Exploring Technologies

This week I will be exploring several technologies for library and classroom uses: Ozobots, Spheros, MaKey MaKey kits, Little Bits Kits, Google Expeditions, Paper Circuits, Aurasm, Green Screen, and the Aviary App. I will be asking and later answering further questions about MaKey MaKey, Aurasma, and Little Bits. Stay tuned for that!


Ozobots are so cool! I love that we are teaching students how to code but sometimes I worry about the constant use of computers, tablets and phones. There is something about pen to paper that still helps many students with comprehension. Ozobots combines the technology with the traditional tactile learning. You create codes, but you do so by drawing them on PAPER! The little bot reads the code you colored and performs them before your eyes. Teachers can use this coding tool for students who prefer the physical interaction with learning.


As the name implies, spheros are small, moving balls. They can be programmed with a synced device (smartphone or tablet) to make specific, pre-planned movements and color changes. Students will learn concepts such as degree, speed, duration, distance, momentum, and coding. It is a fantastic tool for teaching computational thinking skills. Teachers should click here to watch a quick YouTube tutorial about using Macrolab Coding for programming the Spheros and here to watch a video of students using the Spheros in a classroom setting. Both are very helpful and informative.

Fryer, W. (2017). Glow in the Dark Spheros [digital photo JPG]. Retrieved from http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2015/01/28/thanks-to-donors-choose-supporters-of-classroom-sphero-project/. CC BY 3.0

MaKey MaKey

With this tool, you can make anything into a computer key. There is no programming or software required; you simply order the MaKey MaKey circuit board and attach it to your computer with a USB cable. Alligator clips are then used to create a closed circuit, which is powered by the computer. The clips attach wires between the board (connecting with the appropriate computer command: arrows, mouse clicks, space, letters, etc.) and an everyday object. Another clip is the used to close the circuit. It is attached to the Earth portion of the board at one end. By holding the other end in your hand and touching the object, you close the circuit and send the command to the computer. Click here for a  more detailed MaKey MaKey overview.

Questions I plan to answer:

  1. Do you always have to hold the Earth cable to send commands? I have seen some people who are not attached and sending commands. How do they do that?
  2. How do you create the programs like the one in the video below?
  3. What objects are not suitable for use (i.e. have too low of conductivity). I saw them use stairs but it is my understanding that wood does not conduct well at all.

Little Bits Kits

Little Bits Kits contain electron modules that each have one specific function: light, sound, motor or sensor. The creator wanted to make circuitry accessible to everyone. For that reason, these little creations are very easy to use. They snap together with magnets so you cannot put them together the wrong way (similar to the MacBook power cord). They are also color coded: green is output, blue is power, pink is input, orange is wire. Instead of having to program, solder, and wire, the creator can program with simple intuitive gestures. It makes electronics just another material for creation, like paper or markers. Little bits is also open source, so you can go on the website and download design files. Little Bits differs from other DIY electronics sets because each piece of a circuit is inside its own electronic casing. Because this kit is so easy to use, any age can use it. Teachers can use this for any STEM classes, presenting applications for electricity, currents, motion, and design. For example, a physics class could use it to learn about laws of motions by creating objects that spin and move around.

Examples of Little Bits Premium Kit Projects

SLJ Review of Little Bits

[Ultra-lab]. (2014). Little Bits [digital photo JPG]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/62141688@N08/12906103115. CC BY-SA 2.0
Questions I plan to answer:

  1. What is an arduino?
  2. Is there a limit to how many pieces can connect together?
  3. Are the functions of each piece (i.e. switch, light, etc.) easy to identify and put in the correct location?

Virtual Reality – Google Expeditions

Virtual Reality transforms the common classroom question of “What are we going to do today?”into “Where are we going to go today?” It has been my experience that students who have traveled have better context for content. This background knowledge facilitates comprehension and encourages retention. Google Expeditions is an App that can allow teachers to give their students this crucial tool for learning. And even better, they provide a cheaper solution to the decently priced Viewmaster VR googles, Google Cardboard. The sense of being immersed in another reality with sounds and motion and a 360 degrees panoramic is so engaging that students are more likely to remember any lesson tied to the scenery. It can be especially effective when teaching history lessons. Students can see these foreign lands and relate more easily. Science teachers can literally take their students to the moon and back. The applications are endless. After all, seeing is believing.

[WikimediaImages]. (2015). Cardboard VR Goggles [digital photo JPG]. Retreived from https://pixabay.com/en/google-cardboard-3d-vr-2202220/. CC 0

Paper Circuits

Paper circuits are a wonderful choice for low to no-tech projects. You will need paper, watch batteries, copper tape, LED lights, Scotch tape, and crayons/markers/colored pencils for creating a design on the paper. Students will learn about circuits, conduction, and design (complementing the lights with an image on the paper). Teachers can use this project for a wide variety of lessons. For instance, science classes can use this when learning about the stars. Students can research respective constellations, write a brief essay about their stars’ location and history, and then create a representation of their constellation using  a paper circuit.

Sloan, C. (2014). Paper Circuits [digital photo JPG]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/sloanpix/14428597510. CC BY 2.0

Augmented Reality – Aurasma

Augmented reality allows you to layer images onto what you are seeing through a device like your smartphone or tablet. We all remember Pokémon Go, right? Well that was a type of augmented reality. One of the more popular programs that teachers can use to create an augmented reality program for the classroom is called Aurasma. Teachers can layer steps to math problems for students to see when they need help with explanations. Or a physical education teacher could use it during the anatomy section (reference the image below). Augmented reality is so effective because it adds context to our current reality and makes things feel like they are coming to life, melding our physical realm with something more. Click here to see some more classroom examples.

Questions I plan to answer:

  1. How hard is it for images to register on the device camera?
  2. Is it difficult to create an augmented reality program with Aurasma?
  3. Are there copyright concerns with this program?
[Zedinteractive]. (2012). Augmented Reality Anatomy [JPG]. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/augmented-reality-medical-3d-1957411/. CC 0

Green Screen

Green screens, although they technically don’t HAVE to be green so long as they’re one solid color, are great for school use. Teachers can use them for video assignments, and teachers can use them for morning announcements. I love the idea of a student being able to put themselves literally into the scene of a book (I’m looking at you Harry Potter fans). Click here for some more green screen ideas.

Paul (2008). Green Scree [digital photo JPG]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/crimfants/2488634205. CC BY 2.0

Memes – Aviary App

The Aviary App is described as the all-in-one photo app. It allows the user to add filters, resize, crop, and add text. One of the most common photo uses today is the meme. This teacher told incorporated this trend into her classroom. Staying relevant (that doesn’t mean we have to reinvent the wheel every week) and keeping your subject matter engaging is crucial to successful teaching. Here is a wonderful example of just the right amount of change. You can check out some of the math memes her class created below.



[Iphonedigital]. (2016). Pokemon Go [2016]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/iphonedigital/28286906571. CC By-SA 2.0

[Teaching Robots]. (2015, Jun 21). Introduction to Makey Makey . Retrieved from ​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-X3hb__YynM

[Ozobot]. (2015, Dec 15). How To: Use Your Ozobot Bit – Part 1 . Retrieved from ​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5d4iXGbIGs

Serano, S. (2016, Mar 13). Math Meme Project 2016 . Retrieved from ​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOf8MZsYeuA

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