Winter STEM Update

Elementary Edition's been a year!!

We have had some great lessons in classrooms as well as some great teacher conversations. Winter can be a great time to use our indoor free time to engage the kids in STEM activities! People have had great success so far this year with STEM projects and I've LOVED seeing all the great ideas. Keep the collaborations coming!

Looking for some winter fun?

And we can't forget February holidays...

STEM in the Real World - Literacy connection

The real world uses STEM concepts all the time! Here are a few articles that may be of interest to share with your kids. Cross-curricular concepts for the win! These come from the Newsela site and can be modified with different Lexile levels. Feel free to reach out if you would like an articles at various levels and don't have a Newsela account!

How do we REALLY know what they know?

I recently attended a "Book Beat" webinar hosted by NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) looking at how we can use formative assessment probes to really figure out what the kids know. A probe is a question posed to the kids that asks them to explain their thinking behind their answer to see not only what they know but how they are piecing it together. It could be a great practice in constructed responses as well as having short conversations (or flip grids) with kids. This practice doesn't have to take long, and doesn't have to be graded, but could really provide some insight into where the kids are getting ideas from and any misconceptions they may be coming into the lesson with.

Each probe includes a teacher notes with include the purpose of the probe, related topics, an explanation of the science concepts, curricular and instructional considerations to take into account as you teach the unit, related research and suggestions for instruction and assessment. Here are a couple examples of the probes and teacher notes:

Page Keeley, the author, suggests using each probe at least twice to allow the kids to demonstrate what they learned. There are probes for K-12 so could be useful at every level. I have purchased a few of the books to have as resources and would love to explore this idea with anyone who is willing.

Here is a link to the webinar if you want to watch the replay (you may have to create a free account):

Freebies available through NSTA

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) offers free resources to use with our students. Here are a few highlights you may be interested in:

Aviation Animations and Activities: Airbus, a leading aerospace manufacturing company, has developed a collection of outreach materials suitable for K–12 audiences. The animated videos address three themes in space and aviation: The Science of Flight, Mission to the Moon (space exploration), and the Future of the Skies (how aerospace will shape the future). In the Science of Flight, students watch short (less than two minutes) animations explaining the principles of aviation and the history of flying. In Mission to the Moon, students watch brief animations about traveling to and living on the Moon, then use the animations’ information to design their own Moon camp, rocket, or Moon ranger. The animations in the Future of the Skies section include challenges for students to design their own cities and factories of the future.

Hour of Code: TIMECRAFT: Have students travel back in time to save the future in TIMECRAFT, a coding and computer science lesson series developed as part of the Hour of Code MINECRAFT: Education Edition resource collection from Microsoft Education. Targeted for grades 3–12, TIMECRAFT teaches basic coding concepts and introduces students to great innovators and inventions in science, architecture, music, and engineering in history. In the game, students use code to correct mysterious mishaps throