The 5th grade students are having themselves quite the time in Nerdvana lately.  Thankfully, I am allowed 35-40 minutes each rotation of our 8 day cycle to have some fun with these awesome students.

A few weeks back we started working with MakeyMakey and I can definitely say that all the students were absolutely confused and excited when I handed them the little green box.  The box contained wires, a USB cable, some stickers and the MakeyMakey.  The students had no idea the power they held in their hands.

I presented them with some quick instructions.  A set of 10 Macs were set up and already displaying the MakeyMakey piano website.  I went over the proper connection with the MakeyMakey to the Mac and then conducted a brief tutorial.  The MakeyMakey is basically a keyboard emulator but also so much more!

The lesson: To demonstrate a complete electrical circuit with the students being a part of the circuit.

makey makey

The picture above is what the MakeyMakey looks like.  So with the piano website open on each Mac the students were asked to play the piano using the buttons on the MakeyMakey.  Confusion, pure confusion fell over the entire room..another demonstration was in order.  I proceeded to talk about a circuit and how in this case one hand need to be touching the Earth or Ground Bar on the MakeyMakey and the other hand hitting one of the buttons on the MakeyMakey.  Once that instruction sunk in the room was filled with not so pleasant sounds of piano…however the kids were having a blast.

The next challenge was to play a piano note by giving your partner a high five.  One student’s hand was on the up arrow, the other student’s hand was on the Earth and their other hands giving the high five. The circuit was complete and again the room was filled with not so pleasant sounds of piano…however, the kids were having fun.

I then handed out Play D’oh.  I asked if they thought they could complete a circuit using Play D’oh.  A few thought they could and a few thought that there was no way it could be done.  We had a brief discussion on the word CONDUCTIVE.  Much to their surprise they found out that Play D’oh was CONDUCTIVE.  They also learned that graphite from their pencil, as well as a banana, was CONDUCTIVE.

We had way too much fun at school on this day.  To say that they were blown away by playing a piano with Play D’oh is an understatement.

Click here to see the 5th graders in action.

Preview – Next lesson will be a Scratch introduction, then a combination of MakeyMakey and Scratch and who knows where we will travel next.  Stay tuned.

Photo Credit:


Tech Writers

As part of our Media Production course here at USM, I asked my students to critique a website, a application on their Mac, an app that they used on their smartphone or a piece of hardware.

Below is our first submission.  Patty did a great job explaining and showcasing iMovie.  I am very proud of the writing part of this submission.  The video also explains how to do a reverse motion movie within iMovie.

I would love to give my students some authentic feedback from an authentic audience.  Please be so kind to add a comment and remember, if you have nothing nice to say…


Here is the link to the video tutorial.


iMovie is an easy program to use, and I do really like this video editing program. You can use iMovie for multiple different projects. IMovie is fun and so many people use it. I think that it is very easy to make reverse motion, stop motion, slow motion, fast motion, movies, movie trailers, and you can even import music you made yourself into iMovie to make your project even more interesting.

I did some projects for school on iMovie myself; I created a reverse motion movie. In the main window of iMovie there is an adjustments bar in the top right corner. If you click on adjust, a turtle, along with many other tools will appear. Once you click on the turtle button, three options appear. You can click the reverse button and then it will turn your clips into a reverse motion.

This is very easy to do; I also used iMovie for a stop motion project. All you have to do is select all of the photos you want to include, and then go to the information button, inside the adjustments button. Then inside that, there is a duration button, and you can make each picture appear on the screen for only 1 second, if you type in the number “one”. The only confusing part about this, is that you have to go really fast when hitting the enter button to change the duration, otherwise it won’t change. This was extremely easy and the only time consuming part was taking all the photos. You can also make a movie trailer in iMovie. I created a trailer in 7th grade, and it was very simple.

To make your projects more interesting you can add music from iTunes, and you can make your projects have themes. You can also make your projects black and white and you can choose how loud your background music is. You can use an effect called Ken Burns found in the crop button in the adjust tab. Ken Burns only works on photos. Ken Burns is an effect that allows you to zoom in or zoom out, or both, on a particular photo. You can change where it starts to go in and out and when to stop it. There is also an enhance button next to the adjust button. It makes the video a crème color. IMovie makes many projects fun and interesting.

