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STEM & Makerspace Resources

BBC micro:bit Accessory Guide

CD-Soft Educational Resources
Alison Howe
Alison Howe
Australia, Kingston
11 Jun 2021
The purchase of two Tello Edu drones has bought us delight. My 10 year old daughter opened her birthday present with disinterest ... more

EduBlog Australia

do your :bit

 by matteo on 16 Mar 2021 |
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do your :bit   Introduction do your :bit brings together the micro:bit and the UN’s Global Goals to provide inspiring activities for your classroom or club and an exciting digital challenge. Resources for your classrooms and code clubs Use the resources on this page to introduce the Global Goals, have fun with the micro:bit and develop world changing ideas and solutions using technology. ​Your students can enter the challenge now. ​ This year's challenge focuses on Goal 3 - Good Health and Well-being, and Goal 13 - Climate Action but we welcome entries that focus on any of the Global Goals. Inspiration The do your :bit challenge adds social purpose to digital learning and allows students to apply their digital skills to real world solutions. Find out from teachers and educators across the world why do your :bit is a fantastic challenge to run with your students, why it excites young people and what resources are available to support you. Then be inspired by our previous challenge entries.     Global Guides The UN’s Global Goals or Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) are a call for action by all countries to promote prosperity for everyone while protecting the planet. Use our guides to introduce the Goals to students and young people. * { box-sizing: border-box; } /* Create three equal columns that floats next to each other */ .column { float: left; width: 33.33%; padding: 10px; } /* Clear floats after the columns */ .row:after { content: ""; display: table; clear: both; } .product-subtitle, .RelatedProductsHeader, .SimilarProductsHeader{ background: #f2f2f2; font-size: 16px; line-height: 17px; color: black; font-weight: bold; padding: 10px 15px; position: relative; margin-bottom:7px; border:none; } .long-description, .reviews, .questions, .related-products table, .similar-products table{ margin-bottom:40px; padding:0 15px; } Introducing the Global Goals Find out more about the UN Goals Read More Good Health & Well-being  Introduce Goal 3 to students Read More Climate Action Activities linked to Goal 13 Read More Enter Now   micro:bit project ideas Calming LEDs Regulate your breathing and relax Read More Send a smile Share some happiness with radio Read More Animal tracker Build a prototype radio animal tracker Read More Light-up fishing nets Prototype safer fishing nets Read More Saving sea turtles Prototype turtle-safe beach lighting Read More Step counter Make your own step counter with a micro:bit Read More Video Lessons Episode one sets the foundation for the series and introduces what AI is and how it can work.   Episode two - learn about AI for Earth and code with micro:bit radio to send and receive animal tracking data.   Enter the challenge You can enter the challenge now. The challenge closes at 12:00pm (BST) on July 30, 2021. What are the prizes? Winners from all over the world will receive the new micro:bit and a selection of micro:bit accessories. Second and third place runners-up will also receive the new micro:bit.   Who can enter? Young people aged 8 – 18 anywhere in the world can enter the challenge. You can enter on your own or as part of a team. Teams can contain up to 3 members.    How to enter We want you to design a solution to a problem that affects you and your community or another community somewhere in the world. Whatever the issue, we’re interested to hear how you would go about solving it. Use your imagination and be as creative as possible! There will be two age categories for entry this year. 8-14 year olds Submit an idea that solves a problem that works towards delivering the Global Goals and create a paper prototype to explain the idea, OR Design and make a solution using the micro:bit to solve a problem that works towards delivering the Global Goals. 15-18 year olds Design and make a solution using the micro:bit to solve a problem that works towards delivering the Global Goals. What do I need to do? To enter the challenge, you will need: to tell us about your solution - What have you created? Why have you created it? How it will it help your community or another community? a paper prototype showing how your idea will work. This should be a photograph of your plans. Perhaps draw your solution with notes describing its functionality. Or a .hex file of your prototype code if you so choose, you may also include a video or photos of your device in action. For more details, take a look at the the full challenge terms and conditions. Winners * { box-sizing: border-box; } /* Create three equal columns that floats next to each other */ .column { float: left; width: 33.33%; padding: 10px; } /* Clear floats after the columns */ .row:after { content: ""; display: table; clear: both; } .product-subtitle, .RelatedProductsHeader, .SimilarProductsHeader{ background: #f2f2f2; font-size: 16px; line-height: 17px; color: black; font-weight: bold; padding: 10px 15px; position: relative; margin-bottom:7px; border:none; } .long-description, .reviews, .questions, .related-products table, .similar-products table{ margin-bottom:40px; padding:0 15px; } 2020 Winners Read about their solutions Read More 2019 Winners Find out about their entries Read More Enter Now

