Robotics: Urban Search & Rescue

SkillsUSA demonstration event helps students sharpen their robotics skills

February 28, 2014 – The 2014 Robotics: Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) Challenge: Explosive Ordnance Disposal tasks students with creating a mobile robot like those employed by emergency service personnel such as firefighters, police, and the military. Students competing in this SkillsUSA challenge design their robots so they are able to secure an area by locating, neutralizing, moving, and disposing of explosive materials.

The demand for designers, skilled technicians, and manufacturing workers who are fluent in mechanical and electrical systems and highly skilled in troubleshooting and maintenance of robotic systems is projected to continue to grow. The current generation of students is expected to take artificial intelligence and robotics into the evolving world of emergency services, finding new ways to help trained personnel react more quickly and effectively.

According to Alan Kirby, a Robotics: USAR official with Pitsco Education, the event has been building momentum nationally and this year has competitors from 15 states. The top team at each state’s championship competition qualifies for the SkillsUSA National Championships June 23-27, 2014, in Kansas City, MO.

“As with most competitions, the USAR teams that are the best prepared and the most professional will come out on top,” Kirby said. “What we saw last year at state events and the national finals was that students who invested a lot of time in their documentation and design as well as robot construction and modifications were the top performers.”

Each competition team is composed of two students who work together to design and build a remote-controlled robot using a TETRIX® Building System or other approved parts. The robots have an on-board camera and sensors so that students can guide them remotely, a safe distance from the simulated danger zone. Students must also complete a written test and prepare an engineering notebook, complete with designs, for the technical presentation portion of the challenge.

The majority of Robotics: USAR state championships are being contested in March and April, and the final one will be wrapped up in early May.

• 2014 Robotics: Urban Search & Rescue:
• Video:
• Product: RoboRescue Challenge Kit –
• Click to Tweet: Robotics: Urban Search & Rescue teams battle for spots at SkillsUSA Nationals.
• SkillsUSA:
• Pitsco Education:
• Images: High-resolution images available upon request at

Pitsco Education is the leading provider of age-appropriate, student-centered K-12 STEM learning solutions. Our standards-based curriculum, products, equipment, and materials promote student success through positive and challenging learning experiences, and our hands-on solutions teach core concepts and career skills in science, technology, engineering, and math.


Microsoft Research and Zombie-Based Learning to present at SXSWedu

SEATTLE- Feb 27, 2014

Demonstrating the free ChronoZoom tool and curriculum to teach history through Project-Based Learning and Narrative

The ChronoZoom tool from Microsoft Research is a free open education resource (OER) to visualize relationships in history, which won the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Award for Best Educational Resource in 2013. Next week in Austin, a hands-on workshop will showcase new, free curriculum designed for this award-winning tool by former teacher David Hunter–the curriculum designer and founder of the innovative Zombie-Based Learning curriculum. Roy Zimmermann, Director of Education and Scholarly Communication for Microsoft Research, will also share the latest features of this free resource to demonstrate how students can build their own timelines to learn history with ChronoZoom.

Based on the successful model of Zombie-Based Learning, Hunter will review a free lesson using a fictional time-traveling narrative: The ChronoZoomer’s Guild, which teaches Historical Thinking without using a textbook. He’ll walk the audience through a Project-Based Learning exercise and demonstrate how to implement narrative—designed not only to hook students’ imagination, but also to engage them into higher-order thinking and learning in the classroom.

The workshop will take place at on Wednesday, March 5, at 2 p.m. at the Hilton Austin Downtown, Room 412. Preview a video of the SXSWedu workshop here.

About Microsoft Research
Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. More than 1,100 brilliant scientists and engineers focus on more than 55 areas of computing and openly collaborate with leading academic, governmental, and industrial researchers to advance the state of the art of computing, help fuel the long-term growth of Microsoft and its products, and solve some of the world’s toughest problems through technological innovation.

