Tuesday, July 3, 2018

South Jersey STEAM with Amazinators, LLC

Guest Post by  Jennifer Bernardini, Stockton College MAED Class of 2008

Amazinators, LLC is on a mission: Bringing STEAM to the Jersey Shore.  For a week or two each summer, we throw away grades, assessments, and homework for authentic learning. Offering our programs in the summer creates a valuable learning experience for children through play, collaboration, critical thinking, and research! The statistics and job requirements for the future all indicate that our children need to learn HOW to learn, practice problem solving, and need exposure to spark the interests that can one day pave the way to successful careers.
Amazinators: Gina Wenzel, Jennifer Bernardini, and Cindy O’Kane
All great programs for kids have an x-factor.  Cindy O’Kane, Gina Wenzel, and I have a combined 51 years of teaching experience across all curriculum areas. Between the children and the instructors, we all share one thing in common- a passion for learning.  As co-owners and teachers, we are constantly researching the newest ways to engage the kids, traveling to workshops and festivals to see it all in action, or presenting our successes with curriculum integration.  Each year we have more and more children flocking to us for a summer of STEAM.
Children from across the nation join us for STEAM Summer Camp and after-school workshops. We have something for kids entering grades K-9 between Linwood and Margate this summer.  Kids joined us from Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, and Gloucester Counties, Virginia, Colorado, California, and Germany! After much parent feedback, we are so excited to announce our newest session “Lil’ Steamers” for students entering kindergarten to second grade to join us for stories and hands-on experiments.  There’s something special for everyone! 

Over the past two years, our campers have been out this world with rocket launchers using household items, constructing solar eclipse viewing boxes, and participating in astronaut training exercises. Since our future scientists can bring their own device, we have turned phones into microscopes, 3D hologram viewers, and explored virtual and augmented realities. 

Our eager engineers have built and designed their own fidget spinners, bridges, zip lines, and castles with catapults. Gamers and programmers coding the latest and greatest through Scratch, creating LEGO Robotics obstacle courses, or pushing the limits with Arduino. 

Future award-winning musicians create their own band with circuits, instruments from reusable items, and even compose their own original songs. The STEAM TV Studio integrates filming, editing, green screens, and production through news shows, music videos, and stop animation. 

No matter the age of our campers, bubbles, slime, marble mazes, and Breakout Boxes are a sure hit. A Family Showcase is always scheduled for the last day of camp for families to experience project displays, musical performances, movie premiers, and more! 

SRI&ETTC and Professional Development
As educators, we recognize how lucky we are to have SRI&ETTC and Stockton University so close to home for professional development.  I am fortunate to have an administration and community that encourages, supports, and nurtures STEAM integration through daily classroom curriculum and after-school clubs.

I was fortunate enough to attend Makerspace Monday, and in just one day I was exposed to the newest technologies, but reminded of the benefits of also blending in low-tech elements to create a balanced program.  I was also able to use some of the ideas for my 5th-grade non-fiction reading and writing Gaming Unit.  It was during Makerspace Monday that I fell in love with the tiny but mighty Ozobot.  Thanks to a Linwood Education Foundation Grant, I will have a classroom set of Evo Ozobots for curricular extensions, coding classes, and more!

Cindy and I also had the opportunity to attend the MIT APP Inventor 2 Workshop, and our minds were blown.  Our students have experience with Scratch and this program opens the gates to endless possibilities with APP design.  When we return to school, we know our students will flip for the chance to create their own APP that can be shared with the world! 

Some of the activities campers will explore in 2018:
     Rockets to build and launch!
     Make and fly a drone with an obstacle course!
     Harness the power of wind, solar, and hydraulic renewable energy with engineering.
     Reverse engineering with household items.
     Creating musical instruments or games with computer science.
     Design and explore your own virtual and augmented reality worlds.
     Unlock new Breakout Box challenges using teamwork, mathematics, logic, and more!
     Robotics and coding with LEGO Robotics, Sphero, BeeBots, and Ozobots.
     YouTube stars can explore filming, editing, and TV production in our STEAM Studio!

