Resources From Home

Gadget Lab Online is coming soon with online workshops for all ages and a low-cost lending library of sterilized Gadgets.  I’m working on it and will be back next week with details.  In the meantime, there’s this.

Scratch 
Scratch is a drag and drop (block) programming tool developed by Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab.   Scratch and its more advanced offshoot Snap are used for all ages including high school and college and offer a great introduction to coding logic.  For younger kids, there’s Scratch Jr. available for tablets in the app stores.
 
 Here’s a Scratch tutorial to get you started.   There’s more on YouTube. The programming tool is available in many languages. Click the down arrow next to the globe icon on the upper left of program’s top tool bar. If your bandwidth is sluggish you can download Scratch and use it locally on your own computer. 
 
For teachers, there’s a ton of Scratch resources here.  
 
 
Microbit 
 
Microbit are small controllers (kinda like a mini computer) with built in lights and sensors. You can also attach external devices like small motors, buzzers, etc. The Microbit online coding tool at  MakeCode.org is free.  You can buy a Microbit  from Amazon and from these US vendors.  I’ll be renting mine out with some motors, LEDS and other components but they’re cheap enough that its worth buying if there’s enough interest. The MakeCode site offers both a drag and drop view and a JavaScript view of your code so it offers a great transition from block coding to typed coding. 
 
 
Addictive Gear Game 
That’s not the real name. It’s actually called Connect It which is way less descriptive. This one is really fun for kids and adults.  It uses a browser add-on called Adobe Flash Player which you should only activate while you use it.  Like many browser add-ons it can be a virus portal so, like all software applications, if you get a request to update it, go directly to the developer’s site and update from there.   This article tells you more about Adobe Flash and how to set it up in your browser so it only runs when you play the game.  The author is pretty down on the tool but as he notes, Vimeo, Huffington Post, CNN, Fox News and other mainstream sites use it so it’s not like stepping into a pool of molten lava. 
 
Anyway, I think it’s well worth the trouble.  
 
KID Museum
My friends at KID Museum in Bethesda are offering cool at-home activities via their newsletter. You can read more about it here.
 
And More!  
In addition to my own online workshops I will be posting links to online instruction offers from local music teachers and others on the Gadget Lab home page.  If you’d like to be included, send me an email at Karen@GadgetLab.org.

In the meantime, stay healthy and know we are all in this together.