Microsoft Research has expanded over the years to seven countries worldwide and brings together the best minds in computer science to advance a research agenda based on an array of unique talents and interests. Microsoft Research operates in Redmond, Wash.; Cambridge, Mass.; New York City; Mountain View, Calif.; Cambridge, U.K.; Beijing; and Bangalore, India; and conducts research at Advanced Technology Labs Cairo; Advanced Technology Labs Europe in Aachen, Germany; Advanced Technology Labs Israel in Herzelia; FUSE Labs in Redmond; and Station Q in Santa Barbara, Calif. More information can be found at

About Zombie-Based Learning
Zombie-Based Learning is an innovative geography curriculum using the narrative of a zombie apocalypse, founded by former teacher David Hunter, MiT, in 2012. Using a Kickstarter campaign that generated 240% of it goals, this middle school curriculum is creating much excitement in the education space for both its academic rigor as well as its engagement potential with students. It is now being used in hundreds of classrooms and school districts around the world. David also does independent curriculum design work for clients such as Microsoft Research, TED ED, Valve, SmartLab, Big Picture Schools and is a board member for Amplify Education. Zombie-Based Learning is based in Seattle, Washington.


Jennifer Haas, Microsoft Research

Work: (425) 705-6319  / Mobile: (978) 697-3921 / Email:


Kishari Sing, Zombie-Based Learning

Co-founder: Marketing and Operations

(310) 890-6429  / Email:



NEW ORLEANS — Feb. 27, 2014 — Kickboard, an innovator in instructional management solutions for K-12 education, today announced that CEO Jennifer Medbery will present at three major education conferences in March and April.

On March 1, Medbery will participate in a panel discussion at LearnLaunch 2014, a conference co-sponsored by Harvard Graduate School of Education. Medbery will join Steven Ross, senior research scientist and professor at Johns Hopkins School of Education, Steve Hodas, executive director of Innovate NYC Schools, and others in a discussion on how school decision makers can determine which technologies improve student achievement. The session takes place at 1:30 p.m. in the Northwest Building, 52 Oxford St., in Cambridge, Mass.

On March 4, Medbery will attend the fourth annual SXSWedu, recognized as the premier conference for teachers, administrators, university professors, business and policy leaders to discuss innovation in education. At SXSWedu, she will join other New Orleans business leaders in a presentation about the city’s efforts to become a center of entrepreneurial activity, particularly in the education reform movement. The session goes from 9 to 10 a.m. in Salon J of the Austin Hilton Hotel at 500 East 4th St. in Austin, Texas.

Lastly, on April 4, Medbery joins Patrick Larkin, assistant superintendent of Burlington (Mass.) Public Schools, Ben Berte, CEO of Socrative, and others in a panel titled, “The Cutting Edge of Technology: Exploring the trade-offs in schools’ early adoption of technology.” The discussion is part of the 2014 Yale School of Management Education Leadership Conference, which takes place at the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale, 155 Temple St. in New Haven, Conn.

About Kickboard
Kickboard was founded in 2009 by Jennifer Medbery, a computer science major at Columbia University who spent several years teaching disadvantaged children through the Teach for America program. Frustrated by the lack of tools to help teachers track and analyze student performance, Medbery created the Kickboard instructional management solution. Kickboard goes beyond the gradebook and enables teachers to collect, analyze and share critical data, including assessments, standards mastery, reading growth and, most uniquely, student behavior and character strengths. Using the highly configurable, web-based platform, educators can create a performance-based culture that leads to sustainable school improvement and long-term student success. For information, visit


BenQ’s New Portable GP20 Ultra-Lite LED Projector Is Now Shipping in North America

Perfect for Home, Office, or Edutainment, the Cloud Projector Supports MHL-Equipped Smart Devices for Optimized Mobile Content Delivery

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Feb. 27, 2014 — BenQ America Corp., an internationally renowned provider of visual display solutions, today announced the availability of the latest addition to its popular mini projector series: the BenQ Ultra-Lite GP20, which was introduced at the 2014 International CES. Designed to provide enjoyment anywhere in the home or enhance presentations in the office or classroom, the easy-to-use, portable GP20 brings higher brightness and Colorific(TM) image quality to the mini projector series. In addition, it introduces connectivity features such as mobile high-definition link (MHL) for wireless cloud content streaming and PC-free multimedia connectivity.

