Last year, Windsor Locks Middle School developed a unique application using Parallax products. The school created a positive-incentive program to reward hard-working students with points that could be redeemed for special activities. The unique system required surprise announcements over the PA system to direct teachers to hand out points to students who are on task and focused on their studies. The kids loved it and teachers found it to be an easy way to recognize hard workers.
However, the program was put in jeopardy at the beginning of the year when it was decided that the general announcements were too disruptive. Finding an appropriate time to interrupt every classroom in the school at the same time was too challenging. A badly timed announcement often became a nuisance when tests were being administered or an announcement occurred while students were using the last few minutes of a class to clean up. The decision to stop the announcements was made until a better solution could be found.
This BASIC Stamp and a few supporting components came to the rescue. Using your technology, we were able to build a robo-calling device that could be programed to call selected individual rooms at predetermined times to make these announcements. Only the teachers who signed up for announcements were called while others could opt out. The device used a BS2pe to control an AP-16 Audio Player, a DS1302 Timekeeping Chip, an LCD display and a very cheap telephone. The phone was plugged into the PA jack in my room, which allowed it to access any loudspeaker in the building with simple three digit codes. (The attachment contains a picture of the device, nicknamed "Robo-Stamper.")
A group of students help build the project too. We even used Garage Band to record sound bites for the announcements. It was a blast creating recordings like, "Aliens invading with points," "The student council encouraging everyone to be productive" and "The Salsa Point Party." (I also attached our favorite sound bite - find it on the right side of the page.)
Each day Robo-Stamper picks up the phone, uses the PBASIC's DTMF command to dial the three digit room codes and makes the prerecorded announcements in targeted rooms. You saved our program and even added more of an element of surprise to it!
This entire project cost less than $200.00 and took less than two weeks to build, well within our small school's resources. I even have a few kids who are not willing to put their STAMP away yet.
Thanks for the great and accessible technology!
Windsor Locks Middle School