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A Fresh Approach to Coding for Kids with Unruly Splats

Bryanne Leeming, CEO of Unruly Splats
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My vision of Unruly from the beginning has been to have kids learning in a fun, interactive, electronic playground where they can experiment and collaborate with each other while gaining problem-solving skills.This is at odds with what I currently see in classrooms; kids stuck behind a computer screen at a desk, trying to memorize rules and facts rather than really understanding how it is applied in context. This led me on a mission to figure out how to build a STEM technology that would enable kids to engage with coding and problem solving in an active way. 

Students learn to code by playing games they created.
With Splats, kids can learn to use STEM technology to code their own games and then play them with classmates. These kids are playing a version of whack-a-mole.

The Problem with STEM Technology in Schools

My husband is going into his 11th year teaching. In many ways I started Unruly Studios because of conversations he and I had at the dinner table, discussing the challenges of STEM technology in schools. Now, a few years later, after working with teachers and principals across North America and piloting Unruly Splats with 3000 students, I observed 4 common issues: 

  1. STEM technology goes mostly unused: In one principal’s words “no one wants to pay for something that’s gathering dust in the closet!” A survey from Common Sense Media asked 1,209 K-12 teachers from across the country about the tools they use and ⅓ of respondents said “they did not or practically never use a technology product that is provided to them by their school district”. To avoid this, teachers and principals told me they want a way to measure usage data on the tools in their schools.

  2. Inadequate teacher training: Thirty-one percent of educators in the same survey responded that they were not able to use STEM technology because of a lack of available training. Teachers should feel supported and empowered by the tools they use in the classroom. Training and support is essential.

  3. Tools are not promoting physical movement: Research tells us that physical activity improves executive function in children, yet students are spending more time at their desks and less time on their feet. Most education tools on the market are not designed  to foster physically active social play.
  4. Licenses make it difficult to scale school-wide for interdisciplinary collaboration: Some education tools are sold by licenses, which makes it difficult and expensive for teachers to collaborate with each other. Teachers and principals want tools they can freely share across the school, allowing them to be used in different ways with different students.

A Fresh Approach to STEM Technology in Schools

Through understanding and seeing firsthand the challenges with STEM in schools, I came up with Unruly Splats. Splats are programmable, super-durable buttons that light up, make sounds, and sense when they are stepped on. By pairing Splats with an iPad or Chromebook, students can create their own active, recess-style games with our block coding language and play them with classmates!

When designing Unruly Splats, I focused on 4 key components, which are part of our core philosophy on active STEM:

1) Promote Hands-on Activity: With Splats, students can create their own games like relay races using our block coding language that tell the Splats to light up, keep score, and make sounds - exposing them to the basics of coding while getting their fitness on!

2) Help Develop Problem Solving Skills Through Open Ended Learning: We understand that students do not all learn in the same way. By giving students the freedom to create their own games or remix existing ones, it allows them to solve problems through an open-ended STEM technology while having tons of fun!    

3) Integrate into Existing Classes: We have a library of lesson plans to get teachers started and Unrily Splats are already being played with in all kinds of classes like: STEM, PE, Special Education, Maker Spaces, Gifted Learning, ELL,Technology, Libraries, After-School programs, Social Studies, and SEL.

4) Promote Collaboration: STEM technology and games that allow students to work together in a collaborative way are more engaging and support the development of hard and soft skills. Splats are built for teams of students and teachers.  

book a demo of Unruly Splats with one of our STEM experts

Why Our Membership Plans Save Schools Money

To focus on partnering with schools rather than just selling to schools, Splats come with an annual membership plan. We've designed this program to provide customized support and resources for teachers of all experience levels with coding -- from no experience at all to advanced. While some STEM technology goes unused in the classroom, we want to make sure that every Splat is stomped on and coded to their full potential and no Splat goes unused! Through this school membership model, Splats are designed to be a shared resource and there are no limits on student or teacher accounts. This makes it possible for a librarian to use them in one block and a PE teacher in another, all through the same plan! 

Here are a few of the offerings that our membership model includes:

Live chat and phone service for teachers: That’s right! If a teacher wants to call us for ideas or advice before class, they totally can! Our live chat and Unruly phone line allows us to provide real-time service to make sure educators are successful using Splats in the classroom.

Online Learning Portal: This is where we provide updated lesson plans and training videos for educators using Unruly Splats. It’s also a space where teachers can interact with each other and share their own lesson plans, Unruly creations, and get tips on how other teachers are integrating Splats in their classroom. This is an especially great resource for teachers who have never coded or used STEM technology before.

Lifetime Warranty
: Splats are SUPER durable and designed to be stomped on, but if for any reason one needs to be replaced during the subscription period, it’s covered under our lifetime warranty with FREE two-way shipping! 

Engagement Data Collection: We send teachers and administrators usage reports at the school level including:

  • How many lines of code students have written
  • How many times Splats have been stomped on at your school 
  • An estimate of how many calories have been burned playing Splats. This allows principals and teachers to track the usage of Splats in the classroom to ensure they are being utilized to their full potential. 

School Sharing: Since Splats come with unlimited student profiles and teacher accounts, Splats can be shared across classrooms and don’t have to just live in one specific class. Students who code in their tech class can play the game that they made in PE. One 12-pack membership plan can be used by over 100 students a day!

unruly splats school plans

Unruly Studios makers of Unruly Splats, programmable, stompable floor tiles that help kids learn fundamental coding skills through recess-style play. Best for elementary and middle school students from PE to science or coding class, a great addition to the classroom for active STEM coding and play!

Learn more about Unruly Splats: https://www.unrulysplats.com/
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