Welcome to series of Blog Posts brought to you by some amazing past Siemens STEM Institute and STARs Fellows. Today's guest blogger is Laura Wommack who teaches an array of high school classes including Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Food Science, as well as Forensics and Astronomy at Potlatch Jr-Sr High School in Idaho. Take a moment to discover more about Laura following her post. Please be sure to read and share… make sure you give us a follow on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad . As always, thanks for joining us at the Siemens STEM Academy! Now… read on… and have a STEMtastic week! – Mike Gorman
Science teachers struggle with meeting many criteria in their classrooms today. We must meet Common Core Standards, Next Generation Science standards, state standards, ensure coverage of information on the high-stakes test, produce science students with 21st thinking, collaboration and creativity, provide educational experiences which integrate science, technology, engineering and math and motivate, engage, and even entertain students in the science classroom.
In my classroom, I have found one solution to meeting all of these criteria: Aeronautics. After participating in a NASA internship with NASA Wallops Flight Facility and NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, I was inspired to integrate some of my experiences into my already largely inquiry-based Physics classroom. The result has been improved engagement and motivation.
Aeronautics is a natural topic for a physical science classroom. Not only are students interested in space and flight, it meets many science standards that are required such as: PS2A Forces and Motion, PS2B Types of Interactions, PS3A Stability and Instability in Physical Systems, PS3C Relationship Between Energy and Forces (Next Generation Science Standards). Throughout the unit, students are meeting real-world engineering goals through inquiry-based projects.
Although the study of aeronautics can take many forms, when students begin this unit in my room, they begin with an inquiry-based project addressing the question “What size and shape parachute is most effective in slowing descent of an object?” Students soon learn that if parachutes are too large, they don’t fill effectively and, if they are too small, they are ineffective. Students create three iterations of parachutes, following an engineering process, to try to discover the “best” parachute. As they test their parachutes, the data they collect is the time of descent.
Next, they turn their attention to high powered air rockets. Their question is “What is the function of rocket fins?” Again, students follow a design process in which they create several iterations, testing at each stage, and revising a single design element each time. When testing rockets, they fly each one three times and collect flight time and distance data. The goal is create a rocket that will fly consistently. Through this project, they learn that the function of rocket fins is to allow stability and consistency of flight.
Their fin configuration and prior parachute design are then used to launch a solid-fuel rocket. Data collected, again, relates to how consistently the rocket flies which is related to the stability of the rocket.The culminating activity for the Aeronautics unit (and the class as a whole) is a scientific balloon launch which, in our area, can only occur in late spring due to weather constraints. Students create programmable payloads using Arduinos to collect data, typically barometric pressure and temperature collected on Arduinos programmed to act as data loggers. Students are able to observe the temperatures changes for each layer of the atmosphere as the balloon ascends to approximately 80,000 feet.
There are many ways to integrate science, technology, math and engineering into the science classroom, but few topics contribute all elements as seamlessly as aeronautics. Soar into aeronautics with the following lesson plan.
Wommack, Laura…., Potlatch Jr-Sr High School, Potlatch, Idaho
Laura Wommack now calls Moscow, Idaho, her home, after having been born and raised in Southern California. She received her B.S. degree from the University of Idaho and pursued science teaching as a second career. She currently teaches an array of high school classes including Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Food Science, as well as Forensics and Astronomy. Over the last two summers, she has traveled extensively to a variety of NASA Centers as part of a NASA internship, in collaboration with NASA's Endeavor program, as well as traveling to Kolkata, India, where she taught science to classes as large as 80-90 8th, 9th and 10th graders. Of her participation in the Siemens STEM Institute she says, "I am so excited to be able to participate in such a high-quality fellowship as this because I know I will have the opportunity to be exposed to the very best STEM education information while meeting and learning from other quality educators. I can't wait to bring new strategies and ideas back to my students in the Fall."
