Western Pa. schools’ $20K STEAM grant creations put on display

[A recent Tribune Review article featured creations at the 2016 AIU STEAM Showcase in Pittsburgh. Included was a canine robot named Marvin. The Carlynton student who created Marvin gained her initial training through Birdbrain Technologies Robot Petting Zoo Makeathon during the summer of 2015. Stephanie’s original creation was Fred, a sparkling red dinosaur. It’s wonderful to see how Marvin took on a more advanced look and feel using the Hummingbird Kit from Birdbrain. Tom Lauwers, the founder and Chief Scientist for Birdbrain Technologies,  will share some of the wonderful projects, like Fred (see below), created at Makeathons across the country at the Three Rivers Educational Technology Conference on November 8, 2016]

| Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, 10:21 p.m.

Stephanie Bonifield stroked her dog Marvin under the chin, and he wagged his tail.

The orange pooch, made of duct tape and cardboard, also blinked his light bulb eyes and shook paws with people who stopped to greet him.

“He’s got a gimpy leg, but it works,” said Bonifield, 17, a senior at Carlynton Junior-Senior High School. Marvin is her second robot — she also made Fred, a dinosaur.

She and other Carlynton students showed off their work at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s annual STEAM Showcase this week. Twenty-eight school districts from Western Pennsylvania sent students to the event to show off what they did with their $20,000 STEAM grants from the AIU in the past year.

The showcase is just one such event that celebrates science, technology and engineering education in the Pittsburgh area. Remake Learning Education Friday, scheduled Oct. 14 for students and educators, is already sold out. Organizers said they expect more than 1,500 students and educators at the Buhl Community Park and Nova Place for a sneak peek —including live demonstrations and hands-on workshops and activities—of the annual Pittsburgh Maker Faire, scheduled Oct. 15 and 16.

“There seems to be a voracious appetite for kids and educators today for these authentic making and DIY experiences/STEM experiences,” said Bill Schlageter, director of marketing for the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, which is helping to organize the first-time event for students. “We’re very excited about it.”

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The Trends and Challenges Shaping Technology Adoption In Schools

[For the past two years I’ve served as the co-chair of the CoSN Emerging Technologies Committee. However, even before I served in this capacity I turned to the Horizon Report each year to better understand the shifting sands of Educational Technology. I used the Horizon Report in my own forecasting as a CTO and in my work as an adjunct professor. In this Mindshift article you’ll find a great summary of the emerging trends, short-term as well as long-term, with the challenges ahead for educators in K-12.]

Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

Every year for the past 15 years the New Media Consortium and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) have been taking the pulse of where education technology stands among K-12 educators. A panel of 59 experts from 18 countries discussed major trends in education that are driving the adoption of technology, as well as the big challenges to effective implementation. This collaborative effort helps to paint a picture of where things stand now and where they might be going. This year NMC and CoSN have also put together a digital toolkit to help educators and policy leaders start conversations about these trends in their community, with the hope that some of the changes they see happening in pockets around the world will become more broadly accepted.

“It gives lots of way to facilitate activities at a PTA meeting, at a school board meeting or a local chamber of commerce,” said Keith Kruger, CEO of CoSN. “We’re hoping you don’t see the report as something you read once and file away, but that you start using it to really start stimulating conversation.”

nmc-trends

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How Robots in English Class Can Spark Empathy and Improve Writing

[In this Mindshift article students interact with the Sphero robots to develop stories. For the past two years I’ve worked with Birdbrain Technologies, a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). The Hummingbird, a robotics kit, developed at CMU’s CREATE Lab out of a project originally called “Robot Diaries.” In my early days of programming in the Logo language I had students create “Turtle Stories.” There’s definitely something engaging about robots that allows students to expand their literary skills while developing STEM skills at the same time. After I wrote this introduction, Seymour Papert, one of the creators of Logo died. Without the wisdom of Seymour Papert many educators like myself would never have discovered the power of computational thinking.]

Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

Mention robots to many English teachers and they’ll immediately point down the hall to the science classroom or to the makerspace, if they have one. At many schools, if there’s a robot at all, it’s located in a science or math classroom or is being built by an after-school robotics club. It’s not usually a fixture in English classrooms. But as teachers continue to work at finding new entry points to old material for their students, robots are proving to be a great interdisciplinary tool that builds collaboration and literacy skills.

“For someone like me who teaches literature by lots of dead white guys, teaching programming adds relevance to my class,” said Jessica Herring, a high school English teacher at Benton High School in Arkansas. Herring first experimented using Sphero, essentially a programmable ball, when her American literature class was studying the writing of early settlers. Herring pushed the desks back and drew a maze on the floor with tape representing the journey from Europe to the New World. Her students used class iPads and an introductory manually guided app to steer their Spheros through the maze.

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