Light is a wave. This fact is something that most people are familiar with and it’s been known since the experiments carried out by the English polymath Thomas Young in the early 1800s
A robotic arm, sometimes referred to as an industrial robot, is often described as a ‘mechanical’ arm. It is a device that operates in a similar way to a human arm, with a number of joints that either move along an axis or can rotate in certain directions. In fact, some robotic arms are anthropomorphic and try and imitate the exact movements of human arms.
It's the most beautiful time of the year and this Smart Friday is a Happy Holidays Season Edition! Let's talk about ... The Geometry of Snowflakes!
As snowflakes gently meander past your living room window this winter, take a break from your hot cocoa and consider nature’s ice-cold architecture. When water molecules chill down, they assemble into a myriad of spectacular shapes from simple hexagons to star-shaped dendrites. Inspect these frozen fractals and you’ll find a recurring theme: the number six. Six sides, six edges, six branches — ice crystals seem six obsessed.
What is Design Thinking?
Wave–particle duality is the concept in quantum mechanics that every particle or quantic entity may be partly described in terms not only of particles, but also of waves. It expresses the inability of the classical concepts "particle" or "wave" to fully describe the behavior of quantum-scale objects. As Albert Einstein wrote.
One of the most confusing concepts in physics, wave-particle duality is unlike anything we see in the ordinary world.
Thomas Young's sketch of two-slit diffraction of waves, 1803
Light is a wave. This fact is something that most people are familiar with and it’s been known since the experiments carried out by the English polymath Thomas Young in the early 1800s
He calculated that oscillating electric and magnetic fields would propagate through space with the speed of light, and that therefore light itself was an example of electromagnetic radiation.
Check the original article here: https://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality/history.html
Interested about having the Virtual Reality kits? ask for a price quote request!
Check out this amazing experiment that NAO robot will show to you and try to figure out why this happens!
This is a new educational channel called Smart Friday!
Every Friday we will share with you an informational piece about a topic we care about. You can share it in your classroom. Have fun learning!
This is a new educational channel called Smart Friday!
Every Friday we will share with you an informational piece about a topic we care about. You can share it in your classroom. Have fun learning!
This is a new educational channel called Smart Friday!
Every Friday we will share with you an informational piece about a topic we care about! You can use it in your classroom, share it, learn and enjoy it! Check it out.
Let's talk about Gravity!
Using Resolution, A funding from NYC Dep. of Education, schools in Brooklyn embark on a journey to make STEM an integrated and relevant part of the curriculum for students and teachers.
The NYC Department of Education’s STEM initiative’s ultimate goal is “to produce a highly competent, STEM based professional workforce, which is currently lacking, not only in New York, but in the Country as a whole”. The department seeks to transform the way Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math education are delivered in the 5 boroughs. So they are providing all the science teachers access to the latest STEM teaching tools along with a program to support them.
Our mission at RobotLAB is to create engaging curriculum which provides students with opportunity for hands on experience with robotics, programming and coding. Students also get to develop their critical thinking skills analyzing, debugging and collaboration.
Check the course Introduction to Programming Ozobot on Engage!K12. Learn about functions and programming.
Ozobot is a tiny robot with a big personality. Here at RobotLAB. We designed a course called intro to programming with Ozobot where we take a tactile robotics and advanced programming and makes CS accessible to all students.
This course takes you through the process of designing your very own self-driving car. In each lesson you add new features like automated headlights obstacle avoidance and heat detection. It's programmable with Microsoft VPL let's take a look at one of the lessons.
This course takes you through the process of creating your own self-driving car. Each lesson adds new features like automated headlights, obstacle avoidance and heat detection.
This is a new educational channel called Smart Friday!
Every Friday we will share with you an informational piece about a topic we care about! You can use it in your classroom, share it, learn and enjoy it!.
Today, we are going to learn about the Triangle Inequality Theorem. Let's get started!
RobotLAB has created several companion courses to go with CTE curriculum, one of which is CTE- IT with robotic arm. It's a programming and software developing class, and it covers fundamentals like variables, loops, recursion, and troubleshooting.
Career technical education or CTE is a path for career readiness right out of high school and here at RobotLAB we created several courses for the Dobot robotic arm that are companion courses for your existing CTE curriculum to engage students in STEM concepts.
Check the course Career Technical Education and Manufacturing with Dobot Robotic Arm and learn about every manufacturing process with robots.
CTE stands for career technical education, and it's a path to career readiness for
students right out of high school, RobotLAB creates several courses in CTE that are companions to your existing CTE curriculum and allow you to engage your students and help them learn more manufacturing concepts.
This is a course designed specifically to prepare teachers for using Dobot in their classroom regardless of your experience level, you'll be able to take this course and know how to use Dobot in your classroom and feel confident helping your students troubleshoot.
This is a new educational channel called Smart Friday!
Every Friday we will share with you an informational piece about a topic we care about! You can use it in your classroom, share it, learn and enjoy it! Check it out.
This the way you should unbox your new Nao Robot V6! check it out:
Today I'm really excited because we just got our first shipment of NAO V6 and if you're watching this, maybe you just got yours too. So I'm going to show you how to unbox it.
Let me Introduce you to storytelling with pepper, this course is unique because it uses robotics and programming to teach storytelling.
My favorite lesson is lesson number three Speech Patterns. In this lesson, students learn how the tone of voice that a person uses can change the meaning of what they're saying.
New STEM and CTE curricula from RobotLAB include the user-friendly Dobot Robotic Arm to teach Engineering and Coding.
With one year to 2020 (wow, really?! Is it here so soon?!) I’m sure you, like many educators, ask yourself, "how do I engage students in core subjects, without making it feel like we are teaching them pre-historic subjects". How do I make coding and computer science relevant to their lives?
If you are like me, you keep looking for new, innovative and engaging ways to teach this tech-savvy, always-online generation.
RobotLAB the leader in Educational Robotics, announces today that it will open the flood gates and allow teachers to create their own lessons and customize already-available lessons on Engage!K12, the online learning platform for STEM and robotics.
On the platform, Teachers can find a wide range of digital courses and hands-on activities that bring abstract concepts to life with robots - engaging students and capturing their subject mastery.
New online courses from RobotLAB make drones relevant for the classroom, allowing teachers to engage students in STEM and coding
RobotLAB, the leading educational robotics company, announces today that its award-winning online learning platform Engage! K12 offers entirely new and engaging lesson plans which use drones to teach coding, programming and math.
SoftBank Robotics is launching NAO V6, and RobotLAB’s online learning platform can be used with it in the classroom.
RobotLAB Inc., the award winning Educational Robotics company, announces today that Engage!K12, its leading online learning platform for STEM and robotics, is now supporting the 6th version of the popular NAO Robot by SoftBank Robotics. This platform brings hundreds of lesson plans, activities, apps, and simulation tools to teach Coding, Programming, Math, ELA and STEM for grades K-12.
The new version of NAO Robot V6 is here with upgraded features, new software and improved hardware! Want to know more? Click the video below! and read the transcript.
Are you interested in having the NAO Robot V6? Ask for a Price Quote Request!
The Google Expeditions app enables people to go on virtual tours of famous places around the world, using a smartphone in a virtual reality headset. However, Google just opened access to over a hundred augmented reality functions that were previously only reserved for students and teachers as part of the Google Expeditions AR Pioneer Program.
Joanne Bechta Dugan is Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Director of the Computer Engineering Programs at the University of Virginia She has being using the NAO Robot with her students and this is her story.
Prof. Joanne realized that the NAO Robot is the best tool for her when she saw the robot dancing "Gangnam Style" at the 2014 ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education) conference and she watched the crowds gather around.
Prof. Joanne uses the NAO robot in a grad course on Human-Robot interaction. Her students study the technical and social aspects of interactions between humans and robots as well as societal and ethical issues. Professor Dugan developed the courses half-lecture and half-lab. For her, a series of lab assignments allows the students to develop expertise in programming the robot to perform some task (usually a game) that requires interactions with a human.
Check these amazing sessions at ISTE 2018 June 24- 27, Chicago, 2018.
ISTE is the place where educator-tested strategies come together with proven resources for transforming learning and teaching. It’s also the place to get connected to the brightest minds in ed-tech, then network with them all year long.
RobotLAB is proud to announce that TIPS has awarded us a three year contract. As of June 2018. We are on their contractors list, which provide discounted products to schools! The contract is for three years, ending in May 2021.
Maureen Miller is the Director of Technology of the Winnetka Public Schools and she works this a NAO robot with her students. This is her story.
For Maureen, the first time she realized that NAO robot was the tool for her students was in May of 2016, her students were participating in a Tech and Learning Live conference in Chicago. The purpose of their visit was to demonstrate their robotics and coding progression for K-8 Maker-spaces. “Next to us, the RobotLAB team had a NAO robot performing the "Thriller" dance. We knew then that NAO would be the perfect STEAM ambassador to capture the interest of our youngest students and the "reach" platform for our most advanced students” Miller said.
Dr. Ellie: So we've been doing some research where kids with self-injury for example, have to be across from the therapist who does these assessments. It's difficult to teach these assessments with real children, whereas the robot self-injures without real injury.
At RobotLAB, one of the things that we excite us the most is to visit young students and give them the opportunity to interact with our fantastic robots. This is when we feel truly fulfilled and satisfied with our efforts.
Recently, the Worthing High School in Houston, TX, was invited to San Francisco in order to enjoy a ground-breaking experience for its students. As we often do, we provide educational experiences with robots like NAO and Pepper. Our goal here is to discover how educational robots influence learning and students’ interest.
The robotics survey 2018 conducted on this occasion gave us valuable insights about this. As always, we are both pleased and surprised by the results
Michael Martin is a teacher from Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, CA in the Engineering program. Two years ago, when the school was getting ready to start competing in the SkillsUSA Championships was the first-time he realized that NAO robot was the tool for his students. They saw that Humanoid Robotics was a contest, and they decided to get involved.
Bob Barboza is an educator, STEM journalists, composer and founder of the Barboza Space Center STEM & STEAM fellowship Program and Kids Talk Radio Science. http://www.barbozaspacecenter.com/ He trains Jr. astronauts, engineers, and scientists for the "Occupy Mars Learning Adventures." His students and interns are learning robot and satellite design, building, and repair.
Sam Thangiah is a Professor/ Director, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Lab at Slippery Rock University – Computer Science Department and he has been using the NAO Robot to read stories for K-1 students, interact with autistic children and develop implementation of AI methods in the robo. Due to the sensors and the capability of the robot to program with the API provided, Mr. Thangiah realized that NAO robot is the best tool for him.
Mauro Colucci a Mechatronics teacher, and Maila Biaggi a English language teacher at Vocational School’G. Marcelli’- http://www.scuolafoiano.gov.it/ they have been using the NAO Robot for two years when the school was looking for an emotional robot completely programmable that could have a strong impact on the students. they met NAO Robot and since then, they realized it was the perfect tool for them.
Tobe Roberts is an Educational Technologist at Bergen County Technical Schools, he has been using the NAO Robot to introduce a lesson, deliver exit ticket questions, create simulations with role play for the students utilizing the robot. Mr. Roberts created Pony Express simulation, Star Trek StarFleet Academy simulation for the topic of forms of Energy and NASA Space Flight simulation.
Amy LaViers is an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and director of the RAD Lab a website of Robotics Automation and Dance (RAD). During her PhD Thesis she realized that Nao robot is the tool for her engaging for the public and researches alike.
Nicholas Kosloski is a Technology Innovation Design and Engineering Teacher at Somers High School in Connecticut. He has been using the Nao robot as a tool throughout the Programming Unit of a Robotics course. There are many other tools he uses including VEX robotics. This serves as the Humanoid section of the unit.
Benjamin Durham is a science teacher at Lane Technical High School in Chicago who has been using NAO in Robotics 2 and Adaptive Robotics. In Robotics 2, an intermediate-level robotics class, students use both Choregraphe and Python to program NAO. Many of these students have aspirations of going into medical or social work, and wanted hands-on experience of what robots might be able to do in these fields.
Thus far, NAO and other humanoid robots are commonly used successfully to help teach children STEM subjects, as well as help children with autism learn social skills. But there is one education program using NAO in a completely different way - and with some very promising results.
Dr. Ellie Kazemi is a behavior analyst who is using NAO in a very unique way. She is currently a Professor of Psychology and the Academic Director of the Masters of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis Program at California State University, Northridge (CSUN.) For her research, she and her students are using NAO to simulate a child with problem behavior in order to find helpful strategies in training caregivers (staff, teachers, etc.) how to deal with problem behavior.
Dr. Kazemi has been able to secure some research and training funds to purchase three NAOs, warranties, and licenses to engage research assistants in science and technology. The funds were provided through the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the National Institute of Health-Build Poder.
Programming NAO to display undesirable behavior (i.e., to be “bad”) and then running simulations helps the students learn in hands-on labs. The team has the robot throw tantrums, hit himself, and more - even programming in variations so he looks and acts a little different in each simulation. This gives them a lot of control in the types of behavior the person they are training gets to see.
March 27, 2018- Chicago, USA
Industry 4.0 is the beginning of a new digital industrial technology era that is transforming systems, sensors, machines, workpieces and IT. Industry 4.0 is making it possible to gather and analyze data across machines - creating a more efficient process with these nine technologies:
There are a few key differences between a traditional factory and an Industry 4.0 factory. In the current industry environment, providing a high-end quality service or product with the least cost is the key to success. Industrial factories want to achieve as much performance as possible to increase their profit as well as their reputation.
Industry 4.0 involves the heavy use of automation and data exchange in manufacturing environments, including areas such as cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing. With Industry 4.0, manufacturers will be able to operate "smarter" factories in which they can more easily tailor products to specific customers.
There are four design principles in Industry 4.0. These principles support companies in identifying and implementing Industry 4.0 scenarios. They include:
1. Interoperability: The ability of machines, devices, sensors, and people to connect and communicate with each other via the Internet of Things (IoT) or the Internet of People (IoP). Adding IoT will further automate the process to a significant extent
Field Trip to Hispanic Historic Sites in the United States
This Expedition has 8 different scenes! Let’s visit these unique locations.
This Expedition has 6 different scenes! Let’s check out these grand Monuments.
American Museum of Natural History
This Expedition has 10 different scenes! Let’s check them out.
Human Anatomy- featuring the Respiratory System
This expedition has different 6 amazing scenes to look inside the respiratory system and learn more about this vital human organ.
Fly with NASA’s Juno Mission to Jupiter
This expedition has 4 scenes to view with your students. let’s start with Juno on the way to Jupiter. Here your students can fly along with Juno five days before its arrival at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. the spacecraft traveled five years to get to this point!
Industry 4.0, or as it is commonly referred, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, includes a range of modern technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, and impacting all disciplines, economies, and industries.
(Christoph Roser at AllAboutLean.com- own work)- Wikipedia.com
This words are from professor Gijsbert Stoet: “If governments want to increase women’s participation in STEM, a more effectively strategy might be to target the girls who are clearly being ‘lost’ from the STEM pathway: those for whom science and math are their best subjects and who enjoy it but still don’t choose it.” http://bit.ly/2EHezl3
And they really got us thinking if we are doing enough for gender equality related to STEM fields and if we are responsibles for keep inspiring young people and specially women to choose this type of careers, so we want to hear your thoughts!
Whether you are a teacher, a parent, or anyone who wants their voice to be heard, we have a survey for you! please submit your answers
Watch the video below and learn how to use Google Expeditions with your students. You can find the transcript of this video within the article.
For the first time, TEKS include product specific standards for robotics arm, highlighting the importance for the students to take part in and understand Industry 4.0 is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies that will shape their future. It provide hands-on Computer Science for students and brings coding to life.
Dobot Magician integrates programming, mechanics, electronics, and automation. It’s a great STEAM teaching device that strengthens knowledge across multiple subjects, through a high precision and user-friendly UI. It also provides, enjoyable functions, and unlimited developing possibilities. Dobot Magician’s captivating and exploratory experience increases interest in science and technology.
Programming and robotics seem to be the new, hip thing in today’s classroom. STEM concepts are being taught from elementary school, sometimes alongside core topics like English and Math. But why is teaching STEM topics to young kids so popular? How useful could it possibly be? (It’s not like the average person interacts with robots all day)
I’ll take you through my morning just to show you how silly this fad is!
First things first, I got up and brushed my teeth. My toothpaste tube was nearly empty, so I pulled out my phone and ordered a new one on Amazon with one click.
Computational thinking is a problem solving process that takes inspiration from coding and computer science to enhance the way we analyze problems and design solutions. It’s been getting a lot of buzz lately at the university level, but the underlying concepts can be integrated into any classroom. Try some of these methods out in your own lesson plans to help your students think computationally:
Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by three main symptoms:
There is no shortage of articles and think-pieces on the evils of “screen-time”.Everyone from the National Public Radio to Psychology Today are bemoaning the negative impact of our dependence on screen-based entertainment and utilities. Here at RobotLAB, we don’t dispute the research.
Did you like math when you were growing up?
A lot of you probably didn’t, right? Well, then it comes as no surprise that some of your students may not be so passionate about math as well right?
Kids nowadays are attracted by technology which makes sense as a lot of them are gaining access to it making it easier to keep them focused on math through technology. This is a great time for you as a teacher to incorporate the popularity and convenience of technology into your classroom to interest your students and keep them interested. You can keep them interested in math with fun games, apps, online math tools, and websites to enrich your math classroom teaching experience.
Here are7 virtual tools that can promote your student engagement and increase their academic success:
At RobotLAB, we are always working hard to bring unique experiences to classrooms. Developing NAO has allowed us to do this- revitalizing the way STEM is being taught all the way down to the very first educational stages.
Recently, we carried out a Demo Lesson partnering with Albany High School. On this occasion, we used NAO robot to work with students on English subjects - an experience that gave us great insights into how robotics can influence learning in multiple ways.
So, what kind of impression did NAO make on students? What do they think now about engineering and overall learning? Let's find out!
Nowadays STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is one of the biggest topics in education. Tech companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple have all helped promote interest in STEM by investing funds in schools and coming up with innovative tools to engage students in their learning and encourage them to pursue these fields. This awareness helps to fill the gap in STEM careers and tech-related jobs. But …let’s take look what STEM was like 10 years ago in schools, how it has drastically changed over the years….. and is about to change again in the future.
Learning to code can sometimes seem overwhelming. I remember when I was making the leap from learning vocabulary and syntax to creating an entire program I experienced some writers block. I had all the tools I needed, but I didn’t know where to begin.
Enter Scratch and Blockly: two programming environments that use a graphical interface of interlocking blocks to make coding easier for new programmers.
The future is now. We need to get up to speed and time is wasting. The Industrial Revolution transitioned to new manufacturing processes, as agrarian, rural people came to cities, learned new skills to live a better life and support their families. Today a Computer Science career enables workers to secure a job and provide for their families. Jobs in the STEM fields are not going away, and If anything will increase in number and variety.
When I was in high school, in the early 1990s, we had an open-day with universities and business schools. Representatives from these schools came to promote their college-degree programs. Back then, we were conditioned to believe that anyone who was smart and wanted to be successful in life should take the college path. Career readiness programs were associated with hard, underpaid jobs. They were a path for the students in difficult situations or those who couldn’t “cut it” in college, and they were considered a path to failure.
When we first started at RobotLAB, we had no idea what it would be like working with a company of robots, technology, and education. During these past six months, we have experienced many situations that have truly transformed our perspective of our work and our personal lives. Here are our experiences and challenges:
With the growing demand of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) related occupations, the focus on STEM education has jumped significantly in recent years. However, the majority of kids nowadays have little to no interest in STEM subjects. The way they are introduced to STEM subjects in schools is unengaging and unrelated to their lives. They can’t connect the logic between Math formulas and living out their daily activities. Children should really be exposed to STEM in their homes since early age.
Last month Amazon purchased Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. This is incredible news for several reasons!
First, it shows the phenomenal success of young companies that emerged from the information technology revolution a few decades ago. Think about what Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple achieved in the past 20 years. Their success is both amazing and inspiring!
Second is the story behind this purchase. Jeff Bezos just wanted to buy some fruits at Whole Foods, but Alexa didn’t understand it correctly…
Of course, this is a joke. But a powerful one!
Humor says a lot about the culture of its time. And this tells us an interesting story about where today’s technology is going. We are entering an era where we talk to our devices. This brings the biggest change yet to the integration of technology and our lives.
Communication and language are key to the evolution and development of species. And particularly for us humans.
