Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Growing Our STEM Lab & Makerspace. New Additions for 2016!

*In an effort to honor the true meaning of a Makerspace, as defined by the ones who paved the way, I want to clarify that our lab is truly a STEM Lab with the element of a makerspace added in. We offer time for our students to tinker, create, play and explore without the constraints of an objective or directions to follow. However, our STEM Lab does have challenges and a little more structure that offers us an opportunity to meet the NGSS (especially Engineering Design) in an engaging and exciting hands-on learning environment. For more information about the meaning of a true Makerspace check out What is a Makerspace by Colleen Graves.

Although our STEM Lab at Sun Terrace Elementary (@SunTerrace1) has only been up and running since the beginning of October we are already reflecting, modifying and growing. We started with some key tools (both high & low tech) when we opened our doors (the post Making Our Makerspace is all about how we got started). However, as we have been observing our students in the lab we have done some research and made a few adjustments and additions in order to make our STEM Lab the most exciting and engaging learning environment we can. This post is all about the "cool tools".  I am working on a follow up post will that will go into the logistics of running our STEM Lab but for now check out the awesome new stuff we are adding!

So what's new for 2016?

Gizmos and Gadgets kits from @littleBits $199.95. A fabulous addition recommended by Wendy Townlin. This kit contains the materials to make tons of cool projects. Even the littlest inventors can create some seriously cool stuff. The step-by-step instructions provide 12 easy to build creations. Our innovative kiddos can use the littleBits app to browse through hundreds of project ideas or they can just start inventing their own!

Sphero Robots from @Sphero $129.99. A very cool app enabled sphere shaped robot. Sphero is super tough and can get moving up to 4.5 mph! Sphero has it's own app for IOS and Android and can also be programmed using the Tickle App (currently only available for IOS). You must have a smartphone or tablet to use these robots so be sure to take that into account when ordering!

MaKey MaKey from @TheJoyLabz classic starts at $49.95. MaKey MaKey is an awesome little inventor's kit that turns almost anything into a touchpad. Plug the board into a computer and use the alligator clips to connect all sorts of fun objects creating your very own mouse and keyboard.

Piper from @withpiper $269.99.  Another excellent recommendation from Wendy is this amazing little kit that includes everything you need to build a fully working computer! It includes a plywood case, 7" LED screen, Raspberry Pi, USB mouse, sensors, lights, buttons, power bank AND a DIY Minecraft controller! Once it's built students can build hardware in real-life to control to build and create in a modified Minecraft world. Piper is an engaging and very effective way to get kids creating rather than just consuming technology.

So there they are, the new very cool "tools" we have available for our budding scientists, technicians, engineers & mathematicians to build, grow, discover, tinker and learn with. We are excited to see what our amazing students create. Follow us on twitter @SunTerrace1 to see our STEM Lab & Makerspace project tweets!

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