Sumo-wrestling robots, 3D printed cities and wearable electronics were just a few of the learning tools teachers got to play with as a precursor to the uLearn conference.

Permission to Play, a one-day pre-conference ahead of the three-day uLearn conference, was held yesterday with sessions at Distinction Hotel and Holiday Inn.

Teachers had the chance to tinker with exciting tools and activities with the intention of finding ways to incorporate them in the classroom.

The uLearn conference, which has sold out, is bringing 2000 educators to the city who will be collaborating on ways to teach 21st century learners.

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Core Education senior adviser Mark Osborne led a session on creativity and critical thinking.

"This workshop is about tools to help kids be more creative. We've got some teachers designing and programming robots while others were making felt flowers that light up, 'wearable electronics' if you will.

"It's all about getting that entrepreneurial, high-tech gear into schools but making it simple to use and engaging, with learning wrapped around it."

Another workshop had teachers creating and building miniature cities with a 3D printer.

Fay Cobbett and Tim Carr from Mindkits led the session.

"We're all about robotics and electronics. We're not just selling a printer to the schools and leaving them alone, we are here to help them use the printer in the most ways possible.

"For example, we have teachers designing a city during which they have to work out where they need to put everything so it works harmoniously, as it does in a real city. After that, the pieces are printed and they put it together.

"Taken into the classroom, this teaches the students all kinds of skills like mathematics and problem solving."

Ms Cobbett said the teachers had taken to the technology really well and they had received positive feedback about the flexibility and universal uses of the printer.