One of the most debatable topics these days is whether we should keep teaching high school math or not.
“Where will I use it in my life” is common feedback from the grouchy students. However, studies show that students don't mind practicing math, its testing math where we lose them.
And we lose them badly. In 2016 a Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) unveiled the results of an international math quiz that showed U.S. high school students lag behind their global peers in math, ranking 40th in math out of 72 countries last year. The U.S. score was down 17 points from 2009 and 20 points below the average of others taking the quiz, which saw Singapore come out on top, followed by Japan, Estonia, Finland, and Canada.
As a result of this failure, many in and out of the school system advocate to “lower the bar”, drop Pre-Calc, Algebra II or even Algebra I from the curriculum (and standardized testing) and help students overcome the “math anxiety” by bypassing the subject altogether.
You are invited to a child’s birthday party. As an adult with no children you have no idea what kids are into these days, and hope that your random purchase at Toys R’Us will be acceptable. When you enter their website or their store the first choice you make is based on the sex of the child. Is the child a boy or a girl? Although most of the toy categories under boy’s toys and girl’s toys are the same except for a few, within the categories you will see a difference. Within the building sets and blocks category the page looks different if you are in the boys or girls section. For example, girls have a Lego play house, and frozen treat stand. The boys have a technic hydroplane racer and Homing spider droid.
TJ Bot is an open source project to access IBM Watson services in a fun way. You can 3D print or laser-cut the robot, then use one of his recipes to bring him to life! The kit targets senior high school or college students and anyone interested in using Raspberry Pi. Depending on what you plan to build with TJ, you may need other electronics such as Neopixel LED, camera and microphone.
Beginning computer science students at Folsom High School, in Folsom, California, have been learning how to program using the NAO Robot. After the lessons in the curriculum completed, teams of four students were required to write a lesson plan before they started programming which would include the following:
They were then to work as a team to program this lesson, problem solve, work out bugs, and then video tape the lesson once it was working properly. check out the videos, programmig can be fun!
NAO robot teach Bowling
You’ve probably heard about the push to provide students with coding and programming skills as a way to better prepare them for the 21st century and possible future careers. Many companies like code.org, code academy, tinker, programming basics, RobotLAB and many others, offer to students a variety of learning exercises to teach them coding and programming in a fun and easy way. There are even online platforms for children as young as 5 years old.
Nevertheless, exists big differences between coding and programming and it is important to know what makes them unique. Each student has a different goal for their learning; whether it be to improve a specific skill, further a career path or engage with their passion, they should be sure if they want to become a coding or a programmer.
The Four C’s have created quite a buzz in the last few years in education. The four C’s consist of Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Communication. Each has a very unique and powerful aspect, and some might say that one is more important than another. We will discover each of the four C’s and why teaching the 4 C’s is important to prepare our students for the 21st century workforce.
Let’s take an example in a Math class. For so long Math has been taught in a way to give a strict question and have the student come up with one answer. There are very specific 1, 2, 3 steps and a rigid guide on how-to. The first C represents the opposite of this, which is Creativity - thinking outside of the box. Being inspired to come up with more than one solution to a problem which allows students to approach it in multiple perspectives.
In the past years, teachers are moving from being teachers to being facilitators of discussions in the classroom. From a traditional teacher standing in front of rows of students, we see classrooms transitioned into the high-tech environment, collaborating and working in small teams, sharing ideas and debating with each other, searching for information online, and coming up with presentations that represent their collective understanding/view/work. Schools and classrooms have changed in the past five years more than they have in the 200 years before.
Educators who believe that this change is more than enough, that there’s nothing more to be changed, that this tectonic shift that we’ve seen in the past years has reached its peak, and we can sit and rest from now on and just perfect our teaching methods are up to a big surprise. The ever-accelerating pace of technological advancements is here not to stay. They are set to transform every corner of teaching and learning, and then in no-time, transform it again and again and again.
Here are few upcoming changes we clearly see going to transform the education world very soon.
1. Mixed reality
Unlike virtual reality which blocks the viewer from the world, or augmented reality which just adds some virtual items (menus, Pokemon) on your screen/headset, the mixed reality is the holy grail of this new medium. Mixed reality allows the computer to be aware of the environment, and it’s depth, and attach digital objects to physical ones. In this way, our senses are tricked to think there’s a real object in front of us, although it’s digital.
Remember the operations center in the movie Avatar? Everyone is looking at the Tree of Life, from different angles, and they share their thoughts as if the tree is a physical object in the room, although it is a digital rendering of that. This is possible today with tools like Microsoft HoloLens that allow creating a mixed reality environment where everyone shares the same experience. Now imagine this powerful tech in your classroom, imagine you could bring to life concepts in the middle of the classrooms, and let everyone experience them, right in front of their eyes. Allow them to interact with that and allow them to make predictions and test, all while working in between real and digital.
Washoe County School District Gifted and Talented Program- Case Study with RobotLAB at NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children) Conference 2016
I am Cheri Di Martino. I am the Director of Washoe county School District – our gifted program. And we are really excited to talk about NAO with you today. What we did in Washoe County is we knew we needed to get into the 21st century, we knew we needed to teach kids at a level they needed to be taught, so we were looking for a partner that could take us into the 21st century and get those NAGC standards, our state standards and have this beautiful marriage together. Well, what we found was RobotLAB, and we found the NAO robot. So what we asked was could a picturesque humanoid robot achieve what we wanted to achieve in Washoe County? This is something that could really help take our
students to a whole other level. This is something I'm feeling very passionate about, but I could feel passionate about something, but will everybody else around me feel that same passion, that same energy and want to buy into this incredible, incredible product.
Extraordinary educators deserve extraordinary professional development. At ISTE 2017, you’ll find strategies that work from the brightest minds in ed tech. Connect and learn from other innovative educators, thought leaders and education companies at the world’s most comprehensive ed tech meeting of the minds.
The following video shows how the equality gap between genres is very far releated to STEM fields, girls are being segregated and limited for don't have the same opportunities as men, what to do to eliminate this division? How would you help?
"Robots are just the beginning, new technologies like mixed-reality, are mature enough, and opening doors to even more learning opportunities. Our kids use snapchat’s mixed reality already!
We owe that to our kids.
Every day when they go to school, they trust us to teach them based on recent discoveries, and not based on dogmas from a century ago. [...] without visualizing it for the students, without opening the curiosity-door using a robot, without seeing a real-world use for the math, they would have never listened... ]
Bridging this gap is my life-mission and commitment, to the kids, and to the teachers"
Watch the full TEDx Talk below:
One of the top priorities at RobotLAB is encouraging a revolution in STEM education. We bring the best of technology into the classroom, not just as a cool-tool, but as a real teaching aid that helps educators engage students and bring abstract concepts to life.
The NAO robot is a good example of this kind of teaching aid.
In our everlasting mission to optimize the way NAO is used in the classroom, we took it to a classroom at Oakland Unified School District and analyzed how students responded to this enhanced learning experience.
Engage! K-12 is an interactive and hands-on learning experience organized by eye-catching themes (such as soccer-playing robots or autonomous cars). Students and teachers can access the browser-based learning ecosystem from any device. A user-friendly interface allows teachers, even those with zero programming experience, to bring their lessons to life with virtual or physical robots.
I first watched Westworld in 1973. It was a science fiction movie written by Michael Crichton and starting Yul Brynner. Yul Brynner’s character was an out-of-control android which killed visitors to a western-themed amusement park. I remember thinking before watching the movie that Yul Brynner was an odd choice of a malefactor: The last time I’d seen him was as the King of Siam in Oscar Hammerstein II’s musical The King and I; I could not imagine any actor-- no matter how talented--able to make that switch. As it turned out, he was marvelously menacing, and no one in the HBO series Westworld--not even Anthony Hopkins--was his equal.
Are you by any chance familiar with the P I S A test? Perhaps like me you are acquainted with the test’s dismal results where American students are concerned, but the actual name of the test has remained a mystery--until now.
I stumbled over this photo and text on the ROBOTIS support site while looking for something interesting on DARWIN-OP:
According to my friends, almost all of whom are younger than I, there were only four elements in the periodic table when I was a boy: earth, water, air and fire. But all evidence to the contrary, I really wasn’t a contemporary of the great Greek philosopher Empedocles.
Here is a riddle: What connects the two newest employees of the Wellesley Free Library and the super-popular Internet game MineCraft? The answer: a ten-year-old boy named Oliver.
The new common core math standards appear to be the answer to increasing math literacy amongst students. But at the moment the standards are under attack as the popular Internet meme below indicates:
In a recent Apple news article , well known tech consultant Tim Bajarin, President of Creative Strategies, Inc., discussed the importance of President John F Kennedy's “we choose to go to the moon speech.” Mr Bajarin believes that that speech given by the president on September 12, 1962 at Rice Stadium in Houston was crucial in the development of a whole generation of engineers and mathematicians: the very people necessary to this nation's winning the last century's great space race to the moon. It is Mr Bajarin’s opinion that “by the mid-1980s, without a similar push by either the US.government or the schools to emphasize science, technology, engineering and math (STEM for short), we lost almost two decades of youth who chose to go into other fields of learning.”
Great news: a new Robotics Elective to help students learn computer coding will start in September at the NuView Academy of New Jersey . Teachers will also be hosting “Running Robots: Computer Coding & Special Education” - an Action Lab at the New Jersey School Boards Association’s 2016 Workshop in Atlantic City in October.
Zooinverse is a people-powered research platform. It is a dream come true for teachers, students, and thousands of people around the world who understand just how important information can be.
Benjamin Durham is a science teacher at Lane Technical High School in Chicago who has been using NAO in Robotics 2 and Adaptive Robotics. In Robotics 2, an intermediate-level robotics class, students use both Choregraphe and Python to program NAO. Many of these students have aspirations of going into medical or social work, and wanted hands-on experience of what robots might be able to do in these fields.
Thus far, NAO and other humanoid robots are commonly used successfully to help teach children STEM subjects, as well as help children with autism learn social skills. But there is one education program using NAO in a completely different way - and with some very promising results.
I have been writing posts for RobotLab the better part of five years. Few things have excited me as much as the Double Robot virtual presence device. And absolutely nothing (not even the money) has done as much to make me feel like one of the RobotLab staff (I live over 1950 miles from the office!).
If you have an interest in robots there is a good chance you watch the Big Bang Theory. In one of my favorite scenes, Sheldon, meets the “great and powerful Woz,” Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. Not in person, you understand: no, Sheldon is there only as a voice and face on a virtual presence device: a tall, thin, remotely controlled robot on wheels with a tablet of some sort that projects an image of Sheldon and allows him to see and speak with Mr Wozniak. I have embedded the video directly below this paragraph because I think it important to view before continuing.
Welcomed Onboard Costa Diadema, flagship of the Costa Cruises fleet, Pepper and crewmember Take A Selfie.
Pepper robot, the world’s first emotional robot, keeps extending its employment range. Designed at first as a sympathetic companion for the lonely, Pepper is now working in lines that require a robot with the ability to listen to and put up with multiple humans. After discovering that Pepper the robot is now working for the French railway system, it comes as no surprise to find the robot preparing to become a mariner... No, not a space probe; the ancient type of mariner: like the guy in the poem with the albatross around his neck (in the image above Pepper has a tie around his virtual neck); a sailor on board a ship.
Seymour Papert, one of the grand old men of educational technology, died last week at age 88. Long before the personal computer and the Internet, long before this generation’s computer heroes like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs brought the digital age to the classroom, Seymour Papert and his colleagues realized that computers would change education. They developed the first computer language for children in 1967.
No, not "candy coating", but maybe just as fun. The makers of Pocky, Glico, have made a game app called Glicode that let's kids start coding by arranging the real-life cookies into various patterns and snapping a picture of the arrangement to translate it into in-game commands. The game itself is brightly colored and cute, and the cookies are ready to eat once they've been used - what more could a kid want?
Until recently Apple’s icons were a colorful, friendly bunch: like the original classic apple logo with a bite out of it; the wonderfully expressive--if silent-- speech bubble. But the latest arrival, Byte the Swift Playgrounds’ hero, while every bit as colorful, is built like the mating result of a hammerhead shark with a pear; it looks like the digital incarnation of a child’s nightmare. Yes, Yes, I know, kids will probably love it!
At the June 27, 2016 ISTE famed futurist Dr Michio Kaku spoke to the assembled educators about the coming “digitization” of many industries. He thinks it is only a matter of time--and not much time at that!--before many--maybe even most-- jobs now held by humans will be handled more cheaply and efficiently by robots. If my own past is any guide, I think he’s right. But he was also quick to point out that there were some jobs that he didn’t see replaced by artificial intelligence any time soon--if at all. Teaching, Dr Kaku believes, is one of those jobs. So far nothing digital has appeared on the horizon that looks likely to replace the classroom teacher. I’ve had reason to agree with him there too...
The momentarily stern-looking gentleman in this image gave the opening keynote address at the recent ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference, June 26 through 29, 2016, in Denver, Colorado. I’m certain his face is familiar, but do you know his name? I didn’t, although I feel like I’ve seen him a thousand times on TV explaining everything from time-travel to warp-drives (neither of which exists, of course; but after he got through explaining them I did finally understand why!). And with his infectious enthusiasm and shock of gray hair, he is hard to miss.
I just came across some school-rating figures that surprised me: according to the personal finance website WalletHub based in Washington DC, South Carolina public schools were rated 45th in the nation in educational quality in 2015. That’s 45th in a field of 51. That’s not a good score. The reason this low score surprised me is that I had recently read an interesting Internet post that described at least one South Carolina school district as very up-to-date, progressive and STEM oriented. I guess I thought that would be the same for the entire state!
Personally, I can't remember a president since Eisenhower that has tried as hard to inspire young people to undertake a STEM career as has President Barak Obama. And yes, I can remember the Eisenhower Administration and the day Sputnik went into orbit and changed the world forever! John Kennedy’s administration might have set the nation’s course for the moon in 1961, but I doubt we could have achieved that without the impetus provided four years earlier by Sputnik orbiting the Earth.This drove the country to increase spending on what we know today as STEM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Until that moment, we had thought ourselves invulnerable. Sure, the Russians had the bomb too, but they had nothing with wings to deliver it across the thousands of miles separating us as up-to-date as our own Strategic Air Command’s B-52 Stratofortress. And then suddenly, they did…
Why go from STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math)?
TEACHING NAO ROBOT TO DO THE RIGHT THING
Astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson is a well-known TV personality whose education and experience in physics has qualified him to make pronouncements of great weight in the area of --as you might guess--astrophysics. While his background in economics may be somewhat obscure, one thing he said recently at a press conference held at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan can be taken to the bank! “Everything we know about science and technology” he said, “tells us that they are the engines of the future economies. They are the seeds of tomorrow’s growth of wealth. I’m not going to twist your arm to get you to like science, but I don’t have to twist your arm to make you like money. If you don’t want to die poor you should invest in STEM.”
When I first heard the term “blockly” I thought I’d heard “broccoli” and I remembered a comment made by the first President Bush when he came under fire from the dietary fascists for reportedly banning broccoli from the White House:
Faithful readers of this column have repeatedly heard us say how important NAO Robot is to research and education. Doubters among you need only read on to learn how NAO is helping changing life aboard the International Space Station.
Some students at Beebe Elementary have storytelling down to a science. Naperville News 17's Evan Summers learned more about these students and their robots.
"I'm a sophisticated combination of hardware and software designed to interact with humans and bring them joy," Pepper told CTV (that’s Canadian Television for those few of you who may not be aware that Toronto is in Canada) on March 2, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario. Does the fact that Pepper is conversing with CTV mean that the robot will arrive in Canada before the United States? Will Pepper speak French before English? And will he be playing hockey before football? Oh, the humiliation!
While we common carbon-beings were going on about our dull, ordinary lives, Pepper Robot was one of the luminous participants at the recent Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) held in New York, City, September 26-29th, 2015. Pepper was onstage with famous American Museum of Natural History Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Other notable participants at this year’s CGI included 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of the Republic of Liberia and Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. Not to mention Chelsea Clinton and Sir Richard Branson. Participants talked about-- and we assume committed themselves to solving-- issues in such important subjects as Implications of Gender-based Violence and Addressing Early Childhood Development.
When we introduce children to cubelets, we have them assume the role of robot investigators. Kids form simple hypotheses on each new component works and then test it by building robots and seeing how robot behavior changes. This robot building process teaches kids to be creative when solving their problems.
For many people, the activity 'Robot Olympics’ is not too far-fetched because it at least paves the way for something that is highly possible on a larger scale in the future. Here you have 10-year-olds creating their own little contraptions with simple and amazing tools to discover how things work. The results varied considerably with some robots needing a little coaxing on the way. However, everyone gets the basic idea about robots from this event as they are able to tinker around with Dash and Dot.
Technology is one of the most important parts of our lives; this makes it very important that student should be guided to make use of technology in best of its way. Technology when used to teach the students such that they get to make use of something they already learned theoretically is a great idea.
This idea was presented to world by the two learned teachers of 3rd grade. They combined mathematical knowledge of geometry and latest technology of 3D printing together. This combination of two factors not only made mathematics and especially geometry fun for students but also practical use of them is also learned. How these two teachers proceeded while introducing technology of 3D is somewhat like this:
ANNOUNCING CUBELETS OS 4
We’ve got something exciting to announce. We call it Cubelets OS 4.
Cubelets OS 4 is a new operating system for Cubelets that changes the way they communicate. Cubelets OS 4 enables Cubelets to do everything they do now, only better!
With Cubelets OS 4, robots will respond faster to the world around them, providing much quicker feedback on any changes users make. Using a Bluetooth Cubelet is speedy and simple! Reprogramming changes behaviors more quickly and reliably, and, with our NEW Cubelets app, remote-control robots respond in real-time.
It's totally shocking how many societies, especially developed ones, tend to shun the old. Aged homes have become a concept known in many parts of the world where people surrender ageing members of their family. The reason; there is no time in this busy life to look after or tend to the old. However, aged homes are a reality that we endure although they help in some way; people deprive their pre-k children of the pleasures of old age which may be synonymous with grandparenthood, and they simultaneously deprive their own children of time that could be well spent with experienced individuals of their families.
3D printing is the new dimension to technology and with uprising and futuristic technology it is necessary that the students are guided to make use of it. 3D printing is one of the technologies that can open up the new dimensions of learning. Sometimes, thing are too fragile to be handled, these can be printed in 3D form and can be understood in better understanding and without any fear of them being broken down or ruined especially rock structures, fossils and microorganisms that are difficult to study under microscope can now be studied in magnified form. When introducing 3D printing to students, teachers should keep in mind these five tips that will make it easy for them to teach.
President Harry S. Truman is reputed to have said “If you need a friend in Washington, get a dog!” Apparently having a human friend and living in Washington is a contradiction in terms. Current political news tends to confirm that! But owning a dog is no longer the only way to to gain the tension reducing benefits of friendship.
Robotic engineers have developed an emotional robot. Aldebaran’s Pepper Robot is programmed to respond to evidence of human emotions like laughter, tears, and long faces. This programming allows Pepper to develop an attachment to the robot’s--for lack of a better term--“significant human.” Pepper then reacts to its significant human’s emotional signals in the way that that particular human has shown in previous similar situations he wants the robot to respond to effect a reduction in tension. At first, presumably, the significant human must tell the robot what reactions he prefers in various emotional situations; which is, after all, not all that different from developing a well-functioning human relationship. Much as we would like our significant other to know what we need emotionally without being told, it rarely happens. Spouses are particularly difficult to program.
You’re in a dungeon with two doors. One leads to escape, the other to execution.
Do we have your attention? Good! This riddle’s relevance to a discussion on the failure of American students to meet the necessary minimum standards of numeracy is to be explained as we continue...
The scene, a gritty street in downtown Philadelphia, Pa. The victim, Hitchbot, a world-famous robot fresh from hitch-hiking trips around Europe and across Canada. Waiting patiently for a ride to San Francisco, Hitchbot was suddenly viciously attacked and decapitated by an unknown assailant.
Autism is being experienced in different parts of the world. Obviously there's a wide spectrum of Autism. Some people who are autistic can hardly communicate and blend with the crowd. They easily lose their focus and sometimes act violently. But with the continuous innovation of technology, a program for the NAO robot called ASK NAO was made to help children with autism develop their social skills. This will make it easier for them to interact with people or respond with different actions.
Technology is taking a big leap of advancement in every sector of industry today. Artificial intelligence in particular has taken a new turn with the NAO robot. Programmed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute by Professor Selmer Bringsjord, the robots are able to detec and attract human attention. They can even give responses which is utterly awesome. Some may call it "self awarness...
