Tag Archives: technology education

Tips for Choosing Robotics Kits for the Classroom Part 1

So, you want to invest in robotics kits for the classroom. Here are some observations we made while recently trying out some kits for a STEM program.

robotics kits for the classroom

What’s the Intention?

To start, think about how you plan to use robotics kits for the classroom.

  • In what type of setting will you use the kit?
    • In a computer lab environment?
    • Learning center activity?
    • A robotics club?
  • Will it be used by multiple grade levels?
  • Does the kit lend itself to teamwork?
    • If students are working in small groups, is there a task for each student? For example, one child can control the parts, another reads instructions, a third can be the assembler, and a fourth could handle the programming.
  • Is the kit affordable? Consider how many students can work on a kit at one time, and how many kits your school can afford.

About Kit Components

Robotic kits for the classroom can be expensive. Consider the quality of the kit before you buy.

robotics in the classroom

  • Flimsy or cheaply made parts will not stand up well in a classroom environment. Look for parts that are made of sturdy materials that can be used, taken apart, and used again many times.
  • Does the kit, or company, have good reviews? For example, LEGO is a reputable robotics manufacturer.
    • Is a warranty provided?
    • Can you easily purchase replacement parts if needed?
  • Does the kit require a power source?
    • If there are programmable controllers and motors, they may all require batteries. You will need to have a supply on hand or invest in rechargeable ones.
  • Some parts may need to be charged.
    • Does the kit come with adequate USB charging cables?
    • Allow time to charge! You may need to complete charging on a daily basis.
    • Don’t forget, if you opted for rechargeable batteries, these need charging too.
  • Age appropriateness is important. Look to see how parts fit together. Do they snap together easily? Do they require tools like a wrench and screwdriver? Are there mechanical parts like motors and sensors that may be too challenging for younger students?
    • Too many small parts are difficult to assemble for small hands.
    • Large kits may require several hours for complete assembly.
    • Smaller parts, motors, and gears may be more appropriate for senior students.
  • Are the parts easily disassembled? Can a model be taken apart quickly and easily to construct something new in a timely fashion? Will the parts last for several years?
  • Does the kit include any extra components?
    • A play map can teach coordinates and open-ended movement tasks.
    • Are additional add-on kits available to extend the usefulness of the base kit?

About the Storage Container

Some of the kits we looked at ranged from flimsy boxes and single use bags to hard plastic storage bins with dividers inside for parts. Consider how to store and track all the parts.

  • Ideally you want a storage container that has sections in it. You may find some that are shaped to the part so you can tell right away if something is missing. This makes it much easier to keep inventory.
  • A durable plastic bin with tight fitting lid is better than a cardboard box. The lid can double as a workspace area keeping the small parts from ending up on the floor. The lip, or rim, of the lid keeps everything contained.
  • If your kit comes with small parts that are in single use bags, this can be a nightmare once those bags are opened. You may need to replace them with resealable sandwich type bags.

robotics kits for the classroom

Robotics Kits for the Classroom to be Continued

And there’s more to consider! In my next post, I’ll list some considerations about teacher and student support materials as well as the programming software.

Stay tuned!

Cyberbullying – Teach Awareness and Responses

As educators, we strive to promote a climate of respect. Bullying behavior is evident on the playground, but it is more difficult to detect and respond to when it takes place online. In addition, students need to recognize cyberbullying. They need to know when the line is crossed and a joke or teasing has gone too far. The first step is to build an awareness of cyberbullying. Next, students should know what they can do and who they can go to for help if they are a victim. Promote a community of responsible digital citizens in the classroom.

What Is a Cyberbully?

cyberbullyingCyberbullies are people who threaten another person by using the Internet to post hurtful or embarrassing messages, images, or videos. Cyberbullies can make a person feel scared, worried, or angry.

Often a bully will say that the message “was just a joke.” Cyberbullying is NO JOKING MATTER and it is NOT FUNNY.

Cyberbullying is illegal. In some countries cyberbullying is a hate crime that can result in a fine or jail time. In other countries, cyberbullying is slander and a lawsuit can be filed against the bully. At some schools, cyberbullying is a reason for expulsion or cause to ban use of Internet at school.

Do Not Be a Cyberbully

Be a responsible digital citizen. Do not be a bully!

  • Do not continue to e-mail someone after they have asked you to stop.
  • Do not post any comments online, using e-mail, chat, or social media sites, which would be hurtful or embarrassing to another person.
  • Do not threaten anyone using e-mail, chat, or social media sites.
  • Do not post or tag a picture of anyone without their consent.
  • Do not share personal information about another person without their consent.

What Should You Do if You are a Victim of Cyberbullying?

When you are bullied it can make you feel worried or scared. Do not ignore the problem. You can stop cyberbullying. To do this:

  • Tell an adult about the bullying.
  • Do not delete the message from the bully. It is evidence.
  • Inform your Internet service provider. They can help find the identity of the bully.
  • If a message contains a death threat or threat to cause bodily harm, contact the police.

What Can You Do to Stop Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying can be done using e-mail, instant messaging, bulletin boards, websites, polling booths, and more.

  • E-Mail: Cyberbullies send hateful messages to a person using e-mail. Often the cyberbully will register for a free e-mail account so no one will be able to guess their identity. They may register for an e-mail address that has a threatening tone such as kickname@live.ca.

    What can you do if you are a victim? Add the e-mail address of the sender to a blocked e-mail list. This will stop new messages from being delivered. It is possible to trace the source of an e-mail. You can contact the Internet service provider of the e-mail account to try to get the company to delete the e-mail address of the cyberbully.

