Teachers can use SAM Labs to combine programming skills with the excitement of the Internet of Things in their classroom, engaging students with hands-on learning while promoting STEAM concepts. Use maker space materials to create an animal or machine, and then use the Sam Space app and the site’s coding resources to bring it to life. Teach kids about solar energy, force and motion, or renewable energy by creating different circuits to solve problems. Or learn about body systems by building a skeleton with movable parts out of LEGO® blocks. 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.
Plan time for students to learn how the different commands will affect the blocks, and be aware they may have trouble pairing their blocks if there are multiple sets being used in a classroom at the same time. Teachers will want to keep an eye on all of the different parts and get students into the habit of placing the pieces back onto their charging blocks when they’re not in use.
SAM Space contains lesson plans complete with resources if you purchase a kit, but there are a limited number of plans compared to the possibilities teachers and students will likely dream up. Either way, take time to share your genius with the community of users by posting plans or finished projects in the gallery or on the site’s social media pages.Continue reading Show less
SAM Labs is a programming site where students develop engineering skills by using SAM blocks and the SAM Space app 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. On the Sam Space app, kids pair blocks with their device via Bluetooth and then connect and control the blocks using drag-and-drop software commands. On the SAM Labs site, kids can create and share programs using block coding as well as browse or post to the gallery of shared creations.
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 website, which features short videos, detailed lesson plans (currently there's one free sample lesson and a number of paid lessons), a teacher guide, and a student documentation guide.
The opportunity to design and build things and see those creations interact with other technologies makes SAM Labs 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 today’s classroom and their future workplace. Students naturally learn the concepts of design thinking, planning, and documentation as they learn how different pieces affect lights, sounds, and movements.
For beginners, creating components out of cardboard, paper, LEGO® blocks, and other materials encourages imaginative play. For more advanced students, the chance to delve more deeply into the software encourages the development of programming and engineering skills. In each case, students organically learn concepts and skills inherent in the STEAM approach, such as critical thinking, experiential learning, and communication. Of course, 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.
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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