When it comes to education, we always want the best for our children. However, there are times that you will see them no longer interested in studying their lessons or even going to school. They can even tell you that a school is a boring place. These days, teachers can hardly get the attention of children. With this, it would be hard for them to make their students understand what the lesson is all about. They should come up with an idea that will catch the interest of their students.
Hey! Why not?
Some grandfathers have everything they need: a full-featured, available, caring network of spouse, kids, grandkids and pets to look after them and be looked after; some,unfortunately,don't.
And yes, grandmothers as well as grandfathers are included in this discussion(No sexism tolerated on this blog; although we walk on the grey line past the censors from Time to time).
Sure, the fact that they are grandparents means a network once existed; but it's no secret in this world of ours that these networks don't always function very well. Even grandparents--old but still human--get divorced; kids move to the other side of the country; grandchildren,if their grandparents are lucky, go with their parents. Dogs and cats are the next best thing to family, but they, like every carbon being, die. And all too often the old are forced by circumstances beyond their control to live where pets are unwelcome. So, family out of town? No pets allowed? It's time to think about getting a robot!
How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggly tail
How much is that doggie in the window?
I do hope that doggie's for sale
Drooling over images of Aldebaran's Pepper robot now being sold in Japan and hoping I’ll have saved enough to get one by the time it arrives in the United States next year, I found myself humming an ancient ditty I haven’t heard for a very long time: How Much Is That Doggie In The Window? And why that particular song, you might ask? Well, it kinda fits! Read on!
Robots in classrooms are no longer an unimaginable vision. They are being used in various schools from different parts of the world for education purposes. Humanoid robots are being used these days in teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math or the STEM subjects to children especially to places that are having problems with these subjects. This is why NAO robots are distributed to many organizations in order to improve standard education.
Education is one of the most important things that everyone should have because this has something to do with the kind of life that they can have in the future. This is the reason why the government of United Kingdom would want to improve the engagement of children with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math subjects also known as the STEM.
Playtime is vital for kids; however it's fundamental that you attempt to increase the value of those good times. Kids of all ages do love robots, and an item composed only for children will give them a chance to control their own particular robots while learning to write computer programming concepts. That's the concept behind Dash and Dot robot pack.
Yup, there's something about Pepper! No, she isn't Mary, I mean Cameron Diaz...but she is a fox! Well, anyway she's kinda foxy in a robot sort of way. I mean, how else can you describe 120 centimeters of curvy white plastic topped with the gorgeous, big, black, full eyes like Astro Boy gliding like a dream through your life with no aim but your happiness?
Congratulations to Old Dominion University that prepared an amazing show, that " broke down STEM barriers".
We know all the work required behind the scene ! The article explaining how the robots are used for STEM , is very inspiring and the actual video of the robot has a great touch. What an entrance. Keep on the great work you're doing with the robots Dr. Helen Crompton.
Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk worry that artificial intelligence (AI) might spell the end for mankind as the dominant being on this planet. Maybe, if environmental collapse doesn’t get to us first...and then just maybe AI might save us.
And so I thank the earth,
For giving me the things I need:
The sun and the rain and the apple seed;
The earth is good to me.
John Chapman (September 26, 1774 – March 18, 1845), often called Johnny Appleseed, was an American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, as well as the northern counties of present day West Virginia. He became an American legend while still alive, due to his kind, generous ways, his leadership in conservation, and the symbolic importance he attributed to apples.
The rhyme is part of a song sung by Dennis Day in a Walt Disney production of the Johnny Appleseed Story, circa 1948. The prose is from an Internet article on the Wikipedia, circa about now. While Disney used a good bit of poetic licence telling the story, there was such a man as Johnny Appleseed and if you’re interested you can find his grave behind a rusting metal fence at the edge of a park in Fort Wayne, Indiana; at least you could have 30 years ago. We can only hope it wasn’t bulldozed under for more parking; the earth might have been good to us but lately we haven’t been all that good to the earth and we are sadly lacking committed conservationists like John Chapman.
Every year humans cut down between three and six billion trees; that’s “billions,” not millions. In the United States alone we take down nearly a billion. And that’s not including those lost to fires and other acts of nature. In mankinds’ defense, we do try to plant more than we cut down: more than a billion and a half here in the States. Problem is, replanting is neither as profitable or as fun as chopping them down and a lot of seed and seedlings go to waste. Keeping up with the cutting down means some trouble must be taken to insure they take root; simply broadcasting seed with a wave of the hand might suffice for a lawn, but not for trees. Johnny Appleseed was certainly aware of this, and apparently took pains that the trees he planted survived.
Since Johnny Appleseed is a long-time dead and the carbon based organisms that have replaced him seem determined to denude the planet of trees (and themselves of oxygen), it is comforting to know that their silicon-based creations (robots) are about to step in and remedy this unbalance. Johnny Appleseed’s dream is about to be undertaken by some even more tireless beings.
Word of these particular robots comes out of the U.K. where a company called BioCarbon Engineering has developed a plan to use drones to plant trees. These drones consult “high resolution 3d maps” of the intended reforestation area before buzzing out and performing what BioCarbon Engineering describes as “precision planting activities” including shooting pre-germinated seed pods “encapsulated in a nutrient-rich hydrogel” into the soil with pressurized air. Later the drones will assess the results and take such actions as might be needed to improve them. The developer claims their process will save up to 85% of the cost and still plant vastly more trees than any comparable human-reliant system.
Lately science Titans like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates have been predicting doom for mankind if he continues on his present course to artificial intelligence. AI is certainly one of a number of possible avenues to armageddon, but environmental collapse appears likely to arrive first. Intelligent robots may be our only salvation...Johnny would understand.
RobotsLAB wishes you a happy Pie Day . A very special one as mentioned in this great Slate article 3/14/15, and here you have the first 4 digits of Pi 3.1415 . Wait, the article continues and point out that at 9am or 9pm , you should wait for 26 min and 53 seconds. Look at your watch, your phone or your iwatch and you will see the first 10 digits of Pi 3.141592653 ... How cool is that? We math lovers, number admirers will be sure to catch that very moment.
And it's also Einstein's birthday..
Like every special day it is best to spend with beings you care about. You know who we're going to spend it with :)
Fun education cartoon, Math meets jokes! We had a blog post earlier about Math meeting Arts, on a different level this cartoon can be Art and definitely meets Math.
It is good to realize that, as this infographic says, that today’s college students have more options than their 1980’s counterparts had but their time is also stretched more thinly across the school day.”
Indeed, computers, smartphones, online courses and a host of other digital gadgets as well as the Internet itself have made it possible for the education industry to welcome committed students who must provide for their families as well as work on their futures. And the addition of more women and many more minority students in the classroom--both brick and mortar as well as virtual--can only be seen as a positive.
But still, it is no wonder President Obama has called for a national effort to secure the first two years of community college for free. A look at this infographic titled Technology Defines Much of Higher Education’s New Normal will tell you that higher education’s “new normal” is darned expensive. Almost eight times more expensive! Even adjusting for inflation, that increase still seems out of bounds. It also seems particularly anomalous that the price of school books has increased by almost ten times--this in the age of the tablet and online courses. But according to other sources it’s apparently going to get worse before it gets better. Which in turn increases the importance that today’s students gain the skills in school they will need to get the jobs they are going to need to pay off their student debt.
And as this infographic further points out, those jobs increasingly are in the STEM field. Instead of the old standby careers that were still with us in the 1980’s, construction, manufacturing and the service industries, almost 75% of present job openings out of college are in high-tech related industries like computer design, engineering, and one more not mentioned in the infographic, robotics.
The Common Core Standards in education are getting more than their share of bad press. Teachers complain of a lack of materials and training while parents are upset because they don’t understand the new methodologies and can’t help their kids with math homework. We here at RobotsLab think we have at least some of the answers teachers and parents are looking for.
The problems facing the Denver, Colorado, public schools are a case in point. Next year, four years after the state adopted the standards, Colorado students will be subjected for the first time to standardized tests based on the Common Core standards. And yet teachers and administrators feel that the materials they have been using are not up to the task. That leaves them facing a situation where their competency will be questioned because students will be thrown by this new Common Core emphasis suddenly appearing in the tests.
According to some educators, that is partly because some educational publishers seem to think all they have to do is retitle their books to meet the new standards. Alyssa Whitehead-Bust, the district’s chief academic and innovation officer says this: those companies… “ haven’t redone their material. We’re looking for materials that are really redesigned, not just realigned.”
One student demographic is particularly endangered by this lack of adequate materials, English learners. Students for whom English is not their mother-tongue in Colorado now make up 35% of the student body. That means that even while teachers are trying to increase their students ability to function in an English language environment, they are also attempting to teach them subjects like math. And math, as taught in the Common Core, requires an emphasis on informational text, in English primarily. District chief schools officer Susana Cordova, notes that even those materials that have been redesigned, like material for English learners learning the language, don’t necessarily help with understanding that informational text. She says most of the redesigned lesson plans she has seen for English learners put too much emphasis on idiom and “That’s not the bulk of what English learners need to learn.”
While the robots at RobotsLab can’t solve the whole problem, teachers will find them helpful in teaching math to English learners. Our RobotsLAB BOX, for example, depends less on a student’s language than on his engagement in the lesson plan--and engaging students in lesson plans is our forte. Watching the robots that come with the BOX demonstrating math principles on the included tablet as complicated as Quadratic equations doesn’t require English, just their undivided attention; something robots do better than any lecture, book or blackboard.
When I was a kid in elementary school the only computers available wouldn’t have fit in our classroom and a printer was someone who probably worked at the local newspaper (remember those?). The only 3D technology we knew anything about came in cereal boxes, two-tone, paper and cellophane 3D eye wear that brought to life characters on the back of that cereal box. What we had in abundance, however, was spit wads and the means to launch them, rubber bands and straws. I preferred rubber bands myself as straws became waterlogged and unhygienic after only a few wet shots on goal--other students. Teachers used to wait at the door after lunch confiscating any rubber bands and straws they might see.
I am sure a lot has changed in the last half-century, but I’d be willing to bet that a middle-schoolers’ proclivity for tormenting their fellow students with spit wads is not one of those. Nor, I wager, has the average teacher’s desire to keep their classroom free of such attention-shattering activity.
But then, Shaun Cornwall is not the average teacher. He was convinced that the useless knickknacks most teachers made with the school’s 3D printers were not fully conveying the importance of this new technology to his students. He decided to build something that they could and would use and give it to them as a Christmas present. He went to Thingiverse and found just the 3d template he was looking for, a desktop catapult.
A what? That’s right, a catapult. A device described by the developer, Microsoft, as A small desktop catapult to launch projectiles at friends or coworkers. Wha..!“ launch projectiles...at friends..!” My first thought was what teacher in his right mind would deliver a projectile launcher into the hands of a bunch of teenagers?
But then I got to thinking and I realized that what Shaun Cornwall had done was sheer genius! Sheer genius at a future cost to himself in frustration and exasperation, but genius nonetheless! Because he was right about the problem he set out to solve: at present most schools present 3D printers to their students as little more than elaborate cookie-cutters for decorative objects: knickknacks. When in fact, 3D printing is considered by many, including President Obama, as the future of manufacturing--and I can’t imagine a better way of presenting that to kids than the way it was done by Shaun Cornwall with his gift of 50 desktop catapults.
We wish more teachers would take the risks that Shaun Cornwall did. Some of his colleagues will probably complain from time to time when those catapults show up in their classes but the kids will always remember a cool teacher that built something new with some cool new technology.
What do gardens and robots have in common? Waiting…. Give up? They both make great math instructors!
Whether digging a garden or interacting with robots, students find themselves engaged (emphasis on this word “engaged”) in an activity that takes abstract math, a subject once found only on school blackboards or books, and puts it to work in a concrete and meaningful way.
Take for example the garden cultivated by teacher Nancy Rhodes’ fifth-grade kids in Corte Madera School in Portola Valley, California. For the last two years the kids have been laboring (“laboring” is likely too harsh a word) in what Ms. Rhodes calls “A Symbiotic Garden: Designed for a purpose.” Her first project aim was to have her students struggle with the question, “Can animals live without plants and can plants live without animals.” The students were required to design plant beds with the goal of attracting different animals. Again, some extra emphasis on the word “design” in the preceding sentence...
After all, as any gardener worth their salt knows, designing a garden plot requires more than grabbing a handful of seeds and throwing them on the ground. Every garden has a limited amount of room and the plants themselves differ in the space needed for healthy roots and sunlight. Some need shelters. Some need deeper soil than others. Water requirements differ with every species. No, it isn’t rocket science but any fifth-grader that has worked through a problem like the following is going to feel pretty good about themselves: The edge of a circular flower bed, 220 ft in diameter, needs mulch. How many cubic yards (yd3) of mulch do you need if you want the mulch to cover 3 ft in from the edge to a depth of 2.5 inches, all the way around?
Diameter = 220 ft
radius = 110 ft.
pi = 3.142
Area of a circle = pi x r2
Area of total bed = 3.142 x (110)2 = 38018.2 ft2
Area of inside bed = 3.142 x (110-3)2 = 35972.8 ft2
Area of ring needing mulch = 38018.2 - 35972.8 = 2045.4 ft2
Volume of ring (2.5 inches deep = 0.208 ft) = 2045.4 x 0.208 = 425.4 ft3
Convert cubic feet to cubic yards à 1 yd3 = 27 ft3 so 1 ft3 = 0.037 yd3
425.4 x 0.037 = 15.7 yd3 = 16 yd3
1 yd3 = 325 ft2 to 1" deep
325 ft2 2045 ft2
1 yd3 = x
325x = 2045 x = 6.29 6.29 x 2.5" = 15.75 yd3 = 16 yd3
From: Dr. Leonard Perry, Univ. Vermont : Garden Math Sample Problems and Calculations
A garden then is certainly one great way to answer the question asked by nearly every student, “What do I need this math for?”
Here at RobotsLAB we don’t dig gardens, but we do develop robots that engage and instruct students in a manner that makes math interesting and concrete. Kids love robots. At least as much as they love gardening. And the big gain here for teachers is they don’t have to strain their backs, get sunburned, or dirty their hands while working on their lesson plan.
I recently came across a blog post titled Do Kids Really Care About Stem Education. Written by a young educator who teaches high school sophomores, he made some interesting observations that many of us might not want to agree with.
He writes that while teachers, parents, politicians, the whole darn adult zoo, put the emphasis on learning with the hope of future employment in the tech world, teenagers are not really that interested or excited in the world we believe we are building for them. He says...”High school kids have never been too excited about the adult world, and that hasn’t changed.” Some of us may find that observation upsetting, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. With the possible exception of a few goal-oriented, driven students, this is certainly the way it has always been. And would we really want it otherwise? Forget dreaming and get on with choosing a career before they leave high school?
One interchange with his students was particularly telling. After a failed attempt by the school to generate some interest in using teenage-tech savvy to build student engagement he came right out and asked them, “You guys don’t really like using technology at school, do you?” He went on to describe how... “They smiled and laughed. One student spoke for the class: ‘No, but you teachers all think we do.’ Another student said, ‘We like playing games and sending messages to each other, but we don’t want to use our phones for schoolwork.’ Their heads nodded emphatically in agreement.” Again, nothing new here. Just ask Facebook developer Mark Zuckerberg about how teens have been avoiding his site since they discovered their teachers, parents and grandparents were on there with them!
But don’t take from this that the author of this post thinks stem learning is a waste of time. What he has learned from his students is that most of them...,“want to play games and talk with their friends. They like to solve mysteries, and they want to learn more about people… but they are not listening when he tries to engage them by talking-up their futures in high tech. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to most high school math teachers who long ago gave up trying to interest their students in math by telling them it was something they were going to need to get a good job when they grew up.
The post Do Kids Really Care About Stem Education has received a good deal of attention online. It has been tweeted and retweeted often. Some of the attention was less than favorable, but our take on it here at RobotsLAB is the author of this post didn’t say anything that we didn’t already know in our heart of hearts--besides, we build robotic teaching aids that engage kids without asking them to include us on their cell phones. Our robots will most certainly help them develop the skills that they need for future employment. But don’t tell them that while they are enjoying them.
When I was a small boy growing up in the desert Southwest, I thought I wanted to grow up to be an anthropologist-- with the emphasis here on “ant.” They were everywhere in the desert: black ants, red ants, big ants and tiny ones. I had no idea why they fascinated me so, but fascinate me they did, and I spent my summers watching them marching and counter-marching across the sandy desert floor--and of course, being a boy, I messed with them in every conceivable way from frying with a magnifying glass to trampling their elaborate nests and pathways. I sprayed them with insecticide bombs and drowned them in water. All that, and I don’t think I ever managed to completely destroy one of their nests. A few days and they would be back as busy as ever.
Not overly introspective as a boy, I never questioned my intense interest in their organized behavior. That it was “neat,” was enough for me (neat, by the way, was the 1950’s functional equivalent of “cool”). Later--much later, I am forced to admit--I stumbled into robotics and discovered that the very ant behavior that had fascinated me long ago was now a much sought-after goal in robot behavior. Robotics scientists hope that clues to understanding swarming, flocking, herding, crowding, thronging, whatever you call this instinctive, self-organizing behavior of ants, birds, cows and some higher biologic organisms, will guide the way toward developing robots capable of accomplishing tasks without the need to program every single individual unit in a...gang? of robots.
“Gang” will apparently not be the term of choice. The National Museum of Math in New York (MoMath) recently opened a new exhibit named Robot Swarm. A “swarm” of bees maybe, but robots…? Anyway, the exhibit is in the old Taj Mahal of Boxing, Madison Square Garden and the robot swarming (ok, maybe “ganging” does sound a bit inelegant!) takes place under a transparent floor in the ring beneath the spectators’ feet. Just as I once tormented swarms of ants, spectators can now torment small robots by stomping around the ring sending them scurrying to and thro in an organized fashion. But unlike my earlier efforts in the desert which were nothing more than a mixture of childish curiosity and wanton destruction, the purpose here at MoMath is to demonstrate and improve robotic self-organizing behavior.
Why bother, you ask? Remember the Gulf Oil Spill of 2010? Because of the depth it took months to cap the open pipe. Currents, pressure and collapsing equipment changed the job requirements on a minute to minute basis. Imagine the savings to jobs and the environment if a tool consisting of thousands of small self-organizing robots could have been sent down to wrestle the plugs into position instead of trying to control the tools and plugs in a constantly changing environment from a distance.
Just as those ants I tormented so long ago were able to survive my actions with their instinct for self-organization, it is the hope of roboticists that someday it will be possible to assign to a robot swarm a task like shutting down that pipe and letting the swarm self-organize the tools and behavior necessary to get the job done.
Here is a riddle: What did President Obama, the world’s most powerful man, say to NAO, the world’s most popular anthropomorphic robot for educational purposes, when they met on December 8, 2014 during an Hour of Code event at the White House?
“Hi NAO! Last year, students and teachers across our country celebrated Computer Science Education Week with an Hour of Code. They learned new skills, programmed games and apps, and realized that while no one is born a computer scientist, becoming a computer scientist isn’t as scary as it sounds. With hard work, and a little math and science, anyone can do it.
For this year’s Computer Science Education Week, more than 48 million people have already participated, and we’re hoping even more of you will get involved. Don’t just consume things, create things.
Take an hour to learn more about the technology that touches every part of our lives. That’s how you can prepare yourself with the skills you need for your future. And that’s how you can help prepare our country for the future as well. America
has always been a nation of tinkerers, builders, and inventors.
We brought the world everything from the lightbulb and the telephone, to the iPad and the Internet. So whether you’re a young man trying his hand at programming for the first time or a young woman who is already hard at work on the next big thing, we’re counting on you–America’s young people, to keep us on the cutting edge. Thanks NAO, and happy coding!”
Wow eh? Who’d a thunk a robot-- Oh, you don’t believe this? Good for you! We kinda hoped you wouldn’t. No, actually this is the text of the speech President Obama gave the day before to open 2014’s Hour of Code. What he really opened the speech with was “Hi everybody!”
This silly subterfuge with the riddle was nothing more than an attempt to draw your attention to the fact that our buddy NAO was a guest at the White House. I mean, when was the last time you were there? NAO is apt to be seen anywhere these days.
Hey, just last January he was on Mars helping the astronauts master the finer points of communicating with robots! Well, Ok, that was Utah, an analogous Mars with analogous astronauts, but that’s about as close to Mars as we’re gonna get for a while and NAO was there with us!
