Day Four @ BETT 2017 – Hacking STEM in the Maker Space


So as the final announcements ring out over the public address system, the shutters come down at the ExCel, and the weary legs and feet of exhibitors and visitors alike carry us all home, BETT 2017 draws to a hugely successful close. We hope you've enjoyed coming to our stands and seeing all of our connected speakers across the show floor, but most importantly we hope that you leave BETT 2017 with some inspiration and confidence for new classroom ideas and digital transformation in your place of learning.


For our final daily recap, we're going to venture down to the end of the hall where the STEAM Village and Microsoft Maker Space are located. Anyone who attended Anthony Salcito's keynote speech in the BETT Arena on Wednesday will remember the section on building machines that emulate human hands:

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This is just one of the many fantastic projects on display down in the Microsoft Maker Space, that allow students and teachers build affordable scientific instruments and visualise data across space, earth, life, and physical sciences curriculum. All of these come with lesson plans written by teachers to enrich science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) classes with activities and assessments aligned to middle school standards.

whatsapp-image-2017-01-28-at-14-16-15In the Maker Space we could see first-hand (if you'll pardon the pun) how students are able to build a sensor that measures the flexion and extension of a finger to learn about the anatomy of a human hand. They assemble a cardboard glove and attach multiple sensors to enable visualizing how bones work within the skeletal system. Building upon this model, they engineer a robotic hand that can be controlled by their glove to complete a set of tasks. Finally, they run trials with their robotic hand and generate ideas to improve the range of tasks it can accomplish.

Another example from the Maker Space is that of the Tuned Mass Damper, that involves building a testing platform to model how engineers modify structures to mitigate earthquake damage. All the while they undertake these projects, secondary and tertiary skills are developed as they build the parts for their experiments and use coding in support of their scientific inquiry.

Finally, to help students understand the phenomenon of wind they can make anemometers from everyday objects and use them to calculate wind speed. They are also equipped with Arduinos to collect, visualise and analyse real-time wind speed data:

These are just some of the things going on in the Maker Space, and there are plenty of other lesson plans and teacher resources available for free at aka.ms/hackingSTEM.


Finally we need to say a huge thank you to all of our teachers, school leaders, teacher ambassadors and others too numerous to name for all of their hard work and help this week and in the build up to the show. We couldn't do it without them, and we hope that you enjoyed hearing their stories and sharing in their enthusiasm to continue driving teaching and learning in newer, bolder directions.

It's been a blast, and we're already thinking about how to top it all next year at BETT 2018!

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