Future City Competition NJ Regional 2017 Videos

Videos from the Future City Competition New Jersey Regional held at Rutgers University on January 14, 2017 are now posted!

Congratulations to the First Place Team “Novus Initium” from Iselin Middle School!

2017 Future City NJ Regional Highlights

Third Place Team Presentation

Second Place Team Presentation

First Place Team Presentation

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Future City Competition NJ Regional 2017 Photos

Photos from the Future City Competition New Jersey Regional held at Rutgers University on January 14, 2017 are now posted.

Below are a few favorites. For the complete album, please click to:

https://flic.kr/s/aHskRreKcQ

 
Future City Competition NJ Regional 2017

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STEM League NVD - November 3, 2016

Photos from the STEM League meet held at Northern Valley Regional High School – Demarest on November 3, 2016 are now posted.

Below are a few favorites. For the complete album, please click to:

https://flic.kr/s/aHskMbPJGz

STEM League NV Demarest - November 3, 2016
 

Below is a link to brief video highlights from the competition.

Congratulations to the First Place Team from Paramus High School!

STEM League NVD – November 3, 2016 – Video Highlights

 

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STEM Toys that Inspire Ingenuity

stem-toys-gift-buying-guide

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Here’s a list of fifteen toys that inspire ingenuity, creativity, tinkering, STEM learning, building, and making for kids of all ages.

Price
$ – under $25
$$ – $25-49.99
$$$ – $50-74.99
$$$$ – $75-99.99
$$$$$ – over $100

blink blink
Ages – 8+
Price – $$$
Description – blink blink has found a niche in wearables, allowing kids to make fun wearable technology. The Wearable Tech Kit provides the necessary tools to engineer sewable circuits into DIY arts, crafts and fashion tech projects – from LED light up scarfs and leggings to pressure sensors for other wearables.
Link – http://www.blinkblink.cc/shop/

Dash and Dot – Wonder Workshop
Ages – good for all ages, 8+ for programming tools
Price – $$$$$
Description – Dash and Dot are programmable robots that can follow lines, play music, and other interactive tasks.
Link – https://store.makewonder.com/#/robots

LEGO
Ages – 4+
Price – $$$
Description – LEGO offers a range of products for budding young engineers and tinkerers. Even though all can appreciate the value of the simple brick, the “Technic” and “Power Funtions” lines of product that include gears, axles, and motors can be used to build machines and learn about energy and power.
Link – https://shop.lego.com/en-US/

LEGO Mindstorms
Ages – 7+
Price – $$$$$
Description – For an all in one, albeit expensive, box of versatile parts, take a look at LEGO Mindstorms EV3. The basic robotics kit includes the programmable brick that kids can learn to program as well as a range of motors and sensors to make magic. Check the website for free apps to do the programming as well as a series of challenges.
Link – https://www.lego.com/en-us/mindstorms

Water Rockets
Ages – 14+
Price – $$
Description – Supply your own two liter bottle and bicycle pump to use with this launcher and kids can create their own rockets that will launch up to 100 feet in the air.
Link – https://www.walmart.com/ip/Aquapod-Bottle-Launcher/49094606

Model Rockets
Ages – 8+
Price – $
Description – Aerospace projects are a very fun way to engage young people. The Estes brand offers a range of kits from those that are ready to fly to those with assembly and some design required. They’re available in a variety of stores, but be aware that you will need to purchase motors separately. The A type motor is the least powerful, but important if you want to launch the rocket multiple times. To start, you’ll need a rocket, launch pad, ignition system, and motors, which usually come with igniters and recovery wadding.
Link – http://www.estesrockets.com/

littleBits
Ages – 8+
Price – $$$$
Description – littleBits is a platform of easy to use electronic building blocks that kids can use to create inventions. The Base Kit includes ten modules including a DC Motor, buzzer, dimmer, and light sensor. A way to have fun and learn about electronics and logic all at the same time.
Link – http://littlebits.cc/shop/kits

GoldieBlox
Ages – 4+
Price – $$
Description – Designed and marketed primarily to young girls, GoldieBlox offers a series of kits and sets that allow kids to play and learn about mechanical and other systems.
Link – http://www.goldieblox.com/collections/all

