This post is a reflection on my third of five days at #cml16, or Create Make Learn Summer Institute in Burlington, Vermont. I am extremely proud, blessed and honored to have been an invited by my brilliant friend Lucie DeLaBrueure (@techsavvygirl) to be a participant of this extraordinary learning community.

It would honor me tremendously if you took the time to read this short post.

I started the day in a circuitous way (Yeah… that pun was intended!) The #CML16 challenge of having every member at every table learning how to solder left me revealed. I was the only one with no soldering experience. My table 8 team rallied to support me, and the most adorable, sweet, tolerant, forgiving, and definitely PATIENT Sue took me on that tumultuous journey. It was not a short journey. It was a journey filled with molten solder, beads of silver, beads of sweat, unpredictable profanity, and a ceremonious a glorious melding that led to a brilliant green LED light shining as a beacon of success!

The latter part of my morning was also extraordinary.   I attended a session by Kevin Jarrett, who I’m blessed enough to know and learn from on a regular basis. He was so phenomenal, and everyone in the group of learners will attest to that.  Guided by his friendly and welcoming tutelage, those who didn’t even KNOW what Tinkercad WAS were able to create mind-blowing designs within hours!

I’ve gotta be honest – I know how to use Tinkercad.  I’ve played with it.  I’ve taught it to kids.  I’m sorta okay with it.  That is how I am about a lot of things.  I get the gist and I’m ready to roll…but not really…but sorta.   My top secret secret is that I really want to learn more, to be better, to be able to teach others….to LEVEL UP!

Although I know Kevin, we are friends, and I live close to him, this kind of opportunity to just plain LEARN from him doesn’t creep up a lot. Sometimes, you just want to sit in a room and ask your friends questions, watch what they can do, and see tips from someone who is just more thorough. Today was that day for me.  It was a gift, so I purposely didn’t sit in as a participant who would have my OWN questions, but I sat ‘on the fringe’ on a stool in the back so that I could wander and listen and learn from Kevin’s answers to EVERYONE ELSE’s questions. This was EPIC. This was a huge personal learning discovery for me.  This gave me such a learning advantage – I felt like an intern. I hope Kevin reads this. I hope anyone who is a beyond-beginner-as-a-learner gets something from my experience. This was a big A-HA thing for me today!

I have been using Tinkercad for about a year with my students, but I was hoping Kevin could take me to a new level.   He didn’t disappoint.  This was THE most relevant, applicable, and helpful session to me so far. I got so much out of his simple tips & tricks — things like the font tool, grouping, cleaving, proportionally resizing, duplicating, and even renaming a project. These were all “level up” things for me. I walked away from that session SO much more comfortable with using it, but more importantly with teaching it. For my life – for my “next step”, teaching 3d printing is really going to be a big deal. Kevin just gave me some extraordinary tips to make me a better teacher, better maker, and better presenter!

In the afternoon, I went to the session that was supposed to be for elementary-level creation of underwater ROVs.   Holy schmamoleee…what an intense project!  I almost bailed a couple of times when I saw what was involved. There were things SOOOO over my experience level that I literally walked away more than once, but I came back because there were relevant things to learn.  …..Fast forward to the end of the session – I stuck with it and it was HUGE for me!  I learned how to use and cut PVC pipe. Like,  hacksaw cut!  I know what a hacksaw is and how to use a vise to secure it to cut it.  I learned what the heck a hose clamp is (our team had trouble clamping one, and I was the one who figured it out!), I not only learned how to solder today, but I learned an actual APPLICATION for it with this ROV project. II learned about things called Gorilla Tape and bilge pumps and neutral buoyancy, and  – I learned how to strip a wire! Seriously. SERIOUSLY. Seriously.

I was a part f a team of 6 women educators who built an actual underwater Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV). On Friday, we will test its buoyancy and effectiveness at ECHO in Burlington, VT, but for now I can pretty much report that the effectiveness of the whole experience was 100% rewarding! BOOM!

As I told my fellow #makers, even if I never again in my life build an actual submersible, competition-worthy submersible ROV, I have learned so many, so very many sub-skills that will lead me and enable me on diverse maker journeys in the new year…..and beyond! For me, this is a week to keep leveling up. After today, I figured that out. “Build New” is absolutely a craving of mine, but “Level Up” is where I’m achieving the most success. I think I’ll continue down that road.