Tech Ed 4 Kids Partners with Parents, Students, and Teachers to Measurably Propel Student Achievement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Circuits Maze

For the holidays, one of the gifts we got for the little one was Circuit Maze and I have to admit I love it!  Circuits is port of the fourth grade curriculum here, so it ties in well with the future of what will be going on in school.  The game though is well designed...

Indy Children’s Museum

The Indy Children's museum has built on a lot since we started going.  The have a lot of really cool exhibits.   We only were able to see a few in the couple hours time we had - though we made it to the exhibit to see the Terra Cotta Warriors.  There are lots of great...

Favorite Video Bloggers for Mom

My little one loves streaming youtube videos.  He can sit for long stretches at a time watching videos of people playing games like minecraft telling how they have played.... I have a few videos for moms that I love! So I thought I would share them. Kristina Kuzmic is...

Digital Toys to Check Out for the Holidays – Top 5 Gifts for Kids!

My biggest pet peeve with holiday gifts has to do with toys that are only played with a few minutes and then get set to the side.  I love the toys that get played with over and over again. Here are some of my favorites: Lumi Drone - really there are a lot of drones,...

FLL Regionals

For our kids it was the first regional they had ever attended to compete in... My little one attended as a baby with his brothers, but he was way to young to remember toddling around waiting for his brother to finish at each regional. It's tough also to go back as a...

Last Week Before Regional (FLL)

This year has been tough for us with the new systems put in place since our oldest kids aged out and our youngest child became old enough to participate.  FLL has instituted a new system for parents that isn't easy to use.  Our old team number was under my old email...

FLL – Starting Over

We are starting over this year with our youngest.  Our older two aged out of FLL robotics a few years ago. - Like 6 years ago! Our family had went through everything from teams in Illinois and Kentucky, having coaches, coordinating regionals, state championships, and...

Yes Vs. No: Positive Vs Negative

When I was in grade school, the school decided to have a team of dancers for the basketball games. Out of all the girls only two weren't on that team, myself and my friend Iva.  Yep it bothered me.  But I wasn't good at dance, I wasn't coordinated, my parents would...

Coding for Kids – Hello Ruby Book (and Hidden Figures)

About the author: Linda Liukas, author of Hello Ruby, is a programmer, storyteller, and illustrator from Helsinki, Finland. She is a central figure in the world of programming who worked on edutech before it was even called that. Linda is the founder of Rails Girls, a...

Make Your Own Globe

Supplies: *White Glue *Balloon (12"-or larger diameter when blown up) Strips of newspaper, packaging paper, or art paper cut into strips *Maps of the 7 continents *Markers or paint *String Procedure: 1. Blow up the balloon to desired diameter. Tie a string around the...

Solar Panels – 4 Solar Experiments to Try

Solar panels are just one of the many types of renewable energy that are available now.  There are wind turbines, water mills, solar, and new technologies are being developed every year.  This picture is a solar panel near our house.  There are even new builders...

Maps – Bringing Geography to Life!

We don't leave home often, but we have traveled a few places. I also really enjoy exploring my family history.  To tie everything to our life we decided to add maps to our house. Our Family In the World Now We have a world map made of corkboard that we have marked...

The Domestic Musician

The Domestic Musician! Research has shown that music, art, and math are all linked skills. Jessica Peresta from The Domestic Musician believes that music is one of the fundamental classes for students.  She has a bachelor's degree in music education and a strong...

Drive Through Safari – Rockhome Gardens

While visiting home we decided to check out the drive through safari. I've done one with my middle son before, and we have driven through a park with Buffalo by Murray here in Kentucky also - but this one has taken over a park our family visited many times years ago....

Facebook Cloning… Is that friend request really You????

Facebook cloning involves someone making a copy of your facebook account and then sending friend requests to your friends. For someone with a devious purpose in mind - whether it's to bully your children, or spam your friends, it's a really quick and easy way for...

Rainbows – The science

Make our own Rainbow: Place a mirror in a glass or water at an angle. Turn off the lights (pitch dark) Shine a flashlight toward the mirror Adjust to make a rainbow appear!  (You may need to adjust the angle of the mirror)   The Science Behind:  A rainbow is an...

