# March 2011 Hackerspace Challenge

- See [1] for guidelines
- Due 8PM EST 3/11/2011

Challenges in elementary education

## Ideas from Meeting on March 8th 2011

- Trig. Tablet: a right angle device, reads trig functions as angle of armature changes -PROBABLY NOT -jcrews
- "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.* - bouncy ball that uses accelerometers and LEDs to teach kids about force and motion.
- Blocks: communicate w/ eachother to teach sets, arithmetic, etc
- Portable indoor/outdoor Garden Sprite -- take time lapse photos of seedlings as they grow, measure soil temperature, measure sunlight, pool statistics and create time lapse videos. create a physical component for a "gardening unit" using the sprite :) inexpensive and accessible for varied demographics

- 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.
- Fraction teacher: a grid of 5x5 LEDs. Select the denominator and the proper number of LEDs turns red. Select the numerator and the proper subset of those turns green and the decimal equivalent is shown on the readout. (I am using the simple red/green LEDs here).

*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
- Fraction blocks that can wirelessly communicate and work for adding unlike denominators/finding equivalencies.

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.

The math tools that are currently lacking have to do with power structures (such as multi-base blocks mentioned). Also, hex bugs are popular. So, I am thinking of something that has to do with hex bug idea and "unitizing" (making units and units of units) in math. See if any of these manipulatives inspire: http://mathfuture.wikispaces.com/SubQuan+and+friends

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!