Saturday, April 18, 2020

Remote STEAM Learning...

Great LEGO Stuff from my In Box / TECH&LEARNING

"How It's Done: Remote STEAM Learning with LEGO Education Bingo Boards
Educators and parents can support remote STEAM learning through LEGO Education Bingo Boards
remote steam learning
(Image credit: Erik Murray)
Who: Erik Murray, Middle School STEM Teacher, LEGO Education Master Educator
Where: Lexington Public Schools, Lexington, MA
What: Creating LEGO Education Bingo Boards to help educators and parents teach STEAM at home
As schools across the country began to close in response to COVID-19, my first thought, like thousands of other teachers across the world, was, “How can I supplement my teaching so my students can continue to learn during these unusual times.” You see, I’m a middle school STEM teacher, which means I’m used to providing my students with hands-on, tactical projects. I’m used to pushing my students to build robots, having my students work in groups and build together. How was I going to continue pushing my students to get hands-on and think like an engineer while they were at home?
Not all students have access to computers, but it’s still important they continue to have hands-on projects, just like in the classroom, to keep them engaged and excited. I connected with our 6th grade math teacher to think through ways for educators –- and parents -– to continue teaching STEAM skills at home in a fun, interactive way.
Before schools closed, we just started using the new LEGO Education SPIKE Prime kits in our classroom to get students learning STEAM skills through hands-on learning. It was a great tool because it provided low-floor, high-ceiling tasks such as the Hopper Race, in which you design prototypes to find the most effective way to move a robot without wheels, to more difficult projects such as Design for Someone, in which students could stretch their STEAM skills by trying to solve real-world problems.

Read more: LEGO Education Spike Prime In-School Review from Tech & Learning

I wanted to replicate the same hands-on and low-floor, high-ceiling experience for all my students -- and students around the world. Something that allows students feel confident in the projects they were completing at home.
When looking at the way SPIKE Prime lessons are set up, you’ll see that basic instructions are provided, but students are encouraged to use their creativity to make their own unique creations by placing the bricks differently or writing a different code. I wanted to bring that approach to remote STEAM learning, ..."

Read the full article at its source

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

OLLO Robot for Young Students

Just saw this in my In Box... looks promising!


Monday, April 13, 2020

Robots to Help Autistic sStudents Learn Social Skills

"Coming soon to some S.C. classrooms: An army of robots to help autistic students learn social skills 

 Milo's rubbery face stretches into a lifelike smile. His eyes pivot from side to side. His arms gesture, and his voice box activates.

Milo is an educational robot, and 21 of his kind are fanning out across South Carolina as part of an effort to teach social and emotional skills to students with autism.

Read the full article at its source:

"There are children who will talk to Milo who may not speak to a human, even their parents," said S.C. Education Superintendent Molly Spearman. "It’s just a fantastic tool that we’re putting in the hands of therapists and teachers across the state."

The S.C. Department of Education bought the doll-like, foot-tall robots and accompanying curriculum from the Dallas-based educational technology company RoboKind, which sells devices under the brand name Robots4Autism. The department anticipates spending between $250,000 and $300,000 to test the program over three years. The money will come from the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The state has trained educators and will send robots to the following school districts: Anderson 1, Beaufort, Charleston, Colleton, Florence 1, Greenwood 50, Horry, Kershaw, Marion, Orangeburg 5, Pickens, Richland One, Spartanburg 6 and Sumter.

Autism spectrum disorder is a range of developmental characteristics that can lead to difficulty interpreting social cues, intense focus on narrow interests, repetitive behavior and difficulty speaking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one in 68 children has been diagnosed with ASD. That number has been on the rise in recent years, partly due to advances in diagnosis.
The first known therapeutic use of a robot to help an autistic child took place in 1976 when

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers used a turtle-like device to encourage a 7-year-old boy to speak.

Robotic devices have become cheaper and more ubiquitous in the 21st century, with several companies marketing them to school systems.

Academic journals have published case studies since 2004 on their usefulness for children on the spectrum. While early results were promising, scholars concluded that more in-depth research is necessary. Some initial studies were funded by RoboKind, while others were independent.

One exploratory study, conducted by Canadian researchers and published in the journal Autonomous Robots in 2007, looked at four students with autism. It found that while they were more likely to imitate body movements performed by a human mediator, they were more likely to imitate facial expressions like smiling from a robotic mediator.

