Cobb Science

September News and Notes

One Month Down...

Congratulations! You made it through the first month of school! We've seen some solid teaching at the schools we have visited and appreciate your enthusiasm and hard work. If you're not following us on Twitter yet, check us out at @cobbscience. There are some exciting opportunities coming up for you and your students this fall. If you haven't heard about the Cobb Innovation Academies, the STEAM academy still has available space and the deadline to register has been extended to September 11th.

September Professional Learning Opportunity

Join us online on September 15th for our Science Differentiation Webinar.

Elementary School: 3-4 pm

High School: 4-5 pm

Middle School: 5-6 pm

The webinar will be a content-specific follow-up to the face-to-face differentiation training that occurred on September 1st. Links for the webinars will be posted on and Blackboard soon.

Implementing Science Clubs: A Focus on Maker Spaces

Maker Space clubs involve students designing, engineering, and making innovative products. The purpose is to encourage students' hands-on, creative problem solving skills through DIY projects of their choice. Tanya Hyman (Durham Middle School) is one of the driving forces behind the Atlanta Maker Faire. Whether or not you have a Maker club at your school, the Atlanta Maker Faire's Making Education Conference is worth checking out. The conference is free and will be held on Saturday, October 3rd from 9 am- 5 pm in the Performing Arts Center at Decatur High School in downtown Decatur. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about hands-on, "maker-" style learning in the classroom, plus a great chance to network with other educators in the metro area. For more information, visit the conference website at

Teacher Spotlight

Diane Robinson, 7th grade life science teacher at Lindley Middle School, developed an exciting and engaging Hunger Games Biomes unit. After watching some brief clips from the movie, students were "reaped" into homogeneous ability groups based on pre-test scores and assigned a biome to represent. As a "citizen" of that biome, students worked cooperatively to prove that their biome was the best by doing research about its characteristics. During the first stage of the unit, students completed an individual research piece in which each group member created a flyer about one component of the biome: it's climate and location, animals typically found in the biome and their adaptations; plants typically found in the biome and their adaptations, and current threats facing the biome. Research materials available to students included books, QR codes on the bulletin board linked to resources, and leveled folders with printed information, rainfall graphs, pictures, etc. After watching another clip from the movie- in which the various districts ride the chariots through the parade-- students discussed how each district represented itself and made the analogy to how they would symbolize their biome. The groups then created a poster of their biome's symbol and presented to the class. Classmates took notes on each biome's characteristics on a graphic organizer during presentations but also had the chance to fill in any missing information during a subsequent gallery walk. Fabulous work, Diane!

Instructional Focus: Problem Based Learning

Problem based learning is one of the most engaging and authentic teaching strategies that can be used today. Here’s how it works: think about the way you learned science. You probably read a chapter from the textbook, answered a bunch of questions, listened to a lecture from your teacher, and then maybe did an accompanying lab about the concept you learned. Problem based learning turns this process on its head. The teacher presents students with a problem or case that requires a solution. The students immediately identify the information they need to learn and begin researching. This occurs concurrently with hands-on inquiry learning in which students are making their own meaning. The teacher is the guide, refraining from giving students correct answers and instead prompting students’ further learning with questioning. Once the students “solve the problem” they present their final solution to an authentic audience. So essentially, PBL is learning by doing.

Over the summer, Amy West, Charmagne Quenan, Lori Pangburn, Katie Kilkenny, Beth Parsons, and Leslie Keith wrote PBLs for middle school science classrooms. You can find these on Blackboard in the Middle School Resources subshell of the 6-12 Science shell, under each content area (Earth, Life, and Physical). Links to other PBLs (for all grade levels and subjects) can be found here: Additionally, be on the look out for a Pro-to-Pro video coming soon to Streaming Cobb.

Digital Tools and Resources

Upcoming Events

First Lego League

Friday, Sep. 25th, 5pm

This is an online event.

If you are interested in starting a First Lego League club at your school (grades 4-8), registration closes at the end of September. More information about starting and registering a team can be found at

Captain Planet School Garden Grants

Wednesday, Sep. 30th, 5pm

This is an online event.

Grants are made for activities that conform to the mission of the Captain Planet Foundation and must be project- based, performed by youth, and have real environmental impacts. They should provide hands-on environmental stewardship and inspire youth and communities to participate in community service. The deadline to apply for fall grants is September 30th.