Linwood's STEAM Camp 2018

July 9-12 and July 16-19
Grades 3-6    9 am to 12 pm
Grades 7-9    1 pm to 4 pm
Mainland Regional High School

Margate’s Summer STEAM Camp 2018
August 6-10th
Grades 3-8: 9AM- 12PM $195
Grades K-2: 1PM -3PM $150
Eugene A. Tighe School

Register online!   www.amazinators.com

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wind-Powered Lego Cars Speed the Learning in First and Second Grade

Guest Post by Dustin Rauenzahn of Upper Township Primary School in New Jersey @MrRauenzahn

Kindergarten, First & Second Grade students built wind-powered Lego cars. We discussed how the shape, size, and weight affect how the car would travel. Then, students worked in teams to build their very own Lego car complete with sail(s).

We used straws, index cards, and tape to make the sails.
Groups planned, built, tested & improved their designs to create the perfect wind-powered car! Students placed their car in front of a fan to see how many feet the car could travel using only wind power.

Partners then went back to improve their design and see if they could get the car to go farther during the next test session.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Global Educators #ExploreEarthEveryday Global Makeathon

Guest Post by Ian Matty 

The Mountain Lakes Makers Club @ the Mountain Lakes Public Library is a community makerspace whose mission is to provide maker education opportunities to all students.  We have found much success combining different types of maker technology (robotics, programming, 3d printing) with the arts, science, literature, and nature.  We focus on how robotics and programming are collaborative with all subject areas and not an independent discipline. 

Building on the philosophy that all kids – even preschoolers – can benefit from maker education’s interdisciplinary approach, I worked with six educators from Hong Kong, Cyprus, Nigeria, Ohio, and Pittsburgh to develop the #ExploreEarthEveryday Global Makeathon.  The idea is simple.  Kids love nature.  Nature is very important.  How can we combine nature with robotics so kids can have a deeper sense of learning about their environment?  The makeathon approach allows students and educators to be creative, show their love of their local nature, and learn about robotics and programming.

The Mountain Lakes Makers Club partnered with Beekeeper, Alicia Deley to create robotic pollinators.  Additionally, we collaborated with Janet Horst of the Mountain Lakes Garden Club and learned to build soil moisture sensors for native plants.  Bringing in community members with specific knowledge of bees and plants really ties together the project-based learning process.

How do we build these projects?  First, it is important to recognize that robotics technology today is perfect for hands-on learning because of standardization created by Arduino.  Almost every type of robotics product you can purchase is compatible with each other, both via hardware and programming connections.

The Hummingbird Robotics kit, built by Birdbrain Technologies (and co-developer of the makeathon) provides a perfect student friendly hardware and software platform for first-time roboticists.  The Hummingbird CPU is clearly labeled and all of the components, whether it is a servo, motor, or sensor can easily be connected; No soldering or breadboarding necessary, just an understanding of how sensors work.   Once you start a discussion with students about sensors in a car or the grocery store automatic door, they begin to understand robotics and programming.  To program your robotic Hummingbird CPU, you can connect to various programming languages, from the basic Create Visual language, Scratch (the standard for elementary education) to Python. 

For our robotic pollinators class, some students wanted to create bees.  First, think about how the bee will move.  Will it move back and forth? Or spin completely around?   Will its eyes or antennae light up?  Will its nose buzz? 

Let's say a student wants their Honey Bee to move back and forth between two flowers when the sun is out. 

First, craft two flowers and one Honey Bee.
Second, we need a servo motor. (Servos move between 0 and 180 degrees)
Third, we need a light sensor.
Fourth, connect both components.
Fifth, go into Scratch programming and write your STORY – that is correct, programming is just like writing a story.

If the Sun is out, I want my Honey Bee to move back and forth between the two flowers.
If the Sun is NOT out (cover up with a paper moon!), the Honey Bee goes back to the first flower.
Do not worry!  You do not need to use sensors at first.  You can just control robotic actions by simply pressing a key on the keyboard.  You will be very impressed with what students can learn and create.
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To implement Makerspaces in your classroom, please visit our Makerspace Mondays at the SRI&ETTC. Upcoming dates on our summer schedule are: 
May 21, 2018 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
June 11, 2018 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
July 23, 2018 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
August 6, 2018 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
August 20, 2018 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Monday, March 19, 2018

More Fonts for Google Docs with Extensis Fonts add-on.