Chronos Bomb Game

For the holidays my little one wanted a game advertised on TV, Chronos Bomb. I haven't seen it advertised since, but the commercial made it look like fun.  The game includes a timer built in, with gyros....  The gyro is attached to wires on clamped that are attached...

Bullying and Coding

I have all boys who do like computer programming.  My oldest is now a computer programmer and going back to school soon for a PhD in Computer Science and my middle son thought majoring in Physics is writing computer games all the time. While in grade school the kids...

Facebook

Facebook is really becoming a site for adults as much or more so than kids.  It serves as a place to post what is going on with your day, interact with friends, get advice from your friends and family, share what's up with your day and interact.  You have a main news...

Smart Tvs

We have a smart tv in our living room... actually we have a Kindle Fire, a Roku, an Apple TV, and a few other things.  The smart tv though is one of my favorites.  It is all built into the tv, meaning one remote.  Around our house remotes are lost easily and then we...

Circuits Maze

For the holidays, one of the gifts we got for the little one was Circuit Maze and I have to admit I love it!  Circuits is port of the fourth grade curriculum here, so it ties in well with the future of what will be going on in school.  The game though is well designed and easy to learn!  Our little one spent hours trying to complete the puzzles.

They start with beginner cards that provide what should be on the board to start and what to add to the board. Kids then figure out where to add the extra pieces to make the lights come on.  We did go through a set of batteries and already have to change them once since starting the game.

I’ve since searched and found more games by ‘thinkfun’ and they all seem to be just as fun!

The game though isn’t designed for multi players – It’s really a one player at a time, with everyone else watching to see if you succeed to make the light come on.

As a side note: As an autism mom since this is not a competitive game – it went really well.  My son did get frustrated a couple times and get upset… but it wasn’t at a level that we didn’t work it out with him and he came back to it – which is rare for a game.

Indy Children’s Museum

Reconstructing a Warrior

The Indy Children’s museum has built on a lot since we started going.  The have a lot of really cool exhibits.   We only were able to see a few in the couple hours time we had – though we made it to the exhibit to see the Terra Cotta Warriors.  There are lots of great opportunities to research everything and then go visit – or visit to spur interest and then research everything.

Terra Cotta Warriors

The Terra Cotta Warriors were found in China and were an army that included horses, standing guard over a huge (38 square mile?) tomb.  The warriors when exposed to the air immediately had issues with their paint flaking, so the main portion of the tomb has not been opened. Each warrior had amazing details and was unique even to their hair.  The museum has exhibits allowing you to try excavating artifacts, reassemble warriors that have fallen to pieces, learn how the paint was made and used to restore the warriors with all the exhibits being hands on.

Captain Kidd Exhibit

Right next to the Terra Cotta Warriors is another archeology exhibit, but this one includes items from under the sea.  The exhibit includes a video showing how the ship was found and why it’s thought to be the ship of Captain Kidd as well as Captain Kidd’s history and how his ship ended up sinking where it was found.  At the back of the exhibits you can visit the lab and see some of the parts that have flaked off of the remains found.  The museum includes a canon taken from the shipwreck that has been soaking to get off the accumulation that has collected under the sea.

Dinosaurs

The dinosaur exhibit is one that would excite any kids!  It includes large animatronic dinos for the kids to see what the dinosaurs might have looked like real size.  The museum includes a lab to see the fossilized remains of footprints and learn more about what is currently known about the dinosaurs.  The dinosaur exhibit is one of our favorites every time.

Beyond Spaceship Earth

Even with our limited time we had to check out beyond spaceship Earth.  the exhibit includes an example of the International Space Station.  The exhibit showed how the astronauts sleep, exercise, and communicate with home. It was really interesting, but I can’t imagine staying in a small space like that for an extended period of time – and they sleep standing up attached to the walls.  Around the corner they have an exhibit for the Titan rocket.  If you stay for the show to learn more about the Titan, the seats even vibrate!

Much More!

There was so much more that we didn’t have time for, though we did see some of the blown glass exhibit.  The food court does have very limited hours too – we missed the hours, but luckily we were able to get some grapes for our little one (no lunch day).  For us there was an hour time change, so we had arrived fairly late and only had two hours.  With that we only really saw the three exhibits with plenty more left to see on another visit.  The museum includes a transformer in the entryway, a branch of the local library, and a huge dinosaur that has peeled up the roof to look in – so even if you don’t pay to go into the museum exhibits, there is still a few things to keep a child amused.  Living only an hour or two away, it’s a museum we get a membership to each year.