Announcing the New Micro:bit

 by matteo on 13 Oct 2020 |
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Announcing the New Micro:bit The Micro:bit Educational Foundation has announced the manufacturing and launch of the latest version of the micro:bit. The BBC micro:bit, a pocket-sized computer helping to inspire more than 25 million children to learn digital creativity and computing skills, will receive its first major updates since launching in 2016. Available from mid-November 2020, it will now include a built-in speaker and microphone, enabling people to learn through sound and to get creative with it straight out-of-the-box. The hardware also includes a number of technical upgrades to ensure that in the future the device is an ideal tool for exploring, understanding and experimenting with AI and ML, as these technologies begin to transform the planet. The new micro:bit continues to support all of the same features that teachers and students have come to love, and all the existing lessons and code for the original micro:bit will be compatible with the new device. In addition, as part of the Micro:bit Educational Foundation’s commitment to keeping the device as cost-effective and accessible as possible, the new device will be released in November at a similar price point to the original. What's New Sense sound and transform projects with the microphone Make sound and bring your micro:bit to life with the speaker  Program the gold micro:bit logo to respond to your touch More computing power  Handy power save button  Comparison Chart Feature Current (V1.5) Latest (v2) Processor Nordic Semiconductor nRF51822 Nordic Semiconductor nRF52833 Memory 256kB Flash, 16kB RAM 512kB Flash, 128kB RAM Interface NXP KL26Z, 16kB RAM NXP KL27Z, 32kB RAM Microphone N/A MEMS microphone and LED indicator Speaker N/A On board speaker Logo Touch N/A Touch sensitive logo pin Edge Connector 25 pins. 3 dedicated GPIO, PWM, i2c, SPI and ext. power. 3 ring pins for connecting crocodile clips/banana plugs. 25 pins. 4 dedicated GPIO, PWM, i2c, SPI and ext. power. 3 ring pins for connecting crocodile clips/banana plugs. Notched for easier connection I2C Shared I2C Bus Dedicated I2C Bus for peripherals Wireless 2.4Ghz Micro:bit Radio/BLE Bluetooth 4.0 2.4Ghz Micro:bit Radio/BLE Bluetooth 5.0 Power 5V via Micro USB port, 3V via edge connector or battery pack 5V via Micro USB port, 3V via edge connector or battery pack, LED power indicator, Power off (push and hold power button) Current Available 90mA available for accessories 200mA available for accessories Motion Sensor ST LSM 303 ST LSM 303 Software C++, MakeCode, Python, Scratch C++, MakeCode, Python, Scratch Size 5cm(w) x 4cm(h) 5cm(w) x 4cm(h) New Way to Connect Crocodile Clips Micro:bit Packaging * { box-sizing: border-box; } /* Create three equal columns that floats next to each other */ .column { float: left; width: 33.33%; padding: 10px; } /* Clear floats after the columns */ .row:after { content: ""; display: table; clear: both; } .product-subtitle, .RelatedProductsHeader, .SimilarProductsHeader{ background: #f2f2f2; font-size: 16px; line-height: 17px; color: black; font-weight: bold; padding: 10px 15px; position: relative; margin-bottom:7px; border:none; } .long-description, .reviews, .questions, .related-products table, .similar-products table{ margin-bottom:40px; padding:0 15px; } BBC micro:bit v2 Single Contents 1x Micro:bit Board & 1x User Guide. Purchase Here BBC micro:bit v2 GO Contents 1x Micro:bit Board, 1x User Guide, 1x USB Cable, 1x Battery Holder & 2x AAA Batteries. Purchase Here BBC micro:bit v2 Club Contents 10x Micro:bit Board, 10x User Guide, 10x USB Cable, 10x Battery Holder & 20x AAA Batteries. Purchase Here The micro:bit Go & Club now come with a 30cm USB cable and the latest micro:bit which can be powered off by pushing and holding the power button. Important Info Updating .hex files The editors and apps are being updated over the coming weeks and are currrently in beta. When they are released, you should update any compiled .hex files that you host as part of your resources. To do this, simply drag and drop them into the editor in which they were created and then download the .hex file. Universal Hex Note that the updated file will be ~1.8Mb as opposed to ~700Kb in size. This increase in size means that the hex file can be used on any board revision and is called a Universal Hex file. Bluetooth BLE A hex file that enables all micro:bit Bluetooth services is available to use for testing BLE. Download the updated version of the BLE all services hex. Code Editors The editors will support both versions simultaneously for features common to both boards,for example the motion sensor, LEDs, buttons etc. Makecode You can use the latest board revision in the beta editor An extension has been developed to include the microphone and logo touch features currently available. Open Select Advanced > Add Extension and paste into the search box. Click on the extension to add it to the toolbox. V2 MakeCode APIs The Microphone and Logo touch features can be found in the Input menu. The Speaker features can be found in the music menu. Python You can use the latest board revision and APIs in the Python beta editor: If you want to use a specific or custom build of MicroPython you can do this in Mu. Drag and drop the MicroPython binary on to the MICROBIT drive Open the Files tab in Mu and copy from the Files on your computer to the Files on your micro:bit   More info on the micro:bit V2 here  

