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News

2019 Regional Pitchfest Winners Announced

A huge congratulations goes out today to Kathy Hubble from Amelio Health who was crowned the winner of Pitchfest 2019 at last nights final held at the Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre.

Courtesy of Jobs for NSW Kathy will have a cash injection of $7,500 into her business and a bespoke overseas trip to expand thinking, share ideas and build networks.

Coming in second place was home town crowd favourite Dimity Brassil who will be celebrating with $3,500 for her business initiative to capture stories from the lives of loved ones – A Lasting Tale. Dimity’s business is such a great service for families, as the word gets out it’s going to be a big success.

Thanks has to be given to the Pitchfest sponsors along with founder Dianna Somerville and her team who once again have done a brilliant job organising a competition that brings together communities and their entrepreneurial activators to celebrate and recognise new start ups and innovative ideas coming from areas outside our state capitals.

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News

Jobs for NSW $20k support for regional startups

The stage is set for this years Regional Pitchfest grand final on September 5 with five awesome startups battling it out on stage for the chance to be crowned competition winner.

Jobs for NSW are on-board as a major sponsor with the winner getting a $7,500 cash injection for their business and the opportunity to travel overseas to showcase their business to the world.

Tickets for the grand final can be purchased from the Civic Theatre website. As a previous winner, there’s nothing better than Pitching to a packed house, so get a group of friends together and come down and check out the action.

Introducing the finalists

Following 11 pitching events held over the last three months, the five finalists are:

Danielle Morton (Armidale) showcasing her online community for healthy food and eco-friendly products called Zondii.

Dimity Brassil (Wagga Wagga) who is a professional writer and educator has created A Lasting Tale, empowering people to record the audio life stories of loved ones.

Jonas Widjaja (Byron Bay) with his wild-caught venison business Fair Game that provides unfarmed deer meat.

Kathy Hubble (Central Coast) brings her Amelio Health platform that hosts an online support program for people in pain and their health professionals.

PA2health (Young) developed by five co-founders delivering a four-week challenge involving healthy eating, exercise and stress management.

Categories
Education News Schools STEAM

Experiencing VR with EduKits

So who wants to try Virtual Reality? That was exactly the question we were asking at this year’s Science Week and the answer is pretty much everyone!

Over a period of 6 hours the EduKits team gave over 300 curious people from the Riverina their chance to check out virtual reality using the latest Pico VR headsets.

If you are curious about hiring a set of 9 for your classroom or own community event, get in contact with us. The headsets come in a protective hard case with inbuilt charge dock.

The benefit of the Pico headsets is they are an integrated unit with 50 VR experiences able to be pre-loaded, meaning no messing around with inserting mobile phones.

To ensure the fun continued after the experience, we had cardboard viewers available courtesy of Wagga City Library, which we gave out with an instruction sheet we designed navigating people to some of the best VR apps available.

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Education News STEAM

And that’s how to do Science Week!

Over the weekend EduKits was proud to be involved with our local Science Week events running what was dubbed the VR Headset Holodeck in the Historic Council Chambers of the City of Wagga Wagga.

At the Holodeck we had 9 VR headsets with around 50 different experiences loaded for community members to experience what VR in education looks like. The headsets had something for everyone, from exploring physics, maths and medical sciences, to the arts including works of Van Gogh and our natural world including volcano’s, jungles, the arctic and space.

The staff at the Wagga City Library have to be commended for yet again pulling together one of the best community science events in all of Australia.

To give an indication of the experiences they brought over a weekend, all with low or no cost to attendees, included the following:

  • Emmersive Science III with SciVR
  • Twisted Science Shows
  • My Mad Scientist Mummy with Dr Rina Fu
  • Augmented Reality Sandbox
  • Future World – Guitar Apocalypse
  • Rosie Deacon’s Foam Fantastical Fabulous Fun
  • MBot robotics run by TRAC
  • Marvelous Microbes with CSU’s John Harper
  • Space-O-Rama with Jeremy Kruckle
  • Design a Parasite with Dr Rina Fu
  • VR Headset Holodesk with EduKits in the Historic Council Chambers

With this year’s science week over, we can’t wait till next year. For your diaries, 2020 Science week is on 15-23 August.

Categories
Education News STEAM

Building Rockets with NASA JPL

The team at EduKits have just come off a mega weekend of STEM where we ran bottle rocket workshops as part of an initiative that saw a team of NASA JPL scientists land in the regional NSW city of Wagga Wagga to inspire our next generation of big thinkers and doers.

Organised by One Giant Leap Australia the weekend was an extravaganza for space, science and engineering enthusiasts featuring 12 concurrent talks and workshops along with a fantastic drone racing display.

Some of the features of the weekend included talks by:

Tom Nolan – Earth and Climate Scientist who ran two prsentations, one of moonwalkers and the other on climate literacy, where we were challenged to always remember “this planet is on loan to us from our children”.

