30+ STEAM Classroom Activities With HP Sprout Pro


The HP Sprout Pro is a new kind of all-in-one computer that enables teachers and students to make, design, and customize the world around them. That sounds like a big claim, but it offers a combination of technologies to increase student engagement and exploration.

HP Sprout Pro w kids Touch Mat

Image Courtesy HP Sprout Pro

I have written about technical details for the HP Sprout Pro in other posts, but briefly, it is an all-in-one computer designed by HP, powered by Windows 10 with a 6th generation Intel Core i7 Processor. Links for the Sprout are at the end of this post.

It has two truly unique features – one is called the “HP Illuminator” which does some radical things, really, when you consider most computer systems. The Illuminator is a 3D scanner (2D scanning, too, but that is fairly easy to replicate) allowing you to capture objects in three dimensions and turn them into models or 3D prints.

The Sprout also projects and extends the typical upright screen on to an advanced 20-point Touch Mat (the second unique feature), serving as a horizontal, touchable second screen right on your table or desktop. You can place your hands on the light-based image of your screen and move things around, resize them, and more. Even better for the classroom, several students can interact with either surface, at the same time, because it is capable of multiple touch points.

This system is still pretty new, rather unheard of, so I had to reach out to different educators and maker types to see if anyone had one yet. I asked one of my favorite middle school science teachers, Bekka Stasny, from the Electa Lee Middle School in Florida, because if anyone had figured out how to get one into a classroom, it was Bekka. Indeed, she was expecting and planning on the HP Sprout Pro for next school year, and so I reached out to ask how she was planning to use it. Here’s what she shared:

Bekka Stasny AScienceTeacher website

“As part of my Innovative Space Project for the 2016-2017 school year, I’m going to be working on several areas with the HP Sprout Pro.

First, communication – I’m building ‘a classroom without walls.’ The Sprout Collaboration function will allow me to collaborate with science classes in the district and beyond. We’ll be able to share demonstrations, lessons, mentor students, and show projects to one another, just for starters.

Next, I’m contemplating how the Sprout will allow me to increase critical thinking skills. With the ability to scan and capture objects, students can remix them. And I believe lots of interesting and deep connections will happen for learners of all types thanks to this functionality. It looks pretty clear that it will spark imaginations. The Create Studio, for example, will let children model in clay, then scan it to a 3D model, which will let them then 3D print it on our favorite 3D Printer, the LulzBot TAZ 4. Plus, this is a great way to document learning and save it for later.

It will improve digital literacy overall. We plan to create portfolio and science journals, lab documentation. The Stop Motion film app where students can create stop motion films and narrate a science concept they are learning about looks like plain fun.”

–Bekka Stasny, AScienceTeacher.com

As we talked through Bekka’s plans, it got me thinking about creating a list of what the Sprout Pro could do, for a teacher and students. So, let me start with a mix of simple and advanced things you can do with it in the classroom:

