ‘what we can do with a computer’ toward ‘what can a computer do for us’ mindset?

Take math class into Google Maps and measure

July 11th, 2014

Google has brought back the ability to measure distances in the new Google Maps!

Right-click on the map to add your starting point. Continue clicking to add new points. Now your students can explore and measure places (and even some larger objects) in their neighborhood.


What is the perimeter and area of a local park?

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.31.15 AM

How big is the city pool?

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.39.49 AM

How many semi trailers could fit inside the city pool?

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