How STEM tools on Chromebooks turn students into makers and inventors

Editor's note: Over the last year, we’ve introduced new ways for students to develop important future skills with Chromebook tools, including active listening and creativity. Yesterday at ISTE we announced our latest bundles in this series, curated in collaboration with educators. In this post, we dive into the STEM tools on Chromebooks bundle, designed to help students become makers and inventors. Follow our updates on Twitter, and if you’re at ISTE in San Antonio, visit us at booth #1718 to learn more and demo these tools for yourself.

Students everywhere are exploring important concepts in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), with a level of sophistication that’s rising every year. They’re also developing skills like problem solving and collaboration that they’ll need in higher education and, eventually, in their careers, while being exposed to real-world opportunities to be makers.

“If we want a nation where our future leaders, neighbors and workers have the ability to understand and solve some of the complex challenges of today and tomorrow, building students’ skills, content knowledge and fluency in STEM fields is essential,” the Office of Innovation & Improvement, U.S. Department of Education noted in a statement in January, 2017.

To help school districts provide more STEM opportunities to students, we’re now offering a bundle of STEM tools on Chromebooks, designed to to help students become inventors and makers. These tools are available at a special discounted price and may be purchased alongside Chromebooks or independently from U.S. Chromebooks resellers.

littleBits-DremelDigilab.png

Let’s take a deeper look at the tools in the STEM bundle.

The Dremel 3D40 3D Printer was developed by Bosch, a company that has made reliable tools for builders and hobbyists for over 80 years. About the size of a microwave oven, a 3D printer “prints” solid objects, layer by layer. The 3D40 3D Printer supports design tools such as Tinkercad and BlocksCAD, that help students create three-dimensional versions of just about anything they can dream up.

Michael Miller is a K-5 technology teacher and high-school computer science teacher for Otsego Public Schools in Otsego, MI. “Students are being exposed to technology that’s now used in a lot of fields. Medical, dental, the food industry—they’re all using 3D printers,” he says. “It will definitely make students more future ready.”

Miller uses a 3D40 3D Printer with Chromebooks in his elementary and high school classes. Depending on the class, students use the tools to create anything from a light saber to a miniature model of a Wright brothers’ airplane. From components for robots to mouthpieces for flutes, his students bring a range of personal interests to the design and printing process.

It brings what they imagine in their head into their lives. Michael Miller Technology teacher, Otsego Public School

Although students often work on individual projects, Miller encourages them to solve problems together as a team. “If they need help, I expect them to look to their neighbor first before coming come to me.” Miller also sees how 3D printing can be a way to engage female students, who are often underrepresented in STEM fields today, as well as students who are less likely to speak up in class. “I had a high school student—a very reserved student—and it helped him feel more ownership in the class. It gave him a greater sense of belonging when he could make something.”

The littleBits Code Kit combines block-based visual coding, powered by Google’s Blockly, with programmable physical “bits” that are electronic color-coded building blocks that snap together with magnets. Using the Code Kit, which is designed to be accessible to a wide range of grades, students have fun building and coding games, all while learning the foundations of computer science. The kit also comes with lessons, video tutorials, getting started guides and other resources for educators and students.

Rob Troke, a computer science teacher at James Denman Middle School in San Francisco recently took a sixth-grade class to I/O Youth at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA. There, his students used the littleBits Code Kit to program light and sound patterns on a physical Bit. They quickly learned about programming logic such as loops and variables.

“I was happy to see how engaged the kids were,” he says. “It maintained their interest the entire hour, whereas with other apps and tools, I’ve seen the novelty wear off after 15 minutes.”

For some students, having a physical object linked to a coding activity helps bring additional context to computer science. It also brings electrical and mechanical engineering, often overlooked subjects in K-12, into the classroom. “Having things to play with, to figure out what they are, what they do, is extremely helpful… it’s like robotics, but without the robot,” Troke says.

Dremel’s 3D40 3D printer and littleBits Code Kit, along with free programs created by Google—like CS First and Applied Digital Skills—help bring STEM concepts to life in creative and tangible ways. To learn more about these and other educational tools, please visit g.co/educhromebookapps, check out the websites, or contact your school’s Chromebook reseller. And follow @GoogleForEdu on Twitter to see all that's launching at ISTE.

Source: Google Cloud


The European Commission decision on online shopping: the other side of the story

When you shop online, you want to find the products you’re looking for quickly and easily. And advertisers want to promote those same products. That's why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both.