One more riddle… Check out the image below. Do you think NAO and VP Biden were talking 2016?
The ability to do computer coding has become one of the big three...ok, make that the big four, goals of education: those are reading, writing, arithmetic and now computer coding. It appears that the nation that fails to educate its young in any one of these four will find itself severely disadvantaged in securing employment for them in the future. A development that quickly leads from mere unemployment to a falling standard of living and finally social unrest. The world is replete with national examples of this phenomenon.
The first three goals, the ability to read, write and avoid being short-changed have been universally met--in this country at least--for several centuries; the fourth, a knowledge of computer coding is--no matter what the ancients say--something new under the sun. I was able to survive without knowing anything about it until I was well into middle-age, but my children have always been aware of it and my grandchildren, still in elementary school, are already putting it to use.
One code-learning advantage leading to their acceptance and understanding that my grandchildren have that I and their parents didn’t have is The Hour of Code Initiative. Begun last year, 2013, by Code.Org, a non-profit organization, The Hour of Code bills itself as “a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics.” On its website it claims The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. Anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event. One-hour tutorials are available in over 30 languages. No experience needed. Ages 4 to 104. It is supported by many organizations such as Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the College Board and as of this post, it states that 92,871,946 individuals have tried the Hour of Code--a lot of peoples grandkids among them!
The first of several available tutorials stars Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. They, along with Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg (who stay out of the way) help kids get interested and get going. There’s also an hour for kids who want to start coding their own games!
Hour of Code is available for use at home but many school systems are also enthusiastic about teaching code. Take for instance public schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, Florida. There’s already a NAO robot named Cody who is being programed to speak, walk, wave, and do Tai-Chi moves (which puts them one up on me!). The school principal believes that coding should become a required subject and says that “"It's allowing our boys and girls to have this wonderful opportunity to expand their horizons, to think creatively...Coding helps them to better understand reading, mathematics, science, so it's a collaboration of all subjects, doing something that they enjoy."
At home or at school. It doesn’t matter where we learn it, but learn coding we must if we are going to stay competitive on the world scene. And with easily accessible and user-friendly sites like Code.Org there is simply no excuse--for us or our progency---not learning or becoming proficient in coding.
This how it looks when our partner in Mexico is kick-ing off a show for EdTech to the local government !
When the digital world was in its infancy the study of robotics was left to graduate courses at major universities--and not many of them! In a pitifully few schools K-12 students got a chance to work with robots after school. As a result, only a very few of the most STEM-minded students had anything to do with robots. Things have changed.Robots are no longer just extracurriculars. Educators across the country have come to realize that robots are among the most perfect of teaching tools.
Onslow County, North Carolina high school teachers, for example, are using the RobotsLAB Box to show students how certain math concepts are relevant to their increasingly digitally outfitted lives. The RobotsLAB Box contains four robots and a tablet to demonstrate and display these concepts. How better to engage agile young minds with quadratic equations than watching them roll out on the tablet to the tune of the quadcopter dancing above them?
In Okaloosa County, Florida, seventh graders built a tablet-controlled mini-Mars rover. Using the robot’s cameras and sensors they move about a table-top Martian landscape covered with red and blue balls. They get to program the robot to move about and collect the balls. At a tech center in Evansville, Indiana, high school students learn to program and operate a robotic arm. At Fayette County Schools in Kentucky, both middle and elementary schools have robotics as electives. In Colorado, the St.Vrain Valley School District has robotics in its K-12 curriculum because as Axel Reitzig, St. Vrain’s STEM coordinator says,” ... building STEM skills means really mastering technology. When students are designing and building robots, there’s a lot of trial and error and they’re getting that immediate feedback, helping them piece together the whole picture.”
It is hard to imagine that there are many school-age children in this country that are not in daily contact with the digital world. Most schools have computers. An amazing number of children in elementary middle and high school have smart phones-- and most kids without one wish they had and are actively pressing their parents for one. For today's’ students the future appears to be digital. It is past time for robots, the most perfect of digital wonders, to become part of every school’s regular curricula.
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Chelsea Wilhelm, a Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) Fellow with the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation, an American non-profit, nonpartisan public policy think tank located in Washington D.C., recently took a close look at individual state planning programs--or the lack thereof--for education technology.
Using an Education Week report from 1989 that stated that “technology planning is clearly a weak area of endeavor” as a baseline, she analyzed state plans for what she considered likely key components in any edtech development plan, student learning objectives, professional development goals for teachers and adequacy of staff support. What she discovered must give us pause: As I have found, that lack of thoughtful planning in the 1980s still exists in the present day. While the problems schools and educators face have evolved, the planning done by each state has not.
Ms. Wilhem’s report comes with a map of these United States that shows that a clear majority of states have no updated plans currently available. Check out the color scheme on the map below! In fact only 19 states have plans that extend beyond 2012. That’s two years ago, folks! Some states like Virginia, Ohio and Maryland come in for praise. Others, including Iowa, Montana and Missouri admit they have no intention to plan past 2012.
Why is this happening? Ms. Wilhem gives us two reasons she thinks most states seem uninterested in planning ahead. Reason number one is the decision in 2011 by the US Department of Education to eliminate the Enhancing Education through Technology (EETT) program, the largest federal incentive for state-level planning. Reason number two is pretty much the same as reason number one, except the funding authority is the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC is still funding with its E-Rate program, but not requiring proof of planning.
Keep in mind this doesn’t mean these laggard states are necessarily forgetting about funding for educational technology while they ignore planning for it. I believe it would be safe to say that all of them intend to keep their schools competitive in the new edtech paradigm. What is does mean, however, is that they are no longer approaching financing edtech in a systematic way. I mean, it’s hard to imagine that the entire West Coast, awash as it is in technology firms, won’t continue to update their classrooms. What will probably happen, however, sans prior planning, is a lot of wasted money on poorly thought-out programs.
3D printing is on a roll. Big businesses have had the technology available to them for the last twenty years or more. Recently however, 3D printing became available for the rest of us: for example, UPS opened 3D printing services in 100 stores nationwide last September. The monster transporter claims that “Small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to print prototypes as part of the new product development process…. The UPS Store locations will be equipped to produce items like engineering parts, functional prototypes, acting props, architectural models, fixtures for cameras, lights and cables.” And that’s just the latest word from the private sector.
ONVIA dot Com, a website that describes itself as intelligence for winning more government business says the public sector is booming also. Take for instance these three exciting developments at the federal level. First of all, the army is working on developing guns using 3D technology. This particular example of a technology going to the dark side might not thrill some of us, but Pandora’s box is open. Private individuals have already uploaded files capable of printing a working--if rudimentary--gun on 3D printers found in many homes.
Another example of an important federal use of 3D technology that many will consider more positive than the first is NASA’s testing of a 3D printer in zero gravity. The hope is to bring the costs of spaceflight down by manufacturing tools and replacement parts in orbit rather than blasting them up there at $2000 or $3000 per lb (the Space Shuttle once ferried a pound into orbit for about $10,000; the lower figure is an estimate by Elon Musk of what he thinks his Space X can do). The third exciting development at the federal level is the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) launching of its NIH 3D Print Exchange. This website is all about downloading and editing 3D files related to health and science. No doubt we soon can print off a perfect replica of an Ebola virus….
While the federal government spends big bucks on developing 3D printers for spaceflight and guns, state and local governments have increased spending for 3D technology in schools. Oniva says the average 3D printing contract value for K-12 was $38,981. Again according to Oniva, contracts awarded for 3D printing in schools (K-12 and above) grew from 18 in 2012 to 27 in 2013. The figures for 2014 look to double as 24 awards were issued in the first six months of the year.
All of this is good news for the progress of additive manufacturing in this country. Many people, including President Obama, consider this new form as the next industrial revolution. It is great to see that the schools are getting involved, as that is where the future creators of the new technology and its future workers are now found. In partnership with Makerbot, developer of the under-$2000 3D printer for the masses, RobotsLAB has created lesson plans to help make a teacher’s job easier when it comes to teaching about this new manufacturing process.
A 2012 study of adults in 20 countries found that Americans ranked near the bottom in numeracy. Numeracy being defined simply as the ability to work with and understand numbers. What’s worse is that other studies showed that even the most educated among us displayed a deplorable inability to work with numbers: almost twenty percent of medical prescription showed math mistakes on the part of doctors and pharmacists. How can this be?
Why Do Americans Stink At Math is the title of an article written by Elizabeth Green for the New York Times Magazine on Sunday, July 23, 2014. The thesis is that the deplorable state of math education in the USA is the result of poor carry through on the part of our most highly placed educators. In spite of attempts to change the teaching of math by engaging students in actually studying math rather than memorizing it, the change is not happening. As evidence of this failure Ms Green relates the story of a Japanese educator who used math-teaching theory and methods developed in the USA to improve Japanese schools by engaging students but found these same theories and methods either ignored or misunderstood and misused in American schools. That Japanese educator thinks “Americans might have invented the world’s best methods for teaching math to children, but it was difficult to find anyone actually using them.” Again, why?
According to the article, American educators in the most important and influential teaching colleges don’t actually spend a whole lot of time teaching; they are into research and publishing. The result is great theory but poorly communicated methodology with the teachers actually teaching students. Common Core Standards provide us with a recent example of this disconnect.
Explains Ms Green, “With the Common Core, teachers are once more being asked to unlearn an old approach and learn an entirely new one, essentially on their own. Training is still weak and infrequent, and principals — who are no more skilled at math than their teachers — remain unprepared to offer support. Magdalene Lampert, a professor of education at the University of Michigan notes “In the hands of unprepared teachers, alternative algorithms are worse than just teaching them standard algorithms.” What results, of course, is confusion leaping from teacher to student to parent. A sequence Ms Green illustrated with this amusing anecdote: The comedian Louis C.K. parodied his daughters’ homework in an appearance on “The Late Show With David Letterman”: “It’s like, Bill has three goldfish. He buys two more. How many dogs live in London?”
Textbooks haven’t really made the jump to Common Core either. They have “have received only surface adjustments, despite the shiny Common Core labels that decorate their covers.” On the textbook issue, no less a personage than Phil Daro, a senior member of America’s Choice and one of three principal writers of the math Common Core Standards agrees, “To have a vendor say their product is Common Core is close to meaningless…”
It is not necessary to agree with every point made in this article to agree with the overall conclusion so succinctly implied by the title, that Americans do indeed stink at math. And there is no doubt that teaching methodology must be greatly improved if we in this country are to retain our technological superiority. Engagement, not rote learning must be encouraged. Our goal here at RobotsLAB is to provide teachers with technological aids, our robots and included curricula, that will engage and encourage students to study rather than memorize.
Teachers, need some new lesson plan ideas to meet the requirements of the new Common Core Standards? Well, BetterLesson.Com and your own Union, the National Education Association's Master Teacher Project heard your cry for the help that you weren't getting from your administrators and came up with a plan of their own: they searched out lesson plans from 95 or more of the best teachers in the country and paid them $15,000 each to put their plans online with BetterLesson.com. All these plans and related materials that they paid for are now online free for your perusal. Besides affording teachers fresh ideas, Instructional philosophies and implementation tips will also be provided with the lesson plans.
Nor is the NEA alone in assisting teachers in working within the new paradigm. In 2012 the American Federation of Teachers worked out a similiar lesson-sharing plan with ShareMyLesson.Com. Unlike the NEA, the AFT has teachers post their own plans. Like the NEA, the AFT shares the plans for free. This plan too, appears successful as it has 250,000 registered members and has had almost two-and-half million lesson downloads during the 2012-2013 school year.
In many quarters, Common Core has not been met with positive reviews. The transition has not been smooth. The complaint that teachers were given insufficient training is common. While there is no substitute for that training, both of these websites, BetterLesson.Com and ShareMyLesson.Com might help teachers get by until they get the training they deserve.
RobotsLAB is also in the business of assisting teachers with meeting the requirements of the new Common Core standards. Our engaging robotic teaching aids and their included curricula have been designed with the standards in mind and will provide your classrooms with effective alternatives to boring texts.
When I was a kid and enormous cars with long sharp tail fins ruled the road, it was said and believed by many, "If it's good for General Motors, it's good for America." Not so today with GM recently coming out of bankruptcy. But things haven't changed all that much, only the names of the mega corporations we worship. Yesteryear it was GM, today it's Google. And with good reason: GM came roaring out of the Second World War the largest, most productive business on the planet; they were doing something right! The same for Google in this era; their search engine and browser rules the Internet. Their cellphone operating system connects the globe.
With Google products dominating the new industrial age, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Google workplace practices are garnering a lot of attention--and emulation--in business and education. Chief among these much emulated practices is 20% Time.
20% Time, as defined by the Google practice, is allowing their employees 20% of their work time to work on creative projects that are unrelated to the employee’s assigned projects. The result has been the creative surge that brought Google to the forefront of its industry.
In education, 20% Time allows kids a chance to take their attention off class content and get creative. Oh, sure, you say, untethering kids from classroom routine and letting them get creative sounds great, but without structure in the classroom you soon get chaos. Good point! The way to avoid chaos is to add a touch of chaos-preventing structure. The Maker Place is a great way to add that structure.
The Maker Place isn’t simply a portion of the classroom where kids are turned loose to get into trouble. The idea is to provide a space where kids can loose their creativity with engaging projects suggested by teachers and other students . The Maker Place should also include the materials ( 3D printer ) necessary to complete the projects.
RobotsLAB’s STEM BOT 3D CLASS provides both the curriculum and the materials for a perfect Maker Place. The STEM BOT 3D CLASS teaches students how to 3D print a robot, assemble it, work on the electronics, use a 3D printer and finally program it using Scratch.Kids love robots. It doesn’t take much effort on the part of the teacher to get them interested in making one.
Educators, give some thought to freeing up time for your students creative urges--without losing control, of course. 20% Time works for Google. It might work for you.
I don’t have the answer to this riddle. The question simply came to me when I stumbled over this great picture of the French company Aldebaran’s anthropomorphic robot NAO hovering studiously over a digital pad seemingly writing an earnings report for the Associated Press. Looking stiff with the pencil at an uncomfortable angle and totally focused, doesn’t NAO look a lot like a kid learning to write?
Actually the blog post with this picture is talking about robots that look less like humans and more like computers. But how better to illustrate the point that computers are freeing humans from boring jobs? NAO, after all, is the most widely used anthropomorphic robot for educational and research purposes.
Not only anthropomorphic, but autonomous also. Which brings me back to the question about NAO as a possible student and the student as a teacher. In my experience kids like to act like teachers. I know I did, and I can remember my youngest teaching to an attentive Jack Russell Terrier. NAO is programmed to be even more attentive than the Jack Russell--and speaks better English--and French, German, and dozens more. NAO is better disciplined also and won’t interrupt the teacher with barking when the doorbell rings.
NAO is a favorite with us here at RobotsLAB. We put a great deal of effort into developing curricula that
provides NAO with the ability to keep kids engaged in learning. While writing copy for the AP is a stretch at the moment, it is certainly only a matter of time.
I can remember the indignation I felt the first time I found video tapes in the public library; a desecration, I thought! Libraries are for books, not light-weight, made-for-tv documentaries! I kept holding my nose when I walked by those shelves until I missed Ken Burns’s documentary The Civil War on tv and the only place I could find it was...you guessed it, the public library. Alas, virtue once lost is virtue overcome and I found myself welcoming the computer into the library (a screen search beats the old card system any day), and absolutely thrilled with the coming of the Kindle; so the idea of anthropomorphic robots on the library floor doesn’t bother me at all.
Like it or not, public libraries are in a competition with the internet for information-delivery relevance. The internet delivers text and imagery with a speed the library cannot; public libraries, on the other hand, can deliver the real thing. Watching a video about robots is interesting, but actually interacting with one is both interesting and fun--just ask any kid!
One of the first libraries to acquire these tradition shattering mechanical beasties is the WestPort Public Library in Westport Conn. The Westport library has broken the mold before; specifically, by setting up a “Maker” space for its patrons and installing a 3D printer, technology that President Obama has referred to as the “future of manufacturing.” Now, the library intends to introduce its patrons to robots. "Robotics is the next disruptive technology coming into our lives and we felt it was important to make it accessible to people so they could learn about it," said Maxine Bleiweis, executive director of the Westport Library. "From an economic-development perspective and job- and career-development perspective, it's so important."
The robots, named Vincent and Nancy, are “Nao Evolution Robots,” the latest model NAO robot created by the French robotics company Aldebaran. Standing about three-feet high and looking a bit like the anthropomorphic robot C-3PO in Star Wars, they have a mild, calming way about them that has made them an important tool in teaching autistic children. They are not simple windup toys with a limited behavioral repertoire; besides walking and talking, they recognize faces, can detect where sound is coming from, touch, feel, and avoid obstacles; more, library staff and patrons can program them to do all sorts of entertaining and even practical things, like help find books and meet children arriving at the library. Says Alex Giannini, the library digital-experience manager, "I don't know what the coolest functionality is going to be. Someone coming in off the street is probably going to teach us that."
Nao robots in libraries is a novel development (no pun intended), but these robots are by far the most popular robots used in science education and are found in schools worldwide. Many of these engaging robots have been sold by RobotsLAB along with lesson plans designed for students of all ages. Teachers interested in presenting their classes with an educational experience their students will remember for ever can find more about NAO at our website.
Just guessing, but if you’ve achieved an educational level that makes the overall material in this blog at all interesting you were probably a doodler when you were a student. I was, but that isn’t the only reason for this otherwise unwarranted assumption: recent studies show that doodlers retain and process 29% more information while listening to a lecture. Who knew?
Exactly why doodling provides an advantage is still a matter of conjecture. Some educators don’t care why, they are simply looking for any advantage they can find that will help students succeed. Sunni Brown from Austin, Texas is among that number. Considered one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business and one of the “10 Most Creative People on Twitter” by the business magazine, Fast Company, Ms Brown fervently believes in the power and value of doodling. She is the Chief “Infodoodler” (this position title found on Wiki) of Sunni Brown Ink, a “visual thinking consultancy” with which she pursues her passion.
The programming language "Scratch" is for young people that have an itch to create interactive games, stories and animations online. Designed originally for kids 8 through 16, it is offered free by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The Lifelong Kindergarten Group believes its interactive programming language provides the young with essential skills for 21st Century employment, including the ability to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively.
Scratch Jr., the newest example of this language from prestigious MIT is designed for even younger students, preschoolers as young as five. A new Ipad app is now available for these younger kids. Scratch Jr. was developed with mobile devices rather than computers in mind like Scratch. Its developers hope that the language will meet the following educational goals for younger kids:
give them a better understanding of literacy and math
help them become familiar with classifications of various computer software and mathematical components
help them learn to be problem solvers and thinkers and better understand science and software development
A personal note here: The last time I had babysitting duty I downloaded the Scratch Jr App to my Ipad and handed it over without comment to my seven-year-old grandson, Fox. He likes cats and I thought he might take to it. He did. Also without comment.
I wandered off leaving him completely unsupervised in my recliner with the Ipad inches from his face. When I returned a few minutes later he had already completed three projects.
“Was it fun?” I asked
“Did you learn anything?” I said, knowing I was pressing my luck.
He rolled his eyes in answer and went back to playing with the app.
Another learning tool for the younger set that Fox and his three-year-old brother Dexter both like is RobotsLABS' own CUBELETS. Their small hands find these little magnetic blocks safe and easy to manipulate. They get a big kick out of the autonomous robots they can make entirely on their own. It pleases their parents and me to see them developing their ability to think procedurally and learning to solve problems in a step-by-step manner.
Me, being a believer in the robot as a teaching tool,I was at first a little put off by the title of a recent article in the Boston Globe, STEM's Newest Darling: Robotics; a bit cloying, I thought. The subtitle, It’s the 21st century’s newest must-study subject, came across as patronizing. I felt certain my favorite machines were in for a verbal drubbing. And guess what, after reading the entire article I've decided my first opinion was almost entirely wrong! Error! Error! Will Robinson!
Oh, I guess I could still fault the article writer for his off-putting approach in the title, but I certainly can't complain about what he had to say about robots and education; it was highly complementary and informative. It's good to see that Massachusetts, the home of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), really gets it. Maybe it was the fear that Massachusetts, certainly one of the most progressive states in matters of education, didn't get it, that put me off at first (Ok, Ok, I won't use any further renditions of the term 'off-put' in this post!).
