Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to read the full app review.
What’s It Like?
SPRK Lightning Lab is an app that lets kids program their Sphero robots from a tablet or phone. Beginning coders use block-based programming to direct and control their robot. A text-based code viewer is also available so kids can see how their block code translates into actual code. This gives experienced programmers more flexibility and is a scaffold to help students scale up their coding skills.
Price: Free, Paid
Pros: Block- and text-based code and an engaging community make programming accessible to all.
Cons: The learning curve may frustrate some kids, and teachers will have to be creative to fit this tool into their curricula.
Bottom line: Hub for Sphero robots draws crafty kids who love making into coding, and it empowers them to be collaborators.
Registration is now open for the first national academic 3D printing conference, Construct3D 2017, which will bring together leaders and educators in the digital fabrication discipline of 3D printing for a comprehensive overview of this rapidly expanding area of research and development.
The conference is sponsored by Ultimaker, a leading open source 3D printer manufacturer, and Autodesk, Inc., the software provider for people who make things, and will be hosted at Duke University from May 5-7, 2017 at the JB Duke Hotel.
The Construct3D 2017 conference will be a meeting of educators, pioneers, and industry leaders who actively use 3D printing in their work, with the aim of highlighting and cultivating the role of this technology as it contributes to academic and research achievement.
As the most recent element of digital fabrication to be widely adopted across the full range of educational contexts, 3D printing offers unprecedented opportunities for education pioneers to break new ground and help shape the trajectory of implementation and intentions around this technology for the coming years.
The aim of this conference is to raise the level of discourse and deepen the value of this technology for all of those engaged in this practice through a series of keynote talks, educator and technology innovator presentations, context-specific track activities, and hands-on workshops and demonstrations.
During this debut year, the conference will include a superstar lineup of keynote presentations, one for each of the three educator contexts represented by the event:
- Skylar Tibbits, 4D printing innovator, founder and co-director of MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab will present the University Educator Keynote.
- Dale Dougherty, the Maker Movement’s most passionate and warm-hearted proponent, instigator of both MAKE: Magazine and wide global network of Maker Faire events, founder and CEO of Maker Media, Inc., will present the Informal Educator Keynote.
- The K-12 Educator Keynote will be co-presented by Albemarle County Public School’s dynamic Pam Moran, Superintendent, and Ira Socol, Director for Innovation and Learning Technology.
“We believe that there has never been a better time to bring together thought leaders and practitioners in this evolving field under one roof to share stories of successes and challenges with this technology,” said Conference Co-Chair Chip Bobbert, digital media engineer at event founding sponsor Duke University.
Over the next few decades, the entire digital fabrication field is expected to shift into a central position in academic and educational curriculum. Advances in 3D printing in the last year alone have brought digital practices around 3D making and fabrication into more classrooms and instructional contexts than ever before. However, many of these developments have only been recognized locally or within particular disciplines. Construct3D 2017 aims to exchange these advances beyond the silo, to accelerate adoption and exploration of this important area.
“Construct3D 2017 offers an unprecedented opportunity for university faculty, K-12 educators, and informal education leaders to learn from each other and share best practices, which means that everyone attending will leave with new skills, new perspectives and deeper connections to other practitioners throughout North America,” said Conference Co-Chair Lizabeth Arum, educational strategist at event founding sponsor Ultimaker.
For more information on the conference and ways to participate, see the conference Web page at: https://sites.duke.edu/construct3d.