New ways of presenting education in the twenty-first century.

  • Virtually Revolutionizing Science Studies May 27, 2017
    Aaron Knox of Labster

    (Photograph courtesy of Elisabeth Eriksrud Glomseth, and used with permission.)

    For many of us, “biology class” and “fun” never used to be synonymous.

    Enter Labster: an award-winning virtual-reality science lab.

    Labster combines scientific expertise with computer-gaming scenarios.  And the result?  Students enjoying science class and seeing, first-hand, how scientific principles apply to the “real world”.  They’re also learning at an exciting rate, where they “tuned out” before.   This virtual-reality lab is currently part of the curriculum in more thatn 150 colleges and universities, worldwide.  Their clients include Harvard, MIT and the University of Hong Kong.

    Aaron Knox is Labster’s Vice President of Customer Development.  He talked about the creation of Labster’s award-winning virtual lab simulations, some of the current applications, and the directions in which the team wants to take their revolutionary program in the future.

    On this version of Over Coffee®, you’ll hear:
    • How Labster first came into being;
    • What students experience when working with the virtual-reality science lab;
    • A surprising study on student outcomes;
    • A new educational tool currently in development for the virtual labs;
    • Some of the new upcoming digital experiences presently in the works;
    • Aaron’s own experiences, after he and his family moved from the U.S. to Denmark;
    • Plans for future virtual-reality labs and simulations;
    • Some of the ways schools can obtain the digital-lab program;
    • How the company is expanding in the United States;
    • Dates for the team’s planned future appearances at conventions in the U.S.

    Labster will be at the 2017 Blackboard World conference, in New Orleans, this summer, from July 25th through 27th.




  • Creating Change Through 3D Printing May 12, 2017
    3D Design Prblem Bank founder Rich Lehrer

    (Photo by Andrew Luman, and used with permission.)

    “The last thing the world needs is more plastic trinkets,” says Brookwood 3D Design Problem Bank founder and Innovation Coordinator Rich Lehrer.

    Consequently, if his students think they’ll be 3D printing their names or plastic mascots, they’re in for a–possibly world-changing–surprise.

    Rich and his 8th-grade STEM students at Brookwood School, in the Boston, Massachusetts were one of the first student groups to 3D print a prosthetic hand device, in 2013.

    Max Lehrer with baseball grip device designed by student

    Max Lehrer (r) with 3D printing student and bat-gripping device. Photo courtesy of Rich Lehrer, and used with permission.)

    Rich’s then-three-year-old son, Max, was the recipient–and the students were able to see the results of their engineering work immediately.

    The success of this project was just the beginning.  Rich, who has served as an education coordinator for nonprofit e-Nable, in addition to his current work as a teacher trainer through the Buck Institute, was inspired to incorporate real-world problem-solving into his students’ future lessons.

    Following closely thereafter was the beginning of the 3D Design Problem Bank.  In the Problem Bank, community members submit problems which they believe 3D printing could solve.  Then, the students choose a problem and get to work, designing.

    And in an exciting STEM offshoot, the Problem Bank also sparked “Dezign Girlz” in 2016.  This was a girls-only, week-long STEM workshop that paired sixth-grade girls with residents of a local senior community.  Once they’d identified problems the senior citizens encountered in daily life, the students went to work designing adaptive 3D printed devices as solutions.

    Rich talked about his background as an educator, some of the STEM projects his students have done, how he came to implement the 3D Design Problem Bank, and shared his vision for a global “3D Design Problem Bank”, along with some resources.

    On this edition of Over Coffee® you’ll hear:
    • How Rich first began teaching STEM projects as his eighth-grade science curriculum;
    • His experiences leading his students as they built a prosthetic hand device, in 2013;
    • How that experience started him using 3D printing in a problem-solving context, for his students’  learning experiences;
    • How Brookwood came to implement the 3D Design Problem Bank, and how it works;
    • Rich’s vision for expanding the Problem Bank to be a global educational tool;
    • The ways in which similar Problem Banks might be customized to deal with certain types of design challenges;
    • How Rich and a colleague connected sixth-grade girls with senior citizens in the local community, through the “Dezign Girlz” pilot project;
    • The resources Rich recommends for fellow STEM innovators (he has a free curriculum available on his website!)


