About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Steam for School

ReachfortheSun_2Ask any gamer in your school where to get their online games from, and the answer is likely Steam. The gamers Web portal will soon have an educational title. Reach for the Sun from Filament Games shows how a mature plant grows from a seed and then decomposes. Along the way, students learn about photosynthesis, sugar creation and consumption and everything that has anything to do with a plant’s lifecycle. The game is available now, will be part of Steam’s offering in November and costs $89.70 for a one year classroom license.




Projector Pair

Epson projectorsClassroom projectors come in all sizes and shapes these days and Epson has a pair of devices that show the range. Both use Epson’s signature three LCD panel technology to create the image and have all the latest ports and adjustments. The PowerLite S17 defines the entry level with a $400 device that can deliver 800 by 600 resolution with 2,700 lumens of brightness. By contrast, the PL 965 ups the specs in all areas, from its XGA resolution to its 3,500 lumens of brightness. It sells for $900.



Freebee Friday: 21-st Century Netizens

CBakerAll teachers anxious about whether their students are digitally aware of their online surroundings should tune into Edmodo’s online seminar that starts on October 23 at 7 p.m., eastern time. Called 21st Century Classroom Management: Edmodo for Digital Citizenship, it was created along with Common Sense Media, is hosted by Christine Baker, technology coordinator at Brentwood Elementary School and covers everything from cyber-bullying to identity theft.

Freebee Friday: Questions and Answers

Varsity tutor Classroom_Assessment_page_(1)Any class studying for a standardized test needs lots and lots of practice questions and answers, and that’s what Varsity Learning is all about. The service has over 10,000 questions from a variety of tests on tap for the ever-popular SAT, AP and ACT exams; the service also covers graduate school entrance tests like the GRE, LSAT and GED. There are flashcards, study-friendly questions of the day and some have interactive curriculum to fill in the gaps. The service’s individual scores can be tracked and analyzed so to help find the strengths and weaknesses of any student.

The Desk With Ups and Downs

Stir kinetic desk bNo desk is comfortable for every teacher and student to use, except, maybe the Stir Kinetic Desk. That’s because the 58.5- by 29.5-inch tablet has motors to raise the tabletop from 25- to 51-inches off the ground. That’s just about perfect for the range between the smallest first-grader and the biggest high-school senior. The desk has lots of places for cables, its own processor and a touch screen to control its movement. It should be on sale early next year, but there is no word on pricing.

Start to Finish

Parental toolkitWe all know that parental input, encouragement and even the occasional reprimand helps students learn at school, but NBC has put together a Parental Toolkit. It has a good group of ideas, services and tools for getting a child from K through 12. It’s part of the network’s Education Nation programming, was put together by Pearson and includes videos, advice and growth charts for handicapping a child’s learning.

Making the Classroom More Powerful

TLP606DMUSB-OTHER03-LThe modern classroom requires creativity, empathy and – above all – lots and lots of electricity. The problem is that few rooms have enough outlets for powering all the tablets, notebooks or screens required. Tripp-Lite can lend a hand with its Protect It TLP606DMUSB power strip that can not only increase the number of outlets six-fold and can keep equipment from being damaged but can be quickly secured on any desk.

At 3.5- by 2.9- by 13.1-inches, the black plastic surge suppressor strip is on a par with other power strips. But, rather than a plain strip of outlets, the TLP606DMUSB has a pair of plastic clamps that can lock it to the end of a desk, tabletop or a shelf.  The unit’s clamp holds the power strip securely in place on a variety of surfaces and eliminates the annoying problem of the power cable pulling the power strip around. The strip extends only about half an inch above the surface, but the outlets can only be mounted vertically and not as an extension of the desk’s surface.

It can not only turn one outlet into six AC plugs but adds a pair of USB charging ports that can each deliver up to 2.1-amps of current to a tablet, phone or rechargeable speaker set.  Instead of a row of outlets, two of the AC outlets are set off from the others with enough room to accommodate a pair of large plug-in AC power adapters. Unlike some other Tripp-Lite products, it lacks Ethernet and coaxial connections, though.

As a surge suppressor, the TLP606DMUSB is no slouch. It has a six-foot long cord, can handle up to a total of 15-amps of current and has a circuit breaker if you go cover the limit. The device filters out electromagnetic and radio-frequency noise, can protect against surges of up to 2,100 joules of energy as well as react to a surge in less than a nanosecond.

TLP606DMUSB-OTHER01-LIn actual use, the TLP606DMUSB not only suppresses surges from the hot to the neutral lines but also between the ground and either the hot or neutral line. There are two LED lights at the end that show that the system is properly grounded and that the equipment is protected from a power surge.

Overall, the $25 surge suppressor is money well spent. It worked well for in a classroom setting for charging an iPad, Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 and a variety of desktop computers as well as notebook power adapters. The best part of the Tripp-Lite power strip is that it comes with a lifetime warranty as well as $40,000 of insurance against damage to electronic equipment. No other device provides this level of protection for so little.  


Protect It Surge Suppressor

Price: $25

+ Can be clamped onto a shelf or desk

+ 6 AC and 2 USB outlets

+ Two outlets can accommodate large plug-in adapters

+ Protects against powerful surges

+ LED warning lights

+ Lifetime warranty with $40,000 insurance


- Outlets can only be mounted vertically

iPad Reader

Ilit cPearson’s iLit app can help get a class of early readers up to speed. Created with Mutual Mobile, the service works on an iPad tablet and allows the teacher to customize who reads what for a learning strategy that’s individualized for each student. Based on Common Core standards, the program has six modules that lead each student down the road to fluent reading.

Making Epson Projectors Smarter

IMG_4665Despite their versatility and use of inexpensive lamps, the one thing that Epson projectors lacked was a comprehensive collection of multimedia educational material. That is until now because the company’s interactive projectors can now be ordered with Smart’s Notebook software and access to their online library of more than 65,000 teaching resources. The software is available now for $250. 


Next-Gen Networking

R7000_3-4Lft2_TransparentWhat can boost WiFi coverage and speed while adding the ability to determine who gets the priority when downloading big files. Netgear’s AC1900 Smart WiFi Router that incorporates the latest 802.11ac protocol and has built-in Quality of Service software. Capable of moving over nearly 2Gbps over thin air, the router works on both the 2.4- and 5GHz cannels and has four wired gigabit Ethernet ports. It works with iTunes, and has a built-in FTP server for moving files around. It has a USB 3.0 port for adding a printer or hard drive. The system sells for $200.

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