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Category Archives: Ed-Tech

Thank you, Orbital!

Every time we have a STEM event, or SPACE Day, one group I always count on is Orbital ATK, a Chandler, Arizona-based company. Rockets and launches are in the news every month. Just this week, Orbital ATK launched the 139-foot rocket, Antares; the 200th mission to the International Space Station.

For STEM Night at Salt River Elementary, Orbital created an amazing demo using a ‘transformer rail gun‘ – basically accelerating magnets that transfer potential energy to kinetic energy. Plus canister ‘pop rockets’ that explained what Newton’s Third Law is all about. Thank you Javier Molina-Moughamian, Shannon Burke, Monique Dalton, Kelly Wallace, and Kimberly Barraza for being part of our team.

 
 

The day rockets flew!

Rockets soared at our school, on April 30th –the same day news broke of China’s plans to test a reusable launch vehicle, the ‘Long March 8.’ STEAM night was quite an experience, six years since we began on this journey.

Ours too were reusable, but they were built by students from Kindergarten upwards. Made of paper, drinking straws, Popsicle sticks, and rubber bands they traveled where no rocket had gone before on the basketball court. (One flew way out of our test range, covering 70 feet!) Most were powered by rubber bands. Some preferred to use wind power – blowing them out of the launch tube! The judges were quite impressed. Said Orbital ATK engineer, Monique Dalton of one model:

While most rockets flew pretty flat and straight, this one showed a curve visible to the naked eye of the sort of trajectory rockets take in space. It was as if this rocket really was on a mission delivering a payload.

This student’s rocket traveled 58 feet, 7 inches.

Meanwhile, SpaceX, is looking for ways to go beyond ‘reusable’ into mass production of rockets, just like GM does cars. Some day one of these kids will be in Mission Control –and I’m going to watch it from my rocking chair!

         

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Prepping the launchpad – STEAM Night is today!

It’s as if the stars were lined up for this. The launchpads were being prepped in the space industry –and in education.

The race toward ‘Space Tourism’ which has been on for some time, hit a milestone, Sunday. Blue Origin, a company owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, (which I’ve followed for some time now) launched a successful test flight yesterday, using dummy astronauts. Humans will soon follow.

Back here in Arizona, today is STEAM Night at Salt River Elementary School. The highlight of which will be  our ‘3-2-1 Lift-Off’ challenge

Can’t wait to see what kind of rocket entries we receive.

 
 

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Trying out Sketchpad. Great way to teach layout

I’ve been experimenting with a simple, but powerful design and layout tool called Sketchpad.

It’s like Adobe Spark but with interesting brushes and pens, 800 plus fonts. I like the how easy it is to import images from your computer into the layout. There’s plenty of clip art too. It’s web-based but the offline version is at an unbelievable price of $4.95! For schools, this is a great asset, especially since it integrates with Google Classroom.

Here’s what the working area looks like, as I asked students to create cubes. They were using a connector tools for this, but there are more options. Check it out!


 
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Posted by on April 25, 2018 in Ed-Tech

 

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Coding and Digital Learning Day, today

It’s Digital learning day across the country, today. Salt River High School is hosting Code Night, a community event to showcase week-long Hour of Code activities.

Last week, at the elementary school we focused on Digital Learning, beginning with a kick-off event featuring speakers who talked to students about social media, and coding. It’s interesting how much has changed –and how much more scrutiny we give to digital learning –since last year. Parents and educators have to deal with much more than memes, and cyber-bullying. Social media viral stunts for instance.

Coding is somehow more than a passing fad. It’s more about problem-solving than learning a new ‘language.’ Much thanks to Synapse Studios, Mel Adamaitis, Danielle Benally, and Stephanie Schull.

 

 
 

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Spotlight on Social Media Awareness, Coding for Digital Learning Days

Next week, we kick off a week of coding, and also a time to talk about the good, the bad and ugly about social media.

Coding is something that could be exciting for every age group – from simple problem-solving skills, to what-if scenarios. Students will log-into places such as Code.org, Khan Academy, Scratch, and Blockly.  I like how Scratch is positioned as a way to “Create stories, games, and animations.”

Two speakers will kick off the week:

Mel Adamaitis – Synapse Studios
“Why Coding Matters”

Dr. Stephanie Schull – Matter Mission
“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Social Media.”

 

While we are at it, here are some good resources:

 

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2018 in Ed-Tech, Education, Social Media

 

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Filters needed now, says Isura Silva!

My friend Isura Silva, writes about topics similar to what you find here. One of his recent posts touches on the death of attention, as a result of our proximity to screens. You should read his post to get his slant on it.

The issues we face as parents and teachers is not just screen addiction, but device distraction. Attention spans are in a serious free-fall. I flippantly wrote about this in an article on ‘FOMO’ (for LMD magazine). But it’s a lot more serious than this.

Which brings me back to Isura. He was on a UNICEF panel on Tuesday, discussing child safety online. The panel discussed the study just released, on how adolescents in Sri Lanka use the Internet. To give you a snapshot of it, the press release states that:

“While digital access exposes children to a wealth of benefits and opportunities, it can also unlock a host of risks including the misuse of their private information, access to harmful content, and cyberbullying …whilst children and adolescents are increasingly going online, they are doing so without adult oversight or supervision.”

Next week is Digital Learning Day across the world. Here at my school, I’m bringing in two speakers to address this dire need for digital literacy. Different cultures, different demographics, all feeling the same need.

 

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