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School Maps

Guide k12 change assignmentWhile kids spend a lot of time learning about maps, teachers and administrators could stand to learn a thing or two about their district’s geography. That’s where Guide K12 comes in. The interactive mapping software can help with everything from looking for where the districts brightest students live to dividing up its student population for different schools. It can produce a variety of reports and analyze what if scenarios like changing a school’s busing boundary. It costs roughly $2.25 per student to use.

Small Wonder

ThinkCentre M93p Tiny 2As its name implies, Lenovo’s ThinkCentre M93p Tiny makes a virtue of being small. Even though it is half the size of a mini-tower, the M93p is still an up to date PC that’s powered by Intel’s fourth generation Core i7 processor and either a traditional hard drive or a solid state storage device. It can be mounted on a wall, behind a monitor or just about anywhere. Pricing starts at $719.

Interaction without the Projector

Smart e70Smart’s E70 interactive monitor solves all the problems associated with interactive projectors, from being washed out to the inevitable shadows. The 70-inch monitor is more than big enough for the typical classroom and is sensitive to the touch of up to four students at a time. The best part is that the HD touch screen comes with Smart’s Notebook software. Look for it later this year.

Freebee Friday: Making the Web Kid-Safe

Good to knowWe all know that the Web can be a disturbing and dangerous place for young viewers, but how do you teach about Internet safety and security without encountering those threats? With Google’s free Good to Know page. The site has lots of tips for staying safe and sane on the Web as well as ideas for preventing identity theft and advice on keeping passwords your own. There’s a rundown on Google’s security-oriented software and a good glossary of terms. It’s more than enough to build a useful lesson around.

 

WiFi Takes a Big Step Forward

Rta15 aThe latest WiFi spec is 802.11ac and the latest router is Amped Wireless’s RTA15. It not only comes with high-performance 5dBi antennas and can handle multiple input and output data channels, but the router has a pair of 700 milliwatt 2.4-GHz as well as four 5.0GHz amplifiers. In addition to wired networking, the RTA15 has five Ethernet ports for wired connections. The router costs $190.

Securing Google

Cl DashboardWith so many schools adopting Google’s Gmail, Google Drive and the online service’s Documents Web apps, the question comes up as to how to control and secure all that data. CloudLock can tighten it up by creating acceptable use and data privacy policies to reduce a district’s exposure on the Internet. Items like who’s using what to the amount of data stored online are visible with the software’s dashboard.

The Clean Machine

Haan ss-25 dIf you take a quick inventory of cleaning products at your school, you’ll probably be astounded by the variety of harsh detergents, strong oxidizers and toxic chemicals that you’ll find. There’s a better, safer and ultimately cleaner way to remove the dirt of the school day. Use steam instead.

That’s where Haan fits in. The South Korean company specializes in steam cleaners to replace the use of traditional industrial cleaners. Not only can it cut costs, but using steam kills up to 99.9 percent of germs and bacterial; it can even kill dust mites. The best part is that the steam cleaner uses only live steam at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, so there are no caustic fumes or antiseptic odors when you’re done.

Unlike conventional steamer cleaners, Haan’s SS-25 goes a step farther with a pair of scrubbers that gyrate back and forth 850 times per minute to remove dried-on material. The SS-25 comes with a pair of rectangular brushes, two sets of microfiber cleaning pads and a set of buffing pads for polishing a floor.

Getting started is easy. Just fill the SS-25’s removable tank with 11 ounces of water and snap it into the handle of the gray and red device. The clear plastic tank lets you see how much water remains. Don’t worry if you have hard water because the system includes a dozen packets of lime and scale reducer.

Haan ss-25 aAbout 45 seconds after turning the floor cleaner on, steam starts to come out of the cleaner’s 20 jets on the bottom; there are two steam settings. You can use the SS-25 with just steam to give a floor a sanitizing rinse. Or, tap the button on the lower section with your foot to start the brushes whirring back and forth. They make the whole thing vibrate, but the 7-pound steam cleaner is easy to handle, and its swivel head lets you clean in a corner, around a table or under a desk.