We believe the European Commission’s online shopping decision underestimates the value of those kinds of fast and easy connections. While some comparison shopping sites naturally want Google to show them more prominently, our data show that people usually prefer links that take them directly to the products they want, not to websites where they have to repeat their searches.

We think our current shopping results are useful and are a much-improved version of the text-only ads we showed a decade ago. Showing ads that include pictures, ratings, and prices benefits us, our advertisers, and most of all, our users. And we show them only when your feedback tells us they are relevant. Thousands of European merchants use these ads to compete with larger companies like Amazon and eBay.

Google shopping screengrab

When the Commission asks why some comparison websites have not done as well as others, we think it should consider the many sites that have grown in this period--including platforms like Amazon and eBay. With its comparison tools, reviews, millions of retailers, and vast range of products from sneakers to groceries, Amazon is a formidable competitor and has become the first port of call for product searches.  And as Amazon has grown, it’s natural that some comparison services have proven less popular than others. We compete with Amazon and other sites for shopping-related searches by showing ever more useful product information.

When you use Google to search for products, we try to give you what you’re looking for. Our ability to do that well isn’t favoring ourselves, or any particular site or seller--it’s the result of hard work and constant innovation, based on user feedback.

Given the evidence, we respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case.

Chrome for Android Update

Chrome for Android has been updated to version 59.0.3071.117; the update will be available in Google Play over the next few days.  A list of all Chromium changes in this build can be found here.  This update fixes a few crash issues, a performance issue, and an issue which prevented some users from downloading images.

If you find a new issue, please let us know by filing a bug. More information about Chrome for Android is available on the Chrome site.

Alex Mineer
Google Chrome

Versioning APIs at Google



Versioning APIs is difficult, and everyone in the API space has opinions about how to do it properly. It’s also almost impossible to avoid. As teams build new software, occasionally they need to get rid of a feature (or provide that feature in a different way). Versioning gives your API users a reliable way to understand semantic changes in the API. While some companies will go to great lengths to never change a version, we don’t have that luxury: with the number of APIs we operate, the number of teams developing them here and the number of developers relying on them, we version APIs so developers know what to expect from them.

Versioning APIs should be done according to a consistent and comprehensive policy. At Google, we follow the general principles of semantic versioning for our APIs. The principles behind semantic versioning are simple: each release gets a number, X and a number Y. X indicates a major version, and Y indicates a minor version. A new major version indicates a backward-incompatible change while a new minor version indicates a backward-compatible change.

Our major versions are reflected in the path of our APIs, immediately following the domain. Why? Well, it means that any API URL that you call will never rename or drop any of the fields you rely on. If you're doing a GET on coolcloudapi.googleapis.com/v1/coolthings/12301221312132, you can rely on the fact that the JSON returned will never have fields renamed or removed.

There are pros and cons to this approach, of course, and many smart people have heated debates over the “right” way to version. Some people prefer encoding a version request in a header, others “keep track” of the version that any individual API consumer is used to getting. We’ve seen and heard them all, and collectively we’ve decided that, for our broad purposes, encoding the major version in the URL makes the most sense most of the time.

Note that the minor version is not encoded in the URL. That means that if we enhance the Cool Cloud API by adding a new field, you may one day be surprised when a call to coolcloudapi.googleapis.com/v1/coolthings/12301221312132 starts returning some additional data. But we’ll never "break" your app by removing fields.

When we release a new major version, we generally write a single backend that can handle both versions. All requests (regardless of version) are sent to the backend, and it uses the version in the path to decide which surface to return.

For customers using Cloud Endpoints, our API gateway, we’re starting to release the features that will enable you to follow these same versioning practices.

First, our proxy can now serve multiple versions of your API and reports the API version. This will let you see how much traffic different versions of your API receive. In practice, this means that you can tell how much of your traffic has migrated to a new version.

Second, it can give you a strategy for deprecating and turning down an API  by finding out who's still using the old version. But that’s a topic for another blog post for another day.

Versioning is the thorn on the rose of making better APIs. We believe in the approach we’ve adopted internally, and are happy to share the best practices we’ve developed with the community. To get started with Cloud Endpoints, check out our 10-minute-quickstart or in-depth tutorials, or reach out to us on our Google Group at google-cloud-endpoints@googlegroups.com  we’d love to hear from you!

Anki’s new coding app uses Scratch Blocks to help anyone program their Cozmo robot

Today Anki, a consumer robotics and artificial intelligence company, announced Cozmo Code Lab, a simple and intuitive visual programming language that allows Cozmo owners to easily program their robot. Code Lab for Cozmo is based on Scratch Blocks, making it the first toy built for kids with the platform. Anki previously released a Python SDK to allow programmers to control Cozmo; and now they’re opening that capability to kids using Scratch’s familiar grammar.

