Monthly Archives: May 2015

Stress Relief

An impromptu discussion has been growing on our walls for the past several weeks. As the semester was beginning to wind down, visitors to the Playground began leaving their favorite method of Creative Stress Relief.

  • Movies
  • TV
  • Stretching
  • Solving Sudoku & Kokuro puzzles
  • Play-Doh
  • Work out/run
  • Play an instrument
  • Spinning (colorguard)
  • Going for a drive
  • Drinking
  • Sleeping
  • Jigsaw puzzles (without using the picture)
  • Eating
  • Board games with a group
  • Computer games
  • Music
  • Reorganizing something (you’ll feel better)
  • Reading books

What’s yours? did it make the list? What research could grow out of this list?



Guest Post by Jordan Snyder

I was forced to join the T.E.C.H. Playground via telepresence robot, due to my geographical position and I’m certainly glad that it played out that way. I was greeted by Toby, who guided my rolling tour of the facility. I was instantly jealous that I wasn’t there in person to play with the 3D printer and the gaming station, but was treated to a Q & A session and a demonstration of the flight simulator with my host.

The main impression I had was how awesome the telepresence robot was. I had expected a rather bulky machine, not dissimilar to Johnny 5 from Short Circuit. When I utilized the floor view camera for the first time, I saw how maneuverable the robot really was. As I navigated the room, initially going too far and crashing into a table, I got a great feel for the raising, lowering, mute/unmute and other robot functions.

My favorite part was the conversation I had with Toby about his professional development dissertation. Our conversation was about the EdCamps and the grassroots, teacher-led professional development world. Having heard little about EdCamps, this was fascinating to me and I could instantly see the inherent value to a more informal and collaborative approach to growing as educators together. I thought about how cool it would be to have an EdCamp in a place like the TECH Playground, and think that should be something that is explored. Toby and I also connected on NASA education opportunities as a great connection to EdCamps in that teachers could use EdCamps as a garden for resource and opportunity needs assessments, stimulating NASA educator professional development that could meet those needs. We are hoping to connect when Toby visits Washington, DC later this month. I think the grassroots professional development scene is an audience that is motivated and seeking engaging resources, something NASA has plenty of. I look forward to the potential collaboration with Toby and/or his EdCamp contacts.

I thought the telepresence robot was an effective, albeit inferior, way of experiencing the TECH playground. I thought the treadmill desk was awesome and could see the TECH playground as a model for how a teacher/student lounge should look in schools. A place where everyone can work, play, discover, connect, facilitate learning and learn.

I think the one piece of the telepresence robot that I would improve, and it may be as simple as changing a setting, is the inability to hear the discussion in the room when the individual connecting from a distance is speaking. There were times when I was talking and I couldn’t hear Toby’s reactions until I completely stopped speaking. Maybe we shouldn’t be interrupting each other so much…but there were good ideas flowing and it was impossible. Can this be changed?

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and thought the flight simulator was my favorite piece of technology. I look forward to an opportunity to travel to Stillwater in June or July and get some hands on experience

Guest Post by Regan Clyburn

When I was looking into starting graduate school I stumbled upon the T.E.C.H Playground and had such a curiosity about it. I saw the 3D printer, flight simulator, Xbox, and the SMART table among other things and was so excited to be able to use/learn/play with all the gadgets available. As my first semester started and I received my first opportunity to get into the T.E.C.H. Playground and actually use some of the devices, I did not know what to expect. I started to use the 3D printer and was a little overwhelmed with the process. Part of it was fear of the unknown and knowing the price tag associated with the printer. Luckily Toby Brown swept into save me and my first 3D printing adventure. I had no idea what to expect with the 3D printing process and once it was on its way I felt like a little kid in a candy store watching my favorite candy being made! My biggest learning curve by far was how long the process took, at first I was a little upset with how long it was going to take, but then I realized it gave me the perfect opportunity to explore!

While I fiddled around the area of awhile I noticed that the playground was truly set up for people to jump in and explore. Technology is usually reserved for people that know how to work it already or under strict supervision. I was impressed with the instructions next to the particular machines that were written in a way that made me want to jump in and try! I am an 8th grade American History teacher and it made me think about my own classroom. Does my room invite students to pick up and look at my replicas or do they get the feeling they must keep their hands off and only look with their eyes. Probably the latter of the two, but why? Yes replicas can be expensive, but in most cases they are replaceable so why do we tell kids to leave stuff alone and not to touch it. If a university can make a room with extremely expensive equipment seem inviting then why can’t my classroom!

I was also shocked at how open people were as soon as they walked through the “threshold” of the T.E.C.H. Playground. I saw interaction between student peers and professors that I feel was more genuine and open than other places on campus. I never saw interaction like this anywhere else on campus, people that didn’t know each other were offering help on projects, almost leaping for the opportunity. I was so blown away by the playground atmosphere and hope that it can be duplicated in more places than just the T.E.C.H Playground, because man, they are missing out.

Guest Post by Travis Hartfield

The T.E.C.H. Playground is something like I’ve never seen. It allows you the opportunity to learn about and get hands on with a full spectrum of available tools in technology. In some regards my experience with the playground gives me and my students an advantage because we get an insight that is unique and encouraging to thinking outside of the box in challenging each other and our students while discerning, from the plethora of options, activities that will assist ours and our students’ drive to successful learning experiences. With it being open regularly, it gives an opportunity to take initiative to solving problems and grow confidently in technology as technology becomes more involved in education. Lastly, for me and my students, it gives us an opportunity to “play”. I believe maintaining and nurturing the ability to keep “play” in our careers will assist in the pursuit of an exciting career in education.

