Microsoft’s Minecraft Education Edition just announced something the K-12 science education community has been needing for years. In February, Minecraft Education will become the single most engaging and relevant catalyst for K-12 chemistry education. Like a catalyst in a chemical reaction, the Chemistry Resource Pack will accelerate the process of K-12 students learning, understanding and applying the basic principles of chemistry in a safe and ultimately flexible learning environment. Students as young as 6-years-old can master the atomic composition of elements and then combine those into exciting compounds that can be used to make Minecraft tools. These tools include glow sticks, super fertilizer, underwater TNT and even helium balloons that carry mobs into the sky!
Imagine the future of grade 6-12 chemistry education when vast amounts of grade K-5 students have foundational skills in chemistry. As a Biochemistry university graduate I am delighted that this new learning catalyst will accelerate student understanding of science education moving forward. If you are looking for a tool to strengthen chemistry understanding and skills with K-12 students, Eureka! Look no further than Minecraft Education Edition! The first time your students attach a helium balloon to a pig and watch it fly away will be the perfect moment to hook them on science for the rest of their lives! Congratulations and thanks to the team at Minecraft Education.
Honesty alert - Despite diving into some of the most complicated educational technology around, two weeks ago I was the guy that avoided Skype because I somehow believed you had to pay to use it. This misunderstanding was due to my Office 365 account allotting me 60 "free" Skype minutes and therefore caused my assumption that to call another user costs minutes. A fellow Canadian Dean V. in Saskatchewan cleared this up nicely for me, as a Skype Expert would, and subsequently Caledonia Regional's first Skype-a-Thon call ever was made to Dean and his students in Saskatchewan on November 28th 2017. Dean and I teach a very similar grade 11/12 math course involving financial and workplace math. We decided to list a bunch of vaguely teen-related services and merchandise and compare the costs of these between New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, Canada. The call was awesome and even though time was tight it felt natural and students remarked "We should do that more often" and "That was really cool." On November 29th the students at our school analyzed the costs from both places and were encouraged to dig deeper into the meaning and global issues that might cause some of the large discrepancies. When we all went to sleep on the first night we had done our part to generate the most virtual miles ever in Skype-a-thon history. But we were just warming up!
Day two and Microsoft had already reached their global Skype goal before school started in Atlantic Canada. Today was a big day for us as my students, who had worked so hard with Microsoft HoloLens, Minecraft and on Windows 10 Game Development using Unity 3D, were set to speak with Microsoft VP Terry Myerson who runs the Windows Device Group. Students had some great questions ready about "ESports" Electronic Sports and Gaming, Minecraft's future for Multi-school servers, HoloLens for both entertainment and workplace and even which Microsoft executives were the best and worst Minecrafters. At 1:30pm local we were connected to Terry and apologized for not having a cultural piece at the start of our call because the boys had eaten all of the Tim Horton's donuts and the world had already heard enough Justin Bieber music.
For a solid 20+ minutes the students hammered away at Terry with difficult questions but he kept his composure very well. He dodged the question about the worst Minecrafter in the executive team (Although he did blink twice when we suggested Anthony Salcito?) but he gave serious props to the team at Minecraft saying they all would easily be the best. He was also very proud of his Minecraft skin featuring a cape. The students got just enough insider information from Terry to feel that they had a special relationship and he held back enough info to keep his job. When the call disconnected the students immediately reflected on how cool that type of access was and had already begun planning future Skype requests and even talked about a Skype Studio in our Innovation Lab. It looks like I'll be writing more grants after all. It was a stressful time, an energetic time and a special time for all of us in our first Skype-a-thon and we all can't imagine not being part of it every year moving forward.
I'd like to start this by saying I have honestly invested more time than I would like to admit into planning the fundraising for and the execution of burning the 17 United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals into the Moon's surface. The World's largest lesson needs the World's largest chalkboard right?
I honestly can't think of a country who would object as this lesson is truly in the best interest of every person on Earth. Daily, people could take an active role in helping to better balance and sustain our world and each night everyone would get a fresh reminder of the next day's challenge. Even beyond 2030 these goals will still exist as the most important mission each of us has when we wake up so the branding would certainly apply to all subsequent generations.
Until I achieve this lofty goal of my own we as teachers must do our individual roles to shine a light on the 17 goals that will guide humanity to a sustainable lifestyle together. This can take the form of a poster display on the walls of the classroom or morning announcements with reminders and facts about the goals. Each of these is great to raise awareness of the goals but the true power happens when teachers ask for action and students actively work to improve our current standards of living on Earth. Doing it alone as a class is awesome but these issues cross national and cultural boundaries so I would suggest reaching out beyond your classroom on projects large and small. The old saying "Be the change you want to see in the World" has never applied more than with the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.
If you are completely new to the concept of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals there is no need to fear. I too was new to these goals just months ago and I can tell you they have given me a purpose in my programs at school like never before. We all want to make an impact on students' lives and provide authentic and meaningful learning opportunities. With the SDGs as the foundation for your lessons you will always see the benefits of your role in students' lives.
Join me. Join us. Join everyone in promoting active participation in working to improve our World in the 17 areas indicated on the bright coloured goal cards!
Visit www.globalgoals.org/ to learn more today!
