Tyler's Tech Tips

March 2018 Edition

Siri, Merge Cube, Free Code.org Training, Live Cams, and Solar System Activities.

Siri in the Classroom

It seems like every company is coming out with their own artificial intelligence products these days. There is Amazon's Echo with the famous Alexa, Apple's HomePod with Siri, and Google Home. While these items may be very useful at home, how can teachers become more productive at school using devices they may already have. To give some tips, I will give examples using Apple's Siri, which can be used on teachers iPhones or iPads. (Android device tips coming later). If this does not work on your Apple device, make sure Siri is enabled in the settings (settings > general > Siri > and switch Siri "On" and "Hey Siri" "On").


Activate Siri by saying, "Hey Siri" and then say any one of the following phrases.

"Roll a dice"

"Flip a coin"

"Pick a number 1 through 100"

"Schedule a meeting with Jake's mom on Tuesday at 4 p.m."

"Remind me to call Susan's grandma at 1 p.m. this afternoon"

"Set the timer for 35 minutes"

"How do you spell Arkansas"

"What is the definition of Prime"

"What is 67% of $125?"

"What is the temperature outside?"

"When did the Bostom Massacre happen?"


While Artificial Intelligence devices can be an awesome tool to use in the classroom, there are also many risks that need to be discussed. Read this article wrote by Common Sense Media to see many negative factors that AI may bring.

Holograms in the Palm of Your Hand

One of the neatest gadgets that I saw at MACUL this year was a Merge Cube. This is a foam cube that transforms into an augmented reality experience (or as they say, "A Hologram in the Palm of Your Hand").


There are over 30 apps that work with this and most of them are free. To work this cube, all users need to do is download an app, which will use the camera on the device. Once inside the app, the camera will recognize the Merge Cube and it will turn into an interactive experience. Depending on which app is being used, the Merge cube can transform into the solar system, parts of the human body, awesome stories, games, etc.


The price point on these was originally $15 at Walmart. If you buy on Amazon, it will cost you $6.85 with Prime's free shipping. But Walmart for some reason has all of these on sale for $1. I went to the Bad Axe Walmart today and bought 7 for $1 a piece!

FREE Code.org Training

Code.org has a FREE curriculum for computer science for Grades K-5; some of you may have used their materials in the past. This spring, the HISD has received a grant to host a FREE one-day training for K-5 teachers on how to use the code.org materials. This training will be at Huron ISD on May 1, 2018; click here to sign up or to see dates for additional locations. Substitute reimbursements are provided by the grant (public schools only).

Wildlife Live Cams

I am sure most of us have seen those live cams of Eagle's nests within the last few years. Spring seems to be the best time to watch them as the eggs are hatching and there comes a lot of anticipation and excitement with that.


Well, if you like webcams, you will surely like explore.org. This free site has live webcams for Eagles, Bears, Blue Herons, Falcons, Penguins, Tigers, Sharks, and many more. Most of these live cams are "live", but some are not due to hibernation and migration.


This is a great website to pick a few animals and watch their growth over the next few months in your classroom. What an awesome way for your students to get connected to wildlife in experiences that they may never see in person.

Solar System Activities

A local educator working with elementary students recently asked me about apps on the solar system and constellations. After doing some research, there are tons of apps out there, but I came across one that I like a lot.


The app is called "Ready Jet Go" and was created by PBS Kids. The app has a lot of different activities that allows students to immerse themselves into the solar system. The app can be downloaded through the App Store or the Google Play Store.


PBS kids also has a neat pinball game where students have to collect different planets while some planet facts are given to them.


Lastly, if you are looking for additional material and videos on the solar system, PBS has a lot of good resources. Click here to access more materials.