Tools, just tools
Ages – 4+
Price – $$
Description – Imagine being a kid that likes to build and tinker and hearing a grownup say “get your tools so you can help.” Not plastic toys, but real tools sized for little hands. Consider a basic set with some degree of good quality that includes a hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, and a wrench.
Link – https://www.amazon.com/Grip-96009-Childrens-Tool-Kit/dp/B001AIU2UO

Makey Makey
Ages – 7+
Price – $$
Description – Use Makey Makey to connect to virtually anything that will conduct even a little electricity to make fun inventions. Use bananas to make a keyboard. Use play dough buttons as a game controller. Great for beginners and fun even for expert makers.
Link – https://shop.makeymakey.com

fischertechnik
Ages – 7+
Price – $$
Description – A classic German-designed series of component parts to create a variety of machines and structures. Mechanical models can be made from gears, basic building blocks, static parts, wheels and many other parts. Available from many retailers, this construction set helps children to understand everyday technology by playing.
Link – http://www.studica.com/us/en/fischertechnik/fischertechnik-universal-starter/536618.html

Vex
Ages – 8+
Price – $$$$$
Description – Used in school based programs and robotics competitions, the VEX Robotics Design System offers students an exciting platform for learning about STEM.
Link – http://www.vexrobotics.com/find-a-reseller

Meccano
Ages – 5+
Price – $$
Description – A fairly widely available building platform that uses modular parts. Build vehicles, robotics, buildings, and other items limited only by imagination.
Link – http://www.meccano.com/where-to-buy

Disruptus
Ages – 10+
Price – $
Description – Disruptus is a game that asks players to look at objects and ideas and use different approaches — as determined by the roll of a die — to innovate. Disruptus draws inspiration from the practice of “disruptive thinking,” one of the most powerful ways to innovate. Disruptive thinking has been used to create ideas and objects like digital music, and car sharing programs.
Link – https://www.funnybonetoys.com/product/disruptus/

Rokenbok
Ages – 3+
Price – $$$$
Description – Rokenbok is a construction toy system that promotes STEM learning through hands-on exploration and play. Children build their own Rokenbok cities and then use remote control vehicles, conveyor belts, and chute systems to interact with their creations.
Link – https://rokenbokeducation.org/toys

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Inspire Students with STEM Career Pathways

NJ School Boards Association and NJ Science Convention

“Inspire Students with STEM Career Pathways: A Step-by-step Approach”

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NJ Science Convention Presentation

NJ School Boards Association and NJ Science Convention

“Inspire Students with STEM Career Pathways: A Step-by-step Approach”

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NJ School Board Association – So, You Want to Go Full STEAM Ahead?

NJ School Boards Association
October 26, 2016
So, You Want to Go Full STEAM Ahead?

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Trustees Propose Super-acronym School Program

A recent convening of the National Board of Governors of Education (NBGE) resulted in the adoption of a new interdisciplinary school program concept called TEAMSCHMEB-D. 

The concept of TEAMSCHMEB-D is broad and all encompassing. It stands for Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics, Science, Computers, History, Music, English, Business, and Dance.  

“We were getting a little tired of hearing from all these people about all their STEM and STEAM and such,” said James Wallace, chair of the NBGE ad-hoc committee that proposed the concept. “These folks have just served to devalue all of the other school subjects.” 

Every school will now be required to incorporate an all-encompassing TEAMSCHMEB-D activity during TEAMSCHMEB-D Awareness Week. When asked if that would be enough time to cover everything, Larry Feinstein, Superintendent of Springfield Schools, said, “It’s a bit of a conundrum since that’s the same week we usually cover study skills, but we’ll be able to pack it in there. We always find creative ways to deal with unfunded mandates.”

Despite lobbying efforts, some school programs are still left feeling like they’re on the outside. “We can appreciate that kids love to do cool projects like make rockets and code new apps, but the fact that we’d do anything in school that’s doesn’t include sports is kind of ridiculous,” said Tom Butler, head of the Alliance for Sports in Schools. “I mean, would it be so hard to just slide another “S” into the acronym? It would still sound the same.”