We introduced Scratch Blocks last year, as a collaboration between Google and the MIT Scratch Team to develop a new generation of graphical programming blocks. Scratch Blocks is part of a broader effort focused on software toolkits that enable developers to create consistent, high-quality programming experiences for kids everywhere. Coding is more than just a set of technical skills, it’s a valuable tool for everyone. We want to empower kids to imagine, invent and explore what’s possible with coding and technology so they learn skills they’ll need to approach problems in a fundamentally different way.

We caught up with Anki’s co-founder Hanns Tappeiner to learn more about Cozmo Code Lab, developing with Scratch Blocks, and why Anki is passionate about providing new tools for kids to learn about coding and programming for robotics.

Pavni: What was your first programming experience and how did that inspire you in the creation of Cozmo Code Lab?

Hanns: My first programming experience was when I was nine. I played a lot with Legos and always wanted to build a robot. In 1988, on my 9th birthday, my dad gave me a grey box. It was about the size of a shoe carton stuffed with (back then) cutting edge electronics. It converted signals from a PC’s Parallel Port to motor signals for Lego motors. Once attached to a computer, I was able to program the robot by writing code in Quick Basic, an old programming language. I built a loading crane “robot” that could load and unload toy cars from a little truck. That was just the start for me but I was hooked on the idea of robots and writing code. Today I’m excited to see the possibilities with Cozmo and what kids will program with Code Lab, as well as ensure they’ll learn skills similar to what I did with this first toy—not just coding, but also how to problem solve.

ScratchBlocks2
Hanns' first robot

You have a history of launching great tech-enabled toys. Why did you decide to open up Cozmo for programming by kids?

We feel that robotics is in a different phase than other industries. In some ways it’s more nascent. So we want to help anyone—regardless of age or expertise— to learn more about programming and robotics, and start contributing. We want to create a platform for robotics developers to create the future, just as the development tools for mobile devices like Android have done for app developers. That foundation does not yet exist for robotics. With Cozmo we are making a huge step into that direction.

Anki can do so many powerful things, like recognizing pets. How does coding enable kids to experience everyday items in new and powerful ways?

Cozmo is controlled by more than 1.6 million lines of code, but when combined with Scratch Blocks, programming Cozmo becomes as accessible and fun as playing a game. We believe that’s a key step in helping kids to get inspired to learn and create using Code Lab. Kids can learn programming skills, but many of them do it for fun. In app stores, Cozmo isn’t even listed under programming, it’s listed under games.

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Cozmo and Cozmo Code Lab

Any interesting insights around the product design and development process for Cozmo?

We initially thought Cozmo would be most interesting for kids and young adults, like students, but adults in general also love Cozmo because of its unique entertainment experience. And with our Cozmo SDK, we’ve delivered a new and easy resource for people to tap into robotics and AI. This engagement has been great, and it’s led us to make adjustments along the way. We gave tech enthusiasts, makers, and hackers the Cozmo SDK, but they needed to know a little about Python. With the launch of Code Lab, we hope to empower everyone with tools to learn more robotics, coding, and problem solving.

What was the most surprising that  kids coded during user testing?

Kids create a ton of awesome projects after just a little bit of time with Code Lab. One play tester, a 9-year-old girl (the same age I was when I programmed by first robot), wrote a piece of code that programmed her robot to watch her room. She put Cozmo on her desk, and he watched the door. Every time her parents came into her room Cozmo would play a happy animation, but when her little brother walked in, Cozmo would play an angry animation. She had a bit of experience with Scratch, but not with robots. She had an idea, wrote this piece of code, and found a way to make it meaningful for her, in this case to keep her brother out of her room. It’s amazing to see.

What do you hope kids learn from Cozmo Code Lab?

I hope they get excited about writing code and the future of robotics. Kids using Cozmo are usually already excited about Cozmo, but now they can create great content for him. In the long run, they’ll be the next generation of engineers and creators so we hope they truly get excited about the possibilities.

Learn more about Scratch Blocks and what other developers are creating on the Scratch developer site.

Stable Channel Update for Desktop

The stable channel has been updated to 59.0.3071.115 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This will roll out over the coming days/weeks.


A list of changes is available in the log. Interested in switching release channels? Find out how.  If you find a new issue, please let us know by filing a bug.  The community help forum is also a great place to reach out for help or learn about common issues.


