Classroom Projects

Personally, I think it is important to develop and present innovative technology in a classroom where we try to promote a similar work ethic. I have therefore developed a number of “classroom gadgets” that have helped to enhance some areas of my teaching.

Random Name Selector

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I noticed several things in my first year of teaching. Firstly, I had to remember a lot of names. Personally I am a situational learner, and so having a seating plan to memorise helps a lot. However, I am a technology teacher and students are rarely in their seats for a whole lesson. Secondly, it is always easier to ask questions and select the students who have their hands up – which is arguably an ineffective strategy to holistically assess class progress. I therefore developed a design that utilises an LED array to randomly display student names, mounted on my classroom wall.

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“Human Chain” Display Switch

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This device is a fun, interactive teaching aid that can be used as part of a classroom display to activate anything electronic. A custom shape can be used to form two copper panel “switches.” Both switches must be activated in order to turn on the output (whatever you want!). The exciting thing is that both switches can only be activated if they are linked together by a chain of people. This method has been successfully tried and tested with a chain of over 60 students to activate a motor which was connected to a marble pump.

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Countdown Timer/Classroom Noise Level Sensor

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It is always a pain to use an onscreen countdown timer in conjunction with several PowerPoint information slides when you have one PC and one projector. I am therefore manufacturing a device that works from the same IR remote control as the Random Name Selector, and allows switching between countdown timer, and a noise level sensor. It will be interesting to see whether the automated noise sensor component (possibly linked to ‘time owed after lesson’) will work with my classes as a deterrent.

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Automated Queuing System

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My department has two laser cutters, 25 students per class and several “laser heavy” schemes if work. We have been thinking of in house methods to streamline the “queuing” system (as students seem to struggle with this independently. After trialling several systems, we came up with an idea to set up an on screen”Argos” style rota system with “swipe” cards.

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DT Dashboard

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Real time progress tracking is difficult with lots of students in a class. I felt it would be useful both for myself and the students to have some type of real time progress tracking system to record and visually display which students were achieving well during the lesson and which were falling behind, and an overall class score for the lesson. I also wanted a means to update the display remotely (I.e. while walking around the room). I came up with a system that I call DTDashboard. It is a PowerPoint slide that is linked with a register in excel linked to a bluetooth device.

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