SAM Space Education: A Programming App That Teaches Students How to Apply Computational Thinking to Design Algorithms and Programs

App of the Week

 

Short description of app/product:

SAM Space Education is a programming app that teaches students how to apply computational thinking to design algorithms and programs. It can be paired with hardware SAM blocks that feature buttons, DC motors, LED lights, sliders, buzzers and more. The software controls aspects such as behaviors, sound, timing, color and logic. The wireless blocks are also compatible with Lego, 3D printers and laser cutters. Detailed lesson plans, a teacher guide and short videos are available on the SAM Labs website.

 

Formats: iOS, Windows and Mac  

 

Website: www.samlabs.com

What does it help with?

SAM Space Education helps students put computational thinking into practice and learn programming. It’s a fun, interactive way to bring coding to life.

What grade and age range?  Grades 2-6/ages 7-11

Is this core/supplemental/special needs/extracurricular/professional development or what?

SAM Space Education is designed as a tool to teach coding and can be paired with additional computer science activities. It also serves as professional development for teachers as they learn or refine methods of providing coding instruction.

What subject, topic, and standards is it mapped to?

SAM Space Education can be applied across topics, from biology to probability to math. It is an engaging STEAM solution.

What lesson time does it use?

Teachers can use SAM Space Education to assign coding homework. It can be paired with the hardware blocks and accessories in the classroom.

What is the pricing model?

The SAM Space Education app is free and kits with the hardware start at $149.

Are there services around it?

Curriculum-aligned lesson plans and projects, and teacher support and training are available with all SAM Labs products.

What makes SAM Space Education unique?

The SAM Space Education app can be used with or without hardware for an immersive STEM learning experience that’s not confined to the classroom. It can work with other products such as Lego, 3D printers, laser cutters and is more versatile and affordable than similar tools.

A description of the characteristics -- how is it optimized for user interface & user experience? What instructional design principles are at work here?

SAM Space allows for blocks to be visualised and coded together in a simple and intuitive way. Visual, flow-based drag-and-drop coding allows students to take their physical SAM Blocks, drop them into a virtual canvas and connect them together to create projects. These can be expanded and iterated upon by the student to infinitely expand the app's capabilities. SAM Space can also be used by students at home even if they don’t have any physical blocks. By swapping the physical SAM Blocks with virtual blocks, it’s easy to assign coding homework with SAM Labs.  

Teacher reviews:

Nate Gordon, Lower School Technology Coordinator, Bullis School

"I think that what makes SAM Labs great is how the products can be used across so many subjects to engage the students in different ways. Ease of use is really important too since it simplifies complex concepts into more easily digestible activities."

Sarrie Paguirigan, Maker Coach, Corte Madera School

“I like SAM Labs because there are no wires involved. Students like that they’re able to walk around the class and still be able to control their inventions.”

Karen Fleming, Teacher, Keble Preparatory School in North London

“I recommend SAM Labs products to teachers especially if they have a large class and the students work in groups because it’s perfect for them. This tool is good for anyone who wants to teach programming because it is very flexible.”

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Kenna McHugh, Learning Counsel Writer