We need support and empathy to prevent teacher burnout

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the world. Its impact on the educational profession, though, is unique. Every educator has an impact on children–the future adults. In a time of fear and uncertainty, our students turn to us; we are the moms, dads, and guardians away from home. We spend several hours a day with our students. Parents entrust us with the most precious things in their world–their children. This is a humbling fact.

Teachers are not robots–they, too, are human beings with feelings, fears, insecurities and lives. A teacher’s day is beyond classroom hours, and at the same time, teachers have to take care of themselves. When teachers don’t do this, they experience teacher burnout.

A nationally representative survey of teachers by RAND Education and Labor in late January and early February 2021 found that educators were feeling depressed and burned out from their jobs at higher rates than the general population. In the survey, one in four teachers–particularly Black teachers–reported that they were considering leaving their jobs at the end of the school year. Only one in six said the same before the pandemic. So, what can be done?…Read More

4 ways to support the growing role robotics will have in society

In the past decade, robotics have evolved from a sci-fi fantasy set in some distant future to an industry capable of producing present-tense toys, companions, workers and self-driving cars. And this is just the beginning. The industry forecast calls for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 26 percent, which would mean a value of $210 billion by 2025.

The inventors (and users) of tomorrow are children sitting in preK-12 classrooms right now, who by and large are not learning about robotics. This represents a huge opportunity for education technology companies. Robots promise to become a bigger part of our daily lives as the industry shifts from being primarily industrial-driven to increasingly consumer-oriented. As they expand beyond the warehouse to wherever we need them, robots will become more diverse, intuitive and useful.

The speed of change has been impressive in recent years and will only accelerate as machine learning and neural networks endow robots with human-like senses, allowing them to “see” and even “taste” like we do.  The skills children learn through robotics could certainly lead to career opportunities later, but that’s not the only reason to embrace the ABCs of androids. In addition to a range of science and math skills, students can practice problem-solving and creativity as well. We’ve arrived at a tipping point in robotics, and for education, that represents lifelong learning opportunities.…Read More

5 ways robots will bring your classroom into the 21st century

When you hear the word ‘robot,’ what comes to mind?

Off the bat, it’s probably either a hyper-realistic robot that can’t be distinguished from a human that sets out to take over the world, or ‘Disneyfied’ robots such as C-3PO and WALL-E that have been created for our entertainment. Today, however, their potential impact is more far-reaching. Robots are being built to improve daily tasks and improve our lives. Think about the Roomba vacuum, robotic arms for complicated surgeries, or Tesla’s self-driving car–all are setting a powerful precedent for new ways of living and being.

Education is another sector where robots are proving to be of valuable assistance. Conventional classrooms can become stagnant, often to the detriment of students’ learning experiences. That’s why telepresence robots can offer promising solutions for educators globally to empower engaged learning experiences and catalyze effective learning techniques inside and outside the classroom.…Read More

Using robots to help preschoolers love STEAM

In the spring and summer of 2020, Brooklyn Preschool of Science closed down for six months due to COVID-19. During those same six months, almost 300,000 people left New York, so there are certainly fewer families in our zip code than there were in March.

Even so, our independent preschools are back to serving 300 families at three locations, offering in-person classes for students ages 2 to 5. Parents are trusting us with their children not just because of the safety precautions we’re taking, but because of our pedagogical approach, which begins with a spirit of inquiry and ends with students who have a lifelong love of science.

An inquiry-based, hands-on approach…Read More

5 reasons to set up a coding program in your district

At Everett Public Schools, we’ve always had a robotics team at the elementary and secondary levels. Last year we were up to 50 robotics teams within the FIRST organization. During the shutdown, we went into a panic over how students wouldn’t be able to physically “touch” and work on the robots on campus anymore.

I didn’t want to lose our robotics stipend, nor did we want students to miss out on that learning during the shutdown. For help, we started searching for an online platform that would augment our in-person robotics curriculum.

