2016-10-25

News Author:

Matt Matz

Over the last couple of months, I’ve enjoyed being a part of the team that has been developing BlocklyProp. It’s a tool that we are all excited to introduce to each of you. BlocklyProp holds a lot of promise and potential as a way to engage students with programming and hardware.

Schools across the country (and the globe) are working to teach Computer Science, or more broadly, STEM skills to their students. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The jobs available for students when they graduate will be increasingly technical in nature. Students must have the skills necessary to do those jobs successfully.

Some schools have taken it one step further and added an “A” to STEM turning it to STEAM. This “A” stands for Art. It’s a recognition that creative expression and design thinking are as important as the more technical parts of STEAM initiatives.

STEAM sounds fun, amazing, and worthwhile for our students, but often, it’s easier said than done. Teachers need access to tools and materials, and they often need to be trained on how to use the tools they are provided. Many teachers didn’t have access to technology or computer science training, in part because teacher training programs focused on core academic skills.

This shift occurring in schools is a welcome one, and will be most successful when the technology teachers use to teach their students is also easy for teachers to use. In addition, teachers need good, reliable support for the products or kits they implement in their classrooms.

BlocklyProp is amazingly powerful in both its ease of use and how powerful it can be. Normally, easy-to-use tools just aren’t that powerful, and powerful tools are hard to use. Even here at Parallax, we’ve surprised ourselves with just how capable this tool is.

And on top of its ease and capability, it combines every aspect of STEAM! Students will:

Do real science by using the sensors in the BlocklyProp Starter Kit and learn about physics and electricity through the activities

Learn about technology through programming and interacting with real computer hardware and software

Learn about engineering by creating solutions to real-world problems

Create art and music on the displays, with speakers, and by using the Scribbler to draw

Learn math by plotting points, moving the Scribbler in distances and angles, and devising algorithms for their programs

We’re proud to be a part of the STEAM revolution in our schools. Our kids are our future. We want to make sure they have all the skills they need to take every advantage of what the world will have to offer them.

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