TCEA Day 1
February 1st 2016
-STEM Resources for Elementary
-Getting Started with Robotics
-Girl Power: Empower Girls with STEM
-Getting Connected: Technology Integration in Science
-Computer Science without Computers, without Experience
-Closing Keynote: "The Story of STEM"
Opening Keynote: "Using Technology to Engage Students in Problem Solving"
Cindy Moss, Director of Global STEM Initiatives for Discovery Education, supports districts in their work to develop and deploy student initiatives to drive science, technology, engineering, and math achievement nationwide. Prior to joining Discovery Education, Dr. Moss served as Director of PreK-12 STEM Education for the Charlotte Mecklenburg School system, worked as a classroom teacher for 21 years, and was recognized as one of the top “100 Women in STEM” in 2012.
This was a great way to start the day, and the convention as a whole. Embracing STEM is necessary to facilitate our students learning going forward. It is important that we give kids an experience. Students also heavily influenced by the messages we send them. We can't say "I hate math" or "science is hard". All that does is create stigmas. In kindergarten students actively enjoy math. By the time they are in 6th grade they have already made up their minds if they are "good" or "bad" at math. This is all picked up by ques that teachers and parents give off. We also can't take away their interest. This is something we can do without even thinking about it. If we want to promote STEM then we should live it and take ownership of it,and not just talk about it. I really wish we could this lady to come to our next convocation because she was incredibly inspiring.
They were supposed to email the presentation but I have not received it! I'll update when it happens...
STEM Resources for Elementary
I picked up several great resources from this. We started by getting a LEGO piece and getting into groups of four. Our first task was to see if we could create a letter using the pieces we had. We then got into groups of eight and tried to create a whole word. This activity really got us thinking and would be a great way to integrate basic engineering skills into an ELA classroom.
I was also introduced to a great series called "Goldie Blox". This a series of short stories that has a corresponding building kit that encourages engineering in girls. You read along with the story, build along to create a solution to their problem using different included materials to help the characters out of their situation, and then enjoy your hard work with a cool toy!
Another great resource was the Pringles Challenge. This is a cross-curricular activity for math, science, and social studies. What you do is take a single Pringle chip and create a carriage or holder that can fit inside a typical mailing box. You then send the package to another school district where your chip is inspected and evaluated and given a score. The idea is to I thought it would be cool to throw in some ELA by adding a pen-pal aspect to it.
Check out the presenters site for more great ideas.
Getting Started with Robotics
Sometimes Mr. Porter needs a little justification for his efforts. This session helped with that. For what I offer, I am on the right track. However I did take away a couple of ideas that I hadn't considered. Namely a way to break up the monotony in the robotics club and a cool project for when we discuss energy and forces in my science class. Brush bots and scribble bots are incredibly simple robots made by using simple supplies. Brush bots are made by using the head of a toothbrush, a tiny motor like the one found in a cell phone, and a watch battery. What you end up with is very similar to a NanoBot, which are very popular with kids. A scribble bot uses the same principles of a brush bot, but instead uses markers for the legs. The end product here uses the motion of the motors to create spyrograph type artworks. I would like to try this at the end of the year to review. If not this year, then next year for sure!
Girl Power: Empower Girls with STEM
We as humans have the inherent desire to create and what you SEE is what you want to BE. We must promote STEM to girls. Last year I had 6 girls in my robotics club out of a total of 15 students. This year I have 1 girl out of 24. In the early 80's, 40% of women were in STEM fields. That number is now only 10%. Research shows that one of the main reasons is because in the 80's during the explosion of the Nintendo Entertainment System, technology began being marketed at boys. Today, in middle school 74% of girls express interest in STEM but when choosing major just 0.3% of HS girls select computer science. We have to find a way to be more inclusive because the more people we have in these fields, the more opportunities we have to better society. Both in a technological aspect and more importantly as a sociological benefit. How can we accomplish these goals? By targeting them directly of course! We can steer them down these career paths a number of ways. One way is through having
a monthly MAKER party, or using Google Cardboard to immerse them virtually in a number of career fields. Google also has coding for girls program that aims at introducing coding to girls.
