On the Education Horizon: Quirky Programmable Objects

Content Developer

What’s New and Cool

I recently attended the TCEA conference, a large edtech extravaganza for Texas educators,  where I presented a session on learning spaces. Between sessions, I had some time to wander the expansive exhibit hall. What stuck out for me were all the cute bots and other programmable objects. While AR, VR, and 3D printing are still hot, programming seems to be even hotter, and in many cases, geared towards a younger audience with cutesy, fun, and downright quirky programmable objects. Let’s take a look at some that turned my head.

Zubi Flyer by Fuze

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a UFO! No...It’s a programmable frisbee! Aside from the video on their website being adorable, this toy is also pretty cool. It comes pre-programmed to light up and play games. Or, it can be hacked and programmed— all while getting kids outside running around! What could be better?  

Watch the video here.

Programmable Straws by Strawbees

Who would have guessed that straws would one day be programmed to do other things than serve as milkshake slurpers. That’s right—I saw straws walking, dancing, acting as bugs, and rollercoasters! The combination of computers, electronics, and construction helps students express their creativity as they come up with infinite ideas for programming straws, from block to advanced programming.

Watch the video here.

Anatomy T-shirt by Virtual Tee

The t-shirt looks like an interesting abstract design at first glance, but take your phone closer to your eyes with the mobile app, and there’s much more to it! The shirt displays a 3D anatomy experience from bones to organs to blood vessels. What a unique way to learn about the human body!

Programmable Clothes by Sygnal

Although I didn’t see these folks at the conference, I am intrigued by these programmable shirts, —so much so that I’m considering purchasing one as a gift. These wearables can make designs glow, broadcast a message, and display information from your phone (because we all know how you want to share the number of Likes on your Facebook page with the world or proudly show people how many steps you took today).

Throwable Microphone by QBall

As seen on Shark Tank, it’s a microphone you can throw. Now, give your students’ voices a platform so everyone focuses on them. Use it with guest speakers so the speaker isn’t bombarded with questions, and heck, even bring this rubber ball to staff meetings!

I came home excited—and just with a few more pens—but sadly didn’t make a purchase. I’d love to hear if anyone has experience with any of these products, particularly with students.

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