Technology to build STEM skills takes centre stage at uLearn18

Issue: Volume 97, Number 19

Posted: 29 October 2018
Reference #: 1H9n9R

Educators from around the country came together recently in Auckland at uLearn18, the annual forum that provides the opportunity to exchange ideas, share best practice and extend the professional development of school leaders and teachers. The conference also featured an array of resources, tools and ideas for meeting the needs of all learners, including those with assistance needs as well as students leaping into new technology. Here is a sample:

Flexible robot teaches skills and gives students control

EZ Robot is a robot that teaches STEM skills and enables a platform for 3D printing. Students can learn algorithmic logic, electronics, and modular design while modifying the robot. The robot comes in parts, which allows it to be redesigned and  assembled in different ways, and with software that provides a visual design interface  allowing students to control and programme it. They can assemble it into a variety of shapes to make it look like a Mars landing craft or spider, rather than a traditional robot. They can learn programming, and use a 3D printer to create different parts for it. An iPad app is available to control it and customise its behaviour, using software, or it can operate autonomously.

Early years students write and make own movie

i-Theatre gives children the ability to create multimedia stories combining both digital and traditional mediums as a platform for promoting STEM and digital literacies. Early years and primary students first create characters, backgrounds, and other content for their stories using traditional mediums such as paper, pencils, markers and paint. They then use the built-in scanner to convert their hard copy materials into digital content that can be manipulated on a touch screen and turned into multimedia stories, adding in sounds, animation, and narration. The resulting story can be watched as a movie on the touch screen or projected on a large screen to be shared, as in a movie theatre. link)

Structured lesson plans with 3D printer

3D printing promotes problem-solving, creative thinking and design competencies amongst students but often a 3D printer’s potential may be unrealised in schools due to the lack of structured lesson plans that support embedded learning. At the uLearn18 conference, New Zealand supplier MindKits demonstrated its Ultimaker 3D printer, which is accompanied by lesson plans related to the curriculum and access to online entry-level 3D design software bundled with the printer, which allows students to initiate their own designs or respond to design challenges provided for them. They can produce simple objects such as a cone or fin, or complex objects such as rockets or a Mars colony.

OrCam MyEye 2 provides reading aid

MyEye 2 is a device for the blind, visually impaired and people with reading difficulties, which uses AI technology. It can read printed or digital text, so it can be used for reading newspapers, books, barcodes, menus and screens. The device sits on the side of the user’s head, attached to their glasses, and is controlled by hand gestures. It is lightweight (22 grams) and snaps onto glasses magnetically. It has a mini speaker, is wireless and does not require an internet connection. link)

Eye-tracking technology

The Eyegaze Edge system is an eye tracking aid for students with limited mobility or those with brain injuries or conditions such as motor neurone disease. It is a tablet with a camera with a large screen display, and an articulating arm. The user controls the computer using the motion of their eye, and the system also enables typing, so that they can send texts and emails, surf the net, read books, control a television set, use a word processor and they can also speak through it.

The device has an on-screen keyboard and mouse. A specialised video camera mounted below the screen observes one of the user’s eyes, and the user operates the system by looking at rectangular ‘keys’ or cells displayed on the control screen. link)

Social robot dog teaches empathy

MiRo is a social robot developed to be an emotionally engaging and animal-like robot companion. It is designed to help as an educative programmable tool for teaching STEM. It is used to teach empathy to children with autism by promoting interaction, and offer forms of spoken and physical comfort. It responds to being stroked, and to sound, light and its environment and the sound it emits changes according to its emotion. The robot displays expressive communication through eye blinking, tail wagging and drooping, blinking, ear rotation and head movements. link)

The i-theatre helps create mixed media stories.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:54 am, 29 October 2018

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