They are currently adding a set of sports exhibits onto the outside – opening in March.

 

Favorite Video Bloggers for Mom

Student education on laptop isolated. College student, school and graduation, study with laptop, student with computer, student studying online, university student reading laptop illustration

My little one loves streaming youtube videos.  He can sit for long stretches at a time watching videos of people playing games like minecraft telling how they have played….

I have a few videos for moms that I love! So I thought I would share them.

Kristina Kuzmic is one of my favorites.  She is inspiring, but also she has videos showing some exagerations of real life.  If you have ever walked into the bathroom over and over to find the toilet paper roll empty or had to get a sippy cup with different temperatures and types of cups of water over and over at night trying to get your kids to go to bed, she totally understands!

Leann and Michelle think they’re funny – The first of their videos I saw was If You’re my Friend then You’ll Buy This!  I loved it.  I think I know someone that sells everything listed.  Their current video is – It’s time to dust off the elf.  Their videos all show things that are so common in our lives.  They are just taking off, mainly on facebook, but I have no doubt they will get there!

The Holderness Family – This whole family gets involved.  They have even tried some videos on giving up technology for a weekend.    Some of their latest include, His Presents are Dumb and one on Christmas Jammies 2017.

When I’m playing a lot of these, my little one stops and has to watch with me.  The only one he doesn’t like is Leann and Michelle’s It’s all about the Bed when they talk about No Snuggle since he loves to Snuggle….  Every so often I take a break and watch one with the little one!

 

Digital Toys to Check Out for the Holidays – Top 5 Gifts for Kids!

My biggest pet peeve with holiday gifts has to do with toys that are only played with a few minutes and then get set to the side.  I love the toys that get played with over and over again.

Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Lumi Drone – really there are a lot of drones, but the lumi is easy to control. It doesn’t have the camera like some, but it is easy to control.  My son played with ours in the house over and over, up until that fateful day when he decided to swap to advanced and broke the light in the living room.  We haven’t used the drone in the house since then, but that is more a statement on my son’s feelings toward breakage than the drone itself.  It includes games and kids can play it in the house, and I know I mentioned EASY!
  2. Cosmo Robot – This robot is small, but it’s cute!  My son likes driving it around and playing games with it.  The robot comes with some accessories that let you play games, including tap tap, and you get to see who gets the most points. There are a few other similar robots now, but Cosmo is one we have.   I’ve seen my little one drive it around the house using the camera through it’s eyes (viewing it on my phone) to see to steer.
  3. Meccano Robot, We have the large robot. It took us a couple people, a couple days to built.  I know the company has some easier kits now, but this one is kind of fun.  The robot lets you give it commands and will do activities like dance.  You can also record actions on it. So that it can repeat after you.  It even has the tell me a joke!
  4. Raspberry Pi, we have a plain raspberry pi, but there are several kids versions.  I think Kano is a popular version.  The plain kit can be anywhere from $35 to $60.  The Kano was on sale at Target on Black Friday for $99 and looks like Amazon has it for $119 right now  We currently have a plain kit, but if the Kano had been available when we found ours I might have went for it instead. The Kano is a Raspberry Pi but comes with several extras just for kids.  There is also the Piper and the Sunfounder kit – and I’m sure a few more.  If your child is really into electronics and computers this is the way to go!
  5. Kindle for Kids, I use the kindle myself, but my son is more a paper kid.  My son insists all our books come on paper but when we are out somewhere and don’t have a new book with us, he will settle for a kindle book.  I just use the app on my phone or ipad, but for younger kids that want educational apps too, the kindle for kids is great!  It comes with a two year guarantee in case something happens to it and is in a oops proof case.  No worry about broken screens.

 

It’s always great in our house when we can combine learning and fun, so most of these overlap and are active toys in one way or another.  They may contain affiliate links.  We have all of them at our house for my son except for the Kindle for Kids – (We have Kindles but not the one for kids.)

