App of the Week: SAM Edu

Wireless blocks promote design, engineering, and programming skills

Ed. noteApp of the Week picks are now being curated by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to read the full app review.

What’s It Like? 

Teachers can use SAM Edu to bring the Internet of Things into their classroom, engaging students with hands-on learning while promoting design, programming, and engineering skills. Teach velocity and speed by letting students collaborate to build a car and an interval timer, or challenge them to design a product that could solve a problem at home, at school, or in the community. Teach robotics with Lego and SAM blocks, and help students connect coding language to real-world applications without the intimidation that programming languages may present (advanced users can write their own code). Give students a chance to teach one another by asking and answering questions like “What if…?” and “How can we…?” Whether students are creating, enhancing, or starting an invention from scratch, they’re solving problems, thinking critically, and interacting with technology in meaningful ways.

Price: Free, Paid

Grades: 2-12

Rating: 4/5

Pros: Students will love the hands-on creation and interactive features that bring their designs to life.

Cons: Students may be frustrated by the lack of in-app support, and costs for the various blocks and kits can add up quickly.

Bottom line: With some perseverance, SAM is a great fit for PBL and STEAM, helping students learn programming skills through invention.

Laura Ascione

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