From smartwatches to smart homes, the Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming our everyday lives in so many different ways. However, the actual terminology ‘Internet of Things’ can be a difficult concept for people to understand. Essentially, the ‘Internet of Things’ means connecting everyday physical objects to the internet and is used when describing how devices talk to each other. Devices connected to the IoT have had a crazy impact on the world of EdTech. Toys are now able to function as playthings that teach using technology, and can even connect to the internet. In the classroom this means kids can learn, play, conceptualize and program from their own creations. This opens up a very interesting world of learning opportunities, all thanks to this fun world of the IoT.
At SAM Labs, we are introducing the IoT to students through activities that are augmented by the use of this technology. This is done through a series of lesson plans, projects, learning apps, that the students and teacher interact with. Since our goal is to engage students with the fun in coding and creating, context and engagement is key. A focus on content and context is key to engage the 90% of the classroom who have generally been steered away from STEAM fields.
Every SAM Labs kit includes SAM blocks, our wireless building blocks that talk to each other. They can be programmed to interact with each other using the drag-and-drop application within our SAM Space app. They key has been to make it both really simple and rewarding to get our blocks to interact; a button can turn on a light or start more advanced sequences. The reward felt from turning on little blocks and seeing them change, take shape and behave in quirky ways is enormous.
Our blocks are also LED lights, sliders, tilt sensors and DC motors to name a few. While these sound like technical terms, they are so practically and creatively handled with animations, activities, and content that the learning comes naturally. The same applies when students use SAM Labs to first encounter the concepts of inputs, outputs, variables, functions, and systems. The mental barrier to these terms evaporates and they become second nature, given the right (and fun) lessons or activities.
All of these can be configured to do an amazing number of fun things. The freedom that the wireless connectivity provides means that SAM Labs kits are the perfect starting point for children who have a curiosity for electronics, engineering and technology. In this way, SAM Labs offers the perfect solution for educators who are teaching computational thinking, STEAM, and computer science by providing in-classroom support for both the early adopter and the tech-hesitant teacher.
Here are 3 ways in which we believe the IoT can improve the quality of education:
IoT Enhances Project Based Learning
Learning today is not limited to textbooks and spreadsheet data. Information is best retained via interaction with teachers and their peers. The IoT lends itself to project based learning, e.g. some connected devices include sensors and actuators that are real and physical and are therefore easy to handle and “feel”. This helps students gain a better understanding of the subject they are trying to master as opposed to looking at data on a spreadsheet and having to build a theoretical mental model of what they represent.
Our lesson plans encourage kids to create and code – students are set challenges and are encouraged to find their own solutions. Some of our projects involve learning Morse code, making electronic songs or creating a proximity based alarm system. Students are actually coding rather than focusing on theory based lessons.
IoT Introduces Variety
SAM Labs introduces a plethora of sensors and actuators that do different things, meaning they can be applied to various systems, projects, and learning outcomes. Whether through our curriculum-aligned projects or other hands-on learning initiatives in the classroom, kids are able to explore their creative side and understand all the capabilities of IoT.
IoT Brings Coding to Life
IoT devices are all about coding and engineering since data flows through them and needs to be processed. It’s coding brought to life! Currently IoT is a buzzword outside of the tech industry but we believe that people of all ages can learn how to program for IoT without coming from an engineering background. And the best way for students to learn is by using intuitive programming platforms combined with the proper tools to let them be creative.
Teaching students to both understand and create with IoT opens up a door for their own future careers. With the IoT, students are able to harness new opportunities and create their own. It will take students from simply understanding the world around them (like most of learning) to inventing the world around them. This can only result in a brighter future of meaningful collaboration & entrepreneurship leading to more innovation in society.