Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Wearable Technology Meets Home Automation

Ever wish you could turn your lights on just by waving your hand?  The Reemo Watch is designed to enable wearers to control their environment by using only gestures.  It works in conjunction with an app on your smartphone and "smart home" devices.  When you set a gesture for household appliances, you can do anything from turning lights on to opening your garage door.  The Reemo Watch was created and manufactured right here in Minneapolis.  Although it can be used by anyone, it was created with the inventor's father in mind right after he suffered a stroke.  Reemo should be available by October, 2015.  Check out this awesome video that shows you how it works!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Online Tools for Students Struggling with Algebra

Algebra can be a touchy subject for any student to master and since each concept builds on the next, it can be easy to fall behind.  Luckily, there are a lot of free resources available online to help.  With these resources, a student could:
  • catch up with classmates before they fall behind
  • work on a concept they didn't quite master in class
  • do some pre-learning before a new concept is introduce
  • try learning difficult concepts in a new way
  • or even move ahead if they aren't feeling challenged enough
There are a lot of great math learning resources out there but here are three free ones that we really like!

Khan Academy
Khan Academy is a website that contains thousands of videos on math and other topics.  These videos walk you step-by-step through math concepts as basic as arithmetic to as advanced as calculus.  Most concepts are introduced in a visual manner as you view a digital white board that the instructor writes on.

You can also use their Knowledge Map to see which math concepts yu need to practice by taking short quizzes.  If you are having any difficulties with a particular math concept, the visual Knowledge Map will show you the skills you need to master in order to learn that concept.

Progress on the site is tracked and users can earn badges for reaching certain goals.  You can even assign the student a coach who can view their progress and see where they are struggling.  Khan Academy is a popular tool for schools and has also branched out to other topics like science, economics and computer programming.

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives
This website offers visual tools for both learning and working on math skills by solving them visually.  Developed by Utah State University, these interactive web based tools are broken down by math topic and grade level.  In addition to giving instructions with some of the tools, you can enter a math problem and the student solves them visually.

Although these are great tools, they have not been updated since 2010 and might look a little dated.  We also found that with some browsers, you may have to adjust your security settings for Java, which your browser should alert you about.

HippoCampus
HippoCampus is a website filled with lessons and exercises on math and other topics like biology, chemistry, and more.  Here you can watch instructional videos from various creators and organizations.  This can give a student the opportunity to see a difficult concept taught in different ways.

The NROC project provides an entire video course in algebra on HippoCampus that a student can follow along with.  Each section of the course includes a warm up, an interactive practice section, a presentation, an interactive review and work examples.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Fitness Bracelets: UP by Jawbone

Are you looking for a fun, innovative way to set up a new fitness plan but not sure where to start?  Feeling overwhelmed by the idea of jumping into new something new?  It can all begin with just a few steps, a fitness band and an app!

Check out the UP system by Jawbone.  At $129.99, this sleek wrist band made of water resistant hypoallergenic rubber offers unique features to help individuals reach their wellness goals.  Using a precision motion sensor and actigraphy, it is able to track steps, distance, calories burned, as well as one’s sleep patterns and REM cycles.  It also has several alarms. It will gently vibrate to wake you at an exact time or at the optimal time within a desired range based upon the user’s unique REM cycle.  The idle alert notices when you’ve spent too much time sitting still and vibrates to encourage you to get up and move around.  

The UP band must be used with its corresponding app, available for both Android and iOS platforms, and also has the capability to integrate with many popular fitness apps. The app adds features such as logging food and drink intake and also mood. The app can track calorie intake and other nutritional information.  The app also serves as a coach to provide tips, suggest goals based on your data and to encourage along the way. The fitness band connects via the headphone port of your device and uploads your data into the application where it provides feedback about your sleep and activity.  For an extra $20, users could also choose the UP 24 which connects wirelessly and gives real time data via Bluetooth, but is currently only available to work with iOS.  Nike and FitBit make similar products that cater to slightly different user goals. Check them out today!