  • Instant Messaging: Cyberbullies send hateful messages to a person using chat software. Often the cyberbully will change their nickname to include a nasty message such as “Name is ugly” or ” I hate name.” Everyone who receives an instant message from the cyberbully will be able to read the mean nickname.

    What can you do if you are a victim? Add the contact information of the sender to a blocked list. This will stop new messages from being delivered. If the cyberbully is a student, you can contact their parent or teacher to let them know about the abuse.

  • Bulletin Boards: Cyberbullies post hateful messages to a bulletin board that people can read. The messages often include the victim’s telephone number or e-mail address to get other people to abuse the person.

    What can you do if you are a victim? Contact the manager of the bulletin board. The manager can delete the hateful message and stop the cyberbully from posting any new messages.

  • Websites: Cyberbullies create web pages that have mean pictures or hateful information about another person.

    What can you do if you are a victim? Most Internet service providers have rules about the content of websites. When cyberbullies create hateful web pages they are breaking the rules. The Internet service provider can request that the bully remove the content on the web page or delete the website.

  • Polling Booths: Cyberbullies post online surveys where people vote for the ugliest, fattest, dumbest boy or girl.

    What can you do if you are a victim? Polling booths are often part of a service offered by an online social community. Most communities have rules about the content members can post. When cyberbullies create hateful polls they are breaking the rules. The operator of the social community can request that the bully remove the poll or delete their member account.

  • Imposter: Cyberbullies will hack into the victim’s account. As an imposter, they will send fake e-mails or post rude comments.

    What can you do if you are a victim? Protect your identity. To do this, create a password that is difficult to guess. Do not tell your password to anyone, except your parent or teacher. Always log out when you leave a computer. If someone hacks into your account, change your password right away.

For more Internet activities and digital citizenship lessons, see TechnoKids’ technology project TechnoInternet.

Webcam Tips

webcam sitesWhat do you think about using webcams as part of your curriculum unit? Read each statement.

  1. I want my class to learn Internet search skills.
  2. My students can’t find any good webcam sites.
  3. We have wasted lots of time in the computer lab using webcam sites.
If you answered 1, 2, or 3 read on!
Here are some tips for you and your students when looking for webcam sites:
  • Use effective keywords to search: Here are some ideas to use as search terms to find webcam sites. Bookmark your favorites!
  • museum webcam underwater webcam railway webcam ski webcam
    zoo cams theme park webcam traffic webcam live New York webcam
    live street camera Hawaii webcam beach webcam national park webcam
  • Unable to see webcam: Some web pages place an online form or advertising over top of the camera. You must close the form or ad before you can see the webcam.
  • Use government webcams: Some web pages have too many advertisements. However, government web pages tend to have no advertising.
  • Visit well-known places: Famous museums, national parks, theme parks, and landmarks tend to have quality webcams that work.
  • Use the word “live”: To avoid viewing static pictures use the word live in your search word so that you will only find real-time video.
  • Consider the time of day: Webcams are from around the world. While you are awake, in other parts of the world the people might be asleep. If you view a webcam in the middle of the night, it is likely to be dark or there may not be anything happening.
  • Be patient: You might be viewing a webcam from very far away. It can take time for the webcam to load on the web page.
  • Webcam time limits: Some websites restrict the amount of time you can watch the webcam feed. Some will force you to refresh the page before it can be viewed again.

Fun Digital Citizenship Activities

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Are you looking for lesson plans? TechnoInternet teaches students how to explore the Internet safely. Have your students pin markers on their Internet map as they journey online. Learn digital citizenship, Internet safety, search strategies, research skills, and more. Read more about TechnoInternet, see sample lessons, learning objectives, and teacher reviews here.

Updated Internet Activities for Kids

NOTE: The technology project, TechnoJourney was replaced with TechnoInternet. The activities are similar.

Internet Activities for Kids

TechnoJourney internet activities

TechnoJourney internet activities have been recently revised, with new and improved lessons for elementary and middle school grades. The Internet is constantly changing and so are TechnoKids projects! TechnoJourney is a fun introduction to the Internet and it has just been completely updated. Have your students become Internet savvy with TechnoKids authentic online experiences.

Teachers, do your technology curriculum objectives include any of the following?

internet activities

  • internet safety
  • digital citizenship
  • research skills
  • copyright awareness
  • cyberbullying
  • e-mail etiquette

TechnoJourney teaches these concepts and more with fun, engaging activities. Students travel the Internet with a passport in hand. Choose a destination: Visitor’s Center, e-Library, e-Media Center, e-Playground, e-Mail Depot, or e-Cafe. At each stop students explore the sites, complete activities, and receive a stamp in their passport. This online expedition allows students to discover the wonders online as they learn the importance of responsible digital citizenship.

TechnoJourney internet activities

Learning objectives achieved in TechnoJourney internet activities include:
  1. demonstrate responsible, ethical, and safe behavior
  2. use search strategies to locate online resources
  3. bookmark web pages and organize them in a folder
  4. assess trustworthiness of web-based information
  5. watch educational and entertaining videos
  6. play online games, listen to music, view webcams
  7. communicate with e-mail using netiquette
  8. prevent cyberbullying
  9. communicate using chat
  10. evaluate forms of social media

internet activitiesWhen you order TechnoJourney you receive a teacher guide, digital student worksheets, and customizable resources. Additional materials such as an Internet map, Internet passport, Internet citizenship card, assessment tools, and enrichment activities support learning.

Transform your students into Internet experts with TechnoJourney internet activities!