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STEAMLabs launches IoT teaching kit


STEAMLabs, a non-profit community makerspace, has launched an Internet of Things (IoT) teaching kit to help students and teachers navigate the world of connected devices, 3D printing and software development. The teaching kit was officially launched at the Toronto International Film Festival digiPlaySpace by a team of grade six students who used the material to construct models of Ontario’s power system.

The IoT teaching kit is designed to help non-experts learn to teach fundamental principles of engineering and computer science in fun and engaging ways. Teachers need fresh tools to teach digital literacy programming. This need is even more pressing in areas of rapid change, such as Internet technology.

“We work to shift students from a position of consumers of technology to roles as active participants and makers. As everyone spends more and more time face-down in technological devices we know that teachers are struggling to keep students engaged in learning. We turn this thinking on its head, leveraging students’ interest in technology as a means to get them thinking of science, math, art and coding,” says Andy Forest, chief instigator of STEAMlabs

Last weekend at the TIFF digiPlaySpace, grade six students presented unique models of the Ontario power system that were built using the IoT teaching kit. Students used 3D printing, Spark Core microcontrollers, LEDs and other electronics to build the model. They developed software programs with Arduino coding, HTML, CSS and Javascript and used real time data to demonstrate Ontario’s mix of power generation technologies and model the challenges facing the power system.

According to research by the .CA Community Investment Program and Ipsos Reid, 82% of Canadians agree that young people should graduate from high school with basic skills to help them succeed in the digital economy, such as computer coding skills. The team at STEAMLabs directly supports this goal.

Analysts at IDC estimate that the Internet of Things Market will grow to $7.3-billion by the year 2020. Developing early literacy in these emerging technologies is critical to ensuring that students can understand this pervasive technology and seize new opportunities in this growing market.

“We designed the .CA Community Investment Program with projects like STEAMLabs in mind. Their work to ensure that students have fun and intelligent ways to engage with new technology supports .CA’s goal of improving the Internet in Canada. Technology moves quickly and we need to ensure that there are resources available to help educators innovate just as rapidly,” says David Fowler, director of marketing and communications for .CA.

STEAMLabs will be holding a free training session on June 5th for educators wishing to learn how to use the teaching kit. For more information, visit: http://steamlabs.ca/events-item/steamlabs-educator-day-internet-of-things