Anyway, Massachusetts does seem to be a hotbed for STEM learning using robotics. An elementary school in Boston’s oldest community, the North End, plans to use robots in Kindergarten classes. And the “inventor-in-residence” (a PHD from MIT) at a private school in Brookline where they intend to integrate programming into all the classes K6-12 says, “robotics is not about building real-life C-3POs, quasi-humans… Instead, it’s a way of combining sensors, computer programming, and actuators to solve problems in the physical world.” The president of Worchester Polytechnic Institute, Laurie Leshin, has this to say about the importance of introducing robots early in a student’s career and sticking with them: “Second- and third-graders get this stuff inherently,” she says. “By the time they get to middle and high school, life has beaten out of them some of that interest, and I think robots are a way to get that back.” We couldn’t agree more!
The one disagreement I still have with this article comes near the end where the author says, “The last and maybe biggest challenge, as schools try to start programs, is teachers.” The author quotes the principal of a Boston K-8 school that says it is difficult to add robots to a classroom “unless you have a person who has expertise and is motivated.” The best teacher is always a motivated teacher, but we here at RobotsLAB would argue that a motivated teacher who lacks expertise in robotics should not be held back. Any well-motivated teacher skilled in their own discipline, be that math, science, engineering or whatever, will find themselves capable of engaging and educating their class from day-one with nothing more than the material we provide with our robots.
A recent post on the role of technology in education made me take another look at our approach here at RobotsLAB. The post discussed three “myths” the writer found prevalent: myth 1 was that educational technology “was all about disruption;” myth 2 was that it was “all about the classroom;” and myth 3 claims “It’s all about...well...technology.”
Myth 1, says the post author, results from the tendency to over-hype the potential educational gains from new tech; people expect an entirely new educational environment. This leads, says the author, to a failure on the part of educators to incorporate the new tech with the existing system which usually leads to failure and increased skepticism by these same educators of subsequent new tech arrivals. The answer, says the author is not to view new tech as disruptive but as a tool to improve present practices.
At RobotsLAB we believe our products are “hyped” as doing exactly that: improving present practices. Our BOX, for example, doesn’t attempt to fundamentally change the study of math, but only to make it more engaging for students. It allows teachers to present their own interpretation while displaying the algorithms at work in the real world.
As for myth 2, the belief that new edtech is “all about the classroom” when there is actually a great deal of very important software for more administrative requirements, we are willing to admit that RobotsLAB’s products are indeed “all about the classroom.” Our products are developed with teachers teaching students in mind rather than software helping administrators with hiring, teacher development and data storage. We make no apologies for that, although in the future we may decide to develop more administratively directed products.
Myth 3 says that some believe that technology is an end all unto itself. We at RobotsLAB don’t even begin to believe that! We think our robotic products are wonderful tools, but only in the hands of committed and trained teachers. We are well aware of the studies that have shown that the teacher is still the most important “school-based factor” for student achievement.
Our robots and their included curricula provide students with exciting, engaging experiences in the STEM learning disciplines. Notice the emphasis on the word ‘experiences?’ An ‘experience,’ according to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (circa 1976), is “something personally encountered, undergone, or lived through.” Even better is the definition found for the verb ‘experience’ with a more modern-media Google search: ‘practical contact with and observation of facts or events.’ That practical contact, that sense of personally encountering something otherwise thought of as abstract, is what our robots can deliver. No book, no blackboard and no lecture can hope to make concrete a abstract math concept as well as interacting with NAO, the BOX and MATHBALL.
Obsessed as we are with delivering students an experience that they will remember, we are always pleased to find someone else who understands the importance of engagement in learning. One such educator is teacher Sabrina Truong at East Harlem high school. She recently discovered that the Rubiks Cube could help kids learn algebra. She stumbled across a brochure announcing You Can Do The Cube at a educational science fair. She says she followed the brochures’ algorithms and solved the Cube for the first time in her life. That experience made her think that the Cube could be a source of inspiration for her math classes. She then found more interesting material at the site, youcandothecube.com, that helped her set up a curriculum based on the Cube.
Apparently Ms. Truong’s Rubik’s Cube curriculum for algebra class was a hit immediately with both administrators and students. The principal had this to say about this new initiative: This is the first real student initiative at the school. The students took one small idea and developed it into an extraordinary competition. I am impressed by the momentum that it has gained the last three weeks. One thing that stood out is this young man, Steven, who for most of the year was a truant and yet is here to help organize the event. Congratulations to the Rubik’s Cube Club.
Congratulations to Ms. Truong for her extraordinary commitment to her students math education and the same to her principal for his ability to allow a new, untested initiative to survive long enough to prove its worth. We hope the kids at East Harlem High realize how lucky they are to have teachers like these!
Although Aldebaran’s robot NAO is far and away the most popular anthropomorphic robot used in education, there are still too few of them to go around. As yet, school systems are more interested in getting a tablet into every child’s hand rather than a robot. A shame it can’t be both as there is recent evidence out of the Robotics project of Carnegie Mellon University that suggests that kids are beginning to view the computer as a bit passé and computer programming downright boring. But few school systems have the bucks for both.
Realizing this, Murray State's Kentucky Academy of Technology Education has created a program for schools that meets both the NAO shortage and the developing engagement deficit head on. Accepting reality as in “If the mountain won't come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain," Murray State overcame the NAO shortage by creating a virtual NAO simulacrum that behaves exactly as the actual NAO when kids program it on their too-familiar computer screens or tablets.
Programming with tools as fun and easy as drag-and-drop and as detailed as C++ and Python, the young students get to watch the NAO simulacrum behave as they program its actions on screen. Later, when one of the few actual NAOs in that school system is available at their school and in their classroom, they can use that very same program to animate it. This process seems to work wonders as area educators report that students that once held back are now stepping out as leaders and 80% of the kids that take the course are reportedly inspired to take more STEM courses.
Robots like NAO inspire kids to take more STEM courses because they keep them engaged as no other teaching tool can. Kids watching them behave at their behest suddenly find themselves feeling as if the math that up to now they never found relevant has suddenly come alive.
We here at RobotsLAB provide NAO and a number of other anthropomorphic robots like BIOLOID and DARwin-OP--along with their included curricula-- that can keep a classroom full of otherwise easily-distracted kids interested in math for an entire class period--and beyond.
We are very pleased to announce today that the NAO robot from Aldebaran Robotics has two new homes: behind the wheel of a BMW Z4 electric car, and exclusively available only from RobotsLAB.
The stylish BMW Z4 is now part of the broad STEM curriculum services available from RobotsLAB as well for developers. The NAO + Car will be offered by RobotsLAB as part of our STEM-U program; a holistic and revolutionary curriculum for STEM subjects from pre-K to higher education that makes use of robots and other visual tools. Under the STEM-U umbrella, we now offer standards-aligned curricula using drones, rovers, robots, Cubelets, 3D printers, and even basketballs. All part of our mission to assist teachers and better engage students using the most innovative tools available to twenty-first century educators.
At the risk of exposing my lack of poetic ability, Robots are the new cool,/ and a soon to be/ indispensable teaching tool! Let me explain...
No one questions the commitment of the young to new technology. They take to it like fish to water or birds to the air. Why then, is there such a lack of interest in computer programing among these young tech user in high school and college? Kids that spend every free moment on the Internet still avoid learning the very disciplines that underlie this technology. The answer, according to Tom Lauwers, member of the CSBOTS project for introducing robot programming at the Robotics institute of Carnegie Mellon University, is simply that “many students find the initial work very boring.”
The people behind CSBOTS at Carnegie Mellon believe that many students find programming computers boring. Robots, on the other hand, are cool and programming them is fun. Students develop the same skills programming a cool robot as a boring computer. This situation is analogous to an earlier age with the internal-combustion engine and its most popular embodiment, the automobile: everyone drove, but fewer wanted to look under the hood and even fewer troubled themselves with the underlying physics.
The automobile is still around, of course, but the human hand and brawn have been replaced on the assembly line with...you guessed it, Robots! Robots in Israel are saving lives in ruined buildings; robots are under construction that can take the place of men in combat situations and the sky is filled with robotic flying machines, drones. Robots like RobotsLAB’s NAO are even edging into the sports field with the hope of beating a human team at soccer in a generation or two. At the moment NAO isn’t much of a threat to Lionel Messi, but it is ready for prime time in the educational arena.
In fact, NAO in education is the very embodiment of the “cool” educational robot with which Carnegie Mellon hopes to inspire a love of STEM learning and programming in more students entering college. In addition, RobotsLAB’s NAO is coupled with a curriculum that allows students to develop a structured approach to finding solutions while keeping those students interested and engaged in learning skills that will be needed in the future to secure jobs in the STEM field.
And NAO isn’t the only “cool” robot digital teaching assistant here at RobotsLAB that can help teachers keep kids engaged while learning the STEM disciplines. There’s MATHBALL, a robot in the shape of a basketball that was originally designed to help professional basketball players perfect their scoring shots and will now teach kids about parabolas in a way they will never forget. There’s the RobotsLAB BOX with several robots including AR DRONE to show kids how important math can be in their real lives. There’s BIOLOID to help teachers explain the relevance of STEM and for the younger set there’s CUBELETS for building simple robots that don’t need programing to keep them interested. Take a look at our site for more information--and less poetry.
There is plenty of educational technology out there waiting for educators and teachers to use in their schools. And RobotsLAB provides some of the best with its engaging BOX, MathBALL, MAKERBOT 3D printers and anthropomorphic robots like NAO, BIOLOID and DARwin OP. But according to many educators, much as they would like to see more edtech, getting their school systems to accept it is not an easy matter.
Lack of money is one of the first problems that teachers say they run into when they try to upgrade classroom technology. They have a point: some technology, like providing every student with a tablet, costs a financially challenged school district many hundreds of thousands of dollars. But providing every student with a new gadget isn’t the only way to get edtech into schools. Believe it or not there is a lot of free stuff out there that can engage an entire class with only a nominal original outlay.
Scratch, the programming language for example, can teach kids about coding using the computers most (I would hope all) school districts already have. With a single low-priced 3-D printer in the classroom (MAKERBOT 3D printer sells for less than two grand) teachers have a tool that will bring kids into contact with the new manufacturing technology considered by many, including President Obama, as the new revolution in technology. With the 3D printer in hand, teachers can turn to such online repositories as Thingiverse for thousands of free, interesting and engaging 3D templates. For more free edtech ideas try Googling the phrase free edtech. If your school district is having trouble coming up with even the nominal costs like a few 3D printers or a RobotsLAB BOX or two, consider government or private grants. You’ll be amazed at the number of grants available for educational technology if you Google the phrase educational technology grants.
Of course lack of funds is not the only impediment to getting new educational technology into schools. Schools, like all institutions, struggle with change. Educator and edtech blogger Dr. Justin Tarte has what he calls 10 tips for starting a technology revolution that might prove useful for those of you out there who are determined to upgrade the level of tech in your schools.
1 - Make sure the administration is on board…
2 - Lay the groundwork and foundation by asking simple questions… (find out what what level your colleagues are in this revolution you hope to start)
3 - Some educators will be advanced...but most will not be - GO SLOW…
4 - Do not drown your fellow educators with too much too soon…
5 - Support and encourage your shining stars…
6 - Use the largest, loudest, and most listened to group in the school - the students…
7 - Get constant feedback from your colleagues…
8 - Offer your time to help others (off the clock)...
9 - Help make technology and social media applicable to their class / content area...
10 - When you get discouraged, don't - the revolution will be long and hard…
“Klaatu Barada Nikto,” that’s robot talk for...well, several things, including “don’t destroy the Earth” (I’m paraphrasing here, but that is a line from the 1950 Sci-Fi thriller, The Day the Earth Stood Still). It seems that GORT, a huge and immensely powerful robot has been brought to Earth to teach mankind a lesson; i.e., “either quit fighting among yourselves or I am going to get rid of you all before you become a danger to other planets.” And only moments before he teaches mankind that violent lesson, along comes Helen Benson, played by Patricia Neal, who utters the fail-safe phrase that began this paragraph and ends GORT’s rampage.
Fortunately, NAO, today’s premier teaching-robot, responds to English--as well as French, Japanese and most other languages. And while GORT had a bad attitude and stood fifty-plus feet tall, NAO stands less than four feet and is so unthreatening that he is welcomed as a friend and teacher by autistic children. NAO has one other advantage over GORT: there’s a lot more of them; in fact, NAO is by far the most popular robot for educational purposes.
In spite of NAO’s small size, he is of immense value to education. No STEM learning academy is more aware of that than techJOYnt in Oklahoma, City. In the movie, GORT pretty much stayed in one place while he decided what to do; NAO, part of techJOynt’s mobile STEM lab, teaches mankind all over Oklahoma City, from Rockwell Plaza to satellite campuses at Oklahoma City Community College. He is part of the techJOYnt’s Humanoid Robotics course. He helps students study Node and Python programming using touch and motion sensors; and as as mentioned earlier NAO also helps autistic students communicate.
One thing both GORT and NAO have in common is their ability to engage students. Kids love robots. Can’t keep their eyes or their hands off them. That’s why we at RobotsLAB are so pleased to partner with techJOYnt in seeking to put even more of them into schools.
GORT’s presence was enough to get an important lesson across to mankind (a lesson, I might add, that recent news indicates we didn’t learn very well). NAO’s presence is less imposing and the curriculum more varied. According to Ray Shaik, President and CEO of techJOYnT, “By using the NAO robot in class, students connect theory and practice, develop teamwork and communication skills, and gain a higher level of motivation and interest in technical career paths.” We earthlings have every reason to hope that the results will be more lasting.
NAO, the small but mighty anthropomorphic robot manufactured by the French company Aldebaran, is evolving. Already the planet’s most acclaimed fully programmable, autonomous robot for education and research with over 5000 operating in more than seventy countries; NAO EVOLUTION, the new generation, sports several advancements over its successful predecessor.
Dr. Keith Devlin (the NPR Math Guy and Stanford Mathematician) believes that anyone can become proficient in math if it is taught in a way that makes it relevant to them, and a perfect way to teach math to middle-school kids is with video games. He’s putting his money where his mouth is by starting his own video game company, InnerTube Games. According to InnerTube Games, the company doesn’t just build video games to teach mathematics, instead they build ‘instruments’ which are designed to be played; and playing with these instruments teaches the players mathematics. A bit like learning about music while playing the piano.
Wuzzit Trouble, the first game developed by InnerTube games, came out late last year. Wuzzits are imaginary little beings that look like tailless squirrels with a proclivity for getting trapped in cages in dark castles. It’s up to the player to get them out of these cages with keys found by answering puzzles. That’s one level of the game. At another level the game is a device for acquainting kids with the mathematical concept of integer partitions. Integer partitions are whole numbers expressed as a sum of other whole numbers. The whole number 4, for example can be expressed in five different ways: 4, 2+2, 3+1, 2+1+1 and 1+1+1+1.
I’ve never thought of Vermont as “poor and rural” inspite of the image I had of it as nothing but forests and maple syrup farms--or whatever they call them ... maple groves, maybe? So I was surprised to read about one school superintendent’s difficulty in upgrading the public schools in his district: Ned Kirsch, superintendent at Franklin West Supervisory Union (FWSU) in the small town of Georgia, Vt., population 4300.
He says that upon his arrival in Georgia, he was pleased with the schools that he found. The problems in the schools were not with the “hard-working teachers, committed administrators, and 2,000 excited students;” instead, those excited students needed a connection to the technological world outside Northern Vermont.
This book, Playing to Win: Gamification and Serious Games in Organizational Learning by ASTD Research, claims to be the result of rigorous research into the value of gamification as an aid to learning. Gamification, for those of you for whom the word isn’t instantly definable, is the use of games in a non-game context to engage and encourage users to solve problems. It's a new paradigm in learning made more possible by recent technological advancements.
The book’s author, ASTD Research, is introduced by Wikipedia as “The Association for Talent Development (ATD), formerly American Society for Training & Development (ASTD)... a non-profit association for workplace learning and performance professionals.” It was formed in 1944. On its website ASTD claims the following for its research: “... an empirical foundation for today's data-driven decision-makers, containing both quantitative and qualitative analysis about organizational learning, human capital management, training, and performance.”
Oakland CA schools have a problem trying to teach their academically diverse student body. Kilian Betlach, the principal of Oakland’s Elmhurst Community Prep says that while one third of Elmhurst’s kids are at grade level in reading and math, the remaining two thirds are from one to four years behind. No doubt Principal Betlach’s school shares the same problem with many inner-city, high-poverty middle schools.
The question of how best to address this problem is complicated by lack of staff and lack of funds -- another common problem with inner-city schools. With too few teachers, how can they keep the slower learners from falling farther behind without denying faster learners the time they deserve and thereby cheating them all of a decent education? Unfortunately the answer to this problem is not to be found in the old factory model of education most of us grew up with.
This shouldn't come as a surprise, but after three months off in the summer most kids return in September at a lower learning level than when they departed: A whole month behind, according to Catherine Augustine a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation who has studied summer learning loss. Apparently a majority of children come back behind in math, whereas fewer are left behind in reading. This step backward is most obvious with children in low income neighborhoods where they might have less access to libraries and books in the home.
Over the years educators have promoted various changes in the educational system they thought might go a long way toward cutting back this deficit. School year-round was one idea; a marginally longer school year was another. The year-round idea apparently wasn’t anywhere near as effective as its proponents had hoped: studies still showed a deficit of one month or so at the beginning of the next year. It didn’t make much sense fiscally, and it surely ruined a lot of family summer vacations. Extending the school year made better financial sense but didn’t work all that well in some countries that had tried it, and Canadian schools showed better than the U.S. on the tests while only holding the kids in for three more days during the year.
We’ve all heard the old saw “the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” I can’t say I put much stock in that one, but I’ve heard that the “quickest way to get a kid’s interest is with an ice cream cone” -- I believe that one based on my own experience an impossibly long time ago.
Therefore it didn’t surprise me at all to hear that the fine institution of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was experimenting with producing ice cream with a 3D printer in hope of drawing kids' interest to the technology. It apparently started one semester when Professor John Hart’s class in additive manufacturing printed 600 ice cream spoons. Additive manufacturing, by the way, is considered by many including President Obama to be the new revolution in manufacturing. Instead of forming things in molds or by punching, pressing and whittling them down on tool and die machines, additive manufacturing builds things up nature's way, one layer at a time.
Kaplan, Inc., the global education company and largest subsidiary of the Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC), and Techstars, the global startup accelerator, announced today the 12 education-technology startups selected to participate in the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator, powered by Techstars, their three-month immersive mentorship and business development program beginning today in New York City.
When computers first burst into the classroom back in the late eighties and nineties, most teachers were nonplussed by a new technology they had hardly been aware of, much less trained for. They stared at these new machines and wondered what were they supposed to do with them. A lifetime of teaching couldn’t provide them with a clue and what they were hearing from their administrators only added to the confusion. As a result some retired rather than deal with the newfangled things and some simply set them on their desks and ignored them.
The majority, thankfully, buckled down and decided to find out how these things worked and how they could be made to serve their students. Of course one of the first things they discovered was that the students either already knew how to use the darn things or were capable of learning to use them faster than their teachers … and teachers are still playing catch up with their students with each new technological arrival.
Conveying to kids the idea that math plays an important part in their lives is, as any math teacher can tell you, one of the most difficult things about teaching math. The blackboard, the book and rote memorization were for years the only tools math teachers had; that, and the hope that they were getting it across. As most of us are aware, for the great majority of kids over the years it wasn’t enough.
In an earlier post (Professional Development Tips) we discussed professional development courses for teachers as presented by noted educational consultant Tom Daccord of learning consultancy EdTech Teacher. Mr Daccord offered six tips that he believed would improve teacher professional development courses leading, of course, to improved teacher classroom effectiveness.
One point he made that we found particularly arresting was his insistence that it was no longer necessary or even wise for teachers to attempt to understand the “nuts and bolts of technology” when dealing with new tech teaching aids. Learning how to operate the new technology, something that students seemed to be able to do almost instinctively, was not as important as having a plan that would insure that these new tools were applied effectively in the classroom. Good pedagogy was to be preferred over technical proficiency. What adult, after all, can move his thumbs as fast as a teenager?
That math and music are closely related has been known forever. Music symbols (not cymbals) read like strangely designed math symbols -- or maybe the other way around depending on your orientation. A musical piece divides into measures and bars, which are further delineated by beats, and fractions are used to indicate the length of individual notes. What isn’t as well known is the relationship between math and the graphic arts. That math can be beautiful...
