Category Archives: Science

Engineering Myths

This video from Mimi-Isabella Nwosu (@EngineerMimi_), an Assistant Materials Engineer in UK, is a fun way to dispel many of the myths that surround pursuing careers in engineering. For example, “Engineers are boring white guys,” seems to be a common misperception – and Nwosu is anything but boring, white, or a guy. Another one? “You have to be a genius to become an engineer.” For my students, this seemed to translate as, “You have to automatically understand math and be able to do it quickly in your head.” Also not true.

Nwosu’s short video is the first in a coming series from “Born to Engineer.” Don’t assume you need to be teaching engineering to show it to your students. In fact, high school may be too late if we are trying to attract more females to STEM professions. The exuberance, humor, and down-to-earth attitude that Nwosu exhibits in this video may be just the inspiration a 10-year-old may need to begin to consider getting more involved in STEM inside and outside of school.

If this interests you, here are some more engineering posts I have done in the past.

If the embedded video below does not work, you can also view it here.

Halloween Paper Circuits 2020

Paper circuits are an excellent way to introduce young students to electricity. Making them is also a good time to work on having a growth mindset, because there are various small details that keep your circuit from working (ripping the copper tape, blowing out your LED, connecting the wrong legs of the LED to the wrong pieces of tape, etc…) The supplies are pretty cheap, so it’s good to have a lot of them available , and I like to have some pre-made circuits so students can test batteries and LED’s when they blame the parts instead of the maker. Here is an updated list of Halloween Paper Circuit resources:

Brown Dog Gadgets (who also posted the Instructables Guide) has a whole page of paper circuit ideas in case you want to branch out from the Halloween theme.

Paper Circuit image from Chris Sloan on Flickr

Which Door Will the Ball Hit?

The Kid Should See This tweeted the link to this great video, “Which Door Will the Ball Hit?” so I think it’s only fair to send you to their link to read more about it.  I adore this idea from Joseph Herscher of using Rube Goldberg-type machines to make video puzzles, and I think it would be an excellent “hook” to show students before asking them to design their own.  To get some practice before they design their first prototypes, they could play the Bubble Ball app, Goldburger to Go, or this game on Engineering.com.

You can also view more of my Rube Goldberg posts here.  And, if your students enjoy puzzle videos, the TED Ed riddle videos are great.  (My students were big fans of the River Crossing Riddle.)

Dominoes
Image by SparrowsHome from Pixabay

How to S.T.E.A.M. Up Distance Learning

In my third article for the NEO Blog, which was published today, I give a detailed look at how S.T.E.M./S.T.E.A.M. instruction can be accomplished remotely.  The article has links to many resources, so you will likely find at least one new helpful tool somewhere in the post.  You can read, “How to S.T.E.A.M. Up Distance Learning” here.

My previous NEO articles have been: How Distance Learning Fosters Global Collaboration, and How to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom.

Next month’s article will be, “Applying Universal Design for Learning in Remote Classrooms.”  As always, I would love reader input on this topic.  If you have any resources or examples that would be helpful, please comment on this post!

STEAM Up Distance Learning
Image by janrye from Pixabay

Two Bit Circus

Two Bit Circus is a foundation that describes its mission as follows: “We serve children in all economic situations by creating learning experiences to: inspire entrepreneurship, encourage young inventors, and instill environmental stewardship.”  The organization has aimed to achieve these goals through activities such as summer camps, STEAM Carnivals, and workshops.  Although many of these programs have had to come to a screaming stop during the last few months due to the pandemic, Two Bit Circus has not faltered in its delivery of quality content.  Instead, it has shifted to offering streaming classes during the week on topics that range from creating music to building balloon racers.  You can find the archive, already full of informational project videos they have streamed since March, here.  Note that Caine Monroy (yes – the charming young man from Caine’s Arcade) makes a special appearance in some of them.  He is a member of the foundation’s Junior Advisory Board.  In fact, according to the streaming schedule on the home page, Caine will be hosting another live session this Thursday, May 21st.

It’s clear that Two Bit Circus is making a strong effort to offer distance learning projects that are fun, educational, and mostly reliant on household supplies.  Some other resources you will currently find on their website home page are their STEAM Carnival Playbooks (currently free downloads thanks to Vans), a Bricks Playbook for Parents, and “Power Lab,” a “Print-At-Home Escape/Story Room Experience.”  In addition, parents who are suddenly finding themselves to be educators may learn some helpful advice from the “Teachers for Teachers” series that you can find here.

While the official school year may be winding down for some, the unpredictability of the next few months will probably still leave some gaps in children’s schedules.  With these resources from Two Bit Circus you can make that time fly!

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Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay

Smash Boom Best

Smash Boom Best is a debate podcast for kids.  Season 3 will be airing this summer, 2020, but you can still access past episodes from Seasons 1 and 2, and even vote for your choices here.  For example, I listened to “Invisibility vs. Flying” before writing this blog post.  The episodes are an excellent way to introduce debate to students in upper elementary and middle school with their kid-friendly topics and efforts to include their young listeners by inviting them to submit debate ideas.  The “Micro” and “Sneak Attack” rounds add to the fun.

Once your students have listened to a debate or two (the episodes are about 35 minutes long), you can use the curriculum provided by Smash Boom Best to help them create their own exciting debates.  On that same page you will also find downloads for scorecards that can be used during the debates and some other debate resources.

Smash Boom Best is part of a family of podcasts that also includes Brains On.  This is an award-winning show where the host investigates those burning questions we have about science, like, “Can you dig to the center of the earth?”  More episodes can be found here.  For educator resources and some transcripts of select shows, you can go to this page.