Reach out to me on Twitter! @BBTNB
My Sustainable Development Goals Education Website - www.SDGsEDU.com
On a quiet night is there anything better than curling up with a great book? However, when that book is an iBook titled "Happy" by Tuniversity which allows the reader / participant to learn from Pharrell Williams and dissect and remix his massive hit song, the night doesn't stay quiet for long!
When tasked with creating a song for the movie Despicable Me 2 Pharrell did not disappoint. In a new iBook experience by Tuniversity called "Happy" we are all treated to not only Pharrell's personal process, but also detailed examples of how every musical aspect of the song was created by the hit artist. Aspiring artists and seasoned professionals can all learn something from this very interactive book and so can our students in K-12 classrooms! Students will read about developing the parts of a song and even try their hand with arranging and producing a hit song on their favourite iOS device.
No, not that S.T.E.M. education. One of the rarest resources in the world after four-leaf clovers has got to be a musical artist's audio stems. These elusive unicorns of music education encompass all of the polished tracks that make up a complete song, isolated for our remixing pleasure. Horns, vocals, drums, strings and even hand claps among other stems are the soul of a song and rarely provided for free. Tuniversity allows users access to these audio stem files for educational purpose giving complete production access and artist freedom to invent their own "Happy."
Once your students have created their "Happy" and you've clapped along (If that's what you wanted to do), you may be left temporarily searching for enrichment or similar experiences. Tuniversity has suggested this is not a one-off iBook and that more experiences are coming but in the meantime I strongly suggest you explore Indaba Music. They've been around forever and I remember fondly remixing my favourite band Weezer as well as Bran Van 3000, Marcy Playground and numerous rap artists' songs. Competition is the name of their game as artists provide audio stems and select winners with the best remix for swag and cash. Any student showing remote interest in Tuniversity would appreciate the personalized learning opportunity given by you through an Indaba Music contest suggestion. Soundtrap like GarageBand is a huge player in the educational audio production space so if you don't have an Apple device explore their device-agnostic solution.
Audio production and remixing is a personal passion of mine which when incorporated into my job represents my "Happy." You see students every day who share this passion and if you intend on sparking their educational flame you can't go wrong with Tuniversity, GarageBand or Soundtrap, Indaba Music and Pharrell Williams! I'm Happy!
Personalized Learning has been heralded as the future of a successful education system. It is hard to argue with this movement as most of us would prefer to have learning experiences designed specifically for our interests, skills and needs. With the emergence of "Personalized Learning" and advances in educational technology a powerful opportunity for students in rural school and other disadvantaged areas has become possible. Virtual Co-ops are a fascinatingly powerful way for individual students to take full advantage of high school hours and graduate with university and college as their back-up plan!
Speaking At The CyberNB CyberSmart Summit Where I Introduced My Concept Of The Cyber Garden!
After attending the "CyberNB CyberSmart Summit" in Fredericton New Brunswick it became obvious that our province was positioning itself to be a world leader in this industry. Representatives from San Antonio shared success stories about how under the right conditions students were able to walk into cybersecurity careers right out of high school. I thought "If they can do it we can too!" Then I realized my school was not located in a major metropolis but rather a tiny rural town of about 1800 people. Finding opportunity down the street was going to be impossible and all signs pointed to giving up on this challenge. Enter the Virtual Co-op advantage!
We reached out to a New Brunswick cybersecurity leader Bulletproof Solutions who jumped at the chance to get involved in the plan I was formulating for one of our students. Liam is entering grade 12 and wants to become involved in the cybersecurity industry. Our provincial student scheduling allowed just enough flexibility for Liam to enter into both Career Explorations and Co-op Education for a total of 2 hours a day for the full year. Now that we had the time and the partners we had viable conditions for a Virtual Co-op success.
Liam will study CISSP certification standards all Summer long independently. He will return and immediately engage in the virtual relationship and co-op role with Bulletproof Solutions including their mentor contact. Liam will be given real work to complete for the company while studying for his CISSP certification exam throughout the year. He will blog on www.CyberEDU.ca and share his experience and media. Bulletproof has indicated they will cover the cost of his exam writing and they have already supplied him with studying resources. Liam is positioned for success in both cybersecurity goals and personalized learning goals.
Liam setting up his ideal cybersecurity workstation for Virtual Co-op 2017
After learning of the experience that Liam and I had crafted for his personalized learning opportunity there was immediate interest from other sectors of the province in the Virtual Co-op process and how it could look for students pursuing their skills and careers. The Canadian Welding Association has asked that I present in July 2017 my vision of how Microsoft HoloLens and Skype could foster virtual co-op welding education opportunities for rural students in New Brunswick. With our cybersecurity venture not even at its launch date I now find myself planning a cutting-edge welding experience for students involving mixed-reality and immersive environments. It is all making 2017-2018 look like an astonishing leap forward in New Brunswick Education starting with our efforts and tiny rural school.
A demo of how a virtual co-op Welding Program could be enhanced by HoloLens!
I'm an experienced Global Minecraft Mentor, Published Educational Researcher, Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellow, Apple Distinguished Educator, TeachSDGs Ambassador and grade 6-12 technology teacher. @BBTNB