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3D Interactive Biographies

Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Franklin 1/2

Explore and create: Deep-dive Creation lab
Preregistration Required
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Computer Science Education Consultant
WI Dept of Public Instruction
Amy currently serves as the Computer Science Education Consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. She taught Business and Information Technology and CS for 16 years and previously worked for the Microsoft TEALS Program to promote the growth of CS in high schools. Amy currently serves as the co-chair for Wisconsin's Women in Technology, WIT4Girls pillar in Northeast Wisconsin.
Director of Education and Mission
BirdBrain Technologies
Sarah FitzHenry is an educator working to provide equitable and engaging educational experiences for all students. As the Learning and Community Manager for BirdBrain Technologies, she connects, supports, and empowers educators all over the world as they bring creative robotics into their classrooms. Sarah is a tech geek, maker, writer, volunteer, and co-host of the Once Upon a Tech podcast. A Jane-of-all-trades, she can be found in Charlottesville, Virginia making mistakes, learning new things, and asking a lot of questions.
Preservice teacher
Fond du Lac Public Library
Elementary Teacher
Nativity Catholic School
Ashley Kitzerow teaches 1st grade in Rhinelander, WI. She has earned her CS Fundamentals certificate and has integrated coding into her curriculum. She began her teaching year during COVID and is well versed in a variety of technology applications.

Session description

Why just read a biography when you can bring it to life? Learn how to engage learners in a groundbreaking way by combining computer science, computational thinking, robotics, STEAM and interdisciplinary learning across core content areas. You'll get hands-on practice in building and programming your own real-world historical figure.

Purpose & objective

Educational outcomes for participants:


* What a STEAM integrated lesson aligned to content standards in social studies, ISTE student standards, and CSTA computer science standards looks like in terms of student Know - Understand - and DO (K-12 examples provided) - see template shown to educators here:
* What a K-12 progressional STEM unit looks like
* How to use Micro:bits to make LED's light up
* How to use servo motors for basic movement
* How to use Hummingbird kits to create voice recordings
* How to collect data on a spreadsheet and filter, sort and group data


*How to decompose a complex problem into smaller 'buckets' with sub-problems (questions) that go into each bucket.
*How to create a spreadsheet of questions and answers, in which the data can be manipulated in order to analyze and look for patterns.
*How to create a 3-D living biography of a historical figure that lights up, moves and speaks.

* Manipulate a spreadsheet of data
* Use micro:bits, servo motors, and Hummingbird to create a moving, and talking historical figure.

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I. Content/Activity: Welcome and review of objectives (icebreaker)
A. Time - 5 minutes
B. Process - will use Mentimeter activity

II. Overview of STEAM lesson plan (K-12 Progression)
A. 10 minutes
B. Gallery Walk - large posters of the K-12 progressional standards (social studies - C3, digital literacy standards - ISTE, computer science standards - CSTA) ---see website link --- with an I SEE, I THINK, I WONDER visual thinking strategy

III. Introduction to Microbits
A. 15 minutes
B. Walk participants through the process of how to program LED lights (hands-on)

IV. Introduction to Servo Motors
A. 15 minutes
B. Walk participants through the process of how to program the Servo motor (hands- on)

V. Introduction to Hummingbird
A. 15 minutes
B. Walk participants through the process of how to program the Hummingbird to play a voice recording (hands- on)

VI. Playtime - Make your own historical interactive historical figure
A. 25 minutes
B. Hand-on creation

VII. Closure & Continued Connections
A. 5 minutes
B. Mentimeter activity

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Supporting research

Debra Bernstein, K. Mutch-Jones, M. Cassidy, Emily Hamner, and Jennifer Cross, Robots and Romeo and Juliet: Studying Teacher Integration of Robotics into Middle School Curricula, In 2016 International Conference of the American Educational Research Association, 2016.

Emily Hamner, Lauren Zito, Jennifer Cross, Brett Slezak, Sue Mellon, H. Harapko, and M. Welter, Utilizing Engineering to Teach Non-Technical Disciplines : Case Studies of Robotics within Middle School English and Health Classes, In Proceedings of the 2016 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), 2016.

Henriksen, D. (2017). Creating STEAM with design thinking: Beyond STEM and arts integration. The STEAM Journal, 3(1), 11.

Park, W., & Cho, H. (2022). The interaction of history and STEM learning goals in teacher-developed curriculum materials: opportunities and challenges for STEAM education. Asia Pacific Education Review, 1-18.

Williams, H. (2022). No fear coding: Computational thinking across the k-5 curriculum. International Society for Technology in Education.

Zarnowski, M. (1990). Learning about Biographies: A Reading-and-Writing Approach for Children. National Council of Teachers of English, 1111 Kenyon Rd., Urbana, IL 61801

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Session specifications

Project-, problem- & challenge-based learning
Grade level:
Skill level:
Coaches, Library media specialists, Teachers
Attendee devices:
Devices required
Attendee device specification:
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials:
It would help if participants viewed the following website to select their device and the programming language they wish to use for the session.

We will have support on site to help with this step for those needing guidance.

Subject area:
Social studies, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards:
For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
  • Explore and apply instructional design principles to create innovative digital learning environments that engage and support learning.
The submitter of this session has been supported by a company whose product is being included in the session