First Look at Kai's Clan

 by matteo on 07 Jul 2020 |
1 Comment(s)
Today we finally got our hands on the Kai's Clan Starter 4 Pack and with this we were able to dive into one of my personal favourite coding experiences of all time. Before I get into the nitty gritty of coding let's talk about the setup, which at times can be troublesome with other products. The Kai's Clan Starter 4 Pack was surprisingly easy to setup for a product that offers so much. It only required a few moments of our time to watch the setup video and then work through the Quick Start Quide to setup and begin coding the robots. The robots come pre-charged and are ready to go off and adventure on the included Rescue Run Adventure AR/VR Mat.   Kai's Clan is well supported by ready to use online projects developed by teachers and students for all levels of expertise. The projects are categorised into three levels of coding, Junior, Intermediate and Advanced.   Nitty gritty time! Kai's Clan uses an online web-based app called Kai's Clan Blockly. Blockly coding is a drag and drop based programming language. It is one of the most basic forms of coding. The Kai's Clan Blockly interface was intuitive and very easy to follow. It has a fantastic way of introducing newcommers to coding by splitting the coding blocks into two segments, newbie and expert. This keeps some of the more comprehensive and complex coding options out of the way allowing you to learn the basics easier and quicker.   In conclusion I thoroughly enjoyed my first hands on experience with this product and I look forward to learning and experimenting more with it.