IMovie can be slow at times, but that is only if there is a lot of photos being imported at once, or many special effects overlapping one another. Make sure that you update your iMovie so that you get the latest project creations and movie trailer creations. iMovie only comes with apple products not Microsoft or any other software’s. You can get iMovie on your phone and your Ipad, not only your computer. If you have a new Apple device the iMovie app comes with it. If you have an older device, it is $4.99. If you don’t have it, you should get it on your apple devices.

I would suggest iMovie for teachers and students. It is a simple, non-time consuming way to make projects for school, for lessons, or just to make things for fun. The main point is I would recommend iMovie for many different people and projects. I had a blast creating my projects in iMovie and I hope others do too!

New From Nerdvana

from Twitter

February 18, 2016 at 01:59PM


It’s almost June, and when it’s almost June I can’t help but think about summer. When I think about summerI think about how to keep my 6 and 8 year olds engaged and excited and busy.

My wife booked camps, planned exciting day trips and made vacations plans.  Despite that I know that the”I am bored” moments are inevitable.  So how do we  combine the “I am bored” moments with educational opportunities?  I received an email from Tech and Learning recently that addresses this very question!

Here is a list of on-line camps to help with the summer slump:

10 Online Summer Learning Opportunities

  1. Brain Chase – A online five week program for grades 2-8.  This adventure has students working in the subjects of math, reading, writing, and more, while watching animated episodes and solving educational problems.
  2. CK-12 Brain Flex – A free and self-paced online summer program that has students working on the subjects of math and science.
  3. Connections Learning – A nice collection of technology related online courses for math and reading grades K-8.
  4. DimensionU Summer Chill – A fun online competition that has students of all ages working in the subjects math and literacy in DimensionU’s innovative 3D virtual worlds, with the chance to win prizes.
  5. Electric Company – The Electric Company from PBS is offering a six-week multimedia summer learning program that will focus on vocabulary and core math concepts.
  6. GoNoodle (Camp GoNoodle) – A fun and free online program that has students learning through play and other various educational activities.
  7. K5 Learning – A online reading and math program for grades K-5 with real time results and detailed reports.
  8. SpellingCity – A summer program for grades 1-12 for spelling, writing, and vocabulary.  The program is self paced and has over for educational activities.
  9. TenMarks – A free online adaptive program that has students strengthen their math skills while receiving detailed results.
  10. Time4Learning – A fun online program for grades preK-8 in the subjects of math, science, social studies, and language arts.

By David Kapuler

Alex and Joe’s Review of Dash and Dot

Here is a guest post by two 5th Grade students who took home for the weekend Dash and Dot. Enjoy reading!

Alex and Joe’s robot review,
Joe and I loved testing the new robot. The brand new robots worked really well and can do some impressive things. But before we could play with the robots ( Dot and Dash ) we needed to get four apps. Those apps would enable us to use some of the cool accessories that came with. The names of the apps are, Xylo, Go, Blockly, and Path. The app Xylo could make the larger robot named Dash play a mini xylophone that came with the other accessories. The app Go was the basic app where you could drive and make Dash and dot play songs. Dot the smaller robot isn’t able to move but can still make sounds. The app Blockly is a lot like the app Hopscotch. You can program the robots to do lots of things. The last app Path enables you to draw a path with your finger on your device and then make Dash follow the path. Both the robots will bring a lot of
laughter and good times. What will you make them do?

Presentation Tools for iPad

Recently, I have been working with an older web application called EDShelf to curate some items for our iPad users here at University School of Milwaukee. Immediately, the first thing that comes to mind is how to think differently when using iPad to present ideas. So what I have done is gone ahead and put together an EdShelf with interesting apps for presenting. Some of these apps may not appear to be presentation apps but I encourage you to also think differently and see how you or your students (or children) can adapt these apps into a presentation!

Here is the link to my first EdShelf.
Tom Mussoline’s Very First EdShelf – I Know I Am Late To The Game!

As always, please add to the list if you have other “different” ideas and feel free to add a comment below.

Have You Been Nerdy Or Nice?

Have you been Nerdy or Nice?… I hope you have been a bit of both, but if you have been lacking in the nerdy department, I have some suggestions for you!

Below is a list (that I have checked twice) that will help you find your inner Nerd!  Please keep in mind that this is not a definitive list and if you find other items, please leave a comment with your suggestion.