Education Department Associate Lisa Raiford, who specializes in services for students with autism, emphasized that Milo is a tool, not a replacement for human educators.

"It does not operate in the absence of a teacher or therapist," Raiford said. "You’re not sitting a child in front of a robot and letting them go."

State officials began training local educators through the Robots4Autism initiative last week. In the Charleston County School District the device will be used at one elementary school once teachers there have received training. Assistant Executive Director of Exceptional Children Madeline Jacobs said she hopes to use the device for social and emotional training.

Milo is programmed to speak slower than the average teacher and can walk, dance and carry out simple conversations with students — not unlike the Siri artificial-intelligence app included on iPhones.

"Education is evolving. We have to change what we’re doing as adults to meet kids’ needs," Jacobs said.

Spearman admits the robots can be a little creepy, especially en masse. After unwrapping all of the Milos and placing them on a table in the department's Columbia office, she said a colleague turned them all off and heard each one say, "Goodbye, I'm leaving now."
"He said he about freaked out," Spearman said.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Robots Bring Science Lessons to Life

From eSchool News 

"Using robots to bring science to life

Two STEAM educators share how their hands-on earth and life science lessons engage and enlighten young learners

As elementary STEAM educators, we have both learned that the best way to teach science is through hands-on exploration where lessons are both rigorous and relative to all of the students in the classroom. Incorporating robotics, coding, and engineering into these lessons is a great way to engage students and inspire them to apply their learning.

It can be something of a challenge to incorporate this hands-on learning into some science units, such as earth and life science. For example, many life science units focus on looking at plants and animals and reading about their environments—leaving out the integral hands-on engineering and robotics. Here are two tech-infused lessons that have increased student engagement and brought elementary earth and life sciences to life.

Teaching earth science and collaboration in the ‘Windy Day’ project
In Barb’s 1st-grade classes, STEAM lessons revolve around wind and weather. One example is the “Windy Day” project. We start by talking about the science vocabulary. It’s first grade, so we focus on questions like what’s hot, what’s cold, what does wind feel like, and what does it look like outside?

To simulate a windy day, students use art materials like streamers and feathers and attach them to a KIBO robot. They code the robot by creating sequences of programmable wooden building blocks that have commands printed on them, and then use the robot itself to scan the blocks and start their program. They also sometimes use the robot’s sound module to record their own windy day sounds. They make silly sounds of wind rushing or sometimes record their voice telling the story of the robot. These recordings become part of their program.

The first time the robots come out, we set a timer, and they have two minutes to put it together with no directions. It’s amazing what 1st-graders can figure out in two minutes! We intentionally don’t give every student their own robot. It’s usually three in a group, and everybody has a job.
A lot of our work is about getting kids to know what it sounds like and looks like to work as part of a group.

Before the lesson, we go through strategies for how to make decisions as part of a group, and at the end, we ask them to reflect on why they built their KIBO the way they did, and why the program they coded made their construction look and act like a windy day.

Helping robot animals survive the winter

One of Katie’s favorite and most engaging 1st-grade life science lessons combines animal survival and coding the KIBO robot. The unit starts with a compelling, standards-based question: “How do animals survive in the winter?” Students brainstorm and construct explanations by sharing ideas and drawing models. It’s also helpful to contrast their animal survival techniques and adaptations with humans’ solutions to surviving in the winter.

Next, students get to the best part: applying their knowledge by coding a robot. First, they decorate their robots as winter animals, such as arctic foxes or polar bears, which they have previously researched. They get together with partners and choose an animal to draw. They then draw it using white crayons on blue paper and attach it to their robot. The class discusses what food and shelter their particular animal needs to survive a cold winter, then students create a model shelter using paper to make a dome where their “animal” can sleep.

The class then talks about how animals use body parts like arms and beaks to collect food. Students add arms and claws or beaks to their robot using paper, tape, and binder clips. Then they create a sequence and program their robots to scoop up the model food they created out of paper and bring it to their shelter.

