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What do you get when you attach a point-and-shoot, display, microphone, RFID reader and a bunch of big buttons to a clear plastic box and stick it all in a classroom with a bunch of three- to five-year-olds? Carnegie Mellon's CREATE Lab calls the creation Message from Me. It's a way of engaging early education students with technology, developing language and social skills and helping keep parents abreast of their school day activities.

The tool encourages kids to record a thought or take a picture and send it to a parent by pulling a card with their face on it down from the wall and scanning on the RFID reader. Parents can get updates via text message or email from kids who are often unable to pass along such information at the end of the day. According to the lab, the machines have already been installed in nearly a dozen schools in the Pittsburgh area -- and from the looks of the boxes on the floor in the CREATE Lab, plenty more are on the way.

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Message from Me

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Message from Me offers dispatches from early education, we go eyes-on (video)