1.  GoldieBlox










2.  LittleBits – Snap Your Ideas To Life





3.  MakeyMakey – An Invention Kit for Everyone






4.  Arduino








5.  Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi









6.  Lego Mindstorms









7.  Ollie – The app-controlled robot driven by adrenaline.








8.  Sphero – The app-controlled ball that does it all.








9.  Cricut 












10.  Kano









11.  Sewing Machines








12.  Play-i Robot – Bo and Yana will help your child learn to program.


Magazines and Books

1.  Make Magazine


2.  The Art of Tinkering

the art of tinkering












3.  Maker Dad

maker dad











4.  Making Makers: Kids, Tools, and the Future of Innovation

 Making Makers



Hopscotch – A great iPad app that is free and teaches the basics of coding with a very user friendly interface.

Game Press

Game Press – Free – Create and design your own video game. 


CargoBot – Another free app that is extremely fun to play.  My daughter and I lost some serious time figuring out some of the challenges posed by this app.  I saw her wheels turing (and smoke coming out of her ears at times) when faced with a challenge.


Codea – CargoBot was completely created using this app.  Who said creation and creativity dies on an iPad?


Kodable Pro

Kodable – This app is intended for children of 5 years old and up.  It is a great introduction to programming.  A first step before hopping on over to Hopscotch.  It teaches programing, sequencing, loops and functions.


Daisy The Dinosaur – Like Kodable but with a Dinosaur and it is free.


AppCraft – Another app maker similar to Codea but this is free.

Amazing Alex

Amazing Alex – Rube Goldberg for your iPad.  This is a free app until you complete all of the challenges then you would need to shell out a buck to keep on playing.

Thanks for reading and as always, please post a comment, question or suggestion!

Or better yet, stop in Nerdvana to see what is going on in the Middle School.

Thank you!

Tom Mussoline



Canva – Michaela Gives Us A Great Review

Canva is a great website for designing. You can choose from a wide selection of designs, such as a photo collage, poster, presentation, and many more. All of these designs come with their own layouts and designs.  If you want to, you are allowed to customize your dimensions.

First to get started, you can go to, and a window will pop up asking you to either sign up with your email or a Facebook account. Either one works, but once you have done this, you will be directed to the “design page” as I call it. You can then choose which design you would like. After you have done this, you will be directed to a new page with a blank design.


Then, once you have been brought to the page, it will show the wide selection of layouts, and you don’t have to use a layout, but I chose to use the bakery layout. If you want a use a basic layout, but want to use a little more creativity, there are layouts available that aren’t as advanced. Once you have chosen the layout that fits your liking, you can start by either searching for pictures or uploading your own. One problem with searching for pictures is any picture with Canva written on it, or a dollar sign next to it, does mean it is available for purchase. If you would like upload your own images, you can do this by clicking the upload arrow. Next, you can upload photos from your computer, or Facebook if you are logged in with your Facebook account. Once you have uploaded photos, you can either drag them into the design, or you can just click the picture and it will show up over your layout. If you would like to change the filter of the picture, just click on it and click filter. You can also change the brightness and contrast.


If you would like to add text sticker, click on the T for text button on the sidebar. If you would like to add one of the text stickers onto you design, just click on it. To change the text, double click on the type, and type what you would like. To change the color of the text, click the colored circle, and choose what color you would like to use. To change the size of the text, click on the numbers, and either type in your desired text size or choose a default size. If you would like to change the font of the text, click on the box to the farthest left, and then choose your desired font. To resize a picture, sticker, or text box, click on the item, then click on the little circle in the corner of the item and drag until you have the size to your liking.

When adding a sticker or little picture, click onto the magnifying glass on the sidebar. Most of these stickers are free and come with the site. You can choose from any category you would like, and then easily just add it to your design.

To add a background, you are going to click the striped box on the sidebar, and if you just click on a background, it will show up behind your layout.  If you would like a solid background, you can just choose from the colored circles above the other background selections. Once you are finished, you can share or make a new design. To go back to the “design page” just click the Canva button, and it is automatically saved for you.

In my preference, this is an easy website for anyone to use. You can really make a blank page grow into a cool project. The first time I used this site, I had minimal difficulties. My only problem was the cost of some pictures, and at times the website did make my computer slow when I overwork it. I really enjoyed using this website for this project.

Please click here to see the video tutorial.

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