Building on the success of the BenQ Joybee GP2, the GP20 offers the perfect balance of size and performance. While larger than the palm-sized GP2 Projector, the GP20 maintains its portability while offering a higher brightness of 700 ANSI lumens and native WXGA (1280×800) resolution, with support for resolutions up to UXGA (1600×1200). With new features including mirroring for MHL-equipped devices, the GP20 enables easy notebook PC, cable, console gaming, or smart device connection for transferring small-screen content directly to the projector from any portable device.

In addition, the GP20 offers simple wireless streaming from MHL-compatible devices such as the Roku and Chromecast players, enabling users to enjoy cloud content from popular services such as Netflix, Hulu, Aereo, and more with great ease. The PC 3D-ready GP20 allows users to share HD-quality movies, videos, photos, games, and presentations on a wall or video screen, projecting up to a 10-foot diagonal image at 10 feet from the wall. For added convenience, audio can be played through the unit’s two built-in 3-W SRS speakers or through external speakers via the audio out port.

The GP20 is packed with multimedia connectivity, including USB and SD card viewers and a document viewer for Microsoft Office and PDF documents. A plug-and-play USB feature allows for a PC-less experience. Users simply save content to a USB thumb drive, plug the drive into the projector, and project the content without the need for a PC or file conversion. In addition, a USB file transfer function lets users store their multimedia files to the unit’s 2GB on-board memory.

Based on high-efficiency 3LED illumination and DLP(R) projection technology, the GP20 Projector is designed to produce exceptional Colorific picture quality, providing users with crisp, accurate and long-lasting color without relying on traditional projection lamps. This allows users to focus on their content without worrying about issues such as decreasing brightness, color fading, or the expense of lamp replacement.

“The GP20 brings a host of new capabilities for an exceptional viewing experience, whether you are entertaining the family at home or making a presentation in the office,” said Bob Wudeck, Associate Vice President, Strategy and Business Development at BenQ America Corp. “In addition to its portability and increased brightness, the GP20 offers an intuitive interface and the ability to enjoy cloud-based content without hassle. All of this is complemented by an elegant design and an enhanced remote to simplify the control experience.”

The BenQ Ultra-Lite GP20 is available now at $799. Information on the GP20 and the full line of BenQ products is available at

Photo Link:

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About BenQ America Corp.
The BenQ digital lifestyle brand stands for “Bringing Enjoyment ‘N’ Quality to Life,” fusing lifestyle with technology, enjoyment with productivity, and aesthetic design with engineering. It is this mantra that has made BenQ the No. 1-selling DLP(R) projector brand worldwide, as well as the No. 1 name in short-throw projectors. BenQ America Corp. offers an extensive line of visual display and presentation solutions that incorporate the very latest technologies. The company delivers a broad range of projectors, flat-panel displays, and monitors for any application and market — education, home, gaming, enterprise, government, house of worship, digital signage, A/V, and IT — with cutting-edge models that lead the industry in performance, reliability, environmental sustainability, and aesthetics. Whether it’s interactive digital whiteboards for classrooms, full HD 3D projectors for home theaters, short-throw projectors for boardrooms, interactive flat-panel displays for digital signage, or LED backlight monitors for professional gaming, BenQ continues to defy the limits of digital displays. The company’s products are available across North America through leading value-added distributors, resellers, and retailers. More information is available at

About BenQ Corporation
Founded on the corporate vision of “Bringing Enjoyment ‘N’ Quality to Life,” BenQ Corporation is a world-leading human technology and solutions provider aiming to elevate and enrich every aspect of consumers’ lives. To realize this vision, the company focuses on the aspects that matter most to people today — lifestyle, business, healthcare, and education — with the hope of providing people with the means to live better, increase efficiency, feel healthier, and enhance learning. Such means include a delightful broad portfolio of people-driven products and embedded technologies spanning digital projectors, monitors, interactive large-format displays, digital cameras and camcorders, mobile computing devices, and lighting solutions. Because it matters.

