FETC 2015 Wrapup

I spent most of last week at the annual FETC conference in Orlando Florida. I took particular note of the gaming, 3D environments, & maker focus. I was very encouraged by the emphasis this conference took regarding gaming in particular. Below are some notes & observations:

* Several Keynotes – the most insightful in my eyes (& the real show stopper for me) was Jane McGonigal’s regarding games & gamers
– This is basically the Keynote she delivered (many of the same ideas & slides) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzLjXF–G1w

* MakeBlock – I Seen this before and really like it – http://www.makeblock.cc

* Birdbrain – They had a small but well attended booth – seen their new Hummingbird board based on Arduino (it can actually be programmed with the Arduino IDE when the kids area ready to move from Scratch blocks to a syntax) http://www.birdbraintechnologies.com

* MinecraftEDU – Talked to them quite a bit as well, Booth looked awesome -> http://minecraftedu.com

* NexEd was in the incubator pavilion … We talked quite a bit about “sandbox learning” – I was impressed with this product!  http://nexed.com

* WeatherSTEM – key ideas: sensors, data, the internet of things & mashing up data

* FETC had Makerbot CEO Keynote on Thursday – 3D printers are finally seem to be on the rise in K-12 circles.
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The 3D Printer Kit for the Budding Engineers

The QU-BD is a low priced 3D printer (at only $199) ideally aimed at middle school and high school student engineering projects.  The 3D printer comes un-assembled and un-calibrated, giving students the opportunity to learn about gear ratios, servos, pulleys, and electronics all in one project.

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Greenbush Labs: Duct Tape Robotics Project

The “Duct Tape Robotics” projects originated at the Greenbush Education Service Center to serve as a platform for encouraging kids to use easily accessible everyday resources like duct tape, cardboard, and paperclips coupled with widely available electronics parts like servos, light sensors, LED’s and Arduino boards to create cool and useful robotics projects. Below is a proecjt we call the “Trap” :-D


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How Better Tech Education Can Unlock a Half-Trillion Dollar Opportunity – via re/code

A great piece by re/code and Hadi Partovi of http://code.org … Teaching kids to code is a big deal … particularly that:

“Technology is changing the world around us,” Partovi said. “But we’re leaving behind the vast majority of our children who aren’t getting basic knowledge about how to participate in the new world.”

“Ninety percent of schools don’t offer computer science classes — that seems to me un-American,” – Hadi Partovi

read the rest here !


Computers are running our lives


Some Facts:

  • At any give time you have on average 3 devices within 10 feet of you with a computer chip inside it.
  • Computer chips (microcontrollers, micro-chips) are programmed by people, and they contain software to help them make decisions based on inputs (sensors) from the environment and its users.
  • The computer chips surrounding us are constantly helping us decide things like what we eat, what we buy, where we shop, what music we listen to, the rmp’s in our cars
  • Very few people understand how these computer chips that are constantly helping us decide things and running large portions of our lives are programmed to assist us.  What logic do they use ?
  • Schools are largely ignoring this gigantic elephant in the room of our (1) growing dependence on computers to help lead our lives & (2) Who and how are this computers being programmed to help us make decisions ?

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