5 Tools to Make Any Library Maker Space Awesome!

5 Tools to make any library maker space

Libraries were always seen as a warehouse for information, filled with books, magazines, and videos. Recently however libraries across the country have started to incorporate maker spaces and provide maker classes for their patrons. Some say that this is part of the library’s natural evolution. Does it make sense for libraries to start offering maker classes? As someone who frequents the library, I believe so!

I used to visit the library with the sole purpose of using it as a maker space. During middle school, I would head to the library with a few of my classmates to create physical projects like environment dioramas or the skeletal structure of the human hand. As inner city kids, the library was a great space to work on these maker type of school project since we didn’t have much room to do it at home. The library not only provided the necessary space, but also access to information that would help us school kids create a rain forest diorama or a skeletal human hand.

So to me it makes perfect sense for libraries to incorporate make spaces. Libraries are not only a place to find information, it is also a place to learn with your peers and even through classes. Currently, they already host classes for learning English, creating a resume, or how to use a computer. Why not have some classes where kids can learn to create projects with new technology? Speaking of technology…

What tools can be used for a maker space?

Every maker space needs some cool tools and technology that students can use to create cool projects. Here are just a few gadgets that would make a great addition to any maker space arsenal:

3-D printer

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You can’t talk about maker spaces without at least mentioning 3D printers. These printers are able to take digital 3D designs and create the objects in real life. The digital designs are created through 3D modeling programs, like Tinkercad. There are also repositories of digital 3D designs that are available for anyone to use like Thingiverse. A popular 3D printer that would be worth checking out is MakerBot.

Little bits

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Little bits are little electrical circuit modules that magnetically snap together. This makes it easy to experiment with different parts without damaging any of the circuit parts. Also, each circuit part is color coded so kids will have an idea of each part’s function. Little bits are a great way to introduce to building electrical circuits to kids and challenge them to create fully functional devices. Check out their library of Little bits lessons.

Video Recording Studio

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The video studio setup pictured is from the Cincinnati Public Library. This setup allows patrons to create videos using a green screen and a video camera. Kids can learn how videos are created, the editing process, and how to use a green screen. It’s a great way for kids to be creative and learn how to use video technology and software.

Bare Conductive

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I’ve talked about Bare Conductive before and I believe it would make a great addition to any maker space. The site includes a few project ideas to help libraries get started. Its online shop comes with conductive paint and several maker kits for various projects like flash cards and glowing houses.

Raspberry Pi

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Raspberry Pi is a credit-card size computer that can be plugged into a monitor and can be used with a mouse and keyboard like a normal computer. The huge benefit of using Raspberry Pi is that it is a low-cost computer ($25) which is great for any maker space on a budget. There are also many resources online for lessons or project ideas that focus on creating devices with Raspberry Pi. Some of these projects include creating a robo butler, a spinning flower wheel, and even a fart detector.

These are just a few tools that libraries can use in their maker spaces. What maker space tools does you library have? Comment below and share with the rest of the class!

Until next time, keep learning everyone

What’s Better than an Infographic? How About 5 Interactive Infographics!

5 Interactive Infographics

As someone who deals with data on a daily basis, I can appreciate a great looking infographic. Most people love to learn from infographics. Check out this infographic, Why Your Brain Craves Infographics, to see why. Usually infographics are static images, but lately I have found a few that are interactive.

Here’re a few examples of these types of infographics:

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The Journey to the Centre of the Earth infographic from BBC explores the deep reaches of the earth and ocean. As you scroll down the infographic displays fun pieces of information such as the ocean depth where whale sharks live or the deepest bat colony. As you scroll down the info changes depending on how far down you scroll. The infographic simulates digging deep down into the Earth which provides a very interactive experience.

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BBC has another similar infographic, How Big is Space, where you can scroll down to explore the sky and space!

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Google also has a scroll down interactive infographic about How Search Works. Scrolling down each page reveals more information. Clicking on the different icons reveals more information or directs to external learning resources. What’s interesting about this infographic is how hovering the mouse pointer over some icons can initiate an animation.

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Beneath the Thinking Cap allows you to explore the different parts of the brain. Clicking on the different parts reveals information about the functions of the specific part. This type of infographic does not overwhelm viewers with a barrage of information. Instead, they can focus on learning about each part of the brain separately.

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Some interactive infographics can include multiple pages which usually tell a story. A great example of this would be the How Data Travel Around the Globe infographic.

Do you know of any interactive infographics that are not listed here? If so then share with the rest of the class through the comments below.

Until next time, keep learning everyone.

Happy Pi Day! Mmmm Delicious Pi Edtech Resources

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What is Pi Day?

Happy Pi Day! On March 14th (3/14), math nerds all over the world will be celebrating one of the most famous irrational numbers (sorry tau)! I believe this year’s Pi Day is very special because the date (at least the American date) is 3/14/15 which represents the first five digits of pi. Even better this year the date and time, 3/14/15 9:26:53 am, will represent the first ten digits of Pi (3.141592653)! The greek letter π represents pi and it was first used by William Jones in 1706. Its value is usually rounded out to 3.14 for everyday calculations. If I were to write every single digit of pi it would probably take me years upon years to write out. Currently pi clocks in to be about 10 trillion digits!