We hope you enjoyed reading about making that STEM Tech Integration plan with Laura. Please take the time to retweet and pass this information out to other STEM educators you think might be interested! Now is also a great time to sign up for an RSS feed and also follow us on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad. We have more great STEM information coming your way including more STEM ideas from our past Fellows. Have a great week and take some time to start making your own STEMtastic learning connections… today. – Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)
Posted on March 2, 2014 by Michael Gorman
The Siemens STEM Academy would like to invite you to join us for an exciting webinar perfect for STEM professional development. You can join us on Tuesday, February 25 at 7:00 PM EST. Don't miss out... make sure you give us a follow on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad and share with others! As always, thanks for joining us at the Siemens STEM Academy! Now... read on an learn more about this amazing webinar and how it can make your last few days of February... STEMcredible! Have a wonderful week – Mike Gorman
Join Adam Bellow (above) and Steve Dembo, the authors of Untangling the Web, for a discussion of their favorite Web 2.0 tools that can be used to create rich and engaging STEM experiences for teachers and students. They've sifted through thousands of online resources and will demonstrate which can be used to unlock student innovation, unleash creativity, and unshackle their STEMthusiasm! They'll also explore how Educlipper can be used by students to aggregate research, curate content, and cultivate their own STEM digital portfolio.
Adam Bellow, Founder and President of eduTecher and eduClipper began his career in education as an Assistant English Teacher at a High School for students with learning disabilities in New York City. After earning a Masters Degree in both General and Special Education at Hunter College, where he taught a graduate level course on integrating technology into the special education classroom, Adam became an English teacher at a High School on Long Island for several years. Then his two passions collided - Technology and Education - as he became a Technology Training Specialist for a school district on Long Island. Adam works with educational leaders, teachers, and students from around the United States to help them infuse technology successfully in the classroom.
Adam was recognized in 2011 as the Outstanding Young Educator of the Year by ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) and in 2010 as an Emerging Leader as well as a finalist for the 2010 Totally Wired Teacher of Year award.
Untangling the Web: Resources for Stepping Up the STEM in Your Classroom
Presented by Adam Bellow
Founder and President of eduTeacher and eduClipper
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 7:00pm EST
Click here to register
We are certain you will enjoy the this STEM based PD Webinar. Now is a great time to sign up for an RSS feed and also follow us on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad. You may even wish to share this post with others via a quick email or even a tweet! Have a great week and take some time to start making your own STEMtastic learning connections... today. - Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)
Posted on February 25, 2014 by Michael Gorman
Welcome to another post aimed at introducing you to an awesome STEM resource that may come in handy in the STEM classroom. In this reading, we have the chance to introduce you to a Science (or STEM Buddy!) Please be sure to read and share… make sure you give us a follow on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad . As always, thanks for joining us at the Siemens STEM Academy! Now… read on… and have a STEMtastic week! – Mike Gorman
As a STEM educator you will be impressed with Science Buddies, an award-winning, non-profit program that promotes scientific inquiry and innovation. Science Buddies empowers K-12 students, and teachers to quickly and easily find free project ideas and help in a multitude of scientific content areas. The topics run a wide spectrum of topics from physics past food science around music, and beyond microbiology. In this amazing collection STEM educators can find that engaging science activity for a unit along with ideas to grow a science fair idea for students. At Science Buddies you will find comprehensive, scientist-authored tools, tips, and techniques.
You will discover STEM news gathered from university research, and from kids themselves. The staff scientists at Science Buddies publish new content weekly. This content is often a collaborative effort with experts at high tech companies, government labs and agencies (like NOAA and NASA) and top universities. Some of the cutting-edge science education resources found at Science Buddies include:
- Project Ideas - This includes over 100 activities which are detailed scientist-authored outlines that help students create a project in any of 30 different fields of science and engineering
- Topic Selection Wizard - A wonderful tool to help students find a project idea that perfectly matches their unique interests
- Project Guide - An amazing online encyclopedia for how to do science research and science fair projects. Students will find step-by-step guidance, actual sample assignments, photos of science fair projects, tips for success, and self-grading checklists. The guide also includes tools, techniques, and reference information such as safety guidelines and an Engineering Design Project Guide.
