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Computational Thinking, the Humanities, and Gender

Computational Thinking,  The Humanities, and GenderCan integrating computational thinking into the humanities close the technology gender gap?  Alone in my classroom, I stared at the clear, round robot glowing bright blue on my desk. The Sphero, a robotic tool that can be used to teach programming, was donated to my classroom, much to my excitement. After a few hours of plugging away at the programming options on the Sphero Edu App, I managed to manipulate the robot using the draw, blocks, and javascript programming options. It’s not difficult, it’s just a path of learning that I was not as interested in pursuing until recently. Before I start to congratulate myself on my work with the Sphero, I realize I am a technology statistic. Nationwide, there is a lack of women in Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers. My current career choice as that of a Social Studies teacher seeks to broaden my students understanding of the human experience, but am I missing somethi…

Big Data in Education: Privacy vs. Payoff


Big Data is everywhere in our daily lives whether we know it or not.  Every movie we stream, course we plot and purchase we make is recorded.  Giving up that data opens the door to amazing modern conveniences but also erodes our privacy little by little. There is even a new trend of coffee shops for college students where the coffee is free as long as you give up your data. As we try to navigate the delicate balance between modern convenience and privacy we begin to question the true costs of those conveniences.  As “big data” makes its way into public education we must carefully assess whether the benefits the costs to student privacy. Big data in education is not new.  For years we have collected tons of student data through standardized tests and surveys which has been used to improve instruction and conditions in schools. However, with more recent advances in technology, it is possible to take student data collection to a new level.  This new level of data collection …

Using education games to increase engagement

I am a child of the ’80s and ’90s.  I grew up with green screen Apple computers in the library, learned about the trials and tribulations of western migration by playing Oregon Trail and practiced my multiplication tables playing Number Munchers.  Technology has come a long way since then and with that games being used in education has come a long way as well.My students “play” simulations in science, they useIcivics in Social Studies and practice typing withNitro Type.  The availability of so-called “educational” games has led me to question what exactly is an “educational” game and what can they do to help engage and educate students?  

An example of a static electricity simulation in PHET.  

Understanding Educational Games
A good place to start is to define “educational” games.  In the article “Educational Games for Learning” Noemi and Maximo define it as “video games or interactive applications whose main purpose is to provide not only entertainment but also training”(p.1)  In scien…

3D Printing: From the classroom to the operating room

3D Printing: From the classroom to the operating room How 3D printing is revolutionizing education

What is 3D printing and how does it work? defines 3D printing or additive manufacturing as “… a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file.” ( Lots of information there, huh? To break it down a little bit more 3D printing uses an STL (stereolithography) file created using a CAD (computer-aided design) program on a computer, that file is then loaded onto a 3D printer, most consumer grade 3D printers use plastic  filament (it usually comes in rolls like wire) but 3D printers can use any number of different materials from wood, metal and ceramic to human cells.
How can 3D printing be used in the k-12 classroom?
3D Printing has almost unlimited applications in the K-12 classroom. It can be used to teach computational thinking (The BBC has a great primer that breaks down the basics of Computational Thinking here) 3D printing as a process …