So what’s so special about the number pi? Well it’s the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. No matter what the size of a circle may be, this ratio will always remain the same. It will always be equal to about 3.14 or pi! When it comes to measuring the area or volume of geometric shapes, like circles or cylinders, pi makes this calculation much easier!

Interesting Pi Learning Resources

These two interesting gifs can give you a visualization explanation of pi:

Check out this progressive rock music video in honor of the number pi from the Numberphile Youtube channel:

Here is a great Math Edtech Resource where you can learn more about Pi!

Geogebra

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What this Resource Includes: Subjects: Geometry, Algebra
Subjects: Geometry, Algebra, Statistics, and Calculus
Grade Level: 6-12
Audience: Learners, Teachers
Platform: iPhone & iPad, Android, Chrome, Windows

Price: Free
What it does well: Geogebra gives learners the space to freely interact with shapes and learn about their properties. Users can learn through exploration and experimentation. Learners will have a deeper understanding of geometric shapes by creating their own shapes, angles, and graphs. The site also includes a nice library of learning materials and worksheets, which were created by the users. Teachers can also use Geogebra to create their own lessons and easily share them with their students.

How will you celebrate Pi Day? Do you have any other delicious Pi learning resources? Comment below and share with the rest of the class.

Until next time, keep learning everyone.

Does PhotoMath have any learning potential?

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Image courtesy of PhotoMath

PhotoMath is a new mobile app that allows users to take a picture of a math equation on their phone and instantly receive an answer. As of now the app can only read printed equations. So it’ll be most useful when students encounter a tricky math equation on a textbook. Also the app can solve only arithmetic, fractions, decimals, powers, roots, and linear equations a well as functions like log, exp, sin, cos. This means that it won’t be much help if students are faced with a word problem.

At first the app sounded like a great way to cheat on Math homework. After a little digging around on the PhotoMath homepage, I’ve learned that it does more than pop out an answer. The app also provides a step by step solution to the equation. But does this makes PhotoMath a learning app? I think it does have the potential to become one. One idea to increase its learning potential can be if the app provides the users with similar or more difficult problems after viewing a solutions. This is so that they can use what they’ve learned from the step by step solution and apply it to more advanced equations. This can be a good way to reflect on the original problem for deeper learning.

After reading the PhotoMath blog it was clear to me that they didn’t create the app for cheating. I’m really interested in seeing if this app will be able to solve more advance math concepts like integrals and derivatives. What do math teachers think about the learning potential of PhotoMath? Sound off in the comments section below!

Until next time keep calculating everyone!

What Is The Edtech Function? An Introduction Post

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Image from Morten Oddvik via Flickr 

The Edtech Function is a site I created to continue my edtech research. I used to work in an educational technology research and development team called Edlab, at Teachers College Columbia University. There I researched, tested, and reviewed many digital educational resources. I enjoyed playing with these educational apps, games, or web tools and thinking of new ways to incorporate them in a classroom. I also used what I’ve learned from reviewing these edtech resources to help create and support educational resources from the Edlab.

In my time as an edtech researcher I have had the chance to meet with many people who create edtech products. I also spoke with many teachers about how and why they should use these resources to support their teaching. I’ve learned a lot about what goes into creating Edtech tools and what teachers want in a resource. So it is with this perspective I will be writing my edtech reviews.

The mission of this website is to discover and review any edtech resource that teachers, parents or anybody else would be interested in using. New educational software and apps are created almost everyday so it may be a bit overwhelming to keep up with them all. The Edtech Function will  highlight and review the most interesting and innovative educational resources.

Why Review Edtech Resources?

I believe that teachers and parents who are looking for digital educational resources would want to know as much as they can about it before spending any time or money on it. As someone who has many teacher family members I understand how many teachers spend their own time and money looking for extra learning resources.

An edtech review can give teachers and parents a better idea of what the learning goal of a resource is and how it will help learners reach that goal. Teachers employ different teaching practices in their classroom that can benefit from some of these educational resources. Teaching practices such as blended learning, floored classrooms, or project based learning. The review will try to elaborate on how a resource can be used in these practices.

What Will These Reviews Look Like?

I plan on having the review broken up into two parts. The first is a chart that includes  some basic information on a resource like what learning topics the resource covers, school level, cost, platform, etc. This is meant to help teachers and parents decide if they want to learn more about it.

The second part is the more in-depth review covering the interesting aspects of the resources, what can be improved, and new ideas. Of course I will always look to make improvements to the review based on teacher’s or parent’s need so feedback is always appreciated.

In addition to the reviews this site will provide teachers, parents, and learners with collections of edtech resources. A collection could consist of math apps or coding learning resources for examples. I love organizing things (I also used to work in a library) and I believe these collections would be useful for many teachers.

I am excited to continue my edtech research and hope that you will join me. My first review will cover a video platform called Glean. Until then keep learning everyone.