Ohio teachers take a look at new classroom technology

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Teachers from around Ohio will be in Columbus through Wednesday for the annual Capital Conference and Trade Show. Teachers can take part in round tables and attend seminars. Another big attraction is the trade show with new gadgetry and technology offered to teachers and their students.

The Ohio School Board Association trade show is packed with vendors. They’re hawking the newest and coolest school items from interactive white boards to comfy student desks.

Students from Tremont Elementary School in Upper Arlington test out a new piece of playground equipment. It’s called Neos. Neos is not something one might ordinarily see on a playground. With its flashing lights and radiating sounds it looks like it belongs in an arcade.

Blake Hobson is a managing partner of Playworld – the company that sells Neos and other playground equipment. Hobson said this toy is more than just fun – it promotes wellness and other benefits like hand-eye coordination.

“When you look at playground equipment this is something totally new because it gets them interacting with each other, and for that sixty second time period they’re actually moving and breaking a sweat,” Hobson said.

Neos has nine games and three skill levels from which to choose. These students are playing one of the games that help their hand-eye coordination. Green and red lights flash across the toy and the students must press their team’s color. The team with the most points at the end of sixty seconds wins. The Neos costs $30,000. And Blake said it’s something a school might choose if they already have the essentials like swings and slides.

Sci-Tech has gadgets that look like small remote controls. Todd Boone, with Buckeye Educational Systems, said Sci-Tech allows teachers to program questions into a PowerPoint presentation and students can answer the questions with their hand-held gadgets.

“What this does for the teacher is it gets a response from every student in the class, not just the couple at the front of the class that always wants to answer the questions. The teacher can then get a grade, download it to a management system and track them and actually give them a class participation grade,” Boone said.

Boone said teachers can also use Sci-Tech to get students ready for tests.

“There actually is a function that you can go into a fastest finger contest so as you’re reviewing for a test the teacher can actually set it so it’s timed and the first student to press the button gets the first chance to answer the question. If they get it right they get points. If they don’t then it locks them out and the other kids get a chance at it. So, it is very fun and they really love it,” Boone said.

Also at the trade show is the overhead projector. But this isn’t the opaque projector you may remember from the 1960s or even the 1990s. This one is smaller, streamlined and digital. Michael Tracey is president of Affiniti Professional Sales. Tracey said this projector uses a digital camera to project objects onto a screen or whiteboard.

“So now anything that’s being shown under the camera can also be shown onto the big screen and with the software you can now capture that image,” Tracey said.

Tracey said these captured images can be downloaded on a computer and students can go back and review them later.

More than 50,000 teachers and administrators are expected to attend this year’s conference and trade show.