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Oklahoma public schools are boosting their STEM learning with RobotsLAB BOX

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!

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A new $250m grant - California Career Pathways Trust - act now!

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.

 

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5 Tools Everyone In The Educational Robotics Industry Should Be Using

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.

 

 

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Insider's summary of the hour of code initiative

This email sent by Gary Page from California Education Department is a great wrap up from the 'coding week' which was a huge success! 

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Teacher/Administrator:

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.

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Students smart shop with calculators

 

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.

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Robotics competition draws students from all over Texas

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.

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Here’s why we absolutely need EdTech

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!

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NYC bets on the future by reinforcing STEM focus programs

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.

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Applying Math curriculum to real life using Google SketchUp

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.

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KIPP Founder Sees Correlation Between EdTech and High Test Scores

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!

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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!

 

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