Archives for June 2015

REThink Day 2, ISTE 2015 Conference in Philadelphia


Day 2 of the Drexel University REThink program was spent as ISTE 2015, which was in Philadelphia at the Convention Center. This was a great opportunity, as I had always wanted to attend this conference, and I was glad to have it paid for by Drexel.

I arrived earlier than usual, so that I could take full advantage of everything. The convention center was packed with things to do and see. I started out by wandering around the posters, which changed every few hours. I was interested in the morning, as many of the posters were about gamification. I had seen how powerful gamification was in my classroom in Massachusetts, when I had started to award microscope tokens for different class tasks.

I also attended a session about the power of a hackathon. I hadn’t thought about this before, but a hackathon (especially with what I want to do- environmental based sensors) could definitely have students focus intensely on this project. I was wondering if I could even run it as an in-school fieldtrip for those students interested.

I then wandered around the Playgrounds. There was a great playground that dealt with arduinos and raspberry pi’s. Another playground had a large focus on robotics. And the Google Apps Playground was pretty neat- I’m hoping I can get Google Classroom for my classroom (New school from before, so I had to revert to using Edmodo)

I went with Steve (who teaches in Delran) to Reading Terminal Market. It was my first experience, and was truly delicious with a ton of options.

I spent time in the expo hall, seeing as much as I could see. One of the most interesting booths I saw was “Storyboard That.” I also entered the “Microsoft Passport Adventure,” and ended up winning a Microsoft Surface 3, which is neat. Hopefully, I’ll be hearing soon about how to claim that.

I went to the “Debate” about coding with Hadi Partovi- which wasn’t much of a debate at all. Some good ideas were shared, but the stakeholders clearly wanted to code. The takehome message that I had was:

1. Where do we get money for computers in schools?

2. How do we train teachers who do not know how to code to learn code themselves to be able to teach it?

3. Does computer coding replacing the arts? Or can coding enhance the arts?

Another great day with lots to process.

Drexel REThink Program 2015, Day 1

Today was my first day of the Drexel REThink Program, offered by the Computer Science department of Drexel University. This program focuses on putting teachers in computer science laboratories to complete summer research, and infusing that summer research into our practice as a teacher in the classroom. The project I will be working on is based on Histology Project, which was my first choice. The description was:

Histology Image Analysis for Diagnosing Breast Cancer:
During this project, you’ll contribute to the development of diagnosing breast cancer through automated methods. Researchers have already created algorithms that analyze images to assess the stage and severity of the breast tumors. You will develop and apply software that extracts new geometric features from high resolution histology images and utilizes these features to predict medical attributes of a breast tumor.

We spent the first half of the day doing the typical introductory things, getting to know people. We then had an encoding puzzle (pictured above), to send an encoded message to another group and decipher their message. It was based on the .gif encoding scheme of pixels.

We then had a delicious lunch (pizza/salad/AMAZING wraps)…and I have no idea where they are from. I met Kathy, who is the partner I will be working with on the projects for the summer.

Kathy and I met with Dr. Mark Zarella, and heard more about our projects. Kathy was a part of this program last year, so she has experience with this laboratory and MATLAB, the program we will be using. Kathy will be working on coding the use of an eye tracker to follow pathologists eyes. The pathologists will be of varying types (1st year med, 2nd year med, junior pathologists and senior pathologists). This will allow better training of pathologists, because there may be a pattern that more senior pathologists use to determine whether someone has cancer. Ultimately, this pattern can be transcribed into machine learning to allow a machine to make this determination.

We then debriefed with the other groups at the end of the day to hear about everyone else’s projects. They are very interesting, and I’ll try to link you to their blogs as soon as I see them.

Tomorrow is the ISTE 2015 Conference!