Abdul Syed
Google Chrome

Helping journalists deepen their digital skills on their own time

It’s become increasingly important for journalists to deepen their digital skills for reporting, but finding dedicated time to invest in learning can be a challenge.

To address that challenge, the News Lab has launched a series of advanced online learning programs focused on helping journalists quickly develop skills across key disciplines in digital journalism—on their own time. We’ve worked with Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, Poynter Institute for Media Studies and Journalism and Media Studies Centre at The University of Hong Kong to develop this content, focused on serving multiple languages, regions, and topics. We're offering this content as an evolution of the lessons currently offered on on our site.

We have partnered with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas to offer advanced online learning programs in both Spanish and Portuguese. The programs will include courses on verification, fact-checking, and immersive storytelling (e.g. VR, 360). Students who complete the required coursework can receive a certification from the Knight Center. The first course will be offered in Portuguese and will focus on fact-checking digital content.

In collaboration with the Knight Foundation, the American Press Institute, and the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, we will be supporting e-learning webinars, self-paced courses, and monthly training workshop opportunities on Poynter’s NewsU training platform. The content will include tutorials on digital tools like DocumentCloud and lessons on Google’s tools for journalists like Maps and Fusion Tables. We hope to offer journalists a holistic view of how these tools could work together in a real news environment.     

And in May, the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong relaunched its five-week MOOC, Data Journalism Fundamentals, with additional language support. Produced in partnership with Google News Lab and top news organizations in Asia, the MOOC targets students and journalists of all levels of experience. Students can now take the course in English, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Korean, and Hindi. Case studies from newsrooms in Asia and data stories by leading international media organizations are also featured. More than 6000 students have participated in the original MOOC since it launched last year, and enrollment is expected to re-open in the fall with additional languages and content.

Students can earn a free certificate for the course through Hong Kong University by completing all required assignments. Students who complete the project will also get the chance to showcase their work on the JMSC website as well as receive expert critique by the instructors.

For more information about our training offerings and to sign up for these programs, visit https://newslab.withgoogle.com/training. We plan to bring more trainings of this type in the coming year, so let us know in the comments or email us at newslabsupport@google.com with suggestions for other topics and formats.

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube Announce Formation of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism

Today, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube are announcing the formation of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, which will help us continue to make our hosted consumer services hostile to terrorists and violent extremists.

The spread of terrorism and violent extremism is a pressing global problem and a critical challenge for us all. We take these issues very seriously, and each of our companies have developed policies and removal practices that enable us to take a hard line against terrorist or violent extremist content on our hosted consumer services. We believe that by working together, sharing the best technological and operational elements of our individual efforts, we can have a greater impact on the threat of terrorist content online.

The new forum builds on initiatives including the EU Internet Forum and the Shared Industry Hash Database; discussions with the U.K. and other governments; and the conclusions of the recent G7 and European Council meetings.  It will formalize and structure existing and future areas of collaboration between our companies and foster cooperation with smaller tech companies, civil society groups and academics, governments and supra-national bodies such as the EU and the U.N.


The scope of our work will evolve over time as we will need to be responsive to the ever-evolving terrorist and extremist tactics. Initially, however, our work will focus on:  


  1. Technological solutions: Our companies will work together to refine and improve existing joint technical work, such as the Shared Industry Hash Database; exchange best practices as we develop and implement new content detection and classification techniques using machine learning; and define standard transparency reporting methods for terrorist content removals.
  2. Research: We will commission research to inform our counter-speech efforts and guide future technical and policy decisions around the removal of terrorist content.
  3. Knowledge-sharing: We will work with counter-terrorism experts including governments, civil society groups, academics and other companies to engage in shared learning about terrorism. And through a joint partnership with the U.N. Security Council Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (U.N. CTED) and the ICT4Peace Initiative, we are establishing a broad knowledge-sharing network to:
    1. Engage with smaller companies: We will help them develop the technology and processes necessary to tackle terrorist and extremist content online.
    2. Develop best practices: We already partner with organizations such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Anti-Defamation League and Global Network Initiative to identify how best to counter extremism and online hate, while respecting freedom of expression and privacy. We can socialize these best practices, and develop additional shared learnings on topics such as community guideline development, and policy enforcement.
    3. Counterspeech: Each of us already has robust counterspeech initiatives in place (e.g., YouTube’s Creators for Change, Jigsaw’s Redirect Method, Facebook’s P2P and OCCI, Microsoft’s partnership with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue for counter-narratives on Bing, Twitter’s global NGO training program). The forum we have established allows us to learn from and contribute to one another’s counterspeech efforts, and discuss how to further empower and train civil society organizations and individuals who may be engaged in similar work and support ongoing efforts such as the Civil society empowerment project (CSEP).