Jamie Hill’s Creativity Box

Creativity Box in the Classroom

Created in EDTC 5403 Creativity & Innovation in Educational Technology

Guest Post by Karla LaMunyon

I was not able to travel to Stillwater to spend time in the Tech Playground.  So I selected the option of trying out the Telepresence Robot.  This was a cool experience to be in the room without being there.  I was able to move around the room and view everything that was there.  During the time I was doing this there happened to be some Gifted and Talented Teachers visiting the Playground.  I was able to visit with them and view what they were doing.  I posted a few of my pictures on the T.E.C.H. Playground Facebook page.

Flight Simulator


3D Printer


Scott’s minion

Guest Post by Ericka Lee

I don’t usually teach with my eyes closed. However, since the picture turned out this way, I thought it fitting and analogous to what my semester has been like until I visited the T.E.C.H. Playground. I knew there would be some cool toys to play with and probably some fun people to meet. However, it was these things and more! My eyes are now open to new ways of learning and playing.

On the day I came to the T.E.C.H. Playground, a group of high school students were visiting the school and stopped by to interact and experience all it had to offer. A Ph.D. student named Toby was teaching the young ladies how to interface all of the fun learning activities available. I was also interested in playing but primarily came to complete a homework assignment. I didn’t quite understand how to use the 3-D printer. Fortunately, Toby was very knowledgeable about the printer. He also helped me understand the software that talks to the printer. Having knowledgeable people in the lab kept my experience in the fun realm and out of the realm of frustration.

Guest Post from Sarah Major

I spent about 5 hours in the TECH Playground on a Monday. I needed to use the 3D printer, so I took off from work and headed up to Willard. I got there and Dr. Stansberry and Mr. Toby were kind enough to get me started with the printer. I brought up my laptop thinking I would get some homework done. After about 20 minutes of checking email and facebooking, one of my favorite professors walked in to work on the treadmill computer. As we sat there working, we started talking about reading philosophy, educational approaches, our personal views about technology for children, and what we had for dinner the night before. It seemed that one of us would stumble upon an article, facebook post, or assignment then pose a question to the room and we were off! The melding of minds, bouncing ideas, and high energy was very refreshing. It was such fun experience and I felt really enriched when I left at the end of the day. I realize that I am too social of a person to be very productive working in there very often, but I felt excited about teaching after my visit to the TECH Playground.

Beyond the enjoyment I got out of being in the TECH Playground, I also learned a lot about how easy it is to create a learning commons space. I realized that most of us in the room were just using a computer- not the fancy and expensive equipment. So then I started thinking about what made the TECH Playground so stimulating. For me it was the lack of agenda, the fact that we were just in there hanging out. The bar tables make it new and interesting- rather than a typical table or desk. I also enjoyed the glass panes on the walls, even though I didn’t write on any of them, I got a kick out of looking at other people’s thoughts and brainstorms. So as I think about my future as a school librarian, I see myself creating some space in my library for that purpose. To sit and work in the company of other great minds.

Guest Post from Scott Dalpias

My name is Scott Dalpias I am a graduate student in Educational Psychology and I will be discussing my experience in the TECH Playground at Oklahoma State University.

The tech playground is a room designed for free thinking, creativity, play, and innovation. However, I wonder how many of us who are involved in higher education, be that faculty or students, feel like they have time to play and be creative. It seems at times as if our schedules are relentlessly pushing more tasks and to dos our way. This blog post is about how I took time out of my schedule to visit the TECH playground and how it has positively influenced my teaching, learning, and professional life.

The tech playground is a room that is packed with different technologies. I spent a mere two hours exploring, and felt that I could have easily spent six more. While each of the technologies in the room have teaching and learning in mind, it is up to the one exploring to apply each technology to their personal situation. During my visit I played with the following technologies, x box1, Wacom tablet, telepresence robot, virtual keyboard, Osmo, 3d printer, and a flight simulator. While I could discuss each in turn, there were three of these technologies that I felt had a particular impact on me.

First, The telepresence robot. This technology allows a person to move around during web conferencing. An I pad is connected to a movable and controllable base that allows its user to move around the room even when possibly hundreds of miles away. Controlling this technology was fun exciting. It was thrilling to think that a student who is undergoing chemo therapy, or other debilitating treatments, might be able to attend class and interact digitally from their hospital bed. Distance is no limit to this technology and application is only limited by us.

Second, the 3d printer. This idea of being able to print in 3d is very new to me, yet its applications for education seem limitless. Whit this technology complex topics can be enhanced through visual manipulatives that a teacher simply prints out on their computer. While exploring this technology I decided to try and print a ring. Luckily for me, and others looking to print in 3d, there are websites that have designs available for download. I took my design from the website I would recommend taking a look on this website and exploring different designs and possibilities for your classroom.

Third, Minecraft on the x box1. The reason this was so impactful to me was not in the application to teaching, but the understanding of students. We are often told that students are different today than when we were in school. I agree with this statement, yet I was not sure how they were different. While exploring the Tech playground I was told that many students play a game called Minecraft.  With this in mind I decided to give it a try. This game allows users to create their own world out of essentially different blocks. It allows for animals, swords, monsters, zombies and many more features. Playing this game helped me not only understand them better, but helped me know what they were talking about.

While time is a precious commodity for us in higher education my time spent in the tech playground was most beneficial and insightful. I encourage you to come by and explore for yourself. Who knows, perhaps you will leave with some creative innovative ideas like I did.