What I would REALLY like to do is to have someone from Girl Start to come to a school. This is a program where females in STEM career fields present at your school directly to the girls. This was a great session and helped me understand what I can d.o to promote this more in my classroom. Please check out the presentation for more information
Getting Connected: Technology Integration in Science
This session did not provide much information honestly, which is a shame. I was looking forward to it because well, duh, science! HOWEVER I was introduced to to "Learning Contracts". This is what happens when you take a something similar to a character success point sheet and combine it with a rubric for an assignment. This seemed like a great way to promote accountability for their assignment as well as their learning. Take a look at the presentation to see it in action.
This is something I have been wanting to implement in my classroom. Basically you take the rule-set and materials from an existing board game, table top game, card game, or video game and apply to project based learning. For example you could create a Role Playing Game using the rule set from Dungeons and Dragons. Students could go on a quest that uses dice rolls to decide the next move on the quest and what materials they use each step of the way. If each member played a role associated with the classes in the DnD rule set it opens up a wide range of possibilities. What this does is create a sense of urgency and friendly competition to the student's work. The result is students tend collaborate more when they feel like they are competing at a game with the added benefit of having students teaching students. This adds engagement to where the students want to continue the work because of outside pressures. I would even add an "Achievement" list that could act as bonus points for the project where students go out of their way to find additional information and content and earn badges that they could display in the room or even on their clothes or bags. For example, you could say, "Hey you achieved the Pro Researcher button for using more than ten required sources in your project!" This will take quite a bit of work to integrate but what they suggested was to start with one TEK that typically makes kids groan.
Computer Science without Computers, without Experience
This session provided four activities that introduce computer science to the student through the math and ELA classroom. Two of them that really stuck out to me were the binary code secret message activity and the bracelet story.
The binary code secret message is a great way to introduce how a computer uses binary code to function and is a great math opening activity.
The bracelet story activity shows sequencing in relation to how a computer functions using an asset tied to that particular function. You start by writing a no more than three to four paragraph story. You then chunk the events and designate a colored bead (or shape) You then make a key and have a friend read the story back to you using the symbols and key as a guide.
The linked presentation provides the other activities that would fit PERFECTLY in the math and ELA classroom. Please check it out. I am for sure going to use these as icebreakers.
Closing Keynote: "The Story of STEM"
Dean Shareski is the Community Manager for Discovery Education Canada. He taught grades 1-8 for 14 years and spent nine as a digital learning consultant in Moose Jaw, SK. Dean teaches pre-service teachers at the University of Regina. His blog is consistently top-ranked, and he also blogs for Tech Learning and the Huffington Post. Dean’s passion is helping teachers explore the affordances of technology for learning.
The closing session was not as inspiring as the opener but he did provide some neat story telling resources and really cool national science writing prompt started by Alan Alda. The main message of this session is to form ways where we can create a passion and understanding for problem solving and solutions. We need to find ways to share passion by promoting OUR OWN passions for understanding and taking ownership. Students love social media for sure and we need to use that enjoyment to our advantage to help promote their learning.
One way of doing this is through an app called One Second Daily. This would be a great way to extend the lesson or your students journal entry. The idea is that they record a segment of a lesson or if they would like the whole lesson. They then go back and find what they think is the most important moment or message for that day. This is then added to a calendar that the student has access to at any time. Imagine how helpful this would be during reviews! This would also make for perfect writing prompts. Jaime found another similar app that extends it to three seconds called 3 Seconds Daily Cam. I highly suggest checking these out.
A great website the speaker demonstrated was called Pechaflikr.net. How this site works is that you set a certain amount of slides you want to present, a time limit for each slide, and then a topic word. What the site will do is pull pictures from Flickr that have been tagged with that key word. The students then would have to ad lib a presentation using the pictures that algorithm has selected. This is a great way to review understanding but also a way to for students to quickly come up with writing prompts.
The great international science writing prompt is called The Flame Challenge and was started by Alan Alda to help students better understand science. This is an international contest where 5th and 6th grade students ask a scientist a question in regards to science. The winning prompts are then answered by participating scientists. The catch though is that the scientists have to be able to easily explain it to an 11 year old. The participating 5th and 6th grade students then judge which response is most appropriate for their age group.
As with the opening keynote, I was supposed to get a link to the presentation. I will update when that happens.