Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Robotics at ISTE 2015 Conference: International Society for Technology in Education

Student Robotics were everywhere in evidence throughout the ISTE 2015 Conference. While I am a long, long-term fan of the LEGO Education Student Robotics materials (EV3, NXT,WeDo, etc.), in fact I wrote a book for ISTE on the subject (Getting Started with LEGO Robotics), I fully appreciate that there are other providers who offer alternatives as well and who take this broad area in other directions. One heartwarming display that I visited at the ISTE StartUp Pavillion (booth space for smaller, newer companies trying to establish themselves) was that of Trobo the storytelling robot, a small, plush doll-like robot that partners with younger children to foster deep literacy learning as it supports them in writing their own stories. Great stuff. Not just a digital resource to learn from, but one kids will love!

I also wandered by the booth of OZOBot, a mini robot that I’m sure would be great for upper elementary kids and older. The fascinating thing for me is the way students communicate with it. Apparently, it comes preprogramed to read shapes and patterns and colors and students can use software or pre-printed 2D modular stickers, or draw their own to get the robot to follow their instructions. My take is that this item will teach and illustrate programming and robotics, keep kids engaged and wondering and discovering, and offer schools a relatively inexpensive and effective way to offer a small slice of Robotics, an important piece of STEM Education.

The above was excerpted from the EdTech Digest Article

"ISTE 2015: Highlights, Takeaways, Things to Use and Follow-Up On"
A mega-surplus of resources for inspired kids to positively impact their world.GUEST COLUMN | by Mark Gura

Read the full article at its source:

ALSO at the conference I came across...
Pitsco which is now offering (released July 1) Robotics STEM Units... seems like something worth investigating, to me! 
AND I spent some quality time talking to BirdBrain Robotics
(reviewed previously in this blog) a turn in direction for Student Robotics that is refreshing, overdue, and important... I'm speak of the marriage of Robotics and The Arts!
(also excerpted from the EdTech Digest article, above)

"Another concentration of interest well represented at the conference was STEAM (emphasis on the “A” for Arts, the thing that distinguishes it from traditional STEM). I saw a good number of things that make this body of resource and practice viable and exciting. Actually, one of them, BirdBrain Technologies, straddles both the Robotics category and the STEAM (again, too much of a good thing sometimes seems just right). BirdBrain is a robotics system that uses some simple electronics and mechanical components; things like the Arduino processor and simple motors and sensors. These things are found in other robotics systems, but the wonderful difference here is that the robot body’s students produce with BirdBrain materials are very much the personal, expressive, hand-made, cut from cardboard variety of thing kids have always done and learned from. There’s a blend of real Robotics and crafts with a full blown artistic thrust to what kids do with this resource. Something I’ve long wanted to see, but have actually witnessed far too examples of, are student robots created by students for the purpose of creating art, art that requires learning programming and engineering thinking and STEM oriented problem solving; marriage of STEM and the Arts… STEAM!

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