Automated plant watering systems. A working coffee machine. A parent-to-child security bracelet. Do these things sound to you like something students could build using education technology and resources found in the classroom?
One of the most exciting things about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) is that it incorporates art and design into complex technological projects. With STEAM, students are encouraged to use their artistic goals to tackle subjects they may have previously thought of as uninteresting. And the barriers to creating complex projects need not be high, especially when there are varying levels of ability in the classroom. Tinkering provides the bridge between explorative learning and STEM/STEAM learning approaches and gives students a feeling of familiarity to hold their hand through a new learning experience.
This can be extremely beneficial as it diversifies learning, reinforces motivation in the classroom and overall increases the success of the student. While STEAM is often a great foundation for core-curricular lessons, it also serves as just the foundation, and students can then begin hypothesizing, inventing and creating projects of their own
At SAM Labs, we see student STEAM projects shared every day with us on social media designed using our SAM Blocks, SAM Space app and other innovative materials. These projects show how STEAM can be brought to life and just how far students can use their imagination. From musical masterpieces to ambitious solutions to real-world problems, we’ve put together some of the most innovative STEAM creations we’ve seen so far this year.
6 Innovative SAM Labs STEAM Inventions
Automated Plant Watering System
What it is: These two brothers came all the way from Hong Kong to impress at the BETT 2019 educational technology conference, and they sure did! Through the use of SAM wireless Bluetooth Blocks, LEGO® pieces, tubes, and a water bottle, these two students were able to create a structure that would water your plants while you went to work.
Why we love it: The coding for this design within the SAM Space app is probably one of the most complex that we have seen to date. The brothers explained that it took a whole month to create this project and that they hoped to someday make this design become a reality so they could look after their mother’s greenhouse back home. This project is a beautiful example of STEAM: it not only demonstrates computational-thinking skills, but tackles solving a real-world problem and even demonstrates empathy for their mother.
SAM Blocks Musical Concert
I hope I didn’t triple post this. It’s a video of my girls demonstrating their portable @SAMLabs “dueling piano.” The girls programmed on the iPad to the side that is synced by Bluetooth to the hardware. The girls have touch sensors on their fingers. #STEM pic.twitter.com/T5UYa08lAD
— Julia Dweck (@GiftedTawk) June 14, 2019
BTW These logic gates were part of a guitar program utilizing touch sensors. Similar to others I’ve seen but without messy wires. All Bluetooth. Here are Ss using @SAMLabs for the 1st time. They dove right in! pic.twitter.com/rq3kcvQFU2
— Julia Dweck (@GiftedTawk) June 14, 2019
For sure, Lee. Here’s a quick rock concert. Ss found different ways to program guitars with @SAMLabs using sliders, touch sensors, & varying position of hardware for the most natural feel. The boys in the back are checking the programming on the iPad. #STEM #MakerEdu pic.twitter.com/sPdnoAQ8by
— Julia Dweck (@GiftedTawk) June 14, 2019
What it is: All of the videos above were taken from a lesson taught by Edtech enthusiast Julia Dweck. In this project, groups of students use the SAM Space app to modify sequencer behavior, create instruments and throw a lively concert.
Why we love it: One of the best parts about STEAM is that the arts aren’t limited to visual arts — it can include music, too. And let’s face it, we could all do with more music in our daily lives. Music is an essential part of education and has a number of benefits that include brain development, stress relief, increased IQ and language development. The SAM Labs team loved watching these students use our kits to create, practice and perform their compositions with so much passion.
Wireless Child Security Bracelet
How do you encourage open-ended thinking in your classroom? My girls invented a child’s security bracelet. @SAMLabs blocks. @ChuckStoffle @dailystem @DynamicDuda338 @tlpear @ImagineerSTEAM @heARTISTatWORK @MrWeimann @Kbahri5 @awfrench1 @Gameboydrew @StantonAlana @TIAscience #STEM pic.twitter.com/T1T20YZd7o
— Julia Dweck (@GiftedTawk) June 24, 2019
What it is: This next project comes from an amazing group of girls who used the SAM Button block, RGB LED block and Buzzer block to create matching security bracelets for a parent and child. Each bracelet can be used to notify one wearer when the other is in trouble, meaning help is never too far away.
Why we love it: We really appreciate how empathetic this group of students were in their approach to this project. This is the type of creative, yet deliberate planning that STEAM facilitates, whereby students are encouraged to brainstorm solutions to real-world problems with a playful, inventive and artistic approach.
The Rube Goldberg Machine
My kids and I created our own Rube Goldberg machine using @KNEX and @SAMLabs to create a chain reaction. The @microbit_edu at the end says “TEAMWORK”. It took us 3 evenings when we thought we could finish in one, but they didn’t give up! #STEMeducation pic.twitter.com/G72CJJJgfY
— Maria Pratt (@MariaAPratt) July 23, 2019
What it is: This amazing video was submitted by one of our followers, @MariaAPratt. This project took three days to finish and features SAM Blocks, a micro:bit (featured in our Learn to Code course), K’nex®, domino pieces, coins and various other materials. The different components were thoughtfully put together to create a chain reaction that ultimately results in a micro: bit spelling out ‘TEAMWORK’.
Why we love it: Collaboration! As one of the pillars for 21st Century Skills, it’s essential that students learn the importance of collaborating, and we loved that the featured project was created by a mother with her children at home. This shows that STEAM can go beyond the classroom and authentic learning can happen anywhere. Well done!
SAM Labs Starbucks Coffee Machine
What it is: This amazing design by a student at Astonishing Studios is made up of over 700 pieces of LEGO®, the blocks included in our Alpha Kit and even coffee beans. The best part? It works!
Why we love it: We never expected to see an amazing edtech project like this, but there are no rules when it comes to thinking of ways to make our everyday lives easier. What better way is there to get your creative juices flowing other than your daily cup of coffee? A daily cup of coffee brewed with the help of SAM Blocks of course.
What it is: This project was created by one of our followers David Kempton and uses a Slider block, micro:bit and coding within Google’s Workbench. Kempton created a project to show how an analog input signal can be taken from the Slider block and can be graphically displayed on a micro:bit.
Why we love it: When this project was posted online, it was one of the first that had utilized the web-based coding app. It gave us an insight into the abundance of scenarios that are available within Workbench and truly excited us about all the possible ways SAM Blocks can be used with other technology. Kempton has tons of other projects, too. You can check out more of his work here.
More Resources for STEAM Kit Implementations
All of the projects above foster creativity, collaboration and critical thinking: qualities which we have used as the foundation to drive our STEAM methodology. Here at SAM Labs, we’re constantly inspired and extremely thankful for the innovative efforts of educators and students around the globe who contribute to the edtech community and share their inventions.
If you would like to find out more about everything STEAM-related and how to start your own STEAM-powered school or district program, check out our resources below:
- STEAM vs. STEM Learning for K-12: The True Definitions, Differences and Best Practices
- Sample STEAM Lessons
- SAM Labs STEAM Kit
- The Ultimate Edtech Grant Writing Guide and List of Grants
Have you or your students created something incredible? Share your projects with us in the comments section below or tweet us @SAMLabs and use #samstersCreate!
Seborah is an education marketing guru by day and a DJ by night. When he’s not finding ways to spread the word about STEAM, he’s finding time for all things digital, from video games to graphic design and even music composition.