The Quebec Ministry of Education recently launched its Digital Action Plan (Plan Numérique). One of the featured measures under the plan is the Digital Combos which has provided funding to bring many new technologies into our schools under the following categories: Robotics, Creative Labs/Makerspaces, and Equipment. We have developed this resource to help you navigate these new technologies and support their use in the classroom.

For more information on makerspaces, coding, and devices as well as professional development opportunities, please visit our Open Creative Spaces website.

Coding and Software

Scratch Junior

With ScratchJr, young children can program their own interactive stories and games. In the process, they learn to solve problems, design projects, and express themselves creatively on the computer. This program works with tablets and chromebooks.

Scratch 2.0

Scratch was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT. It is a popular program that you can install on your computer or use online and it has a robust community of "Scratchers" who share their projects and ideas.

Scratch 3.0

This is the latest version of Scratch and it has been improved substantially. Now, you can play with Scratch on a tablet or Chromebook! What we are most excited by is all the different technologies you can connect Scratch to - like Micro:Bits, EV3, WeDo 2.0, Google Translate, Makey Makey, and more!

Scratch Resources

MakeCode

Makecode is a block programming website designed to work with the Micro:bit. This platform makes it easy to connect your device, to write interesting code using the Micro:bit's sensors, and to share your work with your colleagues. It features a visualizer that shows you what your code will do after it has been uploaded to your Micro:Bit and it has tutorials to help you get started.

Snap

Snap! is a free, blocks- and browser-based educational graphical programming language that allows students to create interactive animations, games, stories, and more, while learning about mathematical and computational ideas.

TurtleArt

TurtleArt is an innovative program designed to facilitate artistic expression and design through code! It works on tablets and computers and is a great starting point for students who want to make art by programming.

Blockly

Blockly was built by Google for developers and is a block programming language that is compatible with a variety of devices such as Ozobots, Micro:bits, Dash & Dot, MBot, and many others. It is versatile, open source, and is great for translating block code into real programming languages like Python and JavaScript!

Robotics

Dash & Dot (Tablet)

Dash & Dot are a pair of programmable robots designed to help kids turn their code into a tangible learning experience. Watch as Dash & Dot navigate the world based on the instructions you have given it!

Ozobot (Tablet)

Ozobots are small robots that are able to interpret colour sequences as commands. Instead of using text to tell the robot to turn left or spin or accelerate, you use a pattern of colours that the Ozobot can read. This leads to lots of exploration, drawing, and design as students draw maps filled in with coloured "blocks" of code.

MBot

mBots are robots that you get to build and program yourself! Kits include a set of parts, like sensors, cables, wheels, and a body, that you assemble into a vehicle. Then, you can use the MakeBlock programming language to give your vehicle instructions. The latest version of MakeBlock on tablets allows you to control your mBot via bluetooth!

Sphero, Sphero Mini, and Ollie

LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3

LEGO has always been about creative, constructive play so it is no surprise that they are bringing programming into the mix. With many different build options and a unique program to control your robots, LEGO wants you to bring your robot to life. Their program works on PCs and Macs and even tablets!

LEGO WeDo 2.0

The LEGO WeDo 2.0 is another programmable LEGO kit that distinguishes itself by its accessibility. With just a few motors, pulleys, and LEGO blocks, you can move a car or create a windmill or a catapult. A bluetooth option exists so you can control components directly but this kit is just as fun and educational when used by itself.

Microcontrollers

A microcontroller is a programmable circuit that is ideal for special projects. They are great tools for solving specific problems and for animating or controlling toys and tools that you have made. Some microcontrollers even work with fabric so you can animate your clothes! Others can do advanced tasks like checking the weather, watering a plant, or running a website. They are like swiss army knives and are surprisingly common - many can be found in everyday household devices.

Micro:bit

The micro:bit was designed by the BBC for use in the UK education system. It is very affordable, small, and versatile. To use it, the MakeCode website provides a block programming interface that is easy to use. It features interesting sensors like accelerometers, photosensitive LEDs, and even a radio emitter.

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is known as the world's cheapest computer. It doubles as a microcontroller which makes this device useful for a wide variety of projects or personal activities. Its main advantage is that it can process more than one program at a time. It has WiFi and HDMI and is fast enough to surf the web but can also be adapted for highly specific goals like building an arcade cabinet or a magic mirror. It runs on the operating system Linux instead of iOS (Apple) or Windows (PC).

Arduino

Arduinos are the quintessential microcontroller. They come in many shapes and sizes and are very inexpensive. The main difference between an Arduino and a Raspberry Pi is that the former can only process one program at a time whereas the latter can process many programs at once. While the Arduino may be simpler, it is also less expensive. Programs are written and run using the Arduino software.

Adafruit Flora

The Adafruit Flora is a sewable microcontroller. It comes with micro-USB support making it easy to program. It is round, light, and robust with a large circuit board to play with. It can be used to animate lights, make sounds, and coordinate patterns. It works best with Arduino IDE software and conductive thread.

Adafruit Gemma

The Adafruit Gemma is a tiny, wearable platform board similar to the Flora. It is a sewable microcontroller that can be programmed over micro-USB using Arduino IDE software. It is smaller than the Flora and has less connections so is better suited to simpler or smaller projects.

Lilypad Arduino Sewable Electronics Kit

This box set comes with a variety of sewable electronics devices and components. The kit comes with two LilyPad ProtoSnap boards along with buttons, switches, and LEDs. Complete with an instruction manual containing four complete sewable circuit projects, this is the ideal kit for a beginner starting out.

Makey Makey

The Makey Makey is a microcontroller that lets you connect to everyday objects. It has a simple interface for connecting conductive materials (like bananas, water, tin foil, etc.) to basic functions on a computer's keyboard. There is also a reversible side that contains many more ports so you can expand into more advanced circuit-based projects. Great for demonstrating how conductivity works with young children.

Peripherals

Silhouette Curio and Cameo

The Silhouette Cameo is an electronic cutting machine that can work with a wide variety of materials, from vinyl to fabric. Using Silhouette's software, you can import images, manipulate and alter them, and cut your design using the many different cutting tools available. The Curio is a larger version that provides more width and depth to your canvas.

Embroidery Machine Software

Beyond the Silhouette cutters, there are other embroidery machines you may be using. Turtlestitch is an easy-to-learn software that is compatible with many embroidery machines and which uses block programming to code designs. Perfect for making complex embroidering patterns and learning about programming.

3D Printers

3D Printers come in all shapes and sizes. They are promising and versatile machines and are best used for printing unique designs that solve specific problems. There are many different programs that can be used but educators in Quebec can acquire a free copy of SketchUp Pro (ask your local RECIT).

Electronic Circuit Kits

littleBits

littleBits are electronic building blocks that can be snapped together to turn on lights, make sounds and music, and to power motors and fans. They are intuitive and simple to use and are great for experimentation. They are sold as a kit and all the pieces are powered by a simple 9V battery.

littleBits Synth Kit

littleBits have designed a kit that contains a coding block that can be modified and controlled by other littleBits. There are many other types of kits that are designed for different projects and activities, from music-making to robotics.

Squishy Circuits

Squishy Circuits are great for introducing younger students to basic circuitry and the difference between conductive and non-conductive materials. Power motors, buzzers, and lights with the power of play dough.