Louisiana math teachers are stepping up their efforts to make teaching their discipline special. These are not your father’s math teachers. Nineteen of these new model teachers, five from Lafayette Parish middle school and fourteen others enrolled in UL-Lafayette’s Louisiana Mathematics Masters in the Middle program, a graduate course funded by a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation, recently took math off the blackboard and out of the classroom to an Olympic-themed summer math camp held at J. Wallace James Elementary School, Scott La.
Lasting ten days and hosting more than 40 gifted students from at-risk Lafayette schools, this is a great example of a university and neighboring elementary schools cooperating in bringing fun -- that’s right, FUN -- the newest paradigm in math instruction, to students. Instead of learning math procedures by rote, these young people had a chance to see how math can be relevant to their lives and, yes, fun!
A few weeks ago my wife took my two grandchildren to a paper-cutting artist who snipped out near-perfect likenesses of both their profiles in a matter of a minute with nothing more than paper and scissors. As I am incapable of doing the same with a pen and paper- - much less scissors -- in any amount of time, I was greatly impressed. This led me to look online for more examples of paper-cut art; of which, it appears, there are more than a few. One of the most impressive examples that I found of this art form was a project by artist Rogan Brown.
Aptly titled "Outbreak," these paper-cut figures are painstakingly-detailed reproductions of microscopic pathogens and human body cells. While it took the artist cutting out my grand-children's profiles less than two minutes, artist Rogan Brown worked on OutBreak for four long months. As I have even less patience than graphic talent, I was impressed yet again and wished I could behold them in all their 3D splendor; but having even less money than either talent or patience, it was impossible to imagine how that could ever happen -- I Mean, what would you have to pay an artist to possess such an intensely time-consuming creation? No, online pictures were the only way work of this nature could ever be enjoyed by the average individual.
Parents, are you feeling guilty about inculcating your children with that educational scourge, Math Anxiety? Take heart, it might not be your fault. According to a recent study at Ohio State University, there is a genetic component to the malady. Says lead author Zhe Wang, “We found that math anxiety taps into genetic predispositions in two ways: people’s cognitive performance on math and their tendency toward anxiety..."
Which leaves us wondering, what can be done about math anxiety in teachers and students if math anxiety is genetic? I’m not a teacher and I haven’t been a math student for nearly half a century, but as a parent (Ok, Ok, a grandparent!) I’m relieved that yet another potential, parental guilt trip has been resolved in favor of nature rather than nurture.
Forty-two years have passed since Gene Cernan was the last man to walk on the moon. I think it is way past time that we went back and I am pleased to find I'm not the only one who thinks so...
It's called the 2014 Moonbots Challenge. Sponsored by Google and LEGO for 9 through 17 years olds, its goal is to stimulate interest in young people about returning to the moon. First the kids are asked to form teams and produce a video that answers the question “Why should we go Back to the Moon for Good?” Twenty-five teams are picked from all over the world based on their answers in their videos. Each of the twenty-five video winners will then get a LEGO MINDSTORMS robotics toolkit, a lot of LEGO bricks and some other as yet unspecified materials (faux moon rockst?) with which to build a robot capable of surviving in a simulated moonscape.
After very little deliberation I have decided to forgo the Nobel Prize in Physics and work on the less well-known but better funded Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics announced just last year by Mark Zuckerberg, Yuri Milner and their respective wives. The aim of the prize is to help make mathematics a more appealing career course. It’s discovery certainly did wonders for my view of the subject!
My interest in a Nobel had been waning since 1980 anyway when they debased the Nobel Prize Medal by cutting the gold content from 23 to 18 carat. But what really decided me was learning that the Breakthrough Prize this year was 3 million dollars, 2 1/2 times the Nobel’s measly 1.2 million. This year's five winners will take home a total of...um, let’s see...that’s fifteen million dollars (I obviously need to practice more).
Students and teachers in the United States unite, you have nothing to lose but your boring textbooks (apologies to Karl Marx)! A revolution is in the Making -- pun intended! We must overthrow the dull, unimaginative educational processes that have sent so many of us running from the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). It won’t be easy; the present system has centuries of tradition and billions of dollars behind it. A direct onslaught won’t win this revolution ... we’re going to have to become subversives! Or, as Dale Doughterty, founder of Make Magazine and Co-Founder of Maker Faire put it last month at the 9th Annual Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA.,“I could probably make it easier for all of us if I said that [Making] aligns perfectly with all the educational standards and all the mainstream thought in education … But I think it’s actually subversive ... subversive because it’s causing change, and innovation … It’s a desire to change the way things are, and making in schools needs to be subversive if we’re going to invite kids to actually do things that are meaningful to them.”
Aldebaran team just announced a new software release for NAO.
Here is the announcement and the list of changes:
It's been one year since we published the last official maintenance release for NAO (1.14.5).
As you may know, we worked hard (and secretely) to release Pepper, and NAO Evolution.
But those two robots needed a new software that Rocks !
So, here's the result of more than two years of work of our software team: NAOqi 184.108.40.206 is out!
To begin with some bad news:
- 1.14 Behaviors are not compatible with NAOqi 2
- This version ends the support of Geode CPU Robots, you'll need an Atom processor to use it.
Studies continue to reinforce two issues upon which our company is built:
With all of this in mind, we are very pleased to announce two new resources for teachers looking to make STEM subjects like mathematics more engaging and more visual. We have developed tablet-based curriculum to accompany two of the more interesting products we have come across recently. Both of these will be publicly demonstrated for the first time next week at ISTE.
Building spaceships in space, that is the promise of 3D printing! Of course additive manufacturing technology of that magnitude remains far in the future, but the future begins this August when the first 3D printer, built by Made In Space and tested for safety and operational requirements, Al, is lifted to the International Space Station (ISS).
The orbital test of Made In Space’s 3D printer is part of the "3-D Printing in Zero-G Technology Demonstration" project. This project is part of a competitive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program which encourages domestic small businesses, with government financial assistance, to engage in research and development that might prove profitable while advancing high-tech development in the US."Throughout our partnership with Made In Space, we have helped prepare the printer to work in an environment that is literally out of this world," said Niki Werkheiser, 3-D print project manager at Marshall Space Flight Center. "NASA engineers have a vast amount of experience designing and certifying hardware to operate in space. We were happy to share that knowledge with Made In Space. As a result, the hardware passed testing with flying colors."
What are people saying about CUBELETS, the new robotic teaching aid from start-up Modular Robotics (a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University, with funding from the National Science Foundation)? Time Magazine called them “one of the most interesting and accessible robots on the market today... a great way to teach kids about how robots work without actually having to solder or know anything about programming.”
Online magazine MakerShed, the magazine of do-it-yourself (DIY) digital projects, says “...we love Cubelets! These magnetic robot building blocks snap together and don’t require any programming, making it easy for anyone to build their own robotic creation. What could be more fun?”
What can 3D printing do for education? No doubt everyone has their own list, but here is mine and it’s a short one: engage student interest and add relevance to the classroom.
Engage Student Interest
One definition of a “good teacher” is one who can interest students in the subjects they teach. A good teacher does not toss the information out there and hope it sticks somewhere. A good teacher tries to inspire interest in all their students, not simply the few gifted ones. A good teacher is always looking for ways to pique that interest -- and 3D printing is one of the best options around right now.
Can Aldebarans’ NAO robot actually help children with disabilities? According to anecdotal information gleaned from the experiences of educators and children at Shaler Academy in Ridgefield, N.J. and at Vanderbilt University, it seems that NAO’s calm, non-threatening approach lets autistic children feel they can come out of their shell safely and interact with NAO in a way they cannot with other children or adults. A new study is underway to find out how true those observations are.
ALDEBARAN is announcing the launch of NAO EVOLUTION, the new generation of its NAO robot, equipped with the NAOqi 2.0™ operating system.
Aldebaran, the global leader in humanoid robotics, is pleased to announce the launch of NAO EVOLUTION, the 5th and latest generation of NAO, the interactive, autonomous, and fully programmable robot. NAO is already being used for specific research and education purposes. Over 5000 robots are currently operating in 70 countries. With its new functionality, NAO EVOLUTION is the next big step for the development of innovative applications for a broad range of companies and content publishers.
Some argue against the intrusion of big business into education. Critics left and right have what they consider good reason to fear the beginning of a “slippery slope” leading us toward disaster. President Obama seems to have no such fear as in his February 12, 2013 State of the Union Speech he asked for the creation of “manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Department of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs.”
Energy giant Chevron is forging ahead with plans to assist educators of students who will become the tech sector's skilled STEM-educated employees. In the next three years Chevron intends to invest more than 30 million dollars in STEM learning in this country. Blair Blackwell, Chevron’s manager of education and corporate programs tries to alleviate the fear of big business intrusion by admitting that “We recognize we’re not education experts. We have to partner with the education experts, with officials on the ground.”
Teachers, are you having trouble convincing students in your STEM classes that the subject matter has relevance for their lives? Of course you are! What teacher isn’t? Luckily programs exist for this generation of hard-to-convince students that can help you. Among these is Rochester Institute of Technology’s REMS Program. Why? Well, it uses skateboards, for one thing. For those of you unfamiliar with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), the school has been consistently rated 7th among regional colleges (North) by US News and World Report. It boasts that “Our outstanding faculty deliver innovative and creative programs that are enhanced by experiential education and world-class facilities.” The REMS program is proof of the truth behind that boast.
Educators, as you might have heard, money for school special projects is tight. But your kids still deserve the best and there is money to be had out there if you have time to do some grant writing. Some of the best ones are coming due between now and the first of the year. Check out this awesome calendar with application deadlines listed for dozens of grants!
The long and the short of it is simply this: the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that in the next six years the demand for computer programmers will exceed the supply by at least one million. That’s one million jobs that will likely go to individuals from outside the US. These will be some of the best paying jobs around and the segment of our society that will lose the most will be women, students from rural areas, and students of color.
Why is that? Colleges across the country are flooded with requests for an education in computer science in numbers that would meet that and any future demand. Simple answer: there are not enough classes, teachers or equipment to meet that enormous demand. And there's not much chance that will change anytime soon. Colleges and universities have simply been caught flat footed after cutting back in their computer science departments.
Teaching has always been a tough, thankless job. Back before the teachers’ unions managed to give members of the profession some degree of security it was a job that allowed hiring and firing at the whim of the educational powers-that-be. In recent years there have been complaints that teachers’ unions have taken the system too far the other way and that it is now impossible to get rid of bad teachers, thereby making it impossible for students--particularly minority students--to get a good education. That was the argument made by the nine students before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu in Vergara vs State of California. Judge Treu saw it their way. Plaintiff Julia Macias, entering high school this year, said Judge Treu’s decision proved “students have a voice and can demand change when we stand together.”
This is one of those rare times when we can say with no attempt at flippancy, that we feel strongly about both sides of this debate. How can we not sympathize with students who feel their futures have been jeopardized by poor teachers and entrenched bureaucracy? And how can we ignore the feelings of those good teachers -- certainly the vast majority -- who believe their careers and their family’s future is now in jeopardy from over-zealous politicians, looking for quick-fixes to complex funding problems? We can’t…
“If you want a friend in Washington, get a robot.” The Internet seems unsure of the origins of the much older phrase, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." Either way, for the first time, it has become possible to get a robot if you want a friend.
Her name is PEPPER. PEPPER stands 48 inches tall and weighs 62 pounds. French robot developer Aldebaran designed the robot for Japanese mobile operator Softbank. Aldebaran, as you might be aware, is also the developer of the most widely distributed robot ever made, NAO. In fact, PEPPER looks like a taller NAO on a wheeled pedestal instead of two articulated legs.
The infographic above serves as a great example of how swiftly things are changing in the EdTech world. At the time it found its way to the Internet, way back in February of 2013, there were indeed only ten ways that 3D printing could be used in education. Since then, an important eleventh way has been added: printing robots!
This year the Soccer World Cup will be played in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The crowds, as always, will be huge. After all, everyone wants to go to Rio de Janeiro and a World Cup is as good an excuse as any. The first game will be on Thursday, June 12th, between Brazil and Croatia. Those of you who dislike crowds might want to miss this competition; but don’t worry, if you’re looking for an excuse to boogie on down to Brazil there is an even more important soccer event occurring a month later a little north of Rio in João Pesso. I'm referring, of course, to RoboCup 2014 -- the Robot Soccer World Cup!
Actually João Pessoa is more than a little north of Rio -- 1,223 miles north, to be precise. But that means three hours less flying time in a cramped airplane seat. And if you can believe the image on the Internet, João Pessoa appears to be on a bay as beautiful as Rio’s. More, it’s reputedly a safe city...a claim Rio de Janeiro certainly can’t make!
From: Silicon Beings of RobotsLAB
San Francisco, California
TO:Honored Winners of The 2014 ISTE Award
In Care of The International Society for Technology in Education
South Africa, Canada, Turkey, USA and Beyond
To all the winners of the International Society for Technology in Education 2014 Awards (ISTE), we, the assembled robots of RobotsLAB, salute you! Without human educators like you to guide us, our own silicon-being efforts to improve and enhance STEM education would go nowhere
Mr Jaravata gets it! Engagement is the key to learning. Nothing engages kids like robots! And CUBELETS are engaging robots from which young kids can both enjoy and learn.
Fred Jaravata is a San Francisco Bay area educator who realizes that robots are the way to kids' minds.
According to his blog post ‘Our Students Playing With Cubelets,’ he recently decided to try CUBELETS after a period of working with Lego Mindstorm. He didn’t tell the kids much about the cubes he was giving them and kept directions to a minimum; he wanted to see what would happen naturally.
For those of you not familiar with CUBELETS, every cube has a different function. Some move the robot, some sense temperature or distance, some act like a flashlight. The cubes snap together magnetically and the trick is to snap them together in a fashion that forms an autonomous robot capable of movement in tune with its environment as indicated by its sensors. Kids have made everything from slithering snakes to writing robots with them.
With our awards winning RobotsLAB Box (Gold Edison Award, Best STEM Solution by EdTech Digest, LAUNCHEDU COMPETITION AT SXSWEDU), we here at RobotsLAB are always on the lookout for innovative companies that compliment and enhance our product and further our view that STEM education need not be boring--or unaffordable. Makerbot, developer of the MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer is one such company.
Just as our robots engage students by demonstrating in real time the practical importance of math, MakerBot's 3D printers draw students in by showing them the fascinating new world of digital manufacturing. Engineering exercises like building bridges and pyramids, once cobbled together in the classroom with popsicle sticks, clay and epoxy, and taking days to build, can now be manufactured cleanly and swiftly in a matter of minutes or hours. Nor can the importance of students understanding the science and practice behind this new manufacturing method be overstated in terms of their future ability to access employment: no less a personage than President Obama has declared that 3D printing is the next manufacturing revolution and he intends that America will be the leader in this new revolution!
The first 3D printers, like the first computers, were huge and far more expensive than any school district could hope to put in the hands of its students. But Makerbot has brought the size down to little more than that of a desktop printer and the price to under $2000 dollars. Besides that, the company has made its printers available through crowdfunder Donorschoose.org; all teachers have to do is contact Donorschoose with their request. As of this writing more than a thousand schools have received printers.
Looking for a Tyrannosaurus rex figure for your home or classroom and the $8.36 million price tag (paid for Sue, the largest, best preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found) seems a bit high for your budget? Then how does $14.99 at the MAKERBOT DIGITAL STORE for an anatomically correct, realistic, scale model of a full Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton sound? Not only is the MAKERBOT Tyrannosaurus Rex model a lot less of a budget buster, but it's going to be a lot easier to lug from classroom to classroom -- even in death, Sue’s skeleton weighs 3922 lbs.
MAKERBOT, as you are probably aware, makes affordable desktop 3-D printers and scanners for the home, the classroom and for businesses. These products have won top awards from Popular Mechanics, Time Magazine and Popular Science. Working with their products keeps kids engaged in the moment and learning as they go. The MAKERBOT Tyrannosaurus Rex for example, allows students the chance to become involved with the new manufacturing paradigm called Additive Manufacturing -- it creates products through sequential layering, much as the natural world does. “3D printing,” says President Obama, “has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.”
CUBELETS, the new robot digital teaching aid for K-4 by RobotsLAB, is much more than just an entertaining toy. The included digital curriculum makes it a fun and engaging way for younger students to learn procedural thinking, pattern recognition, abstraction and the experience of developing a step-by-step strategy for solving problems.
CUBELETS are small magnetic blocks easily and safely handled by children that snap together to form an endless variety of robots capable of responding with lifelike behaviors to light, sound, temperature and other environmental pressures. There is no need to connect wires or program, and yet these little blocks herald the approach to the classroom of the latest advance in the science of robotics,Swarm Intelligence (SI).
Like all good presidents, President Obama leads with optimism and enthusiasm and doesn’t let reality hold him down. For example, in his 2013 State of The Union Speech he had this to say about the future of 3D printing: "3D printing has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. The next industrial revolution in manufacturing will happen in America."
The president was spot-on with the first sentence about the importance of 3D printing, and while we can forgive his optimism about the next industrial revolution happening in America, the reality is that unless we undertake some serious modifications of our teaching methods in the STEM disciplines, that next revolution is likely to happen somewhere else! Here’s why: far from being a leader in STEM learning, the United States is rated a dismal 17th in the prestigious Pearson’s International Education Index, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that US 15-year-olds placed an even more dismal 25th out of 30 countries in math and 21st in science! How are we going to win this revolution without a large cadre of trained workers?
Do kids enjoy playing with CUBELETS? Perhaps more important, do they actually learn something while playing with CUBELETS? If we can believe the teachers who have reviewed their interactions with them on the Internet, the answer to both questions would seem to be a resounding yes!
A Canadian teacher for instance was surprised how excited the kids in his elementary class were at the thought of getting their hands on these CUBELETS. They had watched a video and begged him to get some. What particularly surprised him was that it was June and getting warm and the kids were finding it difficult to keep their minds on schoolwork. He tested their resolve by saying that he would get some but they were going to have to do some writing after playing with them. To his surprise the students agreed to this extra class assignment.
A recent yahoo story disclosed a growing chorus of parental complaints about the difficulty of the new Common Core standards for math. Having trouble with the math themselves while trying to assist their children with homework, parents complain that the standards are simply too difficult for their children. Adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing they say is now as difficult as calculus. “Satan’s handiwork,” cries one rattled parent.
Math teacher Dan Meyer is at it again! No longer content to just insist that teaching math has got to become entertaining if today’s kids are going to compete with kids from around the world, he’s now on record saying math teaching should get out of the textbook and go multimedia, audio, video -- the whole deal.
He’s got a point: kids live in a multimedia environment, maybe they should be learning in one as well. And as he points out, the multimedia learning environment needn't set the school or the teachers budget back by that much: “...this is an amazing time to be a math teacher right now ...because we have the tools to create this high-quality curriculum.... It's ubiquitous and fairly cheap, and the tools to distribute it freely under open licenses has also never been cheaper or more ubiquitous.”
We all need to think creatively about giving our young people the tools to be 'the makers of things, and not just the consumers of things.
The above quote is by Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, following up on a statement by President Obama in his 2013 State of The Union speech where he said "3D printing has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. The next industrial revolution in manufacturing will happen in America."
The African Robotics Network (AFRON) and IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) sponsor one of several worthwhile initiatives designed to interest young people in a technological future, the Ultra Affordable Educational Robot Project Design Challenge. Specifically, their biannual challenge hopes to "collaboratively create an educational robot that is an order of magnitude less expensive than existing products, to inspire young people around the world."
The nation’s first Makerbot Innovation Center opened February 11, 2014 at SUNY New Paltz in New York. Being a denizen of the heartland a thousand miles and more from either coast, my first thought was, “What in the world is a ‘SUNY New Paltz?’” A quick trip to Wikipedia answered that question: “The State University of New York at New Paltz, known as SUNY New Paltz for short, is a public university in New Paltz, New York.”
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.
Although this quote is attributed to famous futurist Alvin Toffler, it seems impossible to discover when he said it -- if he said it -- prior to it appearing on his website. A web search for its source uncovers controversy, nothing conclusive. Some bloggers believe it to be a paraphrase of something he said in one of his books; others are less charitable and believe it should be attributed to another author altogether.
As everyone in the field is well aware, women and ethnic minorities are not sufficiently represented in STEM careers and in learning programs nationwide. Increasing their participation in a field that is fast becoming an important job provider in this country was the subject of a recent “Creating a Sustainable Commitment to STEM” session at U.S. News & World Report's STEM Solutions Conference in Washington, D.C.
