Tag Archives: STEM


Bo and Yana robots from Play-i
Bo and Yana robots from Play-i

Okay, I’m going to admit it right now.  I really want Bo and Yana.  The only reason I’m not featuring these guys in my “Gifts for the Gifted” series is that the earliest you will be able to receive either one is the Summer of 2014, which is a bit late for this holiday season. However, if anyone is looking to get me a gift for Independence Day, go ahead and put this on the list.

Bo and Yana are being offered by Play-i through a crowd-funding campaign, and the project has already met its goal.  But there are still 20 days left (as of today, Nov. 6th) for you to reserve one or both of these little guys.  Check out the video on Play-i’s site to find out more about these robots designed to help your child learn how to program with the benefit of a tablet interface or with Scratch or Blockly.

Play-i states that their mission is to “make programming fun and accessible for every child.”  I like that they show commitment to this promise by including an option for donors to contribute to a fund for low-income students to get access to their products.  What I also notice is that their video has several girls in it.  And, I am guessing that is by design because they feature this infographic on their blog:

How Girls Hold Themselves Back from Pursuing Computer Science [INFOGRAPHIC]This infographic by Play-i. Play-i is creating a programmable robot that teaches computer science to kids ages 5+ in a fun, accessible way. To get updates, sign up here.

I like what Play-i is trying to do, and I hope that they will be successful in their mission.


Design Squad

Design Squad

Recently, I did a post on Engineering for Girls Resources, and included Design Squad as one of the resources.  I realized, though, that Design Squad really deserves its own post, so here you go!

As Maker Education becomes more and more prevalent in schools, Design Squad, a product of PBS Kids, is the perfect website for finding projects for elementary aged children.  Similar to DIY.org, it has everything from “Hack a Greeting Card” to “Build a Blaster.”  There are videos and instructions galore.  You can choose by topics of interest, such as:  food, art, sports, etc…

Design Squad includes resources for Parents and Educators here.  There are lesson plans and other links for the adults who want to get kids involved in hands-on engineering projects.

The site features a “Top Builder” challenge.  Today, November 6th, is the deadline for the current challenge, “Newspaper Power.”  But you can always take a look at the Past Challenges, and find some great ideas for your classroom, club, or at home.

Kids can also take the “Build it Better” challenge, such as designing school supplies that work better or clothes that you can wear in any kind of weather.

To enter the challenges, kids will need a log-in, but the great thing is that the log-in does not require any personal information.  Once students are logged in, they can also offer feedback on the other designs that have been uploaded by awarding stickers to the ones that they like.

Design Squad is a great site for involving kids in creating and problem-solving.  Whether you are using it in your classroom, after-school, or at home, it is sure to offer you ideas that will keep students engaged and excited.

Build Watch Join

The Technologista Series

Grace Hopper Quote

One of my passions, lately, has been to find ways to encourage more girls to explore the S.T.E.M. fields.  Toward that end, I recently posted some Engineering Resources for Girls.  I almost included another link in that post, but decided it would fit better into a post on Technology rather than Engineering – though the two fields obviously overlap quite a bit.

The link I wanted to include is from Mental Floss.  It’s called, “Inspiring Quotes from 10 Influential Women in Tech“.  One of the surprises in this list was the quote from Hedy Lamarr, an actress who apparently was also a brilliant inventor.  “Any girl can be glamorous.  All she has to do is stand still and look stupid,” said Ms. Lamarr, co-developer of a technology that was eventually used to guide torpedoes in the U.S. Navy.

What I didn’t notice the first time I read this on-line article was that there was a video at the bottom from IBM’s “Technologista Series”.  When I finally ran across it, I thought it was an ad.  I looked up the YouTube description, and found this, “Women have been part of some of the most important innovations throughout IBM’s history. The Technologista Series celebrates these accomplishments by showcasing 10 technical women at IBM today. Follow the series to gain valuable insights about the unique culture of IBM as well as a chance to see the faces behind the innovations that have changed our world.”

What keeps this set of videos from being an overt IBM ad campaign are the topics and the young girls (3rd, 4th, and 5th graders) who interview the “Technologistas” in each segment.  In addition to the introductory video, there are 14 short (a little over a minute long) videos – ranging from discussions of innovation to cyber security. The women emphasize many important character traits, such as leadership and creativity, and are great role models in the technology industry for young women to hear and view.

Anna Topol is interviewed by Tyler (3rd grade).
Anna Topol, CTO Engery and Utilities,  is interviewed by Tyler (3rd grade) in the “Energetic Aspirations” video of the “Technologista Series“.

Dance By Number


How can you engage your students in a lesson about patterns, while making sure they use the scientific process, graph their data, analyze their data, and make accurate predictions based on that data?  By incorporating dance, of course!  “Dance By Number“, a lesson that can be found at Stem4Teachers, is guaranteed to make your classroom noisy and chaotic for a few days – but also guarantees that your students will be active in their own learning.  The website has a good video that describes the process and shows it in action.  It also provides the lesson plan, student sheets, and teacher tools (which includes rubrics).  In addition to the enthusiastic involvement of the students, this lesson makes differentiation easy; students can adjust their own levels of learning by creating patterns that reflect their abilities.  It’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned Universal Design for Learning on this blog, but I definitely think this lesson fits the bill.