Todd Barber – Senior Propulsion Engineer who presented a history of propulsion with NASA JPL, introduced us to what’s happening with the Cassini Mission to Satury and also gave us insights into the two Voyager Spacecrafts on which he has expert knowledge.

Deb Brice – Marine Science Educator also gave two excellent talks on both science exploration in extreme environments and ocean acidification and coral reefs.

Rachel Zimmerman Brachman – Outreach Lead for Radioisotope Power Systems was on hand to deliver presentations on NASA’s Mars program along with helping us to understand what happens to the human body when an astronaut goes into space.

Dr. Michael Malaska – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Astrobiologist delivered sessions on the exploration of Saturn’s moon Titan, and also ran a virtual tour of some extreme environments and extreme life on Earth, and some places where life might exist on other planets in our solar system and beyond.

In additional to the above international superstars, attendees also heard from Jackie Carpenter from One Giant Leap about the great work they are doing opening opportunities for the youth of Australia.

Locally, we also had school student Meg Emery present a session on her highly acclaimed astronomy works and Michael Nixon from EduKits ran a rocketry workshop.

Rocketry Workshop with EduKits as part of NASA JPL weekend.
Categories
3D Printing News

World’s biggest 3D printer giveaway for schools – have you applied?

On the back of a successful roll out of 600 free 3D printers globally during 2018, the GE Additive Education Program is open again for applications. EduKits is pleased to help share the news of this program which opens the doors for many students to gain experience with additive technology who without such a program may not otherwise have that opportunity.

The program is open to schools globally, and last year Australia’s dedication to STEM learning was recognised with 103 schools benefiting from the program.

What the program does is provide schools with hardware (3D printer and rolls of filament), software (including a range of learning and Tinkercad software from Autodesk) and relevant curriculum to deliver learning experiences using 3D printing across science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics subject areas.

Applying for the program is a process that will take approximately 2 hours. Applications are reviewed with selections based on a number of factors, including but not limited to:

  • Geography.
  • Leaders. Preference to schools that commit to drive student access, engagement and to showcase student & classroom works on the GE Polar Cloud platform.
  • Talent. Preference to schools that commit to participate in Program Challenges and other Program activities aimed to reward student and classroom performance.
  • Potential. Preference to schools that lack 3D printing equipment but have a strong commitment to STEM and the resources necessary to drive student access and engagement on the platform.

Applications for the program close on 1 April 2019. Your school can submit it’s application via GE’s website at https://geaep.polar3d.com/

This is a fantastic opportunity for schools, and a great initiative by GE Additive. EduKits is happy to further support schools and teachers with access to some of our free classroom 3D printing resources.

Categories
Education News Schools

EduKits workshops give regional kids their first experiences with VR.

Over the recent school holidays, we ran a Virtual Reality experience and education session for kids from our community in conjunction with the Museum of the Riverina’s STEAM program.

For the benefit of other educators, we thought to share some of the activities and equipment we used to run a session of 2.5 hours in duration.

Starting with the equipment. For the session, we chose to use the VR Go foldable headset from Austec VR. There were a number of reasons we went for this headset over others that were available on the market. Big on our list was because the kids were going to get to keep their headset from the day we wanted something that was good quality, not just some cheap throw-away. The VR Go foldable fitted our needs perfectly, and Austec VR was very easy to deal with. If you are looking at different headsets some considerations to definitely think about include what is the phone holding mechanism like (ie the likelihood of the phone coming out, or kids accidentally dropping their phone while loading it in) and also make sure that the VR headset has a little button on the top, otherwise the headset will be pretty useless for anything where you need to touch the screen. A word of warning there. Many VR headset options do not have the capacitive button.

Austech VR Go Foldables. Note the capacitive button on its top left.

In terms of introducing kids to what VR is all about, there’s no better way than to let them experience it first hand. There is a range of Google Cardboard experiences on Youtube. Just make sure you try them first! Before you let the kids loose, decide whether the kids will be sitting or standing to experience the VR world. If they are standing make sure it’s a clear and safe area with no obstacles as the kids will be turning around as well as looking up and down. In a previous VR session we had access to an egg/pod chair and with it being on a swivel it worked a treat.

Once kids had experienced first hand what VR is about we gave them a demonstration and then let them loose in CoSpaces Edu. Our session had a range of kids on both BYOD and our loaner equipment. We like to bring a box of USB mouse with scrolling wheel functionality to lend out as navigating around applications where you need to pan or zoom can be difficult where you only have a laptop trackpad to use.

Kids of the Minecraft generation find navigation a breeze and were quickly familiar with the CoSpaces environment. From a teaching perspective within CoSpaces setting up a class is straightforward, and once in your class kids can share with you their various worlds or experiences they create. This makes it easy to then share what someone has created with the rest of the class from your teachers’ computer hooked up to a smartboard or similar.