We will be hosting a series of learning workshops in partnership with U.N. CTED/ICT4Peace in Silicon Valley and around the world to drive these areas of collaboration.

Further information on all of the above initiatives will be shared in due course.

Source: YouTube Blog


Harry Potter casts his spell on Google Earth

Twenty years ago today, Harry Potter began his journey from a closet on Privet Drive to the castle at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and—Alohomora!—he unlocked the imaginations of Muggles everywhere.

Conjured up by author J.K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone" (called "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone" in the U.S.) has sold more than 450 million copies in 79 languages since its initial publication on June 26, 1997. The worldwide pop-culture phenomenon grew to include six more Harry Potter books, a few literary spinoffs, a movie franchise, and a hit two-part play.

To celebrate this anniversary, Google Earth’s storytelling platform, Voyager, takes you on a global tour (no portkey needed) of real-world places inspired from and by the Harry Potter universe. As fans might expect, the journey begins at Platform 9 ¾ at London’s King’s Cross. Other stops include the London market that stands in for Diagon Alley in the films, the Edinburgh cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote, and the Orlando amusement park where Muggles can buy a wand, ride a Hippogriff and drink some butterbeer.

Grab your broomstick and take flight with Google Earth’s Voyager.

Updates from ISTE: new tools to empower our future explorers and digital citizens

Editor's note: This week our Google for Education team will be joining thousands of educators at the annual ISTE conference in San Antonio. Follow along here and on Twitter for the latest news and updates.

Technology is transforming how students learn and the skills they need to succeed.


Today at the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference, we’ll be highlighting new tools and programs built to empower students to explore, build and think critically as active learners. Look out for a deeper dive on each of these announcements on the blog throughout this week.

Students as inventors and explorers

  • Recently we announced a new browser-based version of Google Earth that makes it easier than ever for teachers to bring the world into the classroom using Chromebooks. Today we are excited to introduce 10 new stories in Google Earth Voyager, our new storytelling platform, built specifically for the classroom. We collaborated with National Geographic Society, PBS Education, HHMI Biointeractive and Mission Blue to create beautiful, curated Voyager stories which offer students a new perspective on the world. We’re also unveiling new classroom activities for teachers to get started today. This week, Google Earth will become an additional service for Google for Education users, which can be managed by IT administrators through the Google Admin panel.

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Google Earth knowledge card of the Alamo, not far from the ISTE 2017 conference!


  • We’re always looking to highlight great educational content on Chromebooks that can be seamlessly integrated into the classroom, while also fostering skills of the future. Today we’re announcing a collection of STEM tools for Chromebooks -- Dremel 3D40 3D Printer and littleBits Code Kit -- that schools can purchase at a bundle discount from their Chromebook reseller. These tools bring engineering into the classroom and help students become inventors.


  • Coming soon, the Expeditions app for Cardboard and Daydream will offer a self-guided mode so anyone can access more than 600 virtual field trips on their own. Students and teachers will be able to pick an adventure to anywhere—from the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Wall of China—and see details on points of interest highlighted on cards. We hope that this encourages exploration and personal education, making it easy to learn using virtual reality.

Students as critical thinkers and responsible digital citizens

  • In addition to the bundle of STEM tools announced above, we are offering a discounted bundle of media literacy apps on Chromebooks, Scrible and eSpark Frontier. The tools are designed to support students as they research and write using contemporary online information and help students form opinions about the media they consume.


[edu] Be Internet Awesome - Animation.gif

Impact Portraits paint a picture of school success with Chromebooks and G Suite

Today, we’re sharing seven new Impact Portraits from school districts across the U.S. The districts range in size and demographics from Florida’s Brevard County, which covers a diverse coastal area with 73,000 students, to upstate New York’s Amherst Central, with 2,944 students.


One thing these schools have in common: they're using Chromebooks and G Suite to drive measurable improvements in everything from reading skills to AP diploma graduation rates. In the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, for example, Indiana’s measure of third grade reading skills has grown by 10% since adopting Chromebooks. Check out g.co/EduImpact to find all of the Impact Portraits, and stay tuned for a closer look at the collection later this week.


The school districts whose Impact Portraits we’re sharing today include:

Look out for a deeper dive on each of these updates on our Keyword blog throughout this week. If you’re at ISTE in San Antonio, visit us at booth #1718 in the expo hall. And check out our teaching theater sessions—taking place in room #214D—where educators and Googlers will be giving short presentations throughout the conference.

Source: Education