They set a timer, and the animals need to bring food inside their domes within a certain amount of time before they “freeze.” It challenges students to work out an algorithm with their KIBO blocks and to scan the blocks to get their robot animals to move a certain way in a short amount of time. As a bonus, there can be predator animals added to the game as well.
For assessment and to communicate their learning, students use an interactive media app called Seesaw. They record themselves discussing what they learned in the lesson, and they share a picture or video of their project. This is an effective way to check for student understanding, especially in large classes of active students.

Inspiring collaboration and engagement

Using open-ended tech tools allows students to understand life and earth science topics through true representation. As elementary teachers, we both love blending coding with valuable science concepts. Every project students create ends up looking different because they don’t have step-by-step instructions. Instead, they have the creative freedom to show what they understand.
At the end of every class, students share what worked and what didn’t work. It helps them find alternative solutions to common problems by collaborating with their peers. It also allows both teachers and students to see patterns in successes and challenges. It’s a great way for students to learn coding, life science, and life skills from each other..."

Read the full article at its source:

Students Create Robot Hands to Teach Sign Language

From The Post & Courier...

"SC cadet students build robot hands to teach American Sign Language

Mohamed Baghdady leans to the microphone and says the word “one.” A lone mechanical finger on the table responds with a curl, then rises upright.

At another table in The Citadel engineering lab, a complete robotic hand spells the sign language letters for “c-a-t” from instructions typed on a computer. The movement is driven by motors and fishing line.

The hands would work with voice recognition software, replicating the spelling and gestures human hands use to communicate with someone who is deaf.

The work in professor Robert Rabb’s class could lead to another breakthrough in the uses of robotic limbs — a world of prosthetics and  “microbots” diagnosing illnesses inside the body.
But maybe the coolest feature of the hands is you could build them at home. The class final product won’t be a pair of hands; it’ll be an online workshop on the website Instructables’ how-to guide. 
Baghdady, a cadet, is building a pair of hands to communicate as a teaching aid and potentially as a human substitute when an American Sign Language translator can’t be brought in.

“Even a middle-schooler could build this project,” said cadet Paul Vargas. “It’s not only mobile, it’s cheaper to use, cheaper to produce than most robotics, and it fills a need.”
There are a few obstacles to overcome.

The class is now trying to flex the hand wrists — a necessary component to communicating in sign. In early prototypes, moving the hand took so much electricity it left the finger joints unable to return upright, said cadet Zachery Danis.

But the biggest hurdle is a little-realized subtlety in ASL itself.
The “grammar” of sign language includes physical or facial expressions of the interpreter, said Jason Hurdich, an ASL interpreter who gained fame when he interpreted for Gov. Nikki Haley in 2016 as she pleaded for residents to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Matthew.
The first control board the cadets built blew up on them: It needed a shield. The vocal-recognition computer program struggles with words that begin or end with a vowel..."

Read the full article at its source:

Friday, April 3, 2020

Milo the Robot to Help Autistic Children

Assistive Technology

Can a Robot Help Autistic Children Connect?

A school in South Carolina tests whether a robot can be a bridge to deeper human connection for autistic children.

Holding the 10-year-old boy by the hand, occupational therapist Krista Stephens leads Joshua into her classroom, where a two-foot-tall talking robot awaits them.
“You ready to work with Milo?” asks Stephens, guiding Joshua to a seat at a small table where he and Milo the robot practice standard greetings and social behaviors that would seem basic for most children—but not for autistic kids. “Say hi to Milo,” Stephens prompts, as Joshua reaches to touch the robot’s hand when it waves to him, then mimics the wave with his own hand. “Say hi to Milo,” Joshua repeats.

Fourth grader Joshua is one of 10 autistic students working with Milo at Lester Elementary, a 445-student school in Florence, South Carolina, where one in four students is autistic. Sixteen districts in the state are test-driving Milo as part of a three-year pilot with the state Department of Education that will determine if there’s enough student benefit to bring the robot to more schools.
Released in 2013 by RoboKind, Milo features voice-activated lessons that aim to bolster autistic students’ communication, social and emotional, and behavioral skills. Alongside an educator, students work through modules like identifying emotions and expressing empathy following Milo’s verbal prompts and facial cues. In a session, Milo’s face may move through a range of expressions—angry, sad, happy, frustrated—his head and boy-like body will turn from side-to-side, and he will even dance sometimes for correct responses.

Full article @ source (Edutopia):