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Up, Up and Away

Drone edWe see drones everywhere but these flying robots can help with STEM Education. The first step should be getting several copies of “Drones in Education: Let Your Students’ Imaginations Soar.” Written by Chris Carnahan, Kimberly Crowley and Laura Zieger, the book will be published this summer by ISTE press and is a complete look at how drones fly, how you can control them and where they fit into the modern school. More to the point, the book details the current legal structure surrounding drones as well as which type to get for indoor or outdoor use. The authors will present a program on the book and their curriculum at this summer’s Denver ISTE show. It costs $21.95 (for nonmembers) and $19.76 (for ISTE members).



Share and Share Alike Chromebooks

NComputing Chromebook 3The latest Chromebook from NComputing, the CX110, not only provides cost effective student computing at $200, but allows a school-day’s worth of different kids to share machines. By using the company’s vSpace client software, a single system can service several students throughout the school day. The system combines an 11.6-inch screen with 8.5-hours of battery life, according to NComputing. If you like, the system can be ordered with 6,000 video lessons from brainstorm.com in English, science and math as well as ACT and Advanced Placement test prep for $179.


Let the Sun Shine

SolarInvestigating Solar Energy” is Vernier’s latest printed lab activity book. As the name implies, its 11 experiments are all about using the sun to power our world. Aimed at K-through eighth graders, the $25 book looks at everything from solar energy and its variables to series and parallel circuits and require Vernier’s KidWind Solar Energy Exploration Kit, Vernier Energy Sensor and Surface Temperature Sensor


Freebee Friday: Meaningful Minutes

Science in 60The Science in 60 series from the Los Alamos National Lab is an excellent way to introduce complex ideas to a class in a short period. There are episodes on mini satellites, explosives, influenza and arctic meteorites. All are told from the perspective of the scientists involved and give students a rare look into what a career as a scientist might be like while giving them valuable information and concepts. They are all just over a minute long and live on Youtube.


VR, Here We Come

Predator G1_G1-710_02It may look like an overpriced gaming system with a particularly aggressive look, but Acer’s Predator G1 just might be the best way for schools to learn about and teach virtual reality. Thought to be the next step in storytelling, VR could be the next hit class at high school, but you need a high-end system to deal with the data flow and ultra-high-performance video. In fact, the typical VR segment requires 7-times faster data flow than the typical HD clip. The G1 succeeds with 6th generation Intel Core i processors, up to 64GB of RAM and top-performance Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics.

A Home for your iPad

Canvas-ipad-pro-creatorIt’s a fact of life at schools that iPads can require three hands sometimes to hold, tap and have papers handy. ISkelter’s Canvas Creator can help with a sturdy wooden base for an iPad that holds it, a stylus and provides a trough for holding a phone, a thin book or the pad.

Made of bamboo and machined to fit the 9.7- or 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, the Canvas Creator is about as natural as it gets. At 0.75- by 12.2- by 9.4- and 0.75- by 14- by 11.5-inches, respectively, the two models fit well on school desks. There are also models that provide some room on the side for a book or pile of papers, but these extend a few more inches.

It has been well sanded and has rounded corners, but the Canvas Creator base’s bamboo wood is unfinished and could stand to be oiled or protected with a polyurethane coating for longevity. On the other hand, if you spill something on it or it gets too dirty to clean, you can always just lightly sand the surface.

The pad fits perfectly into the Canvas Creator base with the screen nearly surface flush with the base. On the downside, the iPad’s side buttons and the rear-facing camera become inaccessible once it’s in place. It has a soft felt lining so that the iPad’s back doesn’t get scratched. If you like, the Canvas Creator base can easily be screwed into place on desks or a lab bench so that kids come into the class or lab and put their iPads into place.

To the right is a slot for Apple’s iPad Pencil stylus. It’s easy to drop in and remove, but the Canvas Creator base lacks a tether to keep it from getting dropped or lost. It’s not a surprise because the Pencil doesn’t have a place to attach a chain or string.

There’s also a handy trough for holding a phone, short book or a clipboard with papers – my favorite. If you want to work with the iPad upright or share something with a small group, you can put it into the slot. It sits at a comfortable 150-degree angle and is just as good with the slate sitting horizontally or vertically.

Canvas-ipad-pro-apple-pencil-accessory-17To the left is a cut out for slipping your thumb under the iPad to remove it from the wooden Canvas Creator. Unfortunately, the round indentation can’t accommodate the slate’s Lightning power cord without awkwardly lifting the left side of the iPad out of the base. In other words, the Canvas Creator’s key shortcoming is that you can’t charge and use the iPad for school work at the same time.

The Canvas Creator base comes in sizes for the 9.7- or 12.9-inch iPad Pro that cost $50 or $70. It’s a small price to pay for such a simple, yet powerful, base that can change the way you work and learn with an iPad.



iSkelter Canvas Creator for iPad Pro and Pencil


+ Made of sturdy bamboo

+ Holds pad and stylus

+ Trough for phone, book or clipboard

+ Screen sits flush

+ Stand for iPad


- Power cord doesn’t fit

- Unfinished surface

Bottomless Ink Cartridges

Mfc985dwxlTired of paying for ink cartridges for your classroom printer? Brother’s latest MFC-J985DWXL printer will not need new ink for two years, assuming you print 200 pages a month. That’s because the it uses Brother’s INKvestment system and comes with three sets of ink tanks. That should be enough for more than 7,000 black and 3,600 color pages, by Brother's estimates, or two years of typical use. The printer itself is no slouch with not only a built-in scanner that can put images onto a variety online storage systems, but a 2.7-inch touch screen. The printer has free apps for phones and tablets, can print with near field communications and create documents on both sides of a sheet. 

Let ‘Em Roll

Smart cart in useWhen it comes to recording and analyzing motion for a STEM project, there’s nothing like using automated sensors that are much faster and more accurate than human eyes and fingers. Pasco’s Smart Cart does this and more by providing a plastic cart with low-friction wheels that can take collisions of up to 100-Newtons. Able to carry a variety of objects, the cart’s sensors transmit its speed, acceleration and force data wirelessly. Its internal battery can be charged with a microUSB cord and the cart communicated via Bluetooth so you don’t need any special equipment on the receiving end. The $159 cart can be used to teach everything from the force of gravity and the conservation of energy to the difference between elastic and inelastic collisions.


Desktop Two-For

ARMDUAL30With Startech’s ARMDUAL30 monitor mounting hardware, you can set up a pair of displays either stacked above and below or side by side. It can handle up to 30-inch monitors side by side or 24-inch ones for stacked set ups, and can accommodate systems with 75- and 100mm VESA mounting screws. The hardware can rotate around the central pipe and can be mounted with a clamp or in a desk grommet. It costs $276.

Hopping onto the Desk

Kangaroo-Mobile-Desktop-Pro-left-angled-2While its new dock makes the Infocus Kangaroo Pro PC grow to roughly twice the size of the original Kangaroo, it’s worth it. That’s because the Pro is still one of the smallest computers around and fits into a shirt pocket or backpack pouch. Powered by the same Intel Atom quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, the new dock give the Kangaroo Pro the luxury of VGA and HDMI video as well as three USB connections and a LAN port. The big pay-off is that it can hold a 2.5-inch hard drive or solid state storage unit. It costs $200, double the original’s price.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Tech Tools are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.