Sunday, 24 January 2016

BETT Day 2 and 3.

So it is all over for another year.

So what and who did I come across that perked my interest that is worth sharing?

I started the 2nd day by taking part in two lego workshops. One using the new Lego Wedo 2.0 kit, (Which I have already blogged about here.) and then the EV3 kit.

The first workshop had us redesign Milo the Rovers head, so that it could move. It was a nice task that could easily be extended into design and science. The whole kit has a heavy scientific slant with which many themes that can be linked.

The EV3 workshop had a simple task for creating a vehicle that can carry a lego person and start using a sonic sensor. It was great how using just a few simple lego parts a simple rover could be made. While I like the EV3 kits the price does make it a difficult choice for primary.

Both workshops where great and very hands on, both can be used with a iPad via bluetooth.

From there I visited a talk about Top Technology Toys to Transform Your Classroom, given by Bryan L.Miller and Dr. Katrina Keene. They talked very passionately about many commercially available toys that can be used in class. Focusing on the 3 Cs, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity and the importance of play.  They gave some brief examples of what they have used.

Many I have seen before but a few that stood out where the new ViewMaster, which is basically a plastic version of google cardboard, but along with supported VR experiences. Also Marbotic Smart Letters, which are wooden blocks that are recognised by a tablet. Finally something called Puzzlets which is a problem solving game where the player places physical tiles to solve the problem. Some of these need a bit more research.

They also mentioned:
Ozobot, Sphero, Osmo, Makey Makey, Kano, LittleBits, Dash and Dot, Parrot Minidrone - some of these all use a excellent app called Tickle. All of the above are worth a further look and I will be going back to review some of my kits over the next few weeks.

I caught part of a talk about the ExoMars Rover. This was talking about the practical problems that engineers have to overcome about when designing and making a autonomous rover. I liked the idea of using a rover for the stimulus for a longer design and computing project can could easily link to a space topic. There are many computing challenges that could be considered such as efficient search patterns and how to make sure that the rover doesn't topple.

The presenter Dave Gibbs made some good points about cost vs complexity with robot kits for schools.

Chatting to some other keen robotics fans, (@Isreal_Genius ) we liked the idea of simulating a martian landscape and designing a robot that can transverse it. Also the idea of placing a rover in a school field and seeing if it can return home, also can solar charging be implemented as well?

More was discussed along with the use of a block version of Arduino and even something called Robot C. I love my robots, I will come back to this in a longer blog post. 

After wandering around in my wearable jacket for a 2nd day I managed to meet up with the creator of the crumble from redfern electronics. He liked my jacket and showed me a new super simple robot chasis he is selling called the Crumble Build-Bot.


I also met the guys who make the Codebug and got to wear a giant one. :o)  They had some nice ideas on their stand for projects. 

I like the lightsaber idea. ;o)

Now while the Micro:Bit is not going to be given away to Primary children we will be able to buy them. Now I love the Codebug and the Crumble board. But if the price is right the Micro:Bit will be worth looking at as well, it contains far more sensors on the board itself.  There where loads of great maker projects and ideas for how it could be used in class. 

Something random I saw on the INTEL stand was something called ToneTree, it seemed to use the tech from laser projection keyboards. It was basically a sound sensitive grid. My interest was that it will be customisable. So instantly jumped to thinking about how to design my own touch sensitive input for things like robots, games and simulations. I'll be keeping an eye on it.

In the evening at the 10th BETT teachmeet I spoke about my love of robots and the mBot that I have been using in school. Also the great Cat Lamin spoke about her amazing coding evenings. 

Now day 3 was a Saturday. So it was a fair bit quieter. I popped along to the Raspberry Pi Jam for a bit as well.

I managed to look at the pi-top again and saw their new Prototype Board for maker projects. I really like the pi-top, which is a raspberry pi powered laptop, with an OS that encourages programming and electronic projects. The pi-top is nice but I particularly like the pi-topCEED.

This is the pi-topCEED.

The prototype board.

I also managed to catch a few important talks.

I saw Phil Bagge talk about Myths and Resources about Computing in the classroom. Phil is great to watch and has great ideas and talks for a very practical point of view. His website should be looked at it has a lot of good resources.

I also saw Yasmin Bay, European Digital Girl of the Year, talk about Geek Girls how she thinks girls should be encouraged to code. So impressive from someone who is only 14.

I did also spot one final robot called the EDBOT. A very cute robot that is programable using scratch. 

It isn't cheap, the basic model is £600, but they have a very inventive solution to allow children to very quickly have access to the robot in class. At any point the teacher can give control to any computer in the class. So I think it could be possible to work with this in class with only a few robots. 

Now I hope to get a closer look at these when they come into my school, so will keep you updated.

Phew, thats is it for now. More details on some items to follow but hopefully some of the review above is useful.

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