Rugged tablet cases and tablet cart

I visited the schools for the first time since the project has been running!

Which reminds me of one other part of the tablet story—rugged cases and the cart.

You definitely need drop-proof cases for the hardware—or at least, highly drop-resistant ones. We got these from Bobj:

Bobj rugged tablet case

Here’s a link to them on Amazon. They cost about $22 ea. Definitely worth the money to protect a $150 tablet.

The other part of the story is the tablet cart. It organizes all 20 of the classroom tablets. We numbered each tablet and each slot, so kids know where to put their tablets back. When Debbie’s class was over, she called them up by groups—1 through 5, 6 through 10, etc. so kids wouldn’t get too much in each others’ way putting the tablets back.

The cart cost about $1000. It has all the chargers installed with individual USB cables tied in place for each slot. It’s on wheels, it’s solid, and it locks. Totally necessary.

tablet cart

ASUS MeMO Pad 7s!

We decided to standardize on the ASUS MeMO Pad 7 for the first year of our project. This tablet has a good combination of a decent screen, solid build, and reasonable price.

One key feature of these tablets is that they have regular micro-USB ports for charging, and they will charge when plugged into a computer. Kids can use them all day plugged in and they’ll stay charged. Samsung tablets will only charge from their special adapters, and the 7″ Google Nexus tablet (otherwise our first choice) is no longer being manufactured.

We bought the MeMO Pads from a tech integrator, together with charging carts for each classroom.

The exact model is the ASUS MeMO Pad 7 ME176CX.

ASUS MeMO Pad 7 in a rainbow of colors (I think we just got the black ones.)
ASUS MeMO Pad 7 in a rainbow of colors (I think we just got the black ones.)

An overview of the Pathways in CS project

Middle School Pathways in Computer Science project design diagram
Middle School Pathways in Computer Science project design

Our project is a collaboration between two adjacent urban school districts—Medford and Everett, MA—and the computer science department at UMass Lowell.

We’re working with district teachers, introducing them to computing for social good using MIT App Inventor, and supporting them in developing a 15- to 20-hour curriculum that they’re bringing to their middle school students.

There will also be week-long summer camps for the students who are part of the project during the school year, and in September 2015, a project showcase to highlight work accomplished and get the next cohort of students excited about participation.

For the first project year, we recruited five teachers (three from Medford, and two from Everett), and we ran a series of 10 professional development meetings on Tuesday afternoons starting in October.

These teachers are just about ready to begin project implementation in their classrooms—if only it would stop snowing!

Show ‘n’ Tell!

A Satisfied Pizza Eater!
Dawn’s app—A satisfied pizza eater!
Maya Angelou and Sam Gilliam.
Debbie’s app— poet Maya Angelou and painter Sam Gilliam.

Today was the last full group meeting before everyone starts in their classrooms.

Teachers (and Kim and Akira) shared the apps they had developed during the PD:

  • Denise made an app reflecting on historical events that had a big impact on her in the 1960s—the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy Assassination, the Beatles’ appearance on Ed Sullivan, and the moon landing.
  • Dawn made an app testing fractions of a pizza pie. Each time you shook the app, you’d “eat” some of the pizza and then you’d have to identify the fraction remaining. At the end, you’re rewarded with a picture of a satisfied glutton and a video of The Pizza Song.
  • Mike made an app with speeches from Albert Einstein and Nelson Mandela.
  • Akira made an app about the Ferguson tragedy.
  • Debbie made an app called “Painters and Poets” with conversations with Sam Gilliam and Maya Angelou.
  • Kim showed her app with a fun tour of the solar system. She had an advanced interface for playing and pausing the media files.

Next stop is official work with their students!

Hello World!

Our project has been up and running since October 7, 2014, when we first met with our teacher-partners.

Joining us in creating new opportunities for middle schoolers to learn computing are:

  • Debbie Corleto, art, McGlynn Middle School, Medford, MA
  • Dawn Munro, technology, Whittier School, Everett, MA
  • Azita Pourali-Bacon, technology, Andrews Middle School, Medford, MA
  • Denise Salemi, technology, Keverian School, Everett, MA
  • Michael Scarola, engineering, McGlynn Middle School, Medford, MA