World Space Week, October 4-10 annually, is the largest space event on Earth. More than 5,000 events in over 80 countries celebrated the theme “Space Unites the World” in 2018. The 2019 theme is “The Moon: Gateway to the Stars.”
“The General Assembly declares 4 to 10 October World Space Week to celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition”.
UN General Assembly resolution, 6 December 1999
National Coding Week is a not-for-profit social movement established to encourage children and adults to learn digital skills including coding.
Using the “Learn, Share and Have fun” philosophy we encourage organisations to offer adults opportunities and support in order to build their confidence.
They encourage those with digital skills to share them during the week – we especially hope that all organisations get involved including: hubs, libraries, training providers, NGOs.
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”
– Malcolm X
In the fast paced digital world in which we live, barely a week goes by without the release of a new device or app. The children of today have grown up with this digital revolution and rely heavily on technology for entertainment, communication and information. As we look ahead it would be foolish to underestimate the impact that technology, automation and artificial intelligence will have on the future workplace. From driverless cars to robotics, the world is changing fast. The question is:
Are we teaching children the the skills they need to prepare them for the technological advances of the future?
Plus, with school budgets stretched to the limit, how can we provide forward-thinking technology education on a budget? We’ve put together a few ideas linked to the world of robotics…
These colourful programmable floor robots are a great way to teach directionality, programming and sequencing and are perfect for the 5-11 age range. A great way to begin is by marking out simple routes for the Bee-Bot to follow. For example, try sticking masking tape onto carpet to create a maze. Once children have got to grips with this, challenge them to devise and program and debug their own more complex routes. Currently retailing for £57.94 here on Amazon.co.uk
This educational program helps children to design, program and control robotic creatures, vehicles, machines and inventions. Lego is combined with programmable brick, motors and sensors, so you can make your creations walk, talk, grab, think, shoot and do almost anything you can imagine! These kits are on the pricier side at around £270 here but once purchased can be used again and again.
This resource is developed for primary aged children as an introduction to control technology and programming using robotics. The software is clear and intuitive for young children and comes in the form of an app. Click on their website here to find out more and download sample software and curriculum packs for free.
This is a small, affordable computer that you can use for programming. Use it to learn to program with Scratch. You can kit yourself out with a Raspberry Pi here for around £36. Then head to their website to learn how to use this device in the classroom and take advantage of their free online training.
These ping pong ball sized robotic balls can be controlled by an app and can even use facial recognition technology to drive the ball. They contain LED lights to allow them to glow many colours. The app is quick and intuitive for children to use. They’ll love navigating their Sphero around mazes and obstacles. Currently retailing for £49.99 here on Amazon.co.uk
Each kit comes with step-by-step instructions to build and program your robot. Kits include robotic arms, catapults and zip flyers. Each kits varies in price with the hydraulic robotic arm (pictured) currently retailing for £33.49 here on Amazon.co.uk
Scratch allows the user to program their own interactive stories, games and animations. These programming skills are likely to come in hand in the future as the ‘language of robotics’. What’s more, you can connect and program hardware such as Raspberry Pi and Lego Mindstorms through Scratch. If you’re not already familiar with this fab free software then click here to find out.
The Nasa Robotics website is full of fantastic free resources for educators and children. This includes lesson plans and examples of how robots such as the Mars Exploration Rover have been used in space. Check it out here.
Have you used a good robotics resource that we haven’t included? If so then comment below.
Nowadays QR codes can be found everywhere. We see them on websites, flyers, packaging, adverts, in restaurants and shops… the list is endless! We’ve got some great ideas for how you can bring them into your classroom. Try them out and we think you’ll agree that QR codes provide an exciting and memorable way to bring learning to life.
QR code stand for quick response code. These nifty little codes originated in Japan but can now be found all around the world. Simply scan the image using your smartphone or tablet and it will take you to a specific digital destination. This might be an app, website, text message or audio message. In fact, why not go on a quick QR search around your classroom and see how many examples of these codes you can find nearby?
In order to get started with the following activities you will need two important bits of technology; the tools to create a QR code and an app to scan the code with.
QR code generator: In order to create QR codes, we recommend using http://www.qr-code-generator.com/ This website is free to use and gives you the option to link your code to various digital destinations such as a website, PDF, image, MP3 or text. Remember to make sure your code is ‘static’ so that the destination is fixed. Other QR generating websites offer the option of customising and changing the colour of your QR code. Be aware that darker codes on a lighter background scan best.
QR code app: Free apps such as QRbot can be downloaded via a smartphone or tablet device to enable you to scan and read QR codes. Some apps also offer additional functions such as keeping a log of the QR codes that were scanned or being able to generate QR codes.
Our first activity is guaranteed to increase children’s engagement and will keep them talking about it long after the lesson has ended. What’s more, it can easily be adapted depending on the lesson purpose. Simply generate your QR codes and hide them around your classroom, ready for your class to find and scan. Essentially, any lesson can easily be turned into a QR code scavenger hunt. For example, a maths lesson on identifying types of angles can become an exciting STEM challenge by generating each angle as an image on a QR code. Your class will love moving around the classroom to find and identify the angles and can record their answers in their books.
Another idea is for the QR codes to contain quiz questions related to an area of study. This can be achieved by using the ‘text’ option on your QR generator. Once scanned, children should write their answer to the question before moving on to scan the next one. Alternatively, the QR codes might contain answers to a list of pre-prepared questions. Children should match the question to the answer, recording them in their books.
Our second QR code activity is also extremely versatile and can be adapted to suit most lesson activities. The purpose is to create QR codes that will help children to complete their work. We’ve seen this activity used in lots of different ways. For example,
- To provide answers to lesson activities (see image 1). Once children have completed their work, they simply scan the code to find the correct answers. This not only provides them with instant feedback but also saves the teacher lots of marking time!
- To link children to websites that will help them with their work (see image 2). We all know how long it can take children to type a web link into google. By scanning the QR code, children are instantly transported to the correct website and can use the information to help them with their work.
- To link children to relevant YouTube videos (see image 3). Learning about an inspirational stem person? Why not link the children up with pre-chosen videos about their achievements, giving them time to scan and watch the videos. They can then use their new knowledge to create fact files, posters etc.
Adding QR codes to books is a great way for children to ‘go beyond the text’. Taking the book ‘Rosie Revere, Engineer’ as an example, the QR codes below could be inserted into the front of the book. The first links to a short YouTube video designed for children, entitled ‘What is an Engineer?’ The second links to a website full of engineering activities that could be linked to this book. Why not add some QR codes to some of the books in your classroom to help your class learn more about some of the themes in the book?
QR codes also serve as a great way to make your classroom displays more interactive. Codes can be generated to link the reader to relevant books, websites and videos. They can also provide answers to questions on the display. A quick image google search should provide you with plenty of inspiration. Children will enjoy scanning the codes and interacting with the display.
Instead of the teacher doing all the work, why not hand the power over to the children? Creating QR codes is a great learning opportunity for your class, helping them to understand more about web links, video url’s and QR codes. Challenge them to come up with their own QR codes to add to a classroom display or insert inside a book.
We’d love to hear about how you have been using QR codes in your classroom. Add your comments below or share your thoughts with us via our Facebook and Twitter pages.