We found what we were looking for in CoderZ and soon after, we shifted our entire robotics curriculum over to that platform. We weren’t sure how many students would want to log in from home voluntarily, but our participation levels have actually grown since the pandemic shut down in-person learning in March 2020.…Read More

What AI can and can’t do in education

When some people hear the term “artificial intelligence,” they think of robots like the ones in the Steven Spielberg movie AI. In education today, AI is something less glamorous.

As a tool among others in the software developer’s toolbox, it is used under the hood in many services and applications that teachers and students use every day in schools and families rely on at home. For example, it enables natural-language processing (search engines, speech recognition, spell checking), social media (interest profiling, sentiment analysis, add targeting), and computer vision (object detection, face recognition, augmented reality).

Despite its many uses, AI has raised some concerns among parents and teachers. According to the report “AI and the Future of Learning” from the Center for Integrative Research in Computing and Learning Sciences, three of those worries are students’ privacy, the potential for bias, and the possibility of teachers losing their jobs to AI.…Read More

Starting a K-12 classroom drone program

More K-12 schools are introducing drones into the classroom as educators discover how useful unattended vehicles can be to teach and strengthen science, technology, art, engineering, and mathematics (STEAM) skills. Students are engaged by the possibility of flying robots in their classrooms, but teachers will require support systems to understand how to best implement a classroom drone program.

Before investing in the hardware, K-12 educators can take essential steps to enhance their drone program’s success in getting off the ground.

Consider the drone objective for your classroom…Read More

Ruidoso School District is First to Deploy Xenex Germ-Zapping Robots

As schools around the world evaluate how to reopen safely amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the  Ruidoso Municipal School District is taking important steps to provide a safer environment for students and employees as they return to in-person learning. It is the first school system in the world to deploy  Xenex Germ-Zapping Robots, which are proven to deactivate SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in two minutes.  As part of their strategy to reduce the risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the school district is utilizing six  LightStrike™ robots to quickly disinfect its classrooms, offices, cafeterias, restrooms, locker rooms, gymnasiums, and more.

LightStrike robots were primarily used in healthcare facilities prior to the COVID-19 pandemic but as a result of the robot’s speed and efficacy against the novel coronavirus, they are now deployed in office buildings, schools,  hotelsprofessional sports facilities, police stations and jails,  airports, convention centers, and other places where contamination and disease transmission is a concern. Healthcare facilities (including the Mayo Clinic and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center) have published more than 40 peer-reviewed  studies validating the efficacy of the LightStrike robot technology.

In addition to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the LightStrike robots have been proven effective against common pathogens that lurk on surfaces in schools such as influenza (flu virus), MRSA, and norovirus.…Read More

CoderZ & Amazon Cyber Robotics Back-to-School Challenge

This fall, CoderZ and Amazon Future Engineer are bringing real-world industry to classrooms with the Amazon Cyber Robotics Back-to-School Challenge. In this free, three-hour virtual learning experience, students learn the basics of computer science while uncovering how Amazon uses computer science and robotics daily to deliver customer goods.

Schools that support students from underserved communities who finish the challenge not only have the chance to win prizes, but also to keep learning on CoderZ’s cloud-based platform with its virtual robots and game-like “missions.” For teachers who want to continue with CoderZ, Amazon will also sponsor free access to the yearlong curriculum for 100,000 students from underserved communities within the United States for a full semester during 2020 – 2021.

 …Read More

Three key trends in robotics education

Robots are hugely popular with kids. Want proof? Four of the 20 best-selling toys on Amazon during the 2018 holiday season were robots, robotics kits, or other electronic circuitry kits. So it’s not surprising that K-12 educators would turn to robotics as a way to get students excited about science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) education.

Worldwide, schools spent $146.5 million on robotics products and curricula in 2018, and this figure is expected to grow annually by 28 percent through 2023, reaching $640.5 million by that time. Some of the many companies that sell robotics kits to schools include LEGO Education, Pitsco Education, Sphero, Ozobot, Modular Robotics, VEX Robotics, and BirdBrain Technologies.

Reasons for this surge…Read More