Mr. Butler made suggestions for new projects that might make that connection. “Line a kid up in goal and shoot the rocket at him. That would be just tremendous.”

Ana Wallace, director of the Foreign Language Teachers Association said, “We really wracked our brains for hours in there, but we just couldn’t find a way to include Spanish, French, Korean, Latin, German, Japanese, Mandarin, and Swahili. We strive for cultural diversity, but it’s real tough to incorporate SFKLGJMS without having the advantage of at least a few other vowels.”

The president of the Home Economics Teachers Association could not be reached for comment. 

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Future City Competition NJ Regional 2016 Videos

Videos from the Future City Competition New Jersey Regional held at Rutgers University on January 16, 2016 are now posted!

Congratulations to the First Place Team “Nazif” from Valley View School in Watchung, New Jersey!

2016 Future City NJ Regional Highlights

Third Place Team Presentation

Second Place Team Presentation

First Place Team Presentation

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Laser Cutters in Schools: Safety Tips

lasercuttersafetyLaser cutters are great! These devices can easily cut flat materials including wood, cardboard, and acrylic for rapid prototyping and manufacturing. They can even inscribe or engrave those and more such as wood, metal, stone, and others.

The price of very capable laser cutting is still dropping way down, to the point that many models are attractive options for schools. But, school officials and others may not know all they should about these shiny (quite literally) objects that they might learn about at a conference or in a magazine article. So, if you’re thinking about introducing a laser cutter into your school’s maker space or STEM lab, make sure that you understand all of the important safety considerations in your planning and maintenance. Here are some basic tips for the layperson that need to be considered:

1. Know Your Laser – for the peace of mind of your users, laser cutters are generally classified as ANSI Class 1 lasers, meaning that they are generally not hazardous to the eyes nor skin. However, any and all maintenance should be performed by a professional since many models contain more powerful lasers.

2. Plan for Filtration and Exhaust – This is an absolute must in planning since many materials that might be cut may release harmful gases and particulate. Most late models have filtration and exhaust blowers built in for fumes caused by the material being cut. However, you need to have a plan for your exhaust, which in most models needs to be ducted through 6” pipe to somewhere. A quick side story – I once saw a large laser cutter ducted through a 6” hole that was cut into the space that a window air conditioner accordion side panel would take, meaning that when both the laser cutter and air conditioner were both turned on, the fumes were being pumped directly back into the room – no bueno! So, acquaint yourself with the manufacturer’s spec for how often to replace any filters and for proper ducting. If you’re in a school, ducting into an area in which children or others may be working or playing outside is not going to be up to code.

3. Beware of Fire Hazards – The high intensity beam of laser light produces high temperatures, and certain materials may be caused to unintentionally ignite under certain conditions. For fire safety, keep the area in and around the laser cutter free of debris and flammable materials and vacuum regularly. Also keep a properly maintained and inspected fire extinguisher in the area.

4. Know what Can or Can’t Be Cut – Make sure that users know the difference between safe and unsafe materials for use with the laser cutter. Widths of materials that can be cut will vary based upon the machine, so follow manufacturers’ advice. Nevertheless, here are a few yes’s, no’s and maybe’s for materials for laser cutting:

Yes – wood, acrylic, cardboard, cork (all of a certain thickness – check manufacturer’s specs)

No – PVC/Vinyl (produces lethal chlorine gas), teflon, nylon, polyethylene, Lexan/polycarbonate (be careful, this can be easily mistaken for acrylic), foam, Fiberglas, carbon fiber

Maybe – plywood (check for certain glues), MDF (smells bad and known to gunk up filters), paper and tissue (may be flammable – check power settings)

Others – metals, stone, and glass and other ceramics won’t cut, but might be engrave-able, always research other materials and check to be sure

Finally, as with any specialty equipment in any area of the school, make sure the staff and students are properly trained in the use of the equipment. Send a teacher to a workshop or training program, and develop safety rules and a safety test that students need to pass in order to be able to use the machine. Make sure everyone understands the rules and procedures and you’ll then have a great and powerful tool on hand to make ingenious designs!

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