The best part is that unlike mops that tend to spread germs around, the SS-25 cleans up after itself. It leaves a thin sheen of sterilized water that condenses from the cleaner’s steam. The floor is dry to the touch in a few minutes.

All told, it takes about the same amount of time as vacuuming a room, but the SS-25 not only picks up loose items, dirt and dust on its pads but gives it a wash as well. At full blast, it uses 1,130 watts and contains enough water for only about 15 minutes at the high steam setting. The device has only a 12-foot electrical cord so expect to a need an extension cord or have to do a lot of unplugging and plugging to cover larger rooms.

Haan ss-25 cOver the course of three weeks, I used the SS-25 on a variety of surfaces, including wood, ceramic, vinyl and concrete; the SS-25 includes a plastic guide for cleaning carpeting. I found that the reciprocating brushes removed dried peanut butter, gum and all manner of floor dirt. It was able to clean chalk off of a concrete area and splattered paint on an art room floor. Haan’s SS-25 should not be restricted to floors because it can clean the gym’s bleacher benches after a basketball game.

The SS-25 came into its own when we pulled a refrigerator out of its kitchen nook and found the area covered with 15-years of encrusted grime, grease and dried spills. The brushes chewed through the hardened material and afterwards the soft cleaning pads finished the job.

If you need something stronger you can use conventional cleaning products with the SS-25. For instance, I used a spray-on household cleanser to give a particularly dirty floor a good scrubbing with the unit’s brushes and steam. I followed this up with the cleaning pads, which removed any residual cleanser. Later, I used the buffing pads with floor polish to rejuvenate an old wood floor.

Haan SS-25 bWith Velcro backing, it’s easy to change from brushes to cleaning- to buffing-pads. The SS-25 comes with a foam mat to put it on when not in use. At the end of the day, just rinse them off or put them into a washing machine to clean; replacement cleaning pads cost $25 for four. Unfortunately, there’s no place to put these items while the others are being used.

The SS-25 is meant for home use, but should be rugged enough for daily school use for several hours a day, but its water container runs out all too quickly when going from room to room. It comes with a 1-year warranty and at $240 can pay for itself just in detergents and harsh cleaning chemicals that will no longer be needed.

A

Haan ss-25 a
Haan SS-25 Multiforce Pro

Price: $240

+ Replaces harsh cleaning chemicals

+ Indoor and outdoor use

+ Scrubbing action

+ Replaceable pads and brushes

+ Quick start up

+ Removable water container

+ Swivel head

 

- Runs out of water quickly

- 12-foot cord

Bubble Protection Program

Bubble_iPad_Fr-Rr_blue01As simple as it sounds, air bubbles just might be the best protection for tablets in the classroom. Available for all second and third generation iPads, Belkin’s Air Protect Case is made of closed-cell foam with embedded air bubbles that can keep a drop from damaging the slate. The case can be had in black, green or blue and has cut-outs for the cameras and switches. 

 

 

Classroom in the Cloud

Replacement Daily DigestMost of your back-up anxieties probably revolve around the slew of desktop computers scattered throughout the district, but what about the data sitting on your servers. Zetta can back them up quickly and painlessly to the cloud with an architecture that has been designed for fast online service. It is not only secure, but Zetta optimizes the data flow to and from its two data centers. The backups can be used to rebuild the data held on a current machine or transferred to new hardware. The service starts at $225 for 500GB of backup space and the company offers educational discounts.

Freebee Friday: Bing for Schools

BingWhat’s better than free search engine for the classroom? How about a search engine that schools can customize and adjust to the needs of education. Bing for Schools does that and more. In addition to allowing school administrators to tailor the search function to suit their educational needs and policies, Bing is able to keep ads, porn and worse off-limits and works on all major browsers

 

 

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