Tag Archives: educators

Why educators can learn a lot from Makers

Writing for KQED, Katrina Schwartz asks Dale Dougherty, editor of Make Magazine, if the notion of DIY and hands-on learning will ultimately make its way into mainstream classrooms.

Image Credit: New York Hall of Science/Maker Faire

“Most of the people that I know who got into science and technology benefited from a set of informal experiences before they had much formal training,” Dougherty replied.

“And I mean, like building rockets in the backyard, tinkering, playing with things. And that created the interest and motivation to pursue science.”

According to Dougherty, the spirit of play and discovery of knowledge is missing from much of formal education, with students lacking access to appropriate DIY tools and strategies.

“Schools haven’t changed, but the students have. They don’t come with these experiences,” he explained.

“Even at the university level we’re choosing talent based on math scores, not on capabilities and demonstrated abilities.”

However, Dougherty says he is hopeful that events like the recent White House Maker Faire will help accelerate a movement that accepts maker-style self-directed learning in schools.

“I think kids are going to be the drivers of change in this. They’re going to be the ones asking for this, and asking if their parents can support them in this,” he concluded.

“The key idea here that I’ve promoted is I want people to see themselves as producers, not just consumers. I’d like to see it become a capability that we use in home life and at work and that we’re proud of it, where we see ourselves as having these powers to do stuff.”

The full text of “Can the Maker Movement Infiltrate Mainstream Classrooms?” is available here on KQED.

Newark debuts new Atmel SAMA5D3 Xplained board

Newark element14 has debuted a new Atmel SAMA5D3 Xplained evaluation kit – a low-cost, fast prototyping and evaluation platform for microprocessor-based design.

The board, which is built around Atmel’s SAMA5D3 ARM Cortex-A5 processor-based MPU, is packed with a rich set of ready-to-use connectivity and storage peripherals, along with Arduino shield-compatible expansion headers for easy customization. In addition, the platform is a perfect target for headless Android projects, while a Linux distribution and software package facilitates rapid software development.

“Our partnership with Newark element14 on the development and manufacturing of this kit and its first set of expansion boards enables engineers from all communities to build applications requiring rapid prototyping and evaluation for their MPU designs,” said Jacko Wilbrink, Sr. Marketing Director of Microprocessors, Atmel Corporation.

“The new board offers features such as mid-range graphical user interfaces, capacitive touch capability, wired and wireless communication, free of charge Linux distribution and QT developer’s kit.”

Meanwhile, David Shen, Chief Technology Officer at Premier Farnell, noted that Atmel’s versatile ARM Cortex-A5 processor-based MPUs neatly balance performance with ultra low power consumption.

“This new Atmel Xplained kit, in addition to our soon-to-be-available expansion boards which will add more capabilities to the SAMA5D3 platform, will be very helpful to professional engineers as well as Makers, hobbyists, educators and students, both within and outside their main employment.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the SAMA5D3 series is ideal for wearable computing and mobile applications where low power and a small footprint are critical. Key SAMA5D3 Xplained features include:

  • Fully documented and readily available Cortex-A5 based MPU solution
  • Rich set of peripherals, specifically on connectivity
  • USB power (no need for power adaptor)
  • Flexibility – Arduino-compatible connectors, enabling the user to leverage the extensive Arduino shields ecosystem
  • 
Open Source hardware – All design files available; easy to reuse in customer projects
Software package with drivers and examples for bare metal developers
  • Qt developers kit and Linux distribution free of charge

The SAMA5D3 Xplained – priced at $79 – is slated to ship in mid-March 2014 from Farnell element14 in Europe, Newark element14 in North America and element14 in APAC. You can pre-register for the new Atmel SAMA5D3 Xplained board here.