The first six months of the pandemic brought a lot of time working from home, allowing me to explore projects that had I had been too busy to complete. The fact that my AHS students were old enough to explore along with me was a nice bonus, and the synergy between school and my home workspace allowed me to spend more time with my “toys.” So ExplorTech’s early experiments with classroom microcontrollers (“Eggtrino”) became more advanced (“Newton’s Toys” and eventually “Nooton’s Toys,” named after “Noobees,” tiny and cheap classroom robots that can communicate with each other.)

Noobees, 2019-2020

Students building Google AIY (below), a Python-programmable cloud-based AI product. Poolville Junior High, 2018

At AHS, we also reintroduced the Python AI coding we had taught at Poolville Junior High in 2018, using Google AIY, a programmable Google Home Assistant in a cardboard box. Other AI activities included participation in the 2019 Technovation Families contest where we first experienced deep learning, but at AHS we started working with NVidia Jetsons, capable of deep learning applications without cloud access. ExplorTech now focuses on AI because I believe that AI is an important technology and career opportunity for our students; we pattern ourselves after R&D shops because students find it exciting and motivating

Self-contained Raspberry Pi and wireless access point, 2018

AI programming in a box (Google AIY)

2021: NVidia Jetson Nano with portable access point and power