Date: February 17, 2018
TechTerra Education is excited to announce that their CEO/Founder, Susan Wells, just published her first book - Foundations of Makerspaces - with Amazon. Wells designed her first Makerspace in 2009 and has been imagining, designing and creating Makerspaces and innovative learning spaces for over a decade.
Her book takes her experience working with educators across the globe and uses that experience to create a guidebook on imagining, designing and deploying Makerspaces. Wells saw that educators around the world want something concrete in their hands to help them design and create a space that will work in their learning environments. Her book is a practical guide for districts and schools. Wells’ goal with her book, as with her company, from the pedagogy of Makerspaces to the vocabulary of STEM to the guiding steps for meeting the goals and standards for 21st Century learning, is STEM access for all.
TechTerra Education, a Durham, NC start-up, selected to attend BETT by the UK Department for International Trade (DIT) January 24 to 27, 2018.
Date: January 17, 2018
TechTerra Education, a leading STEM education company based out of Durham, NC, will be a guest of the UK’s Department for International Trade at BETT 2018. BETT is one of the largest technology exhibitions in the world focused on education. The theme this year is “Creating a better future by transforming Education” and over 37,000 attendees, 850 leading companies, 103 new edtech startups are expected to fill London’s international convention center, Excel London. TechTerra’s founder, Susan Wells, and her team will be flying to London as BETT gets underway January 24 -27, 2018.
As a VIP guest, TechTerra Education will meet with key UK companies and enjoy a VIP tour along the Great British Trail. “We are thrilled to have been selected by DIT,” said Susan Wells. “We attended BETT in 2016 and 2017, but this will be our first time attending as an invited VIP. We look forward to meeting some of the most significant UK edtech companies and to networking at the UK Pavilion.”
Techterra Education, www.techterraeducation.com, founded by Wells in 2016, offers national and international STEM and Makerspace solutions for students, teachers, schools, districts, and EdTech developers and innovators. The company’s mission is STEM Literacy for All.
TechTerra Education Hosts STEMFest with Boys and Girls Club and East Carolina University – Senator Don Davis and Representative Jean Farmer-Butterfield Attend
TechTerra Education, a STEM education company founded in Durham, NC, along with the Boys and Girls Club of the Coastal Plains and East Carolina University, hosted a first annual STEMFest. The free event took place on August 5, 2017, at the Jack Minges Club in Greenville, North Carolina. Approximately 125 Boys and Girls Club (BGC) kids completed eight different hands-on STEM stations.
Senator Don Davis (D) and Representative Jean Farmer-Butterfield (D) met with TechTerra Education’s CEO, Susan Wells, to take in the event. “It was a privilege to see the interest Senator Davis and Representative Farmer-Butterfield showed in STEM and the kids,” said Wells. “TechTerra Education was very happy to partner with BGC and ECU for this event.”
BGC vice-president, Julie Cary, and Dean Grant Hayes of the ECU College of Education also attended. “TechTerra Education was an outstanding partner and provider of all the STEM activities in which our kids participated,” said BGC’s Cary. “Club kids were highly engaged at each station and for many it was their first time taking part in such a wide variety of STEM activities.”
TechTerra provided the tools, teachers, and stations for a full day of STEM activity. BGC kids tried out coding and computational thinking, digital arts, robotics, and augmented and virtual reality. TechTerra teachers helped them work with 3d modeling, stop motion animation, and drones. The kids made take home Stations of STEM passports as keepsakes. “The day was a huge success,” said Wells, “and we look forward to working with the Boys and Girls Club to bring events like this to more kids here in North Carolina and across the nation.”
On August 22, 2017, TechTerra Education, a leading STEM education company in Durham, NC, participated in the Rowan-Salisbury School System (RSSS) Conference. TechTerra Education founder, Susan Wells, spoke on “STEM Solutions for All, Supporting Districts and Schools in their STEM Journey.”
The RSSS has been recognized nationally for work in STEM and digital learning and TechTerra Education is proud to have partnered with them for 3 years to support STEM education for all students. TechTerra Education held a nuts and bolts STEM makerspace session at the conference and provided the tools to let attendees explore robotics, coding, electronics and circuitry, micro-controllers, augmented and virtual reality, and invention kits. “Educators had a chance to get hands-on with STEM tools,” said Wells. “The chance to explore STEM resources and think about how to create inquiry-based activities for the classroom is fundamental to TechTerra’s guiding principle of STEM equity for all.”
“It was great to see so much excitement for STEM,” said Wells of TechTerra Education. “We are looking forward to continuing our work with RSSS educators throughout the school year.” RSSS serves over 19,000 students in 35 schools and is the second largest employer in Rowan County. This year’s conference was held in China Grove, NC, at the South Rowan High School.
By, Susan Wells
One of things I enjoy most about TechTerra Education is being able to travel all over the country and to work with many different people. All that travel keeps me so busy that before I know it, time and seasons have flown by - some holidays have already passed and some holidays are just around the corner. So as I sit here today to catch my breath, I am thinking about all the places and events that we’ve been since the spring and my last blog update.