About BenQ Group
The BenQ Group is a $20+ billion powerhouse comprised of 15+ independent companies operating in over 30 countries across numerous industries with a combined workforce of over 100,000 employees. Each Group member is a recognized leader in its own field, contributing to the BenQ Group’s vast resources, broad R&D, and distinct strategic strengths. By leveraging each company’s vertical specialization to create true scale across horizontal markets, the BenQ Group controls a highly efficient value chain with the unrivaled ability to deliver critical components and world-class solutions in the following industries: TFT-LCD, green energy, fine chemicals and advanced materials, lighting, IC design, precision components, system integration, branded business, and service. The Group is committed to profitable and sustainable businesses that share its long-standing vision of “Bringing Enjoyment ‘N’ Quality to Life.”

The BenQ Group companies are: BenQ Corporation, AU Optronics Corporation (world’s top manufacturer of large-size TFT-LCD panels), Qisda Corporation, Darfon Electronics Corporation, BenQ ESCO Corp., BenQ Materials Corp., BenQ Guru Corp., BenQ Medical Center, BenQ Medical Technology Corp., BriView Co., Ltd., Daxin Materials Corp., Dazzo Technology Corp., Forhouse Corp., Lextar Electronics Corp., and Raydium Semiconductor Corp.

All trademarks and registered trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.


Vint Cerf to Headline CUE West Coast Summit featuring Google for Education

Programs & Marketing Coordinator, CUE

Vint Cerf to Headline CUE West Coast Summit featuring Google for Education
Reduced Fees Available for Registered Annual Conference Attendees

Walnut Creek, California — February 27, 2014 — Computer-Using Educators (CUE) Inc. is honored to welcome back to its podium Vint Cerf, the man widely known as one of the “Fathers of the Internet.” Vint is the co-designer of both the TCP/IP protocols as well as the architecture of the Internet and currently serves as an active public face for Google. His talk is titled “Tracking Computer Science into the 21st Century” and will consist of several topics including MOOCs, “learning by doing,” new provable programming languages, and the pragmatic apprenticeship to practitioners. He will take the stage on March 22, 2014 at 5:00pm, following the close of the Annual CUE conference in Palm Springs, California.

“We are thrilled that Vint Cerf is returning to CUE to kick off our Google Summit,” said Mike Lawrence, CUE’s executive director. “As educators who know how valuable technology can be when trying to reach millions of school children on a daily basis, we are in awe and truly grateful for Vint’s contributions to our world.”

CUE’s West Coast Summit will provide dozens of sessions with hands-on activities led by Googlers, Google Certified Teachers and Google Apps Certified Trainers, including instructional strategies tied to the new Common Core State Standards. All attendees will be invited to the Google Workshops for Educators Network (GWEN), an online community focused on supporting educators as they learn more about the power of Google to drive student learning.

CUE’s West Coast Summit will take place March 22-23, 2014, immediately following the Annual CUE Conference in Palm Springs, Calif. The Summit’s timeframe was chosen specifically so that Annual Conference-goers could both maximize their investment and minimize travel-related expenses.

March 22-23, 2014, Palm Springs, CA, Palm Springs Convention Center
CUE 2014 Conference Attendees: $75
Summit Attendance Only: $150 | #giewc

About CUE
Ed Tech Professional Development is at the core of CUE’s work. We are passionate believers in advancing student achievement through technology. By providing Ed Tech professional development to schools, districts, and educators on the infusion of emerging technologies, we can help better prepare students for college and careers ahead. |

About Vint Cerf
Vinton G. Cerf has served as vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google since October 2005. In this role, he is responsible for identifying new enabling technologies to support the development of advanced, Internet-based products and services from Google. |


New Mimio Infographic Offers Insights into Mobile Learning Trends

Cambridge, MA – Feb. 27, 2014 – Mimio, one of the world’s leading providers of interactive teaching technologies, is sharing the education industry’s findings on mobile learning in a brand-new infographic.

