New tools for making, learning, and fun!

Making in education is a current “hot topic” for schools looking to offer students creative, authentic learning experiences. The tools of the maker movement are accelerating into schools at a rapid pace. New coding apps for the iPad, useful plugins that give Chromebooks more capability to interact with physical computing tools like Arduino, and fun robots like Sphero are practical, affordable, and useful for many different subject areas. Plus, new inventions are arriving everyday that make connecting the physical world to the digital world simpler, like these two:

  • litttleBits are components that snap together magnetically so you can not only “play” with circuits, but also prototype inventions. They have just added some amazing bits – the Cloud Bit and wireless bits, plus music and home automation.
  • Hummingbird is an invention kit that supports building and programming robots using upcycled materials. The secret of the Hummingbird is that it is very easy to use even without understanding electronics, yet students can graduate to more advanced programming modes in time. Hummingbirds now work with Chromebooks! There is a beta release of software integrations for Scratch, Snap!, Arduino, and BlocklyDuino.

The best part of joining the maker movement is a return to the importance of fun in education. Fun and play are important factors in learning, not just for younger children, but for all ages. The interesting tools of the maker movement combine well with lessons in STEM and other subjects, giving students the ability to create and shine! A resource for creative and clever classroom technology projects is a new book, The Invent to Learn Guide to Fun – full of cool projects that explore innovative software, hardware, and upcycled materials. Combine simple electronics with LEGO bricks, 3D printing with clay tiles, computers with cardboard, and more.

If you are going to be in Philadelphia for ISTE 2015, consider joining me at a hands-on workshop the day before ISTE starts: The Invent To Learn Day of Hard Fun. It will be fun!

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