TechTerra has traveled to Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Illinois, South Carolina, Hawaii, Texas, Nevada, California, Missouri and Arizona in the last months. We gave presentations, held Playgrounds, worked with schools and organizations, trained, and carried our equity throughout the STEM movement message everywhere.
One of TechTerra’s stops this summer was the 2017 ISTE Conference in San Antonio. We gave presentations, held playground and poster sessions and ran a booth.
More stops included working with the Boys and Girls Club in August and partnering with East Central University in North Carolina at a STEMFest.
In September, TechTerra and Troxell worked together to bring STEM training and activities to four school districts in the San Diego, CA area.
Earlier this month, we were in Alton, Illinois - a city that claims to be the most haunted in the US.
Take a look at our TechTerra Training page for our November Makerspace Training and check out our Camp TechTerra page too. We’ll be sending out a special edition of our newsletter next month to spotlight STEM tools we love. And in the meantime we’ll be back in flight with our Southwest friends training-bound.
By, Susan Wells
One of the great joys of having founded TechTerra Education is the opportunity I have to use emerging technology tools and talk to the companies about how those tools are intended to interface with STEM and STEAM integrated learning. Once I’ve had a chance to see and use new tools I also get to introduce them to my staff and into actual educational settings at Camp TechTerra and at TechTerra Training. I’m pretty particular about the tools I introduce. I want to be impressed because I know if a company’s tool excites me, then it should excite the learners it is designed for. OSMO is a company we’re excited about. We have, and use, all of their tools - especially those that are game-based.
OSMO uses their gamed-based programs to connect STEM and making with hands-on exploring.
Their STEM and making games include coding blocks to solve mazes, and tangrams. Word tiles lets players spell out what they see in an image on the screen. OSMO’s Masterpiece lets a user follow a design on the iPad screen on paper to create a drawing. One of their newest games, Coding Jam, lets a user create music using coding blocks. All of the games are engaging, innovative, hands-on, and interesting. Not surprisingly, all of OSMO’s games will be at all of our camps this summer.
PEDAGOGY FIRST, THEN TOOLS – The foundational keystone we rely on before we integrate our mobile digital technology in the classroom
By, Susan Wells
Over three years ago, when I began TechTerra Education’s Foundations training, I started our program by first keeping in mind using the best pedagogy. I still do. I think of pedagogy as a combination of the theory, practice, methodology, and activities of teaching. In order to teach others in a meaningful and engaging fashion, we first have to understand the methods and activities of teaching. We must share this understanding with others in a manner that is relevant and retainable. Our goal is to teach the skills necessary to enable students to engage in creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.
With a strong pedagogy established as our cornerstone we can bring teaching others to make the best use of technology into the process. We do this thoughtfully by using technology that is available today in ways that will prepare our learners for the ways it may be available tomorrow. Before we introduce a tool into the classroom, we fully explore what that tool can do and how it can contribute to the skills our students need. We actively track whether it is contributing to students’ learning as we expected and we modify our activities as needed if we think a change in use is necessary.
We can look at digital storytelling as an example of how we work with pedagogy first. We want our students to think critically, communicate effectively be creative and collaborate, so we engage them in creating storyboards using tablets - the technology component. We may start them off with a focused question to explore or we may offer a broad prompt. We aim for far more than simple word processing. We want our students to seek information, ask questions, find visual components, look for apps that add elements to their storyboards, and produce a cohesive unique project that can be shared with others. We have hundreds of tools out there today from coding tools, to robotics, to 3D printing that potentially benefit students both in and outside classrooms provided we start at the starting point – pedagogy first.
By, Susan Wells
Founder TechTerra Education
One of the tools we work with and love to use is Makey Makey. Their kits allow users to turn an everyday object, really almost anything that can conduct electricity, into a touchpad that connects to the Makey Makey board with “alligator clips” and then connects to a user’s computer through a usb cable. It is simple and really creative.
We've tried out many everyday objects including fruit, a person, aluminum foil, playdough, silverware, and the list goes on. The concept is to allow pretty much anyone to create and invent almost anything anywhere. You just need the kit and your imagination.
If you are having trouble picturing how this might work, think about this example. Let’s say you want to use your computer as a piano but you want a fun keyboard to play music instead of computer keys. So, you download your piano app. You decide to use modeling clay for your piano keys. You make modeling clay keys any shape you want, maybe you decide to make dinosaurs. Great, with your clay dinosaur keys, you clip one end of an “alligator clip” to each dinosaur. You clip the other end to the Makey Makey board. You connect your Makey Makey board to your computer with the usb cable that comes in the kit to your computer. And now, you play your piano with your dinosaur keys!