Titled “Education is Going Mobile,” the infographic highlights data on the growing acceptance of mobile devices as a conduit for learning, and the changes technology has brought to the educational landscape. Among the trends it discloses are the following:

– In 2014, K-12 school districts’ purchases of tablets and other handheld mobile devices will be double their purchases of laptops and notebooks.

– More than a third of teachers say they have used a tablet or e-reader in their classroom, a 20 percent increase from 2012.

– 56 percent of schools and libraries expect to implement or expand digital textbook use.

– 74 percent of teachers say technology motivates students to learn.

“Findings from Edudemic, MDR, Pew Research, and a host of other sources are presented in this infographic. According to those findings, educators have strong parental support for the use of mobile learning, and classroom gains are being documented,” said Manny Perez, Mimio’s president and chief operating officer. “We’ve brought together the data from these diverse resources to give educators a bird’s eye view of the current state of mobile learning and help them determine their future course.”

About Mimio
Mimio is a global leader in interactive teaching technologies that offer a better way to learn and an empowering way to teach. Our award-winning, innovative, and affordable hardware, software, and curriculum increase teacher effectiveness and student engagement in K-12 classrooms. For more information, visit

Follow Mimio on Twitter @MimioTechnology and “Like” us on our Facebook page at

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PublicSchoolWORKS Wins Bronze for Customer Support and Retention in the 2014 Stevie® Awards

Customer Service Department of the Year Recognition marks the 4th Stevie honor for PublicSchoolWORKS

Cincinnati, OH – February 28, 2014 – PublicSchoolWORKS, the signature safety compliance solution for K-12 schools, was selected as the Bronze Stevie® Award for Sales & Customer ServiceSM honoree for Customer Service Department of the Year – Public Services & Education. WORKS has been selected as a final Stevie honoree each of the four times WORKS submitted for a Stevie Award.

The 12-year customer renewal rate for PublicSchoolWORKS is an impressive 99.99 percent, attributable to its results-oriented customer support and the ongoing focus to help districts implement a comprehensive safety compliance program. When a customer calls the WORKS client services team — available 24/7 — 97 percent of issues are resolved on the initial call, with the remainder typically within 48 hours.

“This Stevie honor further validates our commitment to customers to making schools safer with less of their staff time involved,” said Strasburger. “Most companies that sell safe-school products offer software that just meets compliance with limited or no customer training included, or ongoing compliance and technical support. We are about delivering comprehensive programs that meet the intent of the law — not just the letter of the law — and that manage safety and compliance requirements to completion with automation — the way school districts need it to work — so their staff can focus on the business of teaching.”

WORKS has dedicated in-house teams focusing on Research, Development and Programming to ensure that all content is compliant with ever-changing federal, state and local regulations, so that administrators truly experience peace of mind.

“WORKS ‘we’ve got you covered’ mentality means all team members are dedicated to working to increase customer experience and safety compliance effectiveness,” said Tom Strasburger, vice president of PublicSchoolWORKS. “In concert with our in-house R & D teams who constantly monitor legislation and develop compliance tools, Client Services proactively works with customers to ensure their schools are compliant with changing and new mandates without any extra time or effort. Our district customers have the luxury of not worrying about it knowing we got ‘em covered!”

More than 1,500 nominations were evaluated this year, from public, private and non-profit organizations of all sizes and representing virtually every industry. There were 36 percent more submissions competing this year over 2013. Judges were selected to a 129-member panel representing small, growing companies to Fortune 100 conglomerates and governmental organizations across the globe. This panel formed seven specialized judging committees to evaluate and select the final 2014 Stevie Award honorees.

“Entries to the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service awards have almost doubled over the past few years,” said Michael Gallagher, president and founder of the Stevie Awards. “Not only have we seen a dramatic increase in the number of entries; but the judges have also seen a remarkable rise in the quality of the nominations submitted overall.”