Librarians in Suffolk County, NY believe it is part of their mandate as civilization’s repository of wisdom to allow users access to newer technologies like 3D printers. With a traveling exhibit including a Makerbot 3D digitizer and Makerbot 3D printer, they are out to show us that libraries are not, as one library director, Robert Lusak of the Smithtown Special Library District says, "... just about books and movies. Whatever the latest is in technology, we as the library want to be able to offer that kind of tool to our community." No question about it, 3D printers are the latest in technology, with one soon on its way to the International Space Station so astronauts can produce their own spare parts -- Scotty the chief engineer on the Enterprise would certainly have loved to have one!
Educators, do you find yourself sceptical about the claims made for 3D printers as valuable teaching tools? I know I have been and I was educated when manual typewriters were the highest tech you were apt to see in high schools. As a freshman, I thought I wanted to go into engineering, but when I took a course in mechanical drawing and found myself pathologically incapable of drawing a straight line I left the engineering route forever. After reading about the experiences students had with 3D printers at Brooklyn Technical High School I lost my scepticism regarding these printers and began to wonder... if they’d had these printers when I was a boy would I have stayed in engineering?
Instead of simply leaving it to guesswork, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation decided to come right out and ask the question “What do teachers want?” The foundation asked the question because “in our work with schools over the last few years, we have heard a common theme: Teachers are trying hard to challenge and engage their students, but they don’t have sufficient choices for effective digital instructional tools that truly meet their needs.”
San Francisco, CA – May 1, 2014 – The Edison Awards, honoring the best in innovation and excellence in the development of new products and services, announced today that RobotsLAB was voted a Gold winner for innovation at the April 30th event in San Francisco. The company’s representatives joined hundreds of senior executives from some of the world’s most recognized companies to acknowledge the innovation, hard work and commitment of all of the 2014 Edison Award winners.
RobotsLAB is thrilled to be a winner of this distinguished award and recognized for the innovative solutions we bring in the educational market," said Elad Inbar, the company’s CEO. “As the leader in educational robotics, we strive to make a difference with our products. We embed non-traditional and engaging new methods to teach abstract math and science concepts, ensuring the next generation’s career and college readiness. Our educators are constantly seeing breakthroughs in students’ understanding, thanks to the robots and the integrated learning experience we bring.
Hey! Here is some good news: the Japanese government thinks it has to play catch-up to the United States in at least one area of manufacturing technology, 3D printers. After a lifetime of hearing about the supposed superiority of Japan in all things manufacturing--I’m driving a Subaru; how about you?--it’s great at last to find something about American manufacturing worth emulating.
Even more important, it’s great to realize that we Americans are doing something right in our schools--intending to furnish every single one of them with 3D printers. The determinative word in that last phrase is “intending;” we still have a long way to go before we can claim victory.
This wonderful new technology, as President Obama said in his 2013 State of the Union speech, “... has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. The next industrial revolution in manufacturing will happen in America.” Of course the Japanese would prefer that the revolution start there!
What do robots and soft skills have in common in relation to EdTech? The answer, at least to this writer, was "more than I thought!"
I am assuming that anyone reading this post knows what a robot is. But in the absence of a formal definition, let's agree with a paraphrase of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous definition: I know one when I see one.
The definition of "soft skills" may be another matter. I hate to admit it, but until stumbling across the term in an interesting Eschoolnews post the other day, I’d never heard the term before. I went to the Wikipedia and et voilà!! there it was, the definition: “Soft skills are personal attributes that enhance an individual's interactions, job performance and career prospects. Unlike hard skills, which are about a person's skill set and ability to perform a certain type of task or activity, soft skills relate to a person's ability to interact effectively with coworkers and customers and are broadly applicable both in and outside the workplace.” You know, stuff like showing up on time for work and not punching-out the boss when he criticizes you.
Just when we thought it was safe to follow the old dictum ‘just let kids be kids,’ we stumbled over this latest research from the University of Chicago in the American Educational Research Journal which indicates that only four days per month of advanced math and reading content in Kindergarten leads to better test scores in the higher grades. This study will be difficult for parents eager to get their children off to the best start to ignore.
But don’t panic, ‘advanced math and reading content’ doesn’t mean algebra and James Joyce’s Ulysses. According to Amy Claessens, assistant professor of public policy at Chicago University's Harris School of Public Policy Studies and primary author of this study, ‘advanced’ in this context simply refers to the fact that 50% of kids arriving in Kindergarten have already mastered the basic content; advanced means providing content a majority of children have not as yet mastered.
Math teachers, science teachers and engineering teachers, are you looking for a way to make your beloved disciplines more relevant to your students? Maybe even inspire a few to love them the way you do? Well, right now there is affordable new technology out there that can help you do just that! The Makerbot 3D printer and STEM BOT 3D CLASS from our own RobotsLAB.
StemBot 3D program that teaches students how to 3D print a robot, assemble it, work on the electronics, and finally program it.
Actually, 3D printers have been around since the 1980’s, but they were massive and super-expensive like the first-generation computers. Only in the last few years have they shrunk in size and dropped in price to where individual households and schools could afford them.
As part of a school wide implementation of Problem based Learning (PBL), the pre-calculus classes at Sammamish High school in Bellevue, WA used robots to teach math. The prompt was simple, “What pre-calculus level math lesson could you teach using one of the robots we have?” The work produced was amazing!
First the students were given the opportunity to play with the robots and see how they worked. They had access to all four of the robots from the RobotsLAB kit: Sphero – a small robotic ball, ArmBot – a mechanical arm that can pick objects up, Mobot – a rover that moves with precision, and a quadcopter AR.Drone. Students also had access to an additional robot, LinkBot – two rover bots who could be programmed to mimic each other. After students investigated each robot, they selected one robot to use as a tool to teach a pre-calculus level lesson. Students had the option of choosing a topic they had already studied or choosing a topic they had yet to study.
No one is certain as to why, but it seems that NAO, the anthropomorphic robot from the French company Aldebaran, appeals to children with autism. Some experts suggest the appeal has something to do with NAO’s non-threatening voice and appearance. Others say they believe it is NAO’s ability to communicate with these children without the complicated social and emotional facial clues given off by other humans that confuse and frighten them.
Several studies indicate that NAO is a valuable addition to the existing systems that work with autistic children. No claim is made by NAO’s adherents that it is the only viable strategy for dealing with childhood autism-- but with over 5000 of these anthropomorphic robots placed in research and educational institutions worldwide there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest they work well with these children in existing classrooms. The recent experiences of educators and children at Shaler Academy in Ridgefield, N.J.and at Vanderbilt University illustrates this point.
The Great Recession began in 2007 and ’by the numbers’ ended in 2009. "By the numbers" meaning "technically". The Misery Index and unemployment have remained high in spite of this technicality. Why is that do you suppose? Is it possible there has been a change in the economy at a fundamental level not responsive to rising housing prices?
Could it be that the workplace itself changed so greatly during this period with the explosion of mobile computing devices like smartphones and tablets that the available jobs no longer reflects the pool of trained, unemployed job seekers? According to Sidharth Oberoi, chief academic officer at Zaniac, that’s the case. He writes, "A closer look at U.S. unemployment statistics shows that even with unemployment still at historically high levels, large numbers of jobs are going unfilled. Most of these jobs have one very important thing in common — the need for STEM education". He says further data suggests that while there are 3.6 applicants for every available job in the US, there is only one unemployed STEM worker for every two available STEM positions.
Forbes Magazine recently presented Nic Borg with its "30 Under 30" award. The magazine presents the award annually to young entrepreneurs (under 30 years-old, as you might have guessed) in 15 different fields like finance, entertainment, technology and education. Mr. Borg’s award was in the education field for his co-founding of Edmodo.com with Jeff O’Hara.
Mr Borg’s background, Forbes magazine says, differs from other entrepreneurs in the field by being an intensely practical one forged in a high school environment where he built web-based tools and management solutions for seven years before founding Edmodo. Edmodo, formed in 2008 with the slogan "Where learning happens," uses what he learned in that down-and-dirty educational environment to facilitate communication and collaboration between students teachers both in and outside the classroom. He wanted to form a site that solved "real" problems for teachers. The largest K-12 social learning network with more than 33 million users, Edmodo is often called the "Facebook of education".
For so many reasons, the education technology space is moving forward with great momentum and robust spirit. A confluence of factors — the right time, technology and people — has made for a superlative year.
With top talent and quality in so many corners, it wasn’t an easy selection process, but we are shining a spotlight on some of the best and brightest tools, leaders and trendsetters pushing forward today’s education revolution for the benefit of future generations.
There are now thousands of startups, apps and companies working in edtech, more than ever before. The introduction of new methods, ideas, products and frameworks for learning, the willingness of investors to power such ingenuity through, or for startups making a go of it to boldly bootstrap their own efforts — and the real results that come of it — all converge to a single point: in the edtech sector, a spirit of innovation is alive and well. The courage, energy and determination of so many in and around education, their attitude, their underlying intentions to create positive change in one of the most important fields of human endeavor — not only deserves respect and warm approval, but is heartening to witness and partake in.
We are part of a greater movement here, one that takes a tremendous amount of drive, but one with so many gains to be had. We’re very excited to recognize these cool tools, leaders and trendsetters in the education technology space. We intend to continue contributing to the forward motion of this revolution, and we salute those dedicated souls that create the human energy involved in such an undertaking. Well done! Continue!
High schoolers building homes for the non-profit organization Habitat For Humanity is another great example of 21st Century math teachers taking math out of the classroom where it has been languishing for centuries and putting it to work in a fashion guaranteed to engage young minds and hands. Forty-nine High School students in Vancouver built homes while participating in a class called Math in Construction.
What did they learn? Well, confidence for one thing. An appreciation for real-world math for another."It was an amazing experience," said One young scholar. "I'm going to use this in real life."
The proposed system can perform full-body imitation of human motion by humanoid robot. A humanoid robot has potential to support people in various environments such as homes, hospitals, offices, etc. However, if a robot has to work in a real environment, actions based on various motions, which should be input by humans, are essential. The motion-capture is one of the easiest ways to generate humanoid motions. However, there are lots of problems. Often it requires offline process for building motion database. High computational cost is also a big problem in a small-sized humanoid. Moreover, because of the difference between human and robot kinematic structure, the original captured human motions are often infeasible movements for humanoid robot.
Two weeks ago, when RobotsLAB BOX won the first place at LaunchEDU competition at SxSW, we were so excited and honored that we decided to donate one of the educational kits to a school.
We've asked the audience (as reported by EdSurge) to submit the names of their schools, and nominate them to win a free RobotsLAB BOX. We had tens of schools submit their details -- we were very excited to see the passion educators had to work with the latest and greatest in educational technology!
We would like to thank the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for supporting educators across the country and promoting EdTech as a paradigm shift driving students' engagment in STEM.
So without further ado - the winner is:
Do you remember when:
Well, that's old news because:
We are working with Aldebaran Robotics and their NAO robots since 2010. We've delivered hundreds of NAOs to schools, universities, research institutes and tech museums around the world, and even publicly shared apps for NAO on the RobotAppStore. Unfortunately, over the years we have had to turn away many people that wanted to adopt a NAO because they didn't meet the academic criteria. It has been very difficult to say "no" over and over again, and to disappoint all of those people that wanted to put their hands on the latest and greatest technology.
Aldebaran no longer requires NAO purchases to come from academia. Anyone can buy one! (Just make sure that you understand computer software before you buy one.)
And general availability isn't even the best part! The best part is that the price has dropped from $16,000 to only $7,990. That's a 50% drop! That's right. NAO is half price AND anyone can buy it!
To celebrate this exciting news, we've decided make it even more exciting and give cash back to one out of twenty of the buyers of the NAO! (Please read the terms and conditions here). Not only that, we’ve arranged a skydive experience for NAO, to demonstrate the robot is out of the classroom and the amazing price drop. Take a look for yourself, (and don’t forget to share!)
Austin, TX and San Francisco, CA – March 6, 2014 - A handpicked group of distinguished judges representing a cross section of in business, technology and education experts have selected RobotsLAB BOX as the winner of the LAUNCHedu Competition.
The competition began in August 2013 with approximately eighty applications. RobotsLAB was one of ten finalists chosen by the judges to present at SXSWedu on March 3. Following that presentation, RobotsLAB was one of three companies to be selected as a finalist. The final presentation was made in front of judges and a jam-packed room of educators on the morning of March 5. As part of the Educator Insights panel that discussed all ten competing companies, all three panelists cited RobotsLAB BOX as their favorite.
Based on the votes of attendees and judges, RobotsLAB BOX was ultimately chosen as the competition winner at the LAUNCHedu party on March 5. Betsy Corcoran, CEO and Co-Founder of EdSurge presented the award to RobotsLAB CEO Elad Inbar.
Austin, TX, March 3, 2014 - The educational robotics company RobotsLAB is proud to be among the finalists of the LaunchEDU competition at SxSW edu conference in Austin, TX (March 3-6, 2014)
The company’s flagship product - the RobotsLAB BOX - was chosen as one of the finalists by experts and judges from the education market. The innovation and creativity of RobotsLAB BOX was recognized for its potential to create a profound change in the way that students understand the importance of math and science in our lives, and to help them to pursue a successful life in career or college.
Next week RobotsLAB is going to Austin TX for SxSW Edu LAUNCHedu competiotion.
We are one of the top 10 awesome finalists:
"The Times They Are a-Changin" and never more so than now in math class. After struggling futilely for generations to instruct all math students in a classroom at the same rate, today’s math instructors have a viable, technology-aided alternative, blended learning. Blended learning, according to our ubiquitous friends at Wikipedia "is a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path or pace."
RobotsLAB, the educational robotics company, recently launched a new robotics curriculum- STEM BOT 3D, during the FETC conference in Orlando, FL
What is the future of EdTech? Well, it took almost 500 years for EdTech to progress from the hornbook to the magic lantern. The hornbook appeared in England in the 15th Century. First immortalized in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor’s Lost,
The hornbook made its way to the colonies where it was gradually replaced by the equally low-tech slate and blackboard. It wasn’t until the latter end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th that EdTech underwent a revolutionary change.
Imagine if you can the impact of the projected images of the magic lantern or the 3D images of the stereoscope on students for whom the written word in books, on slates and blackboards that had been the only source of information. At the same time their ability to express themselves individually improved as slate and blackboard were pushed to one side by that mass-produced writing instrument the pencil and its work-mate, inexpensive paper.
While it took 500 years for EdTech to progress from the horn book to the hand-held, 3D stereoscope, it took less than 50 years for the next EdTech revolution, electricity, to run its course. Edison said let there be light and school rooms were never the same again from their lighting to the available teaching tools. According to the infographic below the moving picture projector arrived in 1925, the overhead projector in 1930 and the mimeograph in 1940. Radio carried information to school rooms across the nation in the 30’s and 40’s and television first found its way into the classroom in the 1950’s. While radio and tv appeared to be the future of EdTech, yet another revolution was underway as the transistor replaced the tube in radios and televisions.
The digital revolution began with the transistor. The transistor brought about the microprocessor revolution and the microprocessor begot the handheld calculator which brought relief to those of us who had always found math tedious and despair to some math teachers who suddenly found their dullest students capable of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing more quickly and accurately than they. The handheld calculator was quickly followed by the personal computer revolution and software that allowed poor spellers like me to quit worrying about every word and begot the Internet revolution….
What then is the future of EdTech? We believe it is technological revolution upon revolution, each building on the preceding revolution and hastening the arrival of the next!
We look forward to DARPA challenge, awesome robots are coming! But with all due respect to DARPA challenge, the real Robot Olympics game is the ' NAO Olympics' . RobotsLAB has crated a series of sport challenges with the NAO robot. Check it out, game on!
Teenagers can make for difficult students. They might show up for class, but that doesn’t mean they will participate--or even stay awake! As the old saying goes, "you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink." Does not matter that the horse needs water to get through the day or that the teenager needs the skills taught by science,technology, engineering and math to get a job when he leaves high school. Sweet reason won’t get either to do what is best for them. An old cowboy once said that it took a 2x4 across the head to get cooperation from the horse. That sounds a bit harsh and might lead to problems with PETA and the SPCA. The same method with teenagers would get a teacher 20 years in the pen! But after trying reason and violence, what’s left?
Simple! TECHNOLOGY is the answer to the question posed by the preceding paragraph. STEM teachers are no longer restricted to lectures, boring books or trips to the blackboard. They can count on great learning-software like Scratch, new technological paradigms like the 3D printer and engaging, interesting teaching tools like the RobotsLAB BOX.
On January 18, 2014, Aldebaran’s NAO Robot stood where no robot has gone before, and RobotsLAB was responsible for training his seven human companions in the finer points of his programming. NAO will be the only robot in an analog astronaut crew ascending into the Mars Society’s, Mars Desert Research Station in the the high desert of Utah. Anyone familiar with the high desert can appreciate the analogy--at this time of year the high desert is nearly as barren, dry, sandy and cold as the surface of Mars!
In our day-to-day interaction with schools across the country, we are exposed to countless fundraisers, rafflles, and bake sales, but we've never seen anything quite like Tech Search Party.
For this reason, we have donated a RobotsLAB Box to this event which is now being auctioned off to the highest bidder here. The auction is currently live and will remain open until Feb. 11 at 5:00 pm PST.
The history of the Common Core Standards began in 1983 with the publication of a report called Nation at Risk. Nation at Risk was developed by President Ronald Reagan’s National Commission on Excellence in Education. The 18 member commission consisted of individuals drawn from the private business sector, education and government. Nation at Risk reported a long list of what it considered problems with American students, including the following (keep in mind these figures are from 1983):
As one might imagine, this report shocked the nation. We were falling behind again, and at that time "falling behind" meant we were losing ground to the USSR! It was not to be borne! Sputnik had provided the last call to arms; the new clarion call came from Nation at Risk. The commission thereby made some 38 recommendations which included the following:
Oklahoma public schools are about to receive an enormous boost to their STEM learning programs. The innovative Oklahoma City STEM learning facility techJoynT has teamed with us here at RobotsLAB in San Francisco to bring our award winning RobotsLAB BOX with its innovative math teaching aids to public school students in the state. Yes, the study of math is about to become exciting!
As those of you familiar with this blog are aware, our BOX is designed to assist math educators in teaching abstract math concepts by engaging students with robots. And as Dr Peter Stone, Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, Guggenheim Fellow, AAAI Fellow, Fulbright Scholar, and Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin, explains “You don’t need to be experienced with robotics or have a degree in computer science, just an enthusiasm for your subject area...You can open the BOX, turn on the preloaded tablet and within minutes be explaining quadratic equations with a quad copter.” This beats pontificating in front of a blackboard every time!
California STEM educators in grades kindergarten through grade fourteen, it's time to freshen up those rejected grant requests; the state is finally coming around to seeing it your way : the legislature has set aside a quarter-billion dollars ($250,000,000) to "fund specialists in work-based learning, as defined in Section 51760.1 of the Education code."
How can we be sure Section 51760.1 is talking about STEM ed? Well, here are the first few lines of that section:
For purposes of this section, "work-based learning" means an
educational approach or instructional methodology that uses the
workplace or real work to provide pupils with the knowledge and
skills that will help them connect school experiences to real-life
work activities and future career opportunities.
Now if that isn’t a perfect description of the inherent virtues of STEM learning for young learners, what is? What learning component is more likely to provide students with the skills they will need when they enter the future job market? Woodworking, maybe? Film? Hey, both laudable endeavors but not guaranteed the multi-million openings expected in science, technology, engineering and math in the next few years.
As every grade-school kid knows, a well-fed caterpillar gets longer (and fatter) than a poorly fed caterpillar of the same species. Also, as every grade-school kid knows, a caterpillar that runs afoul of a hungry bird never becomes a beautiful butterfly. And so what does this have to do with STEM learning?
Well, studying caterpillars has always been more interesting than listening to a teacher talking about math problems found in a book. Almost every kid likes caterpillars. They are still interested in caterpillars by the time they reach the sixth grade, but most of them have been turned off to math by that time. Caterpillar, the board game, is an attempt by some innovative educators to stop that decline in math interest in 6th through 8th grade kids by combining caterpillars and math. Oh, and don’t forget dice!
The World Cup, the pinnacle of soccer, starts this June in Brazil. NPR science correspondent Joe Palca will be one of those obsessed, screaming fans. It's not often Joe gets to do a story that mixes science and soccer, but as part of his new project, Joe's Big Idea, he found a computer scientist who actually studies soccer using robots as players. So Joe felt compelled to investigate.