  • You can scan in documents and objects in two dimensions (2D).
  • The built-in Doc Scan app lets you or your students easily scan homework and worksheets.
  • Students can capture the process of lab experiments, to include alongside notes and other annotations for final science lab reports.
  • Artifact Collection: Students can gather and capture artifacts from their neighborhood, community, school, or field trip such as leaves, coins, toys, found objects, and rocks. These artifacts can then be used in reports, projects, and other creative activities. The built-in app is called Sprout Create.
  • You can scan objects in three dimensions (3D) on the flat surface of the Touch Mat, or via the Capture Stage, an additional accessory that rotates 360 degrees and tilts as it does so enabling you to scan more of an object.
    • As Bekka Stasny suggests, students can scan an existing object, or perhaps, use their creativity in clay, and then 3D scan that personal creation for use with a 3D printer.
    • The 3D Capture app helps you produce high-resolution, full-color, three-dimensional scans of objects with just a few simple taps. Plus, it gives you options to re-do a scan and this is especially useful if you have done a series of scans. 3D Capture digitizes both color and depth information about objects so that students can bring them into the Sprout Create Studio. Once in the Sprout Create app, models can be edited, investigated, mashed, enhanced, and re-purposed for many creative projects. Models can be manipulated, explored, and customized in Microsoft 3D Builder, for 3D printing.
  • Related to the 2D scan function, once you capture an image, it can remain on the Touch Mat;
    • Then you can trace onto craft materials like cloth, wood, or paper.
    • Or, students might scan craft materials and create a digital collage.
    • Capture colors, textures, and objects to import into design apps like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Use captures to create backgrounds and bring textures into design projects.
    • For one more example, let’s say you scan in historical images and source documents to the Create app. Students can then use the marker and text tools to explain how the images relate to one another to better comprehend historical events in a visual format.
  • On its own, the HP Illuminator makes for a great science, math, or engineering lesson and project. Using structured light, the scanner offers a lesson for students on how this technology works, in addition to see it in action.
    • Size Up is an instant measurement app that comes in the HP Marketplace. Any object you place on the mat is measured. Various specimens or artifacts can be quickly measured, evaluated, and documented for science labs.
    • It could also serve for math lessons. According to Institute of Education Sciences (IES), there is strong evidence that mathematical problem solving in middle school can be improved by teaching students how to use visual representations — in its unique ability both to turn any 2D or 3D object into a visual representation or to support the creation of new physical objects via a 3D printer, Sprout can be an integral piece of the personalized learning experience.
  • For science class, take those collected specimens like rocks, leaves, fossils, and other physical objects. Scan them; Then make models. Compare objects. If the object can be separated, you could scan the parts and create model that can be broken apart and studied, piece by piece, or reassembled as part of a dissection.
  • From these scanning capabilities, one can do various mashups or remixes by combining multiple ideas or objects together.
  • A stop motion app is built into the HP Marketplace that has existing backgrounds built-in. Students can scan a LEGO mini-figure, as one example, and create a fun scene of that character. Or, they could use it to develop a step-by-step science lesson after 3D scanning a natural item from your last field trip, for instance.
  • The Sprout can be used as a stand-alone computer, of course, but with its displays and fast processors, it makes it ideal to explore 3D resources from the Smithsonian XD project, as just one example. The national museum makes many of its own detailed 3D scans available for teachers to download and explore, including some files for easy 3D printing. Often, you do not need a super-fast system to view, but once you start rendering and modifying 3D files, you need more power. The Sprout Pro is built for that.
  • Recording tutorial lessons is easy with the Sprout – combining the above 2D or 3D scans along with its standard high quality webcam video to capture you as you deliver lesson content.
    • Sprout has three built-in recording devices, the Webcam that that faces you, the HP Illuminator camera which faces down onto the Touch Mat like a document camera, and the main display which has screen recording capabilities.
    • These three cameras can be used together in the Video Capture app. You can actively use up to two cameras at the same time, allowing you to record multiple perspectives simultaneously.
    • With the Video Capture app you can easily demonstrate interactions with an object, including documents, tools, or other resources, on the Touch Mat camera, while also sharing your display, for software interaction, videos, or document reference, and record directly from your webcam.
  • Sprout also makes remote collaboration an interactive experience by moving beyond a single screen. Through the HP MyRoom software (pre-loaded), students can share, present, and engage through multi-screen video. Students can connect remotely to students in another classroom, learn from a distant expert mentor, or participate virtually in a field trip. The ability to physically manipulate images and objects within these contexts opens up all new collaborative possibilities.
  • Sprout and MyRoom have powerful built-in collaboration tools,
    • Including a ‘whiteboard’ space that collaborators can draw on together,
    • The ability to grab a snapshot of an object or document with Sprout and then annotate or manipulate that object in a shared space.
    • To use MyRoom, simply invite collaborators by putting their email address in when you’ve launched MyRoom.
    • It allows several devices, including tablets and phones, to simultaneously participate in the collaborative space.
  • Sprout is a great tool for lesson delivery. You can use the External Display Mixer app to share materials, plus:
    • I love this one: Use the touch mat like a smart-board (drawing with your finger, not a marker!).
    • Connect to a projector or large display with Sprout’s third screen HDMI output.
    • The app also allows you to zoom in up to 4x with the downward facing camera, effectively turning Sprout into a shared magnifying glass for examining specimens and artifacts.
    • Go on a virtual field trip, where the space you’re visiting would not otherwise be accessible to your group. Visit a science lab or research facility from across the world; touch and play with scanned objects the host shares with you.

In conclusion, educators are beginning to do amazing things with the Sprout Pro.  We’d love to hear what you’re doing with Sprout! Let us know what you’re doing with Sprout by sharing ideas with me on Twitter and use the hashtag: #GoMakeThings.

HP SproutNoCamera-right-Surf

Image Courtesy HP Sprout Pro

Additional HP Sprout Resources

Tutorials and How-To’s

HP Sprout YouTube channel

Inspirational Projects

Where To See, Try, Buy


Disclosure: HP is a long-time client, having partly sponsored my national 3DRV roadtrip, and contracting me to do research and work on the Sprout. They have loaned me the HP Sprout Pro along with the Dremel IdeaBuilder 3D Printer for part of this project.

In Category: #GoMakeThings, 3D Printing, STEM


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