10+ Tools To Bring Robotics (And Other Real Objects) Into Your Classroom

While tablet computers in the classroom are wonderful tools, they still have not reached the level of intuitive use that we often feel as we interact with our analog world.  As an example, there are lots of pictures of the moon that we can look up using our web browser, but seeing it first hand through a telescope offers a different level of engagement.  In the classroom, we often need our analog world to interact with our digital devices.  In the coming days I will be sharing ideas that allow teachers to use real world objects to interact with their digital iPad classroom.

tablets

Your iPad Sees The World

Osmo

This little device is a reflective attachment to your iPad’s camera.  This allows the camera to see objects that are aligned in front of the iPad.  With that added functionality, it is now simply up to software to allow students to interact with the iPad in a unique way, using real world objects.  In the classroom this could potentially open up the possibility of assessments based on real world application.  I could even see this used as a simple overhead projector in combination with an Apple TV.  While the Osmo is fairly new, allowing the digital tools to interact with the real world is the future and we will see more of this type of idea integrated into classrooms in the coming years.

While tablet computers in the classroom are wonderful tools, they still have not reached the level of intuitive use that we often feel as we interact with our analog world. As an example, there are lots of pictures of the moon that we can look up using our web browser, but seeing it first hand through a telescope offers a different level of engagement. In the classroom, we often need our analog world to interact with our digital devices. In the coming days I will be sharing ideas that allow teachers to use real world objects to interact with their digital iPad classroom.

Use A Digital Microscope

ProScope

Proscope is a nifty little device that turns your iPad into a powerful microscope.  The micro mobile version allows up to 80x magnification.  It utilizes LED’s to light up the surface and you can get kits that allow the device to remain stable while using the lens.  It even allows for the viewing of slides just like a traditional microscope.  This is a great add on for digital classrooms.  It allows students hands on interaction with objects, and like the Osmo helps bring the analog world into the digital platform.

Robots

In a long list of items that should find their way into your classroom, you just might want to add robots.  Now I know what you are thinking.  Robots are just complicated toys that create a distraction from those real educational goals you have.  There is much more to robotics that meets the eye, and while it will be an engaging activity there is lots of good learning that can take place with a small robotics program in your classroom.

3D Spaces

First of all robotics are real objects.  And real objects operate in our 3D environment.  This is very different than most of the teaching that occurs in the modern 2D classroom.  When you use an computer, everything is flat.  Your students utilize the electronic tools such as iPads to flatten the world around them and then email it for a grade.  One thing that robots excel at teaching is how objects move in 3D.  Being able to think in 3D is a crucial skill for our next generation of engineers, designers, and artists.  The future is not flat, robots teach that at an early age.

Skill Sets

Robots can be simple and complicated, but for the most part they require problem solving.  You have to teach robots, and teaching is not easy.  You need to learn about systems, subsystems, decision making and reasoning.  Students that engage in robotics programs learn how different disciplines of math work together.  Younger students can learn about measurement, while older students can combine Algebra and Geometry to accomplish a task.

Ethics

Robots are coming.  Smarter, faster and stronger ones each day.  What will this mean for humanity?  Why are robots being built, and what function do they provide?  When they are no longer indistinguishable from people, do we treat them as creations?  Sky is the limit for these conversations.  These are all questions that have no real answer, but allow your students to engage in creative problem solving.  They get to explore content without the fear of being wrong.  They can work through their ideas and write about an exciting future.

Technology

With so much new technology coming, students in elementary will be performing jobs that have not been invented yet.  Their only hope to navigate this maze is to work with technology as often as possible.  And not just a computer, they need to work with all types of technology so they can realize that they are adaptable to anything that is thrown their way.  If a company offers them a job utilizing a piece of technology that they are not experienced with yet, they should have the confidence to know that with a little bit of perseverance they will be able to learn what they need.  Students should feel confident that large problems can be broken down into steps that technology can help them solve.

Robotics Resources

Lego Mindstorms

Vex Robots

Do it Yourself

Robotics Standards and Outcomes

Robotics in the Classroom

Classroom Robotics

Robot Kits

1 Comment

  1. Norton Gusky

    August 13, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    You may want to include the Hummingbird 2.0 for your future Robotics resources. The Hummingbird came out of the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University and is a product of Birdbrain Technologies. The Hummingbird brings STEAM to life as students create animatronics or stories/plays using the robotic kit to control the action of the story or play.