I love watching soccer matches. I really do. I get it why soccer is called "the beautiful game". It's played with a mixture of speed, skill, and cunning. Robot soccer, on the other hand is not quite so beautiful. Alison is a two foot tall robot. She’s made of white plastic and looks like a robot. By robot standards, she's a scoring machine. There's a right foot kick, and the ball is heading, and goal. Oh, that was exciting. As I watched, Alison scored several times into an empty net. But by human standards, well, how do I put this gently, I've seen toddlers do better. She got up, she fell, she tripped over, she took oh, she's got a little balance problem. Despite the clunkiness, Professor Peter Stone thinks robot soccer is also a beautiful game. Professor Stone is a computer scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. He has built an indoor soccer field in his lab where he puts his robot players through their paces.
Of course the first answer to the question posited by the title of this piece is a facetious one--lots of money! So let us qualify the question a bit more by asking, "What are 5 tools everyone in the educational robotics industry should be using that most of us in the industry can afford?"
Since learning to code is so important to any STEM discipline, the first tool everyone in the educational robotics industry should be using is the online community and programming language called Scratch. This innovative site helps kids learn its namesake programming language and create interactive stories, games and computer animations. This outstanding tool is actually free!
Since math is basic to any scientific endeavor, the ability to interest and engage students in math is crucial to the educational robotics industry. Our second tool that everyone in the industry should be using, the RobotsLAB BOX, has proved its ability to interest and engage kids in math with an innovative combination of robots and tablets in many progressive school districts. The old teaching standbys like the book and the whiteboard can’t compete with "cool" robot helicopters demonstrating quadratic equations in real-time on a tablet.
Judging from the number of e-gadget users in this country, technology is all the rage. Over 90% of adults have a cell phone. Thirty-four percent (34%) own a tablet. And no one doubts that the percentages will continue to rise. One might also be forgiven for thinking our schools are up to the job of graduating the vast numbers of science, technology, engineering and math students needed to keep this country in the forefront of this technology wave--the interest is obviously there. Unfortunately that is not the case!
By 2018--now less than 4 years and a single generation of high school students away--we are expecting at least 8 million jobs in the US dependent on skills learned in STEM learning courses. But experts estimate that less than five million of those jobs will go to kids from American schools, with three million or more of these well-paid positions going to foreign applicants.
Why is this happening? Why can’t our schools keep up with the demand for young people trained in science, technology, engineering and math? Well as you might expect there are all sorts of excuses for this, from lack of funding to a lack of interest in STEM learning on the part of students themselves. We at RobotsLAB can’t do much about the funding issue; that requires political action. What we can do is help change the culture of math education.
The great German psychologist Carl Jung believed that a substrata of knowledge existed beneath the consciousness of the individual, a great reservoir of information shared by every member of every species. He called this the vast reservoir of insight, instinct, and a-priori knowledge, the “collective unconscious.” He believed It is always there when needed by the individual seeking answers to questions not provided by his experience.
The existence of the collective unconscious in humans is still being argued over by psychologists and philosophers, but wouldn’t it be great if we really had some way of finding answers to questions outside our experience? You know, like books--and most recently, the Internet.
And what about that most recent addition to the flora and fauna of our planet, the robot? Wouldn’t it only be fair if it too could call upon a reservoir of knowledge beyond its own RAM? The Internet is there as a conduit for this knowledge; now all that is needed is a storage facility.
That storage facility that is actually being tested this week in the Netherlands. It is called RoboEarth and its goal is to see that every individual service robot has a means of identifying and manipulating objects it has never come across before. Service robots are autonomous robots that will someday perform everyday tasks in common human environments like the home and office. These tasks might be as simple as shoveling your snow-covered walk and as challenging as creating a nutritious meal for old guys like me.
Many people wonder if the Common Core Standards are good for their classrooms, children, and their state. There is a debate about that, like there is a debate about any new thing in the world. Many people just don't like changes. (and sometimes for good reason!)
The initiative's website (http://www.corestandards.org/) has gathered some myths about Common Core and they provide some facts to eliminate them. Lets take a look at the math myths:
This email sent by Gary Page from California Education Department is a great wrap up from the 'coding week' which was a huge success!
Special thanks to all the teachers and administrators who took time to introduce students to coding during the recent Hour of Code week. The campaign brought attention to the need for all students to understand computational thinking and will help bring attention to education policy and decision makers on the need to make computer science “count” towards graduation.
In a single week, students at schools across the U.S. wrote 500,000,000 lines of code as part of Computer Science Education Week, organizers said.
One of a number of interesting educational initiatives nationwide by and for kids is the Kids Feeding Kids Program undertaken by 26 Students from the Dobson and Copeland elementary schools’ Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) program in Dobson NC. Dobson NC, by the way, is near legendary (mythical?) Mt Airy, NC, home of the Andy Griffith Museum. This is Mayberry R.F.D. country!
And in the best traditions of Mayberry R.F.D.’s good neighbors, the elementary students in the program are urged to study about the underprivileged and the just plain unlucky and then work up a plan to feed the kids found in these situations. Their teachers hope this study will inspire their sense of social responsibility as well as giving them a background in the real-world art of smart grocery shopping.
It makes me proud as an expatriate Texan to find that the state of Texas is one of those states that realizes STEM learning is important and is doing something to ensure that its students meet the educational requirements of the new millennium in science, technology, engineering and math.
The Vex competition at Roosevelt high school in San Antonio is a good example.
One of the teams in the event sponsored by the U.S Army was a Vex team from an all-girls robotics club at the school.
So seriously does the state of Texas view these competition that recently the Texas Workforce Commission funded a startup grant to help 400 new Vex robotics teams in Texas.
Sounds like a lot of teams, does it?
Well countrywide 9000 Vex robotics teams are expected to compete in the USA this year.
Texas intends to have its share.
If you find yourself wondering what a Vex robotics team is, the VEX Robotics Design System is centered around the VEX Clawbot Kit.
The Clawbot is similar to the LEGO NXT in that assembly and disassembly is made simple with assorted pieces easily fitted together.
Some say that the Clawbot is cheaper.
Following the popularity of our previous blog post about Edmodo top 10 free educational apps, we've gathered this time Edmodo top paid educational apps of 2013.
Edmodo, as a free social learning platform for teachers to share content and manage student learning, offers over 500 educational apps.
Each one of those educational apps was designed to include one or more of the following:
The top 10 free educational apps of Edmodo 2013 are fully described below.
It is well known that BIG is the adjective most appropriate for the State of Texas. And nothing that comes out of Texas is bigger than that series of film, interactive, and music festivals and conferences titled SXSW (South by SouthWest) that has taken place in Austin, Texas the Spring of every year since 1987.
How big, you ask? Well, where else will you find over 250,000 performers, bands, films and other exhibits in the first weeks of March!
And while the thousands of bands, performers and independent films make for a great time after a long winter, South by SouthWest isn’t just about music and film. Long considered a breeding ground for new ideas and creative technologies, it is also about recognizing important innovations in media, human computer interaction, and perhaps most important of all to our nation's’ continued technological dominance, creative and innovative new ventures in education technology like our RobotsLAB’s BOX. The BOX is one of only ten finalists selected to participate in the SXSWedu Festival after months of extensive evaluation of hundreds of applicants by a panel of stakeholders including university professors, teachers, administrators and policy makers.
Here’s a question for you: What is your opinion as to the importance of EdTech in education? EdTech, as you know, is short for educational technology.
What defines EdTech, you ask?
Good question! You see the term everywhere but no definitions. So let’s go with the definition advanced by our good friends at Wikipedia: "Educational technology, sometimes termed EdTech, is the study and ethical practice of facilitating e-learning, which is the learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources…" "Appropriate technological processes and resources" include more than just the Internet, although online courses are important tools; tablets, computers, cell phones, the whole digital zoo is included. Even robots! Especially robots!
Montana is considered to be deep in the heart of "flyover country". You know, that part of the United States that people traveling back and forth to the East and West coasts look down at from a curved window at 35,000 feet and wonder if anyone really lives there. Those people don’t think of Montana as a high tech state.
But they would be wrong! Montana, Bozeman, Montana in this case, settled between the Bridger Mountains and the Tobacco Root Mountains in the southeast part of the state and home of the University of Montana, boasts one of the most formidably competitive robots in this or any country. I’m talking about LOONEY, winner of six medals in the recent (2013) RoboGames in San Francisco. Oh, and he was winner of new fewer than five medals in the previous games, 2012 .
It's not a big secret, committed teachers have been aware of this forever. The best way to get students to learn anything about a subject is to find out what they are interested in and then show them how what interests them relates to the subject the teacher hopes to teach them. But like most things we believe instinctively it is always nice to find scientific proof for our beliefs.
Recently researchers using a Carnegie Learning software called cognitive tutor put high school students in two distinct groups to study Algebra. In one group were the students whose backgrounds had been researched in order to discover their personal interests. Stuff like music, movies and sports. These students received their algebra with lesson plans attuned to their personal interests. The second group was taught in the good old way math has always been taught, from a book and with no attention paid to the kids real lives. Can you guess what those researchers discovered? Exactly!
Did you know that the largest Robot Museum in Europe is located beneath the Juegetronica games store in central Madrid? When I first stumbled across this interesting bit of robo news I was a little surprised that a continent as technology conscious as Europe would have its biggest robot museum in the basement of a store. In this country we have museums featuring robots in nearly every major city. Most appear sponsored by various universities like The Robotics Institute (RI), a division of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We even have them in out-of-the-way but well-known entertainment parks like Wisconsin Dells, deep in the Wisconsin countryside.
I needn't have worried: first of all the Juegetronica is not just some small game shop in a Madrid strip mall-- online images display a game store on steroids; secondly, the owner of the Madrid Robot Museum further described his place as "perhaps the only dedicated robot Museum in Europe outside of universities and training centers where we can see this technology of the future." Which is to say the museum is independent of any big European institution. Maybe a bit like our own Wisconsin Dells? And like Wisconsin Dells, it is a big f
avorite with kids.
In 1950 mathematician Alan Turing introduced what is today called the Turing Test for Artificial Intelligence. According to his paper written at that time titled Computing Machinery and Intelligence, Turing believed that machines would evidence intelligence equal to humans when a human interacting with one could not tell the difference between the machine and another human.
Thus far, at least with humans of average intelligence, there is no danger that the automatons we find ourselves forced to communicate with on various “helplines” will be able to convince us of their humanity. But today’s robotics engineers have not quit trying to be the first to meet Turing’s Test.
Sweden’s Furhat robot is an example of a new approach to the test: not by merely attempting to convince its interrogator of its humanity by means of verbal dexterity, but rather by the added enhancement of displaying human facial expressions.
Here is some interesting information on the future of STEM learning I found in a cool graphic illustration by First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise, that seems to indicate this country is heading for trouble in a few years, trouble brought about by our losing our edge as the world’s most technologically advanced nation.
It is expected that By 2018 there will be at least 8 million jobs in the US dependent on skills learned in STEM learning courses. Problem is, experts estimate that at least 3 million of those jobs will have to go to applicants from outside the US due to a shortage of qualified people here. Worse, the companies needing those workers might take the jobs elsewhere.
Why don’t we have enough qualified applicants in this country to supply our own employment need? We certainly have enough kids in school. In fact, each year over 1 million freshman high school students claim to be interested in a career requiring STEM skills. Unfortunately 60%--six out of ten--change their minds before graduation.
New York, like many cities large and small in this country, wants to build its own answer to Silicon Valley. Unlike many other cities, New York has really leaned into this initiative.
New York persuaded Facebook and Google to open offices in the city. It worked with local business partners to set up high-tech incubation centers to attract new tech jobs. New York also put lots of money where its mouth is by looking to create a new high-tech institution of higher learning and opening several STEM programs in the city's five boroughs.
In 2011 former mayor Michael Bloomberg, convinced that the city’s once dominant financial sector was too volatile to be a dependable economic engine for the city, pushed the city fathers to ante up free land and $100 million in taxpayer funds to a university or a group of universities willing to build a first-rate engineering or tech campus within the five boroughs. The press came to call this his "genius school" initiative. Several big name universities in the science field including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Sanford University entered into what amounted to a competition for the honor of being the "genius school". Cornell University in upstate New York won the competition.
Is it really all that important that the "A" in Art education find its way into STEM learning and make STEAM? You bet! And as always there is a movement to do exactly that. I say "as always" because concerned individuals throughout history have attempted to merge the arts and the sciences.
For those of you--and unfortunately that includes most of us--who were unable to get over to Europe during European Robotics Week 2013, November 25th to December 1, you missed quite a show. Just perusing the event list on the Internet was a daunting task! Imagine attending over 300 events across the continent, from an educational reach-out titled "Robots are Coming-Are You Ready?" in Helsinki, Finland on the north to a robotics workshop in Nicosia, Cyprus on the south; and from a lab tour and workshop in Ankara, Turkey near the Black Sea, to an event in Mayo, Ireland in the Atlantic called the "First Lego League Event 21".
Gamification, for those of you too busy earning a living and raising a family to keep up with the new words added almost daily to the popular tech lexicon, is a term first used by Nick Pelling a British computer programer in 2010. According to Wikipedia the term has come to mean "the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems".
So what does that mean in the context of STEM learning?
Move over Macy's, here comes the Thanksgiving Robo parade at Macomb Community college in Warren, Michigan. Put on by middle schoolers from Jefferson Middle School in St. Clair Shores, it demonstrated the creativity, drive and technological skills students will continue to show in the future if this country of ours is to remain competitive in the world technological arena.
It should come as no surprise that the results of a recent Pew Research poll of middle and secondary teachers across the United States showed that the use of digital technology has become an integral part of their teaching method.
Fully 92% of polled teachers admit the Internet has had a major impact on how they access classroom material. Almost half report using an e-reader or tablet to complete classroom assignments.
Perhaps more surprising is the number of educators willing to allow students to do research in the classroom with the cellphone. Apparently undaunted by fears of cell phone interruption or distracted students (or maybe just trying to make a virtue of necessity), 52% of teachers in upper and middle-class districts and 35% of teachers with lower income kids let them work on their assignments with smartphones.
Math in practical use as opposed to being practically useless.
That’s the approach taken by more and more math teachers.
Of course math was always useful in the real world; the trick was convincing your students that that was the case.
Hard to do when the curriculum and available tools limited teachers to books and the blackboard...Oh, and let us not forget transparent plastic protractors for drawing straight lines on paper...at least that’s what most of us used them for.
The only angle we thought about was a guy’s agenda as in “What’s his angle?,” not “the space (usually measured in degrees) between two intersecting lines or surfaces at or close to the point where they meet.”
What’s happened to change all that? Technology!
Technology has made all the difference in turning math class into a learning experience as practical as woodworking or auto repair.
And that's what eighth-graders and their teachers discovered at Upper DuPont Area Middle School in Loyalton, Pa. while undertaking the redesigning and landscaping of the schools courtyard.
Up until recently the concept of “learning math by doing it” meant some terminally embarrassed student standing in front of a class of tittering fellow students while desperately trying to solve a completely (to his life, at any rate) irrelevant problem, or that same student sitting home that night at his kitchen table trying to stay awake while solving one meaningless, irrelevant equation after another. His teacher hoped this process would result in the student memorizing math procedures and learning to perform them quickly and accurately. Perhaps even becoming a math teacher himself.
What usually happened, however, was that he decided to dedicate his life to getting as far away from math as possible. He became an... an English major writing meaningless SEO blog posts that no one reads flogging products for some uncaring corporation, when he could have been looking for a cancer cure or charting a route to Mars.
But that was then and this is now! The rapid advance of technology and the absolute necessity of keeping this nation in a competitive position Vis-à-vis the rest of the world has forced many schools to create a more relevant math curriculum, thereby bridging the gap between math’s abstract concepts and reality and increasing relevancy. Our Sister’s School in New Bedford Massachusetts, for example, teaches the relevancy of math by way of the sailing ship. The young ladies learn the math behind tacking, the art of sailing against the wind.
What the heck is “augmented reality?” That was my first thought when first seeing the phrase in a related post. No, I take that back; to tell the truth, like most people I asked, I thought it was merely another way to say “virtual reality.” But It most certainly isn't...
This according to the Wikipedia: Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one.”
Let’s put it another way: augmented reality is to The Minority Report with Tom Cruise as virtual reality is to Inception with Leonardo Dicaprio. Remember in The Minority Report when Tom Cruise stood facing a huge transparent computer screen manipulating images and data with gloved hands? That manipulation, a combination of real objects (gloved hands) and digital reality (data and images), makes for a perfect example of augmented reality (a teacher holding the control tablet from the RobotsLAB BOX in his hand can impose data on the real world the way Tom Cruise did--and he wouldn’t have to wear gloves!) On the other hand, Leonardo DiCaprio's avatar immersed in a simulated dreamworld, is a perfect example of virtual reality.
"Mayors just dream of these opportunities."
That’s what San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said after he and schools Superintendent Richard Carranza met with Salesforce.com (SF) founder Marc Benioff. What they were asking for was some financial support for the city’s 12 middle schools to increase technology access. They wanted money to purchase several hundred Ipads for students and training for affected teachers. They thought their request was reasonable if expensive.
What they got was a surprise: "You have to think bigger," Marc Benioff told them. At the end of the day what Mayor Lee and Superintendent Carranza actually walked away with was the Ipads they had originally asked for and a $100,000 grant to every principal at the 12 middle schools. The total donation came to almost three million dollars!
There is no shortage of quotations referring to math as beautiful--just Google “math and beauty” and you’ll see what I mean. But my favorite quote comes from G. H. Hardy (1877 - 1947), an English mathematician known for his work in numbers theory and mathematical analysis.
He said,“The mathematician's patterns, like the painter's or the poet's must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colors or the words must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in this world for ugly mathematics.”
As with everything else the question is best answered by "it depends!" In this case it depends on who you ask.
Ask many reformers and they’ll assure you there is plenty wrong as shown by the poor showing American students make on international standardized tests. We can not completely ignore that.
But ask Scot Osterweil, a professor at the MIT Media Lab, and he will tell you that he believes educators need to worry less about standardized tests and work harder toward inspiring students' natural creativity.
Of course the answer to the question posed by the title of this article is simple: Adults!
Adults instill in children their own feelings about certain learning disciplines like math and science.
Studies show that children tend to follow the lead of the same-sex parent where learning is concerned. Mothers discouraging daughters, fathers discouraging sons.
Technology isn’t a part of the core curriculum in most American school systems? That’s a question mark at the end of the last sentence, not a period, because this writer find it hard to believe that is the case. But that’s the view of educator and co-founder of the IT Academy, Cullen White. He complains that most IT courses and many technology courses centered around the digital universe are considered “non-essential” and therefore weighed as electives on the curriculum grade-scales in most schools. (Just like we saw few days ago that a school in Las Vegas teaches computer science with a pen and paper...)
OK, ignoring the obvious unprofitable future this country faces if we find ourselves net-importers of information technology instead of net-exporters, why should technology courses become part of the core curriculum like English and math?
Once upon a time...and not all that long ago, teachers found motivating youngsters to engage themselves in the wonders of mathematics a difficult proposition--which is not to say that educators here in the 21st Century have completely overcome all the difficulties. No, it still takes a committed teacher to break down the barriers both societal and unique to the child to get it done.
In today’s RobotsLAB Blog we want to give three Cheers for one of this countries’ most successful ed-tech aware education systems! KIPP! KIPP! HOORAY! and... KIPP! KIPP! HOORAY! and one last time... KIPP! KIPP! HOORAY!
Okay, so that was a bit of a silly opening. But Hip! Hip! Hooray! is so last century and I wanted to get your attention to K-I-P-P, a definitely this-century system of over 140 schools administering to under-resourced communities across the United States. Google “KIPP” and you’ll be amazed at the number of big inner-cities with a KIPP school. (Or go directly to their website: http://www.kipp.org/ )
KIPP by the way, is an acronym which stands for Knowledge Is Power Program. To show how successful KIPP is, take a look at the record of KIPP Los Angeles, the highest performing elementary school in the LA system and one of the top ten in the entire state of California!
Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek), designated in 2009 by the U.S. House of Representatives as the week of Grace Murray Hopper’s birthday, recognizes the transformative role of computing and the need to bolster computer science at all educational levels. This year, 2013, Dec. 9-15, CDEdWeek has added something new, a call to help introduce more than 10 million students across the length and breadth of the United States to computer programming, called HOUR OF CODE.