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Freebee Friday: Getting an A in Security

A+ securityThe need for enhanced security at schools has never been greater but this doesn’t always translate to the needed budget authority. Enter A+ Security, which attempts to consolidate all the security aspects at school in a cost-effective manner. After assessing the risks to students, staff and property, A+ will put together a plan that can include everything from video surveillance and access control to panic buttons and visitor management systems. Their technology can even record license plates of those in the school’s parking lot. It’s all summed up in the company’s “Securing Our Schools” booklet – a must read.


Any Which Way You Can Dock

HorizontalDockMacBookPro201615TB_LP_R9The dearth of docking stations designed for Apple’s MacBook Pro notebooks is at an end with the latest pair of devices from Henge Docks. They not only have the same dark gray industrial design of the current systems, but work with everything from the 13-inch MacBook Pro (with or without the Touchbar) to the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. They should be out in a few months.

Starting at $499 the  Horizontal Docking Station lets you connect to a variety of accessories by placing the notebook into the dock, while still being able to use its screen and keyboard. The dock has more than a dozen ports and can Horizontal hengedrive four separate screens while connecting to a wired network, HDMI, audio and SD cards. The dock not only charges the system’s battery, but give access to your choice of a pair of USB-C or Thunderbolt ports.

The company does a flip with the Vertical Docking Station that is simpler and starting at $149, it's much less expensive. Slide your system into the dock and it can connect with a display, keyboard and mouse. You get pass-through access to two USB-C connections.

Table It

Table compositeIf the profusion of projection tables is any measure, classroom projectors are not meant only for the traditional wall screen anymore. Like Epson’s all-in-one Interactive Table Cart, these tables not only let you tilt the work surface but they are perfect for small group interactions and collaboration. While all have wheels for rolling from room to room as needed, the carts vary from small, easy-to-move ones to huge behemoths that have motorized adjustments.

The good news is that they generally work with Epson’s family of ultra-short BrightLink projectors and can make the finger the most effective teaching tool. On the downside, many of these projection tables cost as much or more than the projectors they work with. Of the four, only the Boxlight table includes the needed interactive projector.

Conen workIT

Conen workITOne of the most automated interactive table available for the classroom, Conen’s workIT is also one of the largest. It has a motorized lift and tilt mechanism that can raise or lower the work surface at the touch of a button. Its 67- by 50-inch rectangular whiteboard projection surface yields nearly 74-inches of workspace that can be tilted from full vertical to full horizontal positioning.

When it’s time to move to another room, the workIT’s 2-inch casters allow it to be rolled to where it’s needed. The casters lock in place to keep the table from rolling away. It’s available at CDW for $3,000.

TeamMate WorksZone Interactive Table 2

WorksZone-HEROThe WorksZone Interactive Table 2 may not be the largest or cheapest interactive projector table available, but it does have a built-in motorized height adjustment mechanism that can help make going from horizontal to vertical positioning a snap. On the other hand, you’ll need to tilt the screen manually if you want to change its angle.

The 60-inch work surface can be combined with an optional notebook tray turning the WorksZone system into a completely self-contained teaching center on wheels. It’ll fit through standard doorways and can be rolled to where it’s needed on its lockable casters. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most expensive of the four at $4,100, $4,400 if you want the notebook tray.

Copernicus irover 2

Irover pairWhile it isn’t as flexible as the others here, the irover2 has a cool trick up its projection sleeve. While it can’t be set at any angle, the irover can be locked in at vertical, horizontal or a tilt of 10-degrees, covering many of the most popular orientations.

It has a built-in notebook tray and optional lockable storage box for a variety of accessories and gear. You can manually adjust its height by 17-inches, bringing it close to the floor for smaller or wheelchair-bound students. On the other hand, it works with a variety of projectors, has convenient handles for pulling or pushing it into place and a handy tray for markers and erasers. At $1,950, the iRover2 is a bargain.