Laserbox VS Emblaser 2 Comparison

 by matteo on 22 May 2020 |
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We've recently had many enquiries as to which laser cutter customers should buy so in response to this we have put together a comparison between the Makeblock Laserbox Pro and the Emblaser 2. Laserbox VS Emblaser 2 Brief Comparison Chart   Laserbox Emblaser 2 Specifications Product Dimensions Laserbox: 95.8 x 52.8 x 26.8cm, Smoke Purifier: 52.8 x 26 x 26.8cm Emblaser: 54 x 72 x 20cm, F2000 Filtration Unit: 42.5 x 25 x 41cm Product Weight Laserbox: 43.3kg Smoke Purifier: 12.25kg Emblaser: 12.7kg F2000 Filtration Unit: 15.35kg Shipping Dimensions Laserbox: 107 x 63 x 43cm, Smoke Purifier: 63.3 x 40.4 x 33.6cm Emblaser: 77 x 65 x 24cm, F2000 Filtration Unit: 51 x 34 x 58cm Shipping Weight Laserbox: 45kg, Smoke Purifier: 15kg Emblaser: 19.60kg, F2000 Fitration Unit: 19kg Laser Type C02 5 Watt Laser Diode Material Capacity 500 x 300 x 15mm 500 x 300 x 50mm Safety Classification Class 1 (the safest laser device rating) Class 1 (the safest laser device rating) Connectivity USB Yes Yes Wifi Yes Yes Ethernet Yes No Materials Emblaser 2 Commonly Used Materials Material Thickness Engraved Cut Notes Fabric - Cotton 3mm Yes Yes   Fabric - Felt 6mm No Yes All colours except white. Leather - Brown Vegetable Tanned 4mm Yes Yes Treatment & color dependant. Air-Assist recommended. Paper/Card - Corrugated Cardboard 6mm Yes Yes   Paper/Card - Pasteboard 2.6mm Yes Yes   Paper/Card - Plain Paper 3mm Yes Yes Any Colour. Plastic - Acrylic Black 5mm Yes Yes   Plastic - Acrylic Green, Red Yellow 3mm Yes Yes   Plastic - Acrylic Translucent (tinted) - Yes No   Plastic - Acrylic Blue - Yes No   Plastic - Acrylic Transparent & White - No No Possible with coating. Plastic - Polypropylene 3mm Yes Yes Air-Assist recommended. Plastic - Styrene 1.5mm Yes Yes   Wood - Birch Plywood 6mm Yes Yes   Wood - Balsa 10mm Yes Yes   Wood - Hardwood Oak 3.8mm Yes Yes   Wood - MDF 6mm Yes Yes   Anodised Aluminium - Yes No   Slate - Yes No   Corkboard 3mm Yes Yes Air-Assist required. Rubber 2mm Yes Yes Air-Assist recommended. Laserbox Pro Commonly Used Materials Material Cut Engrave Mark Paper Yes Yes Yes Corrugated Paper Yes Yes Yes Wood Yes Yes Yes AcrylicYes Yes Yes Yes Cloth Yes Yes Yes Denim Yes Yes Yes Leather Yes Yes Yes Base Plate Yes Yes Yes ABS-based Colour Board Yes Yes Yes PET Yes Yes Yes Rubber Yes Yes Yes Veneer Yes Yes Yes Cork Yes Yes Yes Sandpaper Yes Yes Yes Food Yes Yes Yes Glass Fiber Yes Yes Yes Plastic Yes Yes Yes Delrin Yes Yes Yes Glass No Yes Yes Marble No Yes Yes Rubber Stamp No Yes Yes Stone No Yes Yes Ceramic No Yes Yes Tile No Yes Yes Anodized Aluminum No Yes Yes Corian No Yes Yes Extraction * { box-sizing: border-box; } /* Create three equal columns that floats next to each other */ .column2 { float: left; width: 50%; padding: 10px; } /* Clear floats after the columns */ .row:after { content: ""; display: table; clear: both; } F2000 Indoor Fume Filtration Unit The F2000 Indoor Fume Filtration Unit is very quiet and uses a set of filters containing activated carbon to remove visible fumes. It is also powerful enough to support 2x Emblaser 2 machines at the same time usign a 3D printed connector. Laserbox Smoke Purifier The smoke purifier is just that, it takes the smoke particulate out of the Laserbox however it still needs to be ventilated. Software LightBurn LightBurn is a very powerful software with simple to use tools. The Beginner Mode feature simplifies the interface helping first time users to understand the basic functions without feeling overwhelmed by the various settings and advanced tools. The Emblaser 2 material library contains a varierty of different materials and their recommended cutting/engraving settings. These settings can be easily adjusted and edited to suit your specific material. Laserbox The software is very user-friendly and has a very clean/simple layout making it less overwhelming for students and teachers who are using it for the first time. The software is split into two sections; working and design. The working section contains a view of the material that is in the Laserbox (from the 5MP camera) and an overlay of what you have imported to cut or engrave. The design section contains a white canvas showing what you have imported and various settings for manipulating its orientation & size, inserting rectangular & circular shapes as well as lines and more. Once you have finished moving and editing your project you can preview the outcome and get an estimated time of finish. Our Final Thoughts They are both fantastic machines however if you are after a machine mainly for engraving we would recommend the Emblaser 2 as its engraving is more precise, has different options to find the optimal setting for your material and also comes with the Air-Assist which prevents overburn on the material. If you are after a machine for cutting multiple different materials in a short amount of time then we would recommend the Laserbox Pro as it is a more powerful machine and cuts most materials in 1 pass compared to the Emblaser where it will require multiple.

