At Forest Grove Elementary School, along the Ohio River just northwest of Pittsburgh, the Rust Belt is giving way to educational innovation. In a windowless room in the library, first- and second-graders experiment with a strange teaching device that’s half computer and half wooden play table. A giant computer screen looms over the table, and a touch-screen tablet is built into the table’s surface. A dancing cartoon gorilla appears on both screens, while a disembodied female voice commands two students to erect towers. The children reach into two bins of colorful wooden blocks and oversized Legos and build.
Although this use case is pretty limited, it’s a great start on how technology can be infused with hands on activities in the classroom.