Entries were considered in 43 categories for customer service and contact center achievements, 43 categories for sales and business development achievements, and additional categories to recognize new products, services and solution providers. Details about all Stevie winners are available at

About The Stevie Awards
Stevie Awards are conferred in five programs: the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards, The International Business Awards, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Honoring organizations of all types and sizes, and the people behind them, the Stevie Awards recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide. Learn more about the Stevie Awards at

About PublicSchoolWORKS
PublicSchoolWORKS ( is committed to providing top-quality, practical and cost-effective solutions to the constantly changing environmental, health and safety requirements affecting the nation’s educational systems. The company has earned an exemplary reputation for the innovation and technical superiority of its comprehensive and integrated systems, which combine administrative software tools and automated management resources to dramatically reduce the time and cost required to develop, implement and sustain district-wide safety compliance programs. For more information on how PublicSchoolWORKS can improve districts’ safety programs, contact 1-877-779-6757 or

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Free software helps fuel digital instruction

ClassFlow is a software program that ties together lesson planning, instruction, and assessment—creating a more personalized, collaborative learning environment


ClassFlow is free for individual teachers, but Promethean will be selling an enterprise version for schools and districts.

While technology is having an impact in the classroom, teaching with technology is often a fragmented process, especially in “bring your own device” classrooms or other environments where not everyone is using the same device or platform.

Now, a new software program from Promethean aims to simplify teaching with technology—regardless of what devices teachers or their students are using.

Called ClassFlow, the software was introduced in a beta version earlier this year. It’s a cloud-based platform that helps teachers create and deliver lessons in a digital environment.

An updated version will be released later this year and will include tools for assessing, monitoring, and analyzing student performance with the help of easy-to-use analytics, Promethean says.

(Next page: How the software works—and how it can streamline digital instruction)


The ABCs of school technology programs

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho shares his district’s experiences and priorities when it comes to supporting school technology

school-technologyMaking the decision to allocate school district resources to a digital conversion, and planning for and sustaining that technology conversion, requires effort and dedication.

And while no time will ever be the perfect time to make the digital transition, any time is the right time, said Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of the Miami-Dade Public Schools, a 2011 eSN Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards winner, and 2014 American Association of School Administrators Superintendent of the Year.

The need for technology-rich school environments that mimic the environments in which today’s students will one day work and compete becomes evident “when we acknowledge the fact that, from zip code to zip code…there are significant gaps. There are literally and figuratively digital deserts in our communities,” said Carvalho, speaking during Discovery Education’s second annual Future@Now event on Feb. 26.

Before school leaders address how they’re going to enable a digital conversion, though, it’s much more important to define why they’re going to do so.

(Next page: How to effectively launch a digital technology conversion)


Teachers still needed with self-paced blended learning

Teachers need guidance and training when moving into a blended learning environment


Blended Learning is an entirely new challenge—and chances are you won’t get everything right from the start.

Some teachers initially view self-paced blended learning as a process where the “computer does the teaching” and the role of the teacher is diminished. Practical experience with this style of learning with middle school students over several years indicates that this is not the case.

The teacher is still very important; however, the role changes. In short, this change could be described as a teacher moving from a lecturer to a facilitator, explainer to intervener, generalist to specialist and thus from content focus to content skills and mind-set focus.

Some evidence now supports this view.

Students involved in these middle school courses have been surveyed over the past few years. Results of the surveys have been consistent. The classes were operated by some teachers experienced in a blended learning classroom and some who were not. A recent survey produced varying results. The most significant differences in results were investigated further.

When the results were separated by class/teacher, the one set of results that showed a significant negative variation was of a teacher who was inexperienced in a self-paced blended learning environment. Even when support material is available, transitioning to a new style of classroom interaction takes time and experience and the challenge for a less experienced teacher or teacher bound to traditional teaching methods is significant. This is an indicator that support for teachers transitioning to a new style of teaching should not be superficial; it may need to be in depth and ongoing.

(Next page: Survey results)