A Deep Dive into Swivl Marker Functions

 by matteo on 03 Apr 2020 |
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Swivl Marker Functions With the recent increase of home/remote learning we've had some customers who have purchased Swivl Robots ask a number of interesting questions about how the Swivl Markers work and what they do. We wanted to share with you some of the features that the markers contain that you may or may not be aware of that could be very useful to you.   Top - Green; Bottom - Green: Indicates this is the Primary Marker Top - Green; Bottom - Solid Red: Indicates that recording is in progress Top - Green; Bottom - No LED: Indicates this is a Secondary Marker Top - Green; Bottom - Flashing Red: Marker is looking for the base Both Flashing Red: Battery Low or needs Firmware update   The Primary Marker has three functions within the system: Tracking (via infrared)  Audio Capture (built-in microphone) Control of the App/Device (buttons)  The Secondary markers traditionally serve as additional sources of audio collection and pressing buttons on these markers will not interfere with the recording session. Buttons Center Button: The Center Button can be set to perform a couple of actions within the Swivl app in the Settings menu. By default, the center button is used to pause or un-pause tracking.  Pause Tracking: Pressing the Center Button will pause tracking, meaning the Swivl robot will no longer follow you until you enable tracking again. This is a useful feature if you need the Swivl to remain still while adjusting settings on your Swivl app on your device. Note that pausing tracking will not pause a recording session if one has already started. The recording will continue, but the robot will remain still. You will need to press the center button again to resume tracking. 360° Video: Pressing the Center Button will cause the Swivl base to do a complete turn to pan around the room. Directional Pad: The Right and Left buttons can do a couple of things. During Live Listening if you are using multiple secondary markers, you can listen to specific student groups live. Otherwise, if you have uploaded slides to your Swivl app, you can control the slides that you are presenting by using the Right and Left arrows. Right will advance to the next slide, Left will go back to the previous slide. More features coming soon!  You can also use Right and Left, Up and Down buttons for manual tracking: press and hold the directional arrow you need for a few seconds and Swivl starts moving in the direction you choose. You can press Center button to stop tracking at any point and thus fixing camera in a specific position. Press Center button again to resume tracking or adjust robot positioning. Record Button: Tapping the red button on the side of the marker will initiate recording within the Swivl app. Tapping it again will stop the recording with default settings.If you end the recording you will have to start another one by tapping the record button. Swivl is recording when the red light on the Primary marker remains lit. Note that you can set your Primary marker record button to start and pause recording. Marker Colours The Marker Packs come with sets of 5 pairs of dot stickers, 2 of each color: Red, Blue, Orange, Purple, and Green. When you pair the additional markers to your Swivl Robot, the Swivl app will prompt you to assign a color to each Secondary Marker. When you choose a colour in the app, apply the stickers of the same colour to each side of the marker to track which color you chose.   For more information or to purchase a Swivl Robot please check out our Swivl Page.

