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.
SAM Edu is not ideal for direct instruction, but teachers can have fun learning alongside their students while they draw from or submit ideas to the developer's website. While users can share ideas on social media sites such as YouTube and Twitter, a feature allowing students to share their projects and see what other students are doing would be a useful addition to the website.Continue reading Show less
SAM Edu is a programming app where students develop engineering skills by using SAM blocks to create, modify, or enhance designs. Depending on the kit, hardware may include buttons, DC motors, LED lights, sliders, buzzers, and more, while software commands control behaviors, sound, timing, color, logic, and other aspects. Users can pair up to six blocks with their device via Bluetooth and then connect and control the blocks using drag-and-drop software commands. Compatibility with Lego blocks allows students to add pieces such as wheels, and the ability to connect with third-party apps makes it possible to interact with technology in ways limited only by the students' imaginations. Teachers can find ideas for classroom use via the SAM Labs website, which features short videos, detailed lesson plans (currently there are about 25 lessons), a teacher guide, and a student documentation guide.
Although the website features many resources that users can access to get help, find inspiration, and learn about the design process, there's not much detailed support in terms of how to build or use the software blocks. Students will have to invest time up front in learning how the different commands will affect the blocks, and they may have trouble pairing their blocks if there are multiple sets being used in a classroom at the same time. Also, the kits don't come with charging blocks, so teachers will need to have some on hand.
The opportunity to design and build things and see those creations interact with technology makes SAM Edu an effective educational tool on many levels. By its nature, this tool lends itself to creativity, iteration, problem-solving, and other skills vital to student success in the 21st-century classroom and workplace. Students can naturally learn the concepts of design thinking, planning, and documentation by using the Activity Log resource. For beginners, creating components out of cardboard, paper, Legos, and other materials encourages imaginative play. For more advanced students, the chance to delve more deeply into the software encourages development of programming and engineering skills. Students can organically learn concepts and skills inherent in the STEAM approach, such as critical thinking, experiential learning, and communication.
Although SAM Edu doesn't give feedback, and in-app support is somewhat lacking, the SAM Labs website and social media pages offer a growing number of resources. To help students succeed, teachers should be prepared to model and teach research, collaboration, problem-solving, and inquiry skills.
Key Standards Supported
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.
Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
Use tools and materials to design and build a device that uses light or sound to solve the problem of communicating over a distance.
Generate and compare multiple solutions that use patterns to transfer information.
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