 

FLL Regionals

For our kids it was the first regional they had ever attended to compete in… My little one attended as a baby with his brothers, but he was way to young to remember toddling around waiting for his brother to finish at each regional.

It’s tough also to go back as a coach after organizing everything in the past.  Nothing is done the same as what you would have done it, and if you are a type A personality it’s not easy.  After an almost 7 year break since the last regional we competed in – between son 2 and son 3, it’s also tough to come in with all new coaches after having been the go to for questions in the past and now be an unknown.

We came in as one as the only neighborhood team in this particular regional.  One other team was a homeschool team.  The current regional missed some of the pageantry I’d seen in the past, so our kids were ready for anything themselves, and I was decorated too!  Our kids chose to paint their hair, use glitter on their faces, and go with fake mustaches.  That along with their matching shirts and they were ready to go.

The kids had started using the iPad with Bluetooth to program their robot and were able to complete three tasks on the table without touching the robot outside home base.  By the third run, they were chanting for their team-mates and still had plenty of energy.  I suspect as soon as they got home they crashed in bed though, but we were proud of them.

The kids went in on their own to the judges and answered all the questions.  Coaches and parents weren’t allowed to see the judging sessions, so we shall see what the sheets say when we get them back for that.  All in all though they did great for a group of 9 and 10 year olds that were competing for their first time.

As for how to program the robot, they ended up with the iPad and were able to add one command at a time – walking though programs until the robot completed the tasks they wanted it to do. By stepping through one command at a time and testing the robot after each modification the team was able to catch any errors before adding another step.  Debugging long programs with multiple steps is a little complicated when you are first learning a language. By walking through step by step the kids are able to figure out exactly how things work pretty quickly.

The kids swapped the batteries between the first and second run and had accidently swapped the motor cables.  On the first robot run, the reaction of the robot made it obvious to them what had happened…. so they grabbed the robot when it reached home base and quickly swapped the cables.  Everyone was impressed that the team knew exactly what the problem was.

The kids are ready to start earlier and do amazing things next year!

 

Last Week Before Regional (FLL)

This year has been tough for us with the new systems put in place since our oldest kids aged out and our youngest child became old enough to participate.  FLL has instituted a new system for parents that isn’t easy to use.  Our old team number was under my old email that I don’t have access to, so we have a new team number, and the paperwork still isn’t all in the system for all our parents.  We have some filled out by paper that we downloaded, yet the local person sent us last years copy of the consent form… So it became a question of use this years that we downloaded or last years.

Most of our kids have special dietary requirements and some are special needs, so the local regional’s rules about no food brought in (not to mention the exorbitant prices) looked pretty tough for kids that are seeing a schedule with them busy from 7 am to about about 3:30 in the afternoon.  Despite the downtime that is mentioned, I’ve been at tournaments before and the kids are generally hyped, trying to fix robot flaws, talking to other teams, and end up with no time to go run out to some local place to eat.  Luckily an email resolved this with a bring food for any dietary needs.  Having a child that has the same lunch and same dinner every day frequently isn’t understood – mine even makes me pick out all the veggie straws that aren’t the right color… so I’ve dealt with the funny looks and comments before, I just like to shield my little one from dealing with them.

We are also dealing with scheduling issues that were made more difficult by conflicting schedules we seem to be seeing.  Hopefully it will all be cleared up when we arrive at 7 next Saturday.

To get ready, our kids have toured a water treatment facility (thank you Bowling Green Water!), gotten matching t-shirts, done water tests with different water filters, and learned a lot about programming their robot.  Being their first year and with none of them having even seen FLL before, we got off to a slow start, but the kids have been starting to get it and are getting excited.  With one week left they are starting to plan a play to show off their research.  Tomorrow will be our last meeting and the kids will finish up everything they can and make their plan for next Saturday.

 

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About Me

I am a SAHM/WAHM of three boys ranging in age from 8 to 23. We are working on saving enough for college at the same time as taking care of the kids at home. I author a few blogs, including http://teched4kids.com. I have in the past taught computer information technology classes for the local university and taught workshops for kid's in technology education besides being the Kentucky State FIRST LEGO League Championship Coordinator from 2005 to 2008. I now work as a computer consultant, run a handmade home business, and am available for workshops. Life here is always an adventure!
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