Makeblock Laserbox Review

 by matteo on 09 Aug 2019 |
4 Comment(s)
Over the past 2 weeks we've been given the opportunity to test out the Makeblock Laserbox, a new laser cutter & engraver. Here's our first impressions on it. It's a very large machine compared to other laser cutters and engravers such as the Emblaser 2, and a lot heavier making it more difficult to move around. Aside from its size and weight we were very impressed with it. It cut and engraved quickly with clean results and the software was just so simple to use making it a fun and enjoyable experience. Pros It's easy to set up The Laserbox comes packed as two boxes; the Laserbox, cables, exhaust pipes & manual and the Smoke Purifier. The manual is easy to understand and has diagrams showing how to connect the Laserbox and Smoke Purifier together. It's relatively quiet When the Laserbox is running a cut or engraving an image it is very quick and doesn't emit a lot of noise, this is perfect for a class environment where you may have more than one going in the background while doing other activities.   Software The software is very user-friendly and has a clean/simple layout making it less overwhelming for students and teachers who are using it for the first time. The software is split into two sections; working and design.   Working This section contains a view of the material that is in the Laserbox (from the 5MP camera) and an overlay of what you have imported to cut or engrave.   Design This section contains a white canvas showing what you have imported and various settings for manipulating its orientation & size, inserting rectangular & circular shapes as well as lines and more. Once you have finished moving and editing your project you can preview the outcome and get an estimated time of finish.   Sketch & Cut Feature This is by far our favourite feature of the Laserbox. With the sketch and cut feature you can sketch on a piece of white paper or their official materials in red or black pen, place it inside the laser box and the 5MP camera will scan the sketch and cut or engrave it with the press of a button. There's no computer needed.   Cons Size & Weight The Laserbox is quite heavy weighing 40kg, a two person machine to move. It's also large taking up a our whole workbench.   Smoke Purifier The smoke purifier is just that, it takes the smoke particulate out of the Laserbox however it still needs to be ventilated. You can use 3rd party filtration units such as the F2000 Filtration Unit which we used. No Air-Assist The Laserbox does not have an air-assist and you can really see the difference not having one makes when cutting and engraving matreials such as 3mm MDF which we used in the pictures below. The picture on the left is from the Makeblock Laserbox, as you can see there is a lot of overburn due to the lack of an air-assist. On the right is the Emblaser 2 which does have an air-assist. You can definitely see the difference it makes.