We all love fonts, especially when building visually engaging hyperdocs. Now you can install a popular add-on in your google docs account that will give you access to even more fonts. In your google doc, go to Add-ons>Get Add-ons> and type Extensis Fonts in the search bar. Install the add-on to the google account where you wish to enable all of Extensis Fonts' latest choices. When you wish to use the fonts, start the add-on and simply highlight which words in your document you wish to impose the font upon and select the font of your choice from the right-hand side menu. You can close the Extensis Fonts menu when you are finished changing out your fonts.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Hyperdocs Trick with Bookmarking

Their answers are all over the place! 

Not every teacher enjoys the process of weeding through a hyperdoc to grade their student submissions. So we have this simple bookmarking tip to keep the hyperdoc organized with all student submissions routed to one area for easy feedback and grading. This tip works with google docs specifically.

How do I insert a bookmark? 

To add a bookmark in a Doc, put your cursor where you would like to add the bookmark then go to Insert menu and select Bookmark. You will see a little bookmark icon appear. Then you can add a link to that bookmark by highlighting the text, and using the link tool or the shortcut (CTRL or CMND + K), then click “Bookmarks” to see all the bookmarks you’ve added. Simply select which bookmark to which you want to link.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Adventures in Flipgrid

Have you introduced your students to Flipgrid yet? If not, you will enjoy this adventure with them. Flipgrid allows teachers to create discussion-style questions that students respond to through recorded videos. Each grid is effectively a message board where teachers can pose a question (Topic), and their students can post quick video responses that appear in a tiled "grid" display. Grids can be password-protected, public or private and are an excellent way to collaborate with one another and other classrooms. 

Students do NOT need to login to participate, nor do they need an email address; they just need the code to the discussion topic or the grid. They can respond using any device with a webcam, be it PC/MAC, Chromebook, tablet or phone. 

Digital pen pals! 

For those of you looking for digital pen pals, connect your classroom with students of your fellow Flipgrid educators around the world! Explore possible connections by grid, age, or subject domain. Look at what Janie Hachen's students recorded for Read Across America Month! 

Co- Pilots! 

You can even add a Co-Pilot to your grid, meaning that other Flipgrid educators can edit the grid, create Topics, review videos, and provide feedback.

Do they hate being on camera?

For students who are not allowed on camera, or are a bit camera shy, they can use puppets or point the camera to their classwork or somewhere other than their faces. They can also record avatar videos using apps like Chatterpix kids or Voki and upload that video as their response. There are some samples at this post by Jen Giffen.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fotobabble- Photos with voices!

Fotobabble enables students to attach their thoughts to a single image to relate a short story or inform a listener about a topic related to a visual. It's free! It's a photo, with a voice.  You can access it on the web, or if you have iPads in your classroom, you can download the free app.  Students young and old, enjoy creating projects or blogs with Fotobabble, as it's a fun and easy way to make a "talking" picture. Students can customize projects with different backgrounds, and slideshows are also included with this tool.

There are many ways to engage students with the help of Fotobabble. This tool is often used for students to make their bio's at the beginning of the school year.  Using Fotobabble for a reading assignment has the students drawing pictures of the story they read, making recordings of their summary, and then sharing their Fotobabble with the class, exposing all of the students to a variety of stories.

If you are interested in learning more about Fotobabble, Saker Alexander just posted this video for his students who are using the tool for the first time. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cramberry Offers Students Great Study Habits

Cramberry is a user-friendly web tool that helps students with studying.  With this web tool, you can create your own, or use a previously made set of flashcards to explore.  What separates your creation from standard flash cards is the ability for this tool to store data for students on the flash cards they are getting correct and incorrect.  It analyzes this data and will emphasize the questions that your class did not perform well on as they continue studying.  

                This helpful tool promotes good studying habits for students and is useful to teachers because they can create their own flashcards for their class and share them publically for everyone to use.  Cramberry is free to all users, but they must have an account to create their own cards and track their progress. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Google Drawings Vector Portraits Lesson

Watch this amazing option for schools with G-Suite. Students can create their own vector graphics to use in presentations, for art projects, for profile pictures and more. The value in student-created images promotes creativity, avoids Copyright/Fair Use concerns, and promotes Visual Literacy