    Brookwood’s 3D Design Problem Bank Project

    Ultimaker Education Pioneers

    Rich’s website

    MIT’s D-Lab

    e-NABLE Community- open-source community for 3D printed prosthetics

    LimbForge™-nonprofit that provides tools and training for clinicians to provide pathients with 3D printed prosthetics

    Buck Institute for Education


  • Sparking Tomorrow’s Best Ideas–All Weekend Long April 22, 2017
    by Dot Cannon"Imaginology Gate 8 on Orange County Fair marquee

    “Ooh, I want to go play some music!” exclaimed one elementary-school student entering “Imaginology” at the Orange County Fairgrounds on Friday morning.

    He would get that opportunity.

    Imaginology lifesized photo grames with costumes on main mall

    He would also have the chance to program LED lights, play math games, make clay, fabric or paper art…

    kids program LED lights at OC Fair Imaginology


    Imaginology employee at clay station

    Jurassic Parties staffer lets viistors handle pythons

    …and even handle a snake.

    The thirty-eighth edition of the Orange County Fair’s Imaginology had kicked off at nine that morning.

    kids and teachers build with blocks at Imaginology

    Opening day of “Imaginology” is “Field Trip Day”.  A bevy of school buses had delivered students from all over Orange County.  They’d be exploring, learning–and imagining the ways they could use STEAM to create their futures.

    But most of all, they’d be having fun.

    And this was just the first day of the OC Fair’s free three-day family-oriented STEAM event.

    mathobotics display in main hall

    Throughout the Fairgrounds were all kinds of areas of interest in science, technology, engineering, art and math.  But these weren’t just displays.

    Imaginology staff display prints at printmaking station

    Workstations stood ready to help participants get a hands-on taste of Arduino, Raspberry Pi, printmaking, and whatever else captured their imagination.

    “Face time” with animals and agriculture

    Scout troop leader and troop handle python at Imaginology

    One of the biggest crowd-pleasers was the “Jurassic Party” area–with its tortoise and two pythons visitors could hold.

    "Agventure Land" farm games at Imaginology

    Imaginology attendees work in the "Super Dooper Pooper Scooper" station

    Young “Imaginology” attendees even had the opportunity to play at being farm kids for a day.

    spectators take pictures of sheep shearing

    Two 4-H clubs were exhibiting in the livestock area.  The sheep shearing seemed to be popular with Imaginology attendees…

    Closeup of sheep shearing

    –although not necessarily with the customer.

    Attachng a miling machine to Annabelle the cow

    And “Anabelle” the Jersey cow had a capacity-crowd audience for the afternoon milking demonstration.

    All this, and “Imaginology” has barely begun!  They’ll be open this Saturday and Sunday, April 22nd and 23rd, from 10 am to 5 pm.

    Main mall of Imaginology at the OC Fair

    Saturday’s scheduled events include the “Fashion + Art LIVE” fashion show and VEX Robotics Awards.  On Sunday, Imaginology will host Digital Media Arts and My Dream Career Photo Awards presentations.  Both days, there will be a “MiniMAKEathon”, with an awards ceremony at 3:00 on Sunday afternoon.

    And twenty years from now, a rocket scientist, web designer,  sculptor, musician, agricultural technologist or other STEAM professional may look back and say, “For me, it all started with ‘Imaginology’.”

     The thirty-eighth annual “Orange County Fair Imaginology” event runs from 10 am to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday, April 22nd and 23rd, at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.  Admission is free; parking is $8.  Here’s the link for directions.
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