Makeblock Neuron Inventor Kit in the Classroom

 by matteo on 14 Sep 2018 |
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What is it? The Neuron Inventor Kit is a new range of programmable electronic blocks for students from the makers of the mBot range of robots. The packaging is tough and thoughtfully designed, with the cardboard box having magnetic catches to make it easy for students to open and close it. The two plastic trays show where items are meant to go which is important for ensuring that things are later put away correctly. The backs of the blocks are magnetic, so you can attach them to the whiteboard etc to better show your students how to connect blocks and form circuits. The Neuron Boards also have metals back to attach blocks to. They are also LEGO compatible. The blocks are nicely made, and they feel and look very durable. They snap together easily using magnetic 'pogo pins'. These are effective connectors as they don't easily fall apart while also being very easy to separate afterwards. The sides of the blocks are colour coded with the Bluetooth and Power blocks being green signifying energy or communications blocks. Input blocks are orange –these included the Funny Touch and Gyro blocks. Output blocks are blue and include the LED panel (containing 64 RGB LEDs), the Buzzer, the Dual Servo Driver and Servo. The included manual is clearly set out and quite useful. The cardboard case materials allow you to quickly construct some of the projects –full instructions were on the iOS app.  Software options There's a Makeblock Neuron app for iOS and Android which you'll need for programming or else you can use the Scratch-based mBlock software on a PC or Mac. I tried the recommended mBlock (version 3.4.11) which is the download from the site but found it couldn’t “talk” to the Neuron set. I contacted CD-Soft and they gave a link. Version 4 supports Neuron really well –you can even connect it with a USB so don’t need a Bluetooth PC. Version 5 is in Alpha release 9 (April 3, 2018) but the earlier release I tried before Easter only supported another product called Codey. I have run out of time to try the current version. Using the kit Neuron blocks have two modes: Online Mode and Offline Mode. When a chain of Neuron blocks is not connected to an iPad or a PC, it stays in the Offline Mode. If you connect the Power block to the Gyro Sensor block and then the LED block you can get the lights to light up by moving the group around or tapping the Gyro Sensor block. Similarly, if you have the LED block replaced with a Servo Driver and Servo, the Servo will move back and forward responding to motion or tapping. Online Mode  Now if you add the Bluetooth block you can connect it to the iPad or PC and program the blocks to respond to instructions. The Apps Neuron App Along the bottom of the screen are various tools (nodes) Basic which includes Compare, Number, Interval as well as NOT, AND, OR and a counter Controls which include Button, Switch, Slider, Indicator, Label, Curve, Number and Text Box Time has Delay, Hold, Average, Today, Now, Pulse and Sequence Advanced contains icons for Random, Scale, Filter, Function, ComputePlus, ComparePlus and Valve A lot of these nodes are for a wider range of blocks – the full set of more than 30 modules can be seen here. Programming on the PC with mBlock version 4 software My example has the Bluetooth, Power and LED panel blocks connected to the PC via USB plugged into the Bluetooth block. When clicked it shows a sad face, waits for 1second and changes to a happy face, waits for 1second and changes to a heart. The program repeats 10 times. The programming was simple and easy to debug (I originally forgot the wait commands and the whole thing was over before I knew it.) My Favourite Block The Funny Touch which has 4 leads with coloured alligator clips and another lead as a Ground. Holding the ground clip and touching any of the other four completes a circuit. It is fun to work with in the Offline mode. I see a possibility of making a race track with the Ground lead attached to a centre track of foil or copper tape and having two Funny leads attached to side strips of foil at the top (the Start line) and two attached to strips again on the side of the track at the bottom (the Finish line). In the Online mode these could possibly be programmed so that when a student-made car with suitable connectors (to touch both the Ground strip and side strips) is placed on it the time of its travel down the track can be measured. Once again I have run out of time to test my ideas. Offline Mode In offline mode I connected the Power block, the Funny Touch and the buzzer. When I touched any of the coloured plugs while holding the Ground plug a sound would play. I connected some fruits to the coloured plugs (an apple, banana, orange and lemon) and these became my musical instruments. By holding the Ground plug and touching each fruit I completed the circuit and made a different tone for each fruit. I experimented and tried to play simple tunes. My granddaughters thought it was wonderful. Still in Offline mode Using the guide on the iPad we were able to use the cardboard shapes and added hardware (Funny Touch connected to the Power block connected to the LED display) to make the light palette. It was a more sophisticated version of what we had been investigating and changed the coloured LED display depending on which plug was touched. Summary This package would fit well into the upper primary school where electrical circuits are part of the curriculum outcomes in the Physical Science strand. The offline mode allows easy connections making it virtually foolproof to complete a working circuit. This makes it a useful tool for introducing circuits. The real fun comes when it is connected to the computer as there is a wider range of things for the blocks to do while running the programs. The two programming options are easy to learn and Bluetooth allows the program to operate things remotely (the Internet of Things -IoT). Having the use of the USB as well means that schools without iPads or Smartphones can use existing non-Bluetooth hardware to program the kits. A great STEM teaching resource. Peter Hope