Boxlight P10 DeskBoard

Boxlight deskboardDon’t let its oval work surface fool you, Boxlight’s DeskBoard delivers a lot of interactive space for students and teachers to work with. The 67.3- by 55.1-inch whiteboard means that it can work with the largest interactive projectors and accommodate the largest group of students. Its motorized mechanism allows the DeskBoard to be set up horizontally, vertically or any angle in between as well as move up and down nearly 20-inches.

There’s a big bonus: a wired remote control that lets the teacher get the positioning just right without breaking a sweat. The P10 package costs $5,400 with an education discount, but includes Boxlight’s P10 projector, Quizdom’s Oktopus presentation software and a full PC.


Chuck the Keyboard

A12Is Lenovo’s Android-based Yoga A12 a mini-notebook or a tablet? The answer is a definitive yes. One of the first systems to replace the mechanical keyboard with Lenovo’s touch-sensitive Halo surface that has the outline of the keys, the A12’s 360-degree hinge allows it to be a traditional notebook, tablet or upright presentation machine. You tap it just like a regular old keyboard, but since the keys have no height, the whole A12 can be slimmer and lighter. First used on a Yoga system, Halo includes haptic buzzing feedback as you type and learns your style of typing to improve its response. The A12 system weighs under 2.2-pounds, despite having a 12.2-inch HD screen. The $300 system is powered by an Intel Atom x5 processor and comes with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.

Tinker with STEM

Tinker 10 packStem projects get a lot more creative with Tinker’s Electric Motors Catalyst kit. More so than the electric motor, gears, wheels and other parts, the key to the Catalyst kit’s success is its deck of cards that challenges students to build anything from an egg scrambler to a vehicle. The company provides helpful videos and standard alignment. Available for $45, Tinkering has 10-packs for $399.

Listen to them Charge

Easy-Doks CR25With Dok Talk’s CR25, you can charge and power up to 5 USB-based devices. The power strip has an output of up to 10-watts per device, making the CR25 about as powerful as it gets for energizing phones and tablets; each has surge protection against current spikes. Regardless of what’s going on in the classroom, the CR25 continues to listen for Alexa commands and contains a wireless surround sound speaker system. It costs $189.


Toolbox in a drawer

DSCN34542-HighIt’s hard to believe that you can squeeze a whole toolbox into one of Kelvin’s handheld toolkits. The Kelvin.23 and Kelvin.36 tool kits are like Swiss Army knives on steroids that fold open to reveal a surprising variety of tools. While the Kelvin.23 has everything from a level and screwdriver to a corkscrew and bottle opener for after-school teacher “conferences.” The Kelvin.36 adds an LED headlight, hammer and other useful tools. Both are rugged enough to be run over and can help to tighten the leg on a desk or hang banners. They cost $30 and $50, are available in several colors and one should be in the desk drawer of every teacher.

Freebee Friday: Underwriting STEM Success

UL xploreThe latest in teacher and classroom resources for STEM education is Underwriters’ Lab’s Xplorlabs. With help from Genuine, Xplorlabs is aimed at middle-school students and has lots of lessons with videos, hands on activities as well as classroom challenges to push students further. It’s all aligned with the NGSS standards and includes lots of examples of interdisciplinary thinking.



Go Pro For Less

Apple pro bundleApple’s Pro Apps Bundle for Education professional media tools is now on sale for $200 teachers, faculty, staff and students. The package includes everything from Final Cut Pro X (video-editing) and Logic Pro X (music creation) to Motion 5 (3-D animation), Compressor 4 (media encoding) and MainStage 3 (live performance app) for a complete creating and editing toolkit.

Prints Without the Cartridges

ET-2600_2Love the silent printing of inkjet machines but hate the expensive ink cartridges that always seem to be empty? Epson’s Expression ET-2600 EcoTank can create a variety of documents without an ink cartridge in sight. Instead, it uses high-capacity ink tanks and bottles of ink that hold the equivalent of dozens of cartridges. Think of the ET-2600 as the ET-16500's little sister. The ET-2600 comes with enough ink to print at least 4,000 pages, has a 1.4-inch view screen and can connect via a USB cable, wired LAN or WiFi for incredible flexibility. The ET-2600 printer will be available later this year for $280, including ink. 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Tech Tools are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.