Launch Santa Fe High School’s Rocket Club!

Launch Santa Fe High School's Rocket Club!


Math and science teacher Brian Smith is on a mission to use model rocketry as an exciting, hands-on activity to enhance students’ learning in math and physics and encourage students to pursue further STEM education. He recounts some of his earlier successes:

I spent two years as a teacher and science curriculum designer at Harlem Success Academy, a charter school in New York City. We capped off our 6th grade physics unit by building and launching model rockets. Students that had struggled to engage with other labs on force and motion were enthralled with the idea that something they could build would fly hundreds of feet in the air at speeds of more than 100 mph. Every single student built and launched his or her very own rocket from the basketball court behind the school. When I hear from my students, some still talk about this project and how they want to apply to the specialized science high schools.

Now teaching in Santa Fe, Brian is working hard to gather the resources necessary to start an official Rocket Club at his high school and support his students’ entry into the Team America Rocketry Challenge. Brian’s school is underprivileged. He writes that “our school is badly underfunded… Positions for teachers and teaching assistants have been cut, and class sizes are climbing into the high 30s.” In that budgetary climate, it’s impossible for the school to launch the club out of its own funds.

Brian’s fundraising goal of $2,500 covers all of the setup costs of the club, including design software and scientific instruments, as well as a year’s supply of rocket parts, engines, and so on. In addition, $500 of the goal amount is set aside for the registration fee for the four teams of students he hopes to send to the Team America Rocketry Challenge.

Will you join me in supporting the club? Visit the Kickstarter page here!

Android in the classroom? “Google Play for Education” challenges the iPad’s dominance


Just last week, I wrote a teacher’s review of the Nexus 7 tablet. A reader on Reddit commented that it was a shame that the review didn’t talk about the possibility of students using the tablet in a 1:1 deployment, but there are a few reasons for that:

  1. I teach adults at a university—and manage technology in that context—so my expertise is quite different from that of someone coordinating technology for a K-12 school or district.
  2. Historically, Google hasn’t done a very thorough job promoting tablets for educational use.

Yesterday, though, Google launched the Google Play for Education program. Under this program, educational institutions purchase tablets in bulk for classroom deployment, whether for a tablet cart or under a 1:1 program. The tablets come pre-configured for educational use and promise a nearly-automatic setup “fully loaded with student accounts, custom settings, and WiFi.” It looks like all you need to do is use one tablet to log in and select your class information, then physically tap every other tablet against the first one to transfer the settings over via NFC:

For content, there’s a curated “Education” section of the Play Store which includes educational apps and e-books:

Content is sorted by content area, grade level, and Common Core standards:

Google Play for Education also enables teachers and tech administrators purchasing apps to basically “put it on the tab” by using pre-paid credit established through a purchase order. Under this system, purchases aren’t required to handle credit cards:

The device lineup is currently limited to just the Nexus 7, but an as-yet-unreleased 10″ ASUS Transformer Pad and an 8″ HP Slate8 Pro will be added early next year. The ASUS Transformer in particular looks pretty fascinating: it’s the size of a typical iPad and can be paired with a detachable physical keyboard. With the keyboard, it runs $95 more than a Nexus 7, though, which is quite a premium.

Sound exciting? Check out the Google in Education page for more details!

The 5 most popular posts on Future Imperfect

Our international audience.
Our international audience.

It’s been nearly three months since I wrote the inaugural post of this blog. In that time, over 4,000 unique visitors from 80 countries(!) have come to read the advice, tips, and opinions presented in these entries, including eight guest posts by five authors. Although the majority of visitors come from the United States, sizeable audiences exist in Canada, Spain, the UK, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, China, and India.

To cap this little retrospective, here’s a breakdown of our top five posts by unique pageviews:

PostUnique pageviews
10 Cell Phone Apps for Teachers1732
11 ways can supercharge your teaching843
A teacher’s complete guide to using Google Voice to collect classwork and homework576
Five clever ways tablets can make teachers’ lives easier536
Five ways QR codes can enhance your teaching and your classroom353


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