makedo - Cardboard Construction in the Classroom

 by matteo on 30 Aug 2018 |
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We love Makedo! It has changed the way we approach box construction and our students love using it. My colleague and I were first introduced to Makedo at CONSTAWA 2017 as part of a trade display. We saw these little blue screws and were immediately drawn to the free samples. Upon further investigated we realised the incredible potential and STEM application of the resource across all year levels in our school. We were very keen to take the product back to our school’s science committee and see if there was enough money in our budget to buy a few of the Makedo sets. Thankfully there was! Once the Makedo kits arrived we couldn’t wait to start playing with them in our classrooms. The students were so excited to begin using the tools and creating wonderful cardboard constructions. As we were both teaching in early childhood classrooms it took a little bit of patience and experimenting to work out the best ways to connect different sized and shaped cardboard pieces and boxes. However, not once did a child give up or mention that it was difficult, they were having too much fun and their creative minds were buzzing. It did take some convincing to assure the students that they no longer need the sticky tape to keep their constructions together.  The first Makedo lesson we did was just experimenting with the tools, there was no end task criteria. We had butterflies, robots, transport vehicles and all sorts of wonderful creations. We then began introducing the design process by drawing our creations after they were made and later drawing our designs before we made them. Eventually we began linking the construction to our learning outcomes and providing specific criteria to the students. We made bridges for the Three Billy Goats Gruff that had to span the width of the river and hold the weight of our three toy goats. Towards the end of the year we invited our year five buddy class down to pre-primary to help us design and build Gingerbread houses using large packing boxes and the Makedo construction tools. The results were incredible and the students had so much fun exploring and playing with them. When the houses began falling apart the kids had just as much fun deconstructing their designs and were looking forward to building new things. With some practical experience under our belts we decided to take the Makedo sets to the rest of the school staff. Is there a better way to introduce a construction system than with a hands on work shop? During our Professional Learning session, staff were set a challenge to work in groups, use the Makedo sets and the recycled cardboard provided to construct a famous wonder of the world such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Arc De Triomphe, Great Wall of China or the Egyptian Pyramids, just to name a few. Competition was high! Some staff were on the floor while others had rulers out for precise measurements. The key principles of STEM learning: team work, problem solving, and communication were evident everywhere. The session was a big success and after the hands on experience the staff were keen to take the Makedo back to their own classrooms. We then implement a very similar session at CONSTAWA 2018 with the backing of Paul Smargiassi, the Managing Director of CD-SOFT and the person who initially introduced us to the Makedo resources. The feedback was outstanding. People really enjoyed the hands on work shop and could see the practical implementation in their classrooms. We have since been approached to again present at the 2018 STEM Learning Conference showing a need to show case simple hands on resource materials that can be implemented in a cross curricular STEM approach. The Makedo construction system is a winner in our books. It is a fun, hands on and uses sustainable materials. You are only limited by your imagination! Katie Menzies and Natalie Birrell Huntingdale Primary School

Emblaser 2 - New Sketch, Trace and Cut Feature

 by matteo on 13 Apr 2018 |
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The super-smart Emblaser Laser Cutter team are just about to take the lid off a very cool feature. You can sketch a drawing on paper, then simply put it inside the Emblaser 2 and the camera will scan & trace your drawing, then you can simply engrave your design onto glass, metal, acrylic, wood or fabric. Even though the workspace camera software is not quite ready, the emblaser team just couldn't hold back from showing us the amazing progress the LightBurn team has been making. The left side image below shows the view from the workspace camera mounted in your Emblaser 2. The one on the right shows the result of lens distortion removed. The following image on the right shows simulating the camera looking straight down onto the workspace. Ultimately, this 'top-down' view will be displayed in the LightBurn workspace, allowing you to position your material or artwork together. Free Trial

Emblaser 2 - LightBurn the New Software from Darkly Labs

 by matteo on 13 Feb 2018 |
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Announcing new software for the Emblaser: LightBurn The next generation of software for the entire range of Emblaser machines. LightBurn is a simple to use, yet powerful multi-platform program for controlling your Emblaser 1 & 2. You can install the product on up to two machines at a time, so people with Mac/PC setups, or a PC in the house and one in the shop will be covered. Licenses can be transferred between machines if you get a new PC. | Free Trial   Update LightBurn Software Activations Each LightBurn license included with a new machine purchase will now contain 10 activations. This will allow you to install the software onto 10 different computers. For additional licence options please email   Full Emblaser 1 & 2 support. Fully Mac & Windows compatible. Simple to use and learn. Lightning fast tool-path generation. Advanced photo engraving features. Built in drawing tools. Image to Vector tracing. Support for dxf, svg, ai, pdf, jpg, bmp, png, gif, tga. Dedicated development team.

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