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