Our session had kids attending in ages ranging from 9-14 years with a number of creative challenges. Below are some examples of the work produced on the day.

CoSpaces virtual scene challenge

CoSpaces maze challenge complete with moving walls.

CoSpaces Game Challenge

 

Categories
News

Amazing Annoyatron named a 2018 Top Ten Groundbreaking Technology Product.

Some pretty exciting news came in over the week. The Amazing Annoyatron was named by The Big Top Ten blog in the UK as a Top Ten Groundbreaking Technology Product Of 2018.

News of The Amazing Annoytron’s inclusion in the Top Ten of 2018 list came in by direct email where the blogs publishers advised our product was selected from over 400 applications received from all over the world.

To receive this recognition is a fantastic achievement, and further demonstrates the ability of our product to engage kids and help them learn about coding in a fun and entertaining way.

We are thankful to The Big Top Ten for the recognition and the shiny new badge we can use on our product marketing.

Categories
Education News

The Amazing Annoyatron – EduKits Workshop Style

Today as part of our ‘Tech It Out’ summer holiday workshop series EduKits ran a session on electronics and coding using ‘The Amazing Annoyatron‘. Kids were super excited to be using the kit, especially when they found out the Annoyatron they’d be using in the workshop was now theirs to keep.

Of all the workshops we do, kids seem to love the tactile ones most. Coding a physical object or making an item with 3D printer, for the majority of kids is more satisfying doing something where the output is limited to being on screen. The reason for this perhaps has something to with how much experience kids already have with computers and the process of input with mouse or keyboard, output goes to screen.

For a session of 2.5 hours we run 3 Amazing Annoyatron projects with the kids. The first is always our introductory project, the ticking clock which has a very easy build and gets them used to working with code in a new interface. We finish off that project with a race to create the most Annoying Noise in the Universe (handy hint – a couple of layers of sticky tape over the kids buzzers dampens the noise created). The second project we do is one that makes them giggle. Our third project for the session we run with a more complicated build accompanied with a lesson in how to use codeables.io (an awesome little block code editor).

Post session update.

Within the week following the session we received feedback from a number of parents about how much their kids loved the session on the Amazing Annoyatron. Their kids continued exploring with the Annoyatron for the week following the session getting their new gadgets to make all sorts of crazy noises.

Of all the tech sessions, The Amazing Annoyatron was my favourite. (Tech It Out 2018 participant, aged 11).

Categories
Coding Education News

Regional kids “Tech It Out” during school holidays

For three consecutive years, EduKits has been running school holiday workshops for kids in the Riverina to learn about new technologies. Our first ever workshops were held in the 2016/17 summer break and covered 3D printing technology. For 2017/18 workshops were held at Working Spaces HQ where kids were treated to workshops covering Electronics, Coding and 3D printing.

This year EduKits in conjunction with the Museum of the Riverina is running a workshop series called “Tech It Out”. What’s great about working with the Museum is the access we get to a larger training space meaning even more kids can come along and learn about tech.

Our workshop series this year is jam-packed with activities and is suitable for kids aged 9-14. Kids can come along to all four days of activities or just pick and choose the sessions of most interest (or which fit in with your other holiday plans).

Day 1 – Electronics and coding with the Amazing Annoyatron

On our first day of workshops, we’ll introduce kids to coding using the award-winning Amazing Annoyatron. We’ll put our coding skills to use and make some of the most harrowing and hilarious projects you can make with less than 5 volts and some coding skills. Oh, and did we mention the fun won’t stop there as you’ll get to take home your very own Amazing Annoyatron.

Day 2 – Virtual reality

The second day of workshops is going to be an exploration and creation of virtual worlds. You’ll get the opportunity to partake in some 3D experiences, perhaps a roller coaster may take your fancy (light breakfast recommended). We’ll then show you how you can build your own 3D world and animate your characters using code. We’ll finish off the session by checking out each other’s creativity. You’ll leave this session with some pretty cool skills and a pair of VR goggles to continue the fun at home.

Day 3 – Augmented reality

In the not-too-distant future, we could all be wearing special glasses that overlay media onto the world as we see it. This is augmented reality. On day 3, we’ll be experimenting with this technology. First, you’ll experience how it works, and see in action some pretty cool object recognition tools developed by Google. From there it’s time for you to build a scavenger hunt using augmented reality. We’ll help you to storyboard the experience, but the rules and clues will be up to you.

Day 4 – Game design and coding

Our final day of the workshop series we’ll introduce you to coding in Scratch. We are going to use this software to see what thinking like a coder looks like and to create a number of games. If you’ve used Scratch before that’s awesome, we’ll have some game challenge activities ready for you and help available to keep you moving if you get stuck. The great part about Scratch is that you can keep using this software at home for free.

How to book

Tech It Out is happening the week of Monday 21 January 2019. Bookings are being handled on the Museums Eventbrite page here.