March 2011 Hackerspace Challenge

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Ideas from Meeting on March 8th 2011

  • Trig. Tablet: a right angle device, reads trig functions as angle of armature changes
  • "Player Piano Pen": pen or car with LEDs and light sensors, reads and plays notes as it's rolled along a musical score
  • The Baroo Indicator: students can anonymously register their confusion during a clss Rather than be anonymous, it might be helpful for such a device to be inconspicuous to use so students could register confusion without attracting attention of their classmates but it would probably be important to identify the feedback of identified individual students to teachers. That way, teachers could use the data more intentionally to group students for learning.
  • Accelerometer eggdrop: ball reads force as intensity, color, blinkrate, then plays it back
  • Blocks: communicate w/ eachother to teach sets, arithmetic, etc

A Cartesian coordinate game system: 2 axes, buttons or touch pads at all intersections of the coordinates. Games are all built around (X,Y) format: variation on Battleship, or punching given coordinates for speed, etc.

Dream ideas from teachers in the field:

  • A device that helps ELL students understand syllabication in English (e.g., you say a word and a light flashes to represent the number of syllables)
  • Digital Divide conquering: a way to provide low-cost connectivity to students who lack connectivity in the home/some sort of inexpensive handheld device that students could transport between home and school that would enable students to continue working on their projects outside of school hours
  • A device that could attach to a SmartPhone, scan a word in text, pronounce the word and use the web to bring up an image of the word to illustrate meaning

I was thinking last night/this morning about the kinds of mathematical teaching tools we currently use in elementary ed, given that much of the conversation last night revolved around mathematics. Common items include:

  • counters. Students in grades K-1 count everything, all the time.
  • Unifix cubes. Students use these to count, measure, add and subtract. Students will frequently build "trains" of 10 cubes using 2 different colors, sets of 5 at a time to build understandings of 5 and 10 as benchmarks.
  • snap cubes. These are like Unifix cubes, but they are able to be combined in multiple directions, allowing students to build cubes or other shapes. They can also be used for addition and subtraction and have more uses with area/perimeter/volume.
  • Pattern blocks. Used for a variety of applications, including shape names, patterning, fractions and operations.
  • Base 10 blocks. Apparently, when these were originally developed, there were blocks to model bases 2-10. Only the 10 blocks seem to be in production still, but I would love to get my hands on other bases. Used mainly to teach place value.
  • Rulers, compasses, and protractors. Used to teach measurement.

Places kids get hung up in foundational mathematics:

  • place value (think more grouping/regrouping than "names of places")
  • subtraction
  • division
  • fractions
  • geometric logic, particularly with area/perimeter, transformations, and relationships among geometric figures

Thank you for taking on this challenge! Hope this is helpful!