It really is fun and easy! And this is pretty much exactly what students did at Iolani School in Hawaii. Take a look at our youtube video with this talented pianist. The creative potential is unlimited. Click on our TechTerra Education video: youtu.be/W_EZKaWD_cs.
I just returned from Ignite Innovation, 2017, a conference sponsored by the Iolani School in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was held at the Sullivan Center for Innovation and Leadership. I had the privilege of presenting the keynote, A Makerspace Toolbox, Inquiry-based STEM Labs. I focused on purpose and pedagogy of STEM education, and Maker labs in education.
Hawaii is stunning and the weather during my visit was perfect. Iolani School is a beautiful campus with open spaces, a spectacular makerspace, and large innovative places for collaboration. Iolani provides an excellent model for 21st century learning spaces.
One of the particular joys of working on the island was getting to enjoy the welcoming nature of everyone with whom I interacted. It is not surprising, given the setting, that this Iolani Saturday conference had a full house with enthusiastic, engaged educators.
Innovation was the focus of the day’s work. There were many presenters and much to explore and learn. Our TechTerra team was happy to share high tech and low tech tools for creating. The conference was dynamic and inspiring for the participants. It was a further reflection of educators' desire to add STEM and making into schools everywhere across the US and the globe.
In addition to the conference, our team had the opportunity to work with Iolani primary and secondary students. They were highly engaged and really a great group. I also had the chance to visit my nephew, Daniel Mawyer, in his classroom at Holy Family Catholic Academy. He’s a leader in robotics and inspires his students to strive toward their highest potential in STEM.
This coming month is full with conferences around the country. We kick March off with NCTIES in North Carolina, on to SXSWEdu in Texas and then CUE in California. Aloha and keep up with us at TechTerra Education!
Students from Iolani’s first grade giving Primo Toys Cubetto robot a lot of love
Loving Chibitronics STEAM activity, circuitry and art, dragons too
Iolani Conference educators create with Future Make 3D pen
Iolani Ignite Innovation Conference and member of Iolani’s Education Innovation Lab Patti Nagami, Huge thanks for letting us work with you!
TechTerra playground at Iolani Ignite Conference creating geometric big structures with Pitsco’s Large Structures
TechTerra had the chance to share Birdbrain Tech’s Finch robot with students and teachers
Students at Holy Cross working with the Office of Naval Research building underwater robot ROV SeaPerch
Holy Cross math & science teacher and robotics club coach Daniel Mawyer shares his student’s GameMaker projects
There were many new and really amazing edtech learning tools to be found at January’s Las Vegas’ CES, Orlando’s FETC, and London’s BETT. In fact we found dozens of great learning tools we can’t wait to explore. Here are highlights of some of our favorites.
In the area of robotics there were more codable robots, microcontroller and robotic kits than ever before. We finally had the chance to explore KUBO, the educational coding robot. We’d seen Kubo on Facebook and being hands-on with this robot was a pleasure. Our favorite aspect of this learning system was Kubo’s direct connection to literacy and math curriculum.
Another favorite of ours that we have been using for some time, now available in market, is Primo Toys Cubetto. Cubetto is an amazing tactile coding tool that can be used with children as young as 3. With their cube-shaped robot following the coded commands kids plug into the board, Cubetto has expansive versatility.
We also had time to explore Edbot, an interactive and educational robot that we will be keeping an eye on. This robot is for older students; they’re able to code him in Python and other languages. We are excited that a single Edbot can be shared by a full class of students.
We loved exploring KOOV, Sony Global Education’s connected robotics kit. Coding, design thinking, and robotics make up this kit for student innovation. KOOV has great ease of use and a really cool fun factor as well.
3D printers of all shapes and for all kinds of uses were there in force across these three January conferences. The XYZ DaVinci Nano and the XYZ DaVinci Mini Make are among our favorite 3D printers. At TechTerra we’ve been using the XYZ DaVinci Jr for quite a while. We were excited to see the XYZ DaVinci Mini Make, a smaller printer than the Nano, enter the 3D printing world. We’re confident that the excellent quality and high dependability we’ve come to expect with XYZ will continue with this new printer.
In addition to 3D printers, 3D pens have come into their own. A real game changer for the classroom is the Cool Ink 3D Pen by Future Make. A 3D pen that uses “cool ink”, safer and without the danger of the traditional extreme high temperatures of a heated filament, makes this technology a much better option for kids in the classroom.
Virtual reality was everywhere at each of these conferences. AR and VR are taking off in a big way in many different forms all over the globe. Some of the new VR tools we’re starting to work with include Octagon Studio’s collection of tools like their flashcards and wearables.
In addition to these fun tools, we had the opportunity to host SnapBench, a virtual world for collaborative design followed by physical 3D printing. We are extremely excited about this VR software and the ability students have to make anything they might imagine, and then hold that creation in their hands.
While January kicks off the season for new and developing products in the edtech world, February is just as exciting. Keep following our blog as we travel across the globe finding the best of edtech for you and for our schools!