Saturday, 27 January 2018

Bett Day 2...

So yesterday was another long day, i'm finally I'm home after an excellent Teachmeet and Teachmeet Social. So these are some of the things that caught my eye yesterday.

Once again micro:bit featured heavily in what I noticed around the show. I went back to some of the stands to look again at the adaptor boards. I noticed a real shift, that products that where, last year, using Arduino and Raspberry Pi has now added a micro:bit adaptor.

I noticed more micro:bit models by a couple of companies today. These were great little wooden models that had been laser cut. You build them add the motors and micro:bit and away you go. I liked a kit that made a teabag dipper. There where also a couple of nice games.

Lots of companies seem to be getting in the idea of the micro:bit as a driver behind a number a little projects. I think if nothing else these tiny products that are fairly inexpensive to buy. Schools could be buying a couple of these and then using them as inspiration for kids and making their own out of cardboard. It is the fact that there's lots more ideas suddenly out there, more accessible to the normal class teacher. Check out

Continuing again on the maker theme, I was impressed by a lot of the STEM and creative sections on a number of the largest stands. In particular Microsoft had a really really nice section on hacking STEM, which currently is all based on Arduino but the projects themselves are fully adaptable and you could probably easily get them working with microbo:bit. There are loads of resources and lessons plans to make projects. They did suggest that micro:bit guides where going to be coming soon, anyway.

Linking that back to some of the stuff yesterday with birdbrain technologies and all the great stuff in the micro:bit stand it just provides more materials that teachers and children could use to try and link computing and design.

I loved the dragon... :o) 

I talked a bit about the VR yesterday and today managed to pop on to the Lenovo stand and have a go their headset which is an amazing piece of kit. Sadly probably too expensive for schools to access at £500 but if you get a chance, do have a look at it because it's that next level of VR beyond the ClassVR headsets.

I popped back to the Google stand to have a look at Science Journal, an app on chromebooks, android and apple devices. I saw this yesterday very briefly but didn't have time to have it run through for me. This is an app that basically turns your iPad or iPhone or Android device into a data logger. It simply allows you to use all the sensors that are in the device. So if you strap iPad onto a car and roll it down a ramp you will get acceleration data from the accelerometer. Which you then get as a graph that you can export to sheets to further analyse. Unfortunately it currently doesn't support Google Classroom but he said that he's coming soon.

I had a very quick look at Coding with Chrome which is a Blockly application. It has some ner functions that allow you to plug into the Google Photos API so it can do image recognition. So in an image the webcam takes it can recognise what the picture is about. If you have never tried it go you your own google photos and type in dog or park or screen and it will have analyses all your photos bring you photos it thinks contain them. It like it automatically add tags to your photos. Now the code probably is far too complicated for Primary children but it is a really nice example you could show too children and perhaps get them to think about how it works. It is a great example of AI. I'll definitely use it with my children once it launches in a few weeks.

Yesterday I mentioned a small robot, which I didn't name, it is called True True. I went back today and had a closer look at it and it's a really, really interesting little robot. It is similar to an Ozobot to be fair but it one looks cuter and I was just impressed by build and manufacture. What I like is that for KS1 it can be programmed via feeding it cards, but what I discovered today is that it can programmed using scratch, which opens it up to KS2. It also have the ability to plug in extra sensors. So it's a cute but truly could be a robot that you can use in every key stage, so I think it's worth keeping an eye on. It currently isn't available to buy in the UK and has no distributors but it's something definitely to come back to.


In the same area I saw another app programming game that had a really interesting extra component I've never seen before. The basic app game was one where you choose the icons and a little character moves long a level and you solve the puzzle. Very standard game are there are lots of games out there like it. It also though has a physical board with blocks that you moved around to program the characters on screen, so had nice physical/tactile elements. But the thing that really struck me as really interesting was there was a cardboard board that allowed you to plan out your ideas before using the app. I've never seen an add on to an app game quite like. Every level has a piece of cardboard which shows the whole level and all the platforms and elements on the level. You had a character pieces and small cards of the actions. So the children can plan, discuss and test, by moving the character piece on the board and 'running' the actions. Once they are happy the can put the program into the app and see it it responds how they predicted. But if there is an issue you can go back to the physical board to help debug there program. I genuinely never seen anything like it. It is called Cubico.

On to TTS they had a really nice progression of programming hardware that I hadn't seen before which is definitely worth a look. 

There was a number of new products that they were showing off, somewhere really interesting and you should go and check them out to see if they are for you. 

Cubelets are of these little Blocks that all have different functions and depending on how you put them together the machine does different things. I quite liked the idea. 

But they did show off a new remote control cat that I just don't get. It is a one button remote control toy. I don't understand why this product exists because in my brain a button on a remote control toy should do one thing. This toys one button does two things, moves or turns. So I why doesn't the controller doesn't have two buttons. I'd love to talk to the designers to explain why. When you push then button once it goes forwards and when you push the button again it turns. So depending on when you pick up the toy's remote you actually don't know what it's going to do, when you push then button. Oh well.

I did go and check out the EDBOT Dream which is a new product from the company that makes the Edbot. It's a LEGO like kit that you program using Scratch and it's got sensors and motors and you can build various model and make them move and react. I think the kit built 24 models. It reminds me a lot of Lego Wedo, to be honest but with a lot more models and and sensors but at a higher price. It is definitely worth a look though. Just like the larger robot it has a capability where you get alway with only buying a few kits, as you can give over control of the model to each computer in the lesson, without the need to move the model around or transfer the programs to one machine. It's a nice solution to only being able to buy two or three kits but still allowing most of the class to access the kit and control. It is still a unique solution to that issue of having enough kit, but I would like to see in practice.

Though I saw a lot of robots yesterday, I came back one called Marty which I've seen before on crowdfunding platforms and sort of dismissed out of hand, I think I was supporting another similar robot that in the end never delivered. But in person had a look and actually think it is a fun robot and kits would get a kick out of it, So I have bought one and so I will blog further about it when I have built it and had a play.

So overall day to there was some interesting things which grabbed my attention. That little robot is still something, the True True, that has struck me as really interesting and I'm going to go back today and see about trying to get one.

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