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Welcome to the new school year!

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.

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Three trends in education you must put on your tech-radar

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.

mixed reality

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.

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Candy Coding!


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?

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NAO Robotics Program by Champions at Beebe Elementary / Naperville School District

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.

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RobotsLAB is a winner of the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator powered by TechStars

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.


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A New Operating system for NAO - NAOqi 2.1

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 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.


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NAO EVOLUTION V5 - Official Release


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.


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Travelling NAO Robot moves between schools

Madison-Oneida BOCES district purchased a programmable robot named NAOmi this past year and its impact is being felt in many schools. Laurie Yager, the Tech Integration Specialist for the Mohawk Regional Information Center, says the $16,000 investment is paying off, "We do have a second one on order, so she is going to have a brother sometime this summer, so we will have two devices."
The Mohawk Regional Information Center serves the Madison-Oneida BOCES district -- Mohawk is one of 12 statewide information centers which provide participating districts with access to state-of-the-art technology, services, training and support for teachers, students, and administrators. 
Yager says Naomi recently made a visit to a 6th grade math class at Richfield Springs Central School, "They programmed her to move across the floor through an XY Coordinate plane that we had mapped on the floor."
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MakerBot Adds 3D Printable Curriculum Content to Thingiverse for Teachers


 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.

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Why 3D Printing Belongs In The Classroom


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?

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