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BETT 2014 photo blog: 3D printers and robotics head for the classroom

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The BETT (British Educational Training and Technology) show rolled into London for the 30th time this week, and V3 was on hand to pick through a variety of brightly coloured stands to locate some of the more notable technological developments coming to education.

A mural at BETT 2014We rather like this mural of questions about the future of teaching. While the computing curriculum itself will make big changes to the way our children are taught about technology, developments in classroom tech are equally impacting on the methods teachers use. Massive, open, online courses (MOOCs) are becoming increasingly prevalent and a "digitally enabled" populus on some occasions outsmart their teachers.

On the other hand, most of the equipment you'll see here costs rather a lot, so schools have to be fairly sure they want to adopt a piece of tech before they splash their limited cash.

3D printers

A 3D printer and objects at BETT 2014

Politicians use 3D printing as key example of the crossover between technology and education, and there was no lack of it at BETT in 2014. Several representatives from an industry were at BETT printing off colourful – albeit fairly useless – objects. The cheapest device we saw costs in excess of £1,000, but in comparison with where they were not a year or two ago this is pretty bargain basement stuff.

A set of 3D printed characters A 3D printer at BETT 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3D printers are a great way of teaching children about CAD software while keeping them motivated, because in the end they're going to see a finished product.

Little Bridge

Little Bridge software running on a Samsung tablet

Little Bridge is an interesting software package for desktops and tablets, in essence allowing children from all over the world to communicate with each other in whatever language they are learning. We would describe it as a 21st-century pen pal platform. The software currently supports conversations in French and English, but the company is looking to expand to languages such as Mandarin. Everything is highly moderated and monitored, and the whole thing is quite charming.

Build-your-own robots

An Engino creation at BETT 2014

There was no shortage of robotics technology present at BETT this year. It's an especially important year for these firms as many primary and secondary schools will be considering robotics platforms in order to allow their students to demonstrate their programming prowess in the real world.

Pictured above is hardware from Engino, which has an end-to-end software and hardware solution for schools. It's tailored to different skill levels, too. At its most basic, you can program your creation using the buttons mounted to its "brain". Users can head into the software and take advantage of its library of functions, or make their own.

The devices are powered by 32-bit ARM Cortex-M2 micro-controllers and have 256KB of flash memory and 64KB RAM. They also have a USB connector and seven other in/out ports to control various physical components.

Rugged Racers

Rugged Racers and a Hover Ring at BETT

Not exactly ground-breaking technology, but these little remote-control buggies are capable of recreating Top Gear's famous car football stunts with air hockey-like technology. The "hover ring" costs £120, as do the cars, but what price do you put on joyous, car-based tomfoolery?

By V3's Michael Passingham, who don't need no education

24 Jan 2014

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