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Where Pigs Can Fly . . .

Photo Credit: Ben Vanourek

The Denver Convention Center recently hosted the 2016 ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference. Over the course of a few days, many people attended this large conference and went to educational sessions, attended workshops, visited vendor booths, and discovered new technologies in the conference playgrounds (hands-on areas for adults). I had a lot of fun meeting many people, trying new things, and getting some free stuff (Who said pigs can’t fly? More on that at the end.).

There were guest speakers from around the world (one was from the country of Panama). In the ISTE Ignite sessions, guest speakers shared 5 minute speeches about various topics. My favorite speaker was Al Pajek talking about helping students become “purple cows.” In other words, helping them become remarkable, based on the best-selling business book by Seth Godin.

I was also impressed with the ISTE Playgrounds which contained a variety of child friendly technology for adults to play with. I played with Bee-Bot robots, interactive robots for kids that teach coding. I met with team members from Data Force FTC #6929, a group of high school students that enjoy working with challenges related to designing, building, and programming robots in head-to-head competitions. I also had fun learning about numbers from the “Numbers Lady,” Rebecca Klemm.

Inside the large downtown building with the Big Blue Bear were also many booths featuring everything from robots (Vex Robotics), to educational raps (Flocabulary), to touch screen computers (Impero) that will improve the future. Other famous companies included Google, Microsoft, Sphero, Minecraft, Samsung, and Brain Pop.

One company called Vex, had some robots on display that people could play with. I tried controlling one to collect balls and put them in a basket. It was hard to master but fun to play with. Their robotic kit for grades 4-8 is called Vex IQ, it has more than 850 components available, and they even have a yearly international competition for it called the Vex IQ Challenge.

One company called Flocabulary helps kids learn with videos featuring educational rapping. I met with Chris Payne and he told me about their company, which is based out of Brooklyn, New York. He also introduced me to one of their rappers, Dillon Maurer. I watched one of their science videos about the food chain, and I found it to be quite entertaining, a fun way to learn, and easy to follow along with the main concepts.

One company called Prowise (a company based in Holland) makes touchscreen computers that have very large screens with “10-points touch,” allowing up to 10 students at once to draw/tap/touch the screen. This would be great for a classroom environment. It is a cloud based company that integrates the computer into the screen and their software into the computer. I found their large screens interesting to use and easy to navigate.

Finally, the free stuff at the conference - many of the company representatives were giving out free items such as fidgets, pens, stuffed animals (like flying pigs from Waggle!), tasty popcorn, and my favorite, astronaut ice cream (the dehydrated type that does not need to be cold).