Sunday, August 20, 2006

Making Things

I have been catching up on my reading these last few days of the summer and ran across the following three sites that might be of interest to technology teachers. The first two are created by the same individuals. Squid Labs is a California based lab where a few MIT engineers create things. Their sister site Instructables is a portal where people come to share their ideas. The other site is a place where students can actually design a piece and have it manufactured for a cost. The last is called emachines. Emachines actually is a custom building site. If you are a fan of the Discovery channels shows such as Monster Garage or Junk Yard Wars this site might interest you. Basically you go there and download their software, sketch and draw your creation, and then have them create it for you. This is kind of a neat idea, since not everyone has a metal lathe or 3D cutting tool at their disposal.

In the same vein as these three sites is Make Magazine, which is an O'Reily publication. They have a great podcast that shows example projects that can be done on a weekend. There are a lot of neat projects that you can create all by yourself from this site.

So how does this connect to our schools? At all of these sites there are a lot of different possibilities that allow students to create projects that interest them, connecting this to the Math, Science, and Technology curriculum is not a huge stretch. A lot of the projects are works in progress that show the thinking that the designers go through as they create their projects. They also are a great way to hook students. Having students critique the projects or look at improving them would be great ways to engage students in these communities. Anyways just a few thoughts on some things that I found interesting the last few weeks.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Learning Technology Grants from New York State Ed

Some of you may be interested in the Learning Technology Grants from New York State Ed. Here is a quick overview of what the

Learning Technology Grants, 2006-2009
Due Date: October 11, 2006
Description: Competitive grant application for State funds to enhance school capacity to implement the New York State learning standards through the use of instructional technology.
Contact Information: All if NYS except New York City (including Big Four) - Connie Centrello at (518) 474-5922 or
Eligible Applicants: Public school districts and BOCES, or consortium thereof.
Date Posted: August 14, 2006

Please let us know if there is anyway that we can help.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I just viewed on a video story about how Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has launched an Internet blog. It's pretty interesting to think that such a high ranking leader (or his employees) would start a blog and poll readers on whether the United States' or Britain's interaction in the Middle East are instigating World War III. Interestingly, the story reports that the poll was split nearly 50/50.

So what does this mean? Well, my initial thoughts were that this is an important selling point for blogging in education. Political candidates, their supporters and detractors, have been blogging for a number of years now. Yes, years. In social studies classes we teach students to read the newspaper and major periodicals to stay up with current events. Quite frankly this is too slow. By the time I get my newspaper or pick up the "latest" Time magazine the story has already been reported a hundred times over. [Note: I must mention that I think I am alergic to the paper, the ink makes me sneeze.] This is where blogs and places like come in. I read my Bloglines daily and find that, for the most part, I am current with what is happening in the world. [Note: To date I have not sneezed at any blogs, though, I may have scoffed at a few.] Newspaper articles seem to only skim the surface of some news storys, not to mention the nightly TV news programs I grew up on.

So here is a typical scenario I practice... Read a blog post on the Iranian President and then head over to his Wikipedia article for some more information. Noting the warning that the "neutrality of the article is under dispute", I perform a Google search for more information about the Iranian leader's blog.

Question: Are you embracing these technology tools or merely blocking them in hopes that they will go away like a passing fad?

Disclaimer: I am not supporting the Iranian leader, but merely trying to make a point about how blogs are being used to reach out to the younger generations.