- Teacher Resources - STEM educators will enjoy this tool that includes curriculum for teaching the scientific method, printable classroom handouts, grading rubrics, and enrichment tools
- Ask an Expert - Student will enjoy this online advice forum. It is a community forum where scientists and engineers mentor students in their STEM journey.
- Career Information - This resources includes Career Profiles to inform students about science, technology, engineering, and math careers. Best of all these profiles are tied into a library of Project Ideas so students can easily see how the science in their project is used in real-world careers.
It really is time for you to discover and investigate this truly amazing STEM site. The reward will be a goldmine of STEM possibilities! You and your students will enjoy an opportunity to make a new Science (or STEM) buddy!
We hope you enjoyed reading about this wonderful resource that could be a part of your STEM curriculum. Please take the time to retweet and pass this information out to other STEM educators you think might be interested! Now is also a great time to sign up for an RSS feed and also follow us on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad. We have more great STEM information coming your way. Have a great week and take some time to start making your own STEMtastic learning connections… today. – Mike Gorman
Posted on February 22, 2014 by Michael Gorman
Welcome to series of Blog Posts brought to you by some amazing past Siemens STEM Institute and STARs Fellows. Today's guest blogger is Valerie Ziglejeva who teaches high school math and pre-engineering at Worcester Technical High School in Newark, MD.. Take a moment to discover more about Valerie following her post. Please be sure to read and share… make sure you give us a follow on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad . As always, thanks for joining us at the Siemens STEM Academy! Now… read on… and have a STEMtastic week! – Mike Gorman
I want my students to be problem solvers. Maybe it is my flaw as an educator, but problem solving is what I put above all. I want my students to approach any problem with open mind and know how to break it down to smaller more manageable problems or how to reach out to experts for advice. That is why I make a point to involve other educators in my school in trans-disciplinary lessons. That is why I insist that my students “scavenger” hunt throughout our school in search of new tools, skills, and trades that they could later use in their projects. That is why I invite community members to present to my students.
A couple month ago we had a visit from Hardwire which is a local company that is known for solving some of our country’s most challenging military and defense problems. Engineers from Hardwire shared their backgrounds (one of them was local graduate) and walked us through the design process. It included the design of a most sophisticated Ultra Light Vehicle beginning with the goal to design, develop, and build lightweight tactical vehicle research prototypes, emphasizing occupant survivability as well as cost. My students were given a chance to see, touch, and climb the prototype that the Hardwire team brought with them.
Each weekend I assigned discussion questions online though Canvas. Below are couple quotes from my students that describe Hardwire’s visit:
“I liked that the visit was from a company based locally. It's nice to be reminded that engineering jobs can be found everywhere, even on the rural eastern shore.”
“The visit from Hardwire was probably one of the best so far. I liked how we got to learn about their processes and approaches to solving problems. I also liked how it gave us insight into engineering activity in the community.”
“I truly enjoyed the visit from Hardwire. I learned that there are still plenty of problems and new innovations out there. I thought it was interesting to hear the speaker describe breaking their large problem, designing the ULV, into a bunch of smaller problems such as the isolated steering wheel, tires, or suspension. In this case, creating more problems actually made solving them easier. I had always wondered how engineering teams solved such complex problems.”
Another event I would like to highlight is a project that involved a local landfill. My curriculum contains a unit on recycling. I started the unit with a trip to the recycling plant of the Worcester County Landfill. Students learned about types of plastics and how they are recycled. Students also discovered that yard waste is being turned into mulch and can be purchased at the landfill. Another learning experience involved investigating manual separation of plastics and paper in to several categories (containers). Students also found out what happens to old TVs and refrigerators, and they acquired a recycling “consciousness”.
Upon returning to the classroom, we solidified our information with notes and classroom discussion. Next, we investigated several regions in the world that are affected by our waste. Students were divided in groups and assigned a region. They explored such topics as “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, China’s Yellow River and chemical waste, Ghana’s electronic waste problem, and India’s garbage problem, etc.
In addition, students had to find some ways to improve community by using recycled materials in a creative way (tire reefs, recycling art, etc.) Next, students presented their findings to their classmates using “worldless Power Points”. As a final step, students had to build an automated recycling system that separated garbage based on physical properties of materials – conductivity, magnetism, light transfer to name a few. This project had to be assembled using robotics equipment and automated programming which used C++ based language.
In February, I am going to the SeaPerch workshop at the Naval Academy. This will facilitate my planning of a future unit that could combine with the Environmental Science class and possibly the Maryland Coastal Bays Foundation allowing students to investigate and take data from the local bay. In my opinion, involving community is crucial to development of our students as problem-solving individuals and I am grateful to be living in a community that is so willing to share and help! What might me a part of your local community that can bring authentic learning to your students?
Valerie Ziglejeva, Worcester Technical High School, Newark, MD
Valerie Ziglejeva teaches high school math and pre-engineering at Worcester Technical High School in Newark, MD. After receiving a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Riga Technical University and Master's of Art in Teaching from Salisbury University, she started teaching in Worcester County, MD. “I’m very happy to be a part of the Siemens STEM Institute because I believe that the purpose of education is to facilitate creative learning so that all students may discover their inner passions as well as become informed and productive citizens of society. Everything I will learn from this institute will give me an ability to let students “try on their future” and teach them what they would like to become.”
We hope you enjoyed reading about this STEM Tech Integration that Valerie has shared. Please take the time to retweet and pass this information out to other STEM educators you think might be interested! Now is also a great time to sign up for an RSS feed and also follow us on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad. We have more great STEM information coming your way including more STEM ideas from our past Fellows. Have a great week and take some time to start making your own STEMtastic learning connections… today. – Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)
Posted on February 17, 2014 by Michael Gorman
Welcome to another post aimed at introducing you to an awesome STEM resource. In this reading, you will discover a middle school STEM site sure to put a smile on the face of your students! Please be sure to read and share… make sure you give us a follow on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad . As always, thanks for joining us at the Siemens STEM Academy! Now… read on… and have a STEMtastic week! – Mike Gorman
Engagement and active learning almost always has a direct connection with a big smile on the faces of both educators and students. You are sure to find that special STEM place that not only makes you smile but will also bring a sparkle to your eye! One glance at How To SMILE and you will discover new ways to teach kids about math and science. You will find activities that meet you where you live, whether your “classroom” is an active volcano, the shark tank at the local aquarium, or perhaps just your science classroom!
The people at How to SMILE are collecting the best educational materials on the web and creating learning activities, tools, and services for STEM education. While the design is for those who teach school-aged kids in non-classroom settings, there are great opportunities for those who wish to think outside the box inside their classroom! While the front page is appealing with current information, educators will want to explore lessons listed at the Topics Page. Subject matter currently comes under the categories of Mathematics, Ocean Literacy, Chemistry, Climate, Energy, Life Sciences, Cooking, and Astronomy.
SMILE stands for stands for Science and Math Informal Learning Educators and are a pathway (an audience-specific branch) of the National Science Digital Library (NSDL.org). How To Smile features hands-on and interactive activities, both physical and virtual. These activities are based on the concept that children need to be doing when learning. The free activities take many forms, from downloadable lesson plans to how-to videos to online interactive games. The activities teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Best of all, a happy face will come natural with a visit to How To Smile!
We hope you enjoyed reading about this wonderful resource that could be a part of your STEM digital curriculum. Please take the time to retweet and pass this information out to other STEM educators you think might be interested! Now is also a great time to sign up for an RSS feed and also follow us on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad. We have more great STEM information coming your way. Have a great week and take some time to start making your own STEMtastic learning connections… today. – Mike Gorman </em
Posted on February 9, 2014 by Michael Gorman