Sunday, 15 June 2014

Tech Club 2014-2015

     Through my first year I've been thinking of starting a "Tech Club" at my school for those students who are interested in technology, programming, and electronics. I've been closely following the awesome projects being completed by Clarence Fisher's students in Snow Lake and the innovative makerspaces in Eric Sheninger's school in New Jersey as inspiration.

      While my plan is to organize our projects around student interests and creativity, I do have many preliminary ideas that I hope to begin with. After meeting with my principal about my ideas, I've divided our year into two sections: larger year-long projects and small-scale independent projects.

Section 1 - Larger Year-Long Projects

As a club I would like us to focus on one of two projects: developing a video year-book to accompany our traditional printed version or developing an app for our school. The focus of both of these projects would be to share what happens at our school and improve communication, while allowing our students to:
- learn different programs and software
- improve their digital literacy
- take ownership of their school image

The video year-book project is definitely the more labour-intensive project of the two as we'd have to ensure we are at events throughout the entire year. The up-side is that almost all of our students have filmed video before and practised editing, to an extent. There are numerous video editing tools we can use on our school desktops or iPads and there wouldn't be a lot of new programs to learn.

The app development project is what I see being the winning project simply due to its relevancy and the fact that its something our students haven't had an opportunity to explore yet. With social media tools being blocked in our division, an app may be the perfect option to improve communication considering the high number of students and parents who have smart devices in their pockets.

I've been exploring different app development tools (those requiring coding knowledge and those that don't require it). After a lot of back and forth, I think it would be best to start off with a tool that does not require coding experience as the only experience our students will have is if they have explored at home by themselves. While I am trying to gain experience in this area, I'm even taking a class through Coursera, but I don't think I'll be prepared by September. I hope to include coding experience as we go (see Section 2) but it will take some time and I'd like to still include this project in the meantime.

So far I've really liked the look of iBuild  App as a starting point. Check out the video below:
I like the drag and drop options and it offers enough customization tools to meet our needs at this time. I'd like to learn more about different tools, however, so if you have a program to suggest please comment below!

Section 2 -  Small-Scale Independent Projects

I've been looking into a few different project ideas that are relatively  low cost and allow students to:
- explore new technologies
- be introduced to coding
- apply technology to different project ideas
So far, I've looked into three different options that I am really excited about:

Little Robot Friends  D.I.Y

* These are currently backordered, unfortunately. I've added myself to the waitlist and hope they become available again soon!

Little Bits

* Thanks to John Evans for sharing this with me!

Raspberry Pi

Do you have any project ideas I should look into?
Have you used any of these products & have suggestions?
I'd love to hear your thoughts!


  1. Hi Kirsten,

    Just found this review of Little Bits

    Thought you might find it interesting.

    By the way, we've started a Maker Education group in Maple so check it out if you've got a few minutes.


    1. Thanks John! I will have to spend some time checking out both the review and Maple group. :)


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