What is that in your hand?


As I write this post, the temperature is a comfortable 63 degrees with a forecast of 72 and sunny skies. This is important because it's Spring Fling and several employees are assembling game equipment at various locations around campus. A handful of guys are manning two barbecue grills, and the smell of hamburgers and brats is wafting across the parking lot.

This is likely not at all what our customers envision when they think of Pitsco, but we are raising funds for Relay for Life and Angels Among Us – two organizations that are recipients of donations from our Pitsco Cares initiative. Employees will pay to eat lunch and to participate in a variety of games, with Pitsco providing a matching donation.
When the Pitsco Cares campaign was initiated in 2009, it had two underlying tenets, both biblical references: “What is that in your hand?” and “Each according to his own ability.”

Spring-Fling2_2016These guiding principles continue to underlie the culture of caring and giving at Pitsco. Over the years, many employees have become more involved in local organizations by giving of their time, abilities, and resources. Many Pitsco Cares opportunities are scheduled as part of our HOT Goal program, while others are arranged as needs arise throughout the year.

While no employee is ever obligated to be involved in a Pitsco Cares activity, we continue to offer these opportunities to meet the needs of our community and, thus, our employees and their families.

It’s time to play bocce ball!

The many hats of featured TAG Teacher, Aaron Maurer!


Aaron Maurer is an instructional coach for Bettendorf Middle School in Bettendorf, Iowa. He has been in education for more than a decade teaching sixth grade social studies, literature, and computer as well as spending many years teaching gifted education in Grades 4-8 before taking on the new role of instructional coach.

Aaron wears many hats in his role as an educator and in life. We asked Aaron to share some additional information with us about classroom resources, solutions to issues, why he wanted to become a teacher, and benefits he feels he will receive as a TAG member. His answers to our questions are below.

"One of the things that I've seen over time is to allow the makerspace mindset and culture to merge into all of the classroom learning. When students are fully engaged in a project where they've developed a plan of action to solve a problem or express their ideas, magic happens. It's in these moments where student learning shines.
How do we blend the freedom of a makerspace culture into all of the classrooms? One solution is believing in students.

Aaron_Mauer2_0416So often we make up our minds on what students can do, and we end up limiting their capabilities. Doing projects like building our Mr. Robot to deliver coffee to teachers has opened my eyes and reminded me that students are very intelligent and capable of doing things we never dreamed possible. They just need people to believe in them, guide them, and provide a safe space to experiment and test their ideas.

I became a teacher because in seventh grade I had a teacher named Mr. Randolph. He was my social studies teacher and later in life my basketball coach. What struck me at this age, where we don't typically like anything, is that he would stand outside his door and shake our hands. Something about this simple gesture of letting us know that he cared about us inspired me to teach. I knew that I wanted to be a teacher since then and have never considered anything else. It's a calling of sorts where now I am an educator. It's not a job, but a lifestyle that consumes my actions and every waking moment because I'm so driven to help improve cultures of learning in an era so focused on achievement and data. We can't lose sight of the power of learning and what learning is really about.

As a TAG member this year, I'm really hoping to learn from the best. I want to be part of this community of educators who are doing amazing things. I want to share and inspire others in hopes that they will do the same. I want this experience to push my own levels of thinking and learning so I can improve as an educator and impact other educators and students. We must strive to continue to surround ourselves with greatness, and I feel like TAG is an opportunity to do that."

Aaron is also an avid coffee consumer who is frequently spotted wearing bow ties and searching for the perfect cup of joe. You can find Aaron’s work on and Twitter @coffeechugbooks.

Using measuring tape in surprising ways


Measuring tape is a staple of any toolbox. It’s got the obvious, practical use of being great for measuring things, but it also has surprising uses in a wide variety of activities.

For example, take Pitsco Education’s Toolbox Racer. The Toolbox Racer uses the potential energy found in the spring of the measuring tape to power a small race car. All you need is measuring tape and a Toolbox Racer Kit, and you can have a fun racing activity that's easily used in any hallway at home or at school. Add some mass to the car while testing it, and you can determine the velocity of the vehicle.
Another great activity that can be accomplished with a measuring tape is using it to measure impossible heights.

What you need is a measuring tape, notebook, calculator, and pen. By using these items, your shadow, and the concept of proportion, you can determine the height of objects much larger than yourself. The activity involves measuring the height of your shadow, measuring your height, and using those numbers to attain the proportion. From that point you can begin determining the height of objects such as a flagpole, tree, basketball hoop, and more.

One of the cleverest ways students have been using measuring tape recently is in the 2015-2016 FIRST® Tech Challenge. This year’s game, called Res-QSM, requires robots to climb a simulated mountain. Students have been using measuring tape to create a winch system that enables their robots to easily climb up the side of obstacles and complete the challenge. Here’s a video explaining the design of the measuring tape winch and a video of a robot using it during competition.

As you can see, even a plain old measuring tape can be used in tons of different creative activities. The only real design limit is your imagination. Do you have any activities or ideas for using measuring tape? Make sure to sound off in the comments and let us know!

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