Thursday, April 23, 2015

Our Makerspace expands!

Everyday feels like Christmas in the library lately.  We have been receiving packages almost daily with new tools, toys, and things with which we can tinker to add to our new Makerspace.  Thanks to an Innovation Technology Mini-Grant from the School District of New London, we have been awarded funds to purchase some of the latest and greatest gadgets and technologies to help our students innovate, create, explore, and learn!

Today was the first day that we tried out our new Puzzlebox Orbit helicopter. This unique gadget flies by reading one's brain signals.  After attaching the EEG headset, the user must concentrate on one specific mental task.  When the appropriate attention level has been achieved, the helicopter flies.  Our 6th graders were more than willing to test the Puzzlebox.  Proving the strong brain capacity of this group, several students were able to make it fly.  Check out our video to see it in action.

Our Little Bits kits are also new items that have been very popular with students during recesses.  Little Bits give students the chance to create their own electronic circuits by snapping pieces together.  To help students become familiar with how to create circuits, I printed out these Little Bits challenge cards.  As an added incentive, any student who completes all 12 challenges will receive a prize.  The students pictured below have already made it through challenge 10!

The library often looks like "Legoland" during recesses with students eager to build their own Lego creations using our giant tub of Legos.  I love seeing what students are creating on their own!  To help further the limits of students' Lego creations, we have added a few new tools to the Lego area in our Makerspace.  First, we now have motors and remotes so that Lego creations can become mobile.  Second, we added a Lego Fusion kit.  Lego Fusion is a newer concept that combines the physical building of Legos with the virtual world.  Once students build an item with the Lego Fusion kit, they can make it a part of a virtual world using an iPad app.  Our library has added the Lego Fusion Town Master set which lets students construct a building, take a picture of it, and then add it to the Town Master iPad app.  Their building becomes part of a virtual world that they then continue to construct.  One of our 5th graders was eager to get started using this set today and began by creating his own building.  We can't wait to see what happens when he begins building his virtual town.

You may have noticed that the iMac has moved from the back room to the main area in our library.  Unity 3D software has been installed to give students the chance to create their own games and virtual worlds.  In addition, we have a new tool called the Leap Motion that lets a user control the computer with his or her hands.  I can't wait to see the Leap Motion combined with some Unity 3D creations!  Can you think of the possibilities?  In the picture below, you can see the Leap Motion at work- simply place your hands above the sensor and watch your computer go.

Finally, we have a few more gadgets to debut in the next coming weeks.  These include Dot and Dash robots, Ozobots, and Touchboard which will make surfaces interactive.  We cannot wait to see the innovation and creativity from our students as the library truly becomes a space to create, innovate, explore, and learn!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Touring Asia with the Green Screen

We had a chance to experiment with our green screens again. This time 7th graders in Mrs. Berglund's Social Studies classes used the green screens and the iPads to create video tours of the Asian countries that they researched. In their videos, they highlighted special features of each country such as local cuisine, recreation, land features, and famous people. Students used the iPads and the app Green Screen by Do Ink to record their videos. They edited all of their video clips together and added special finishing touches such as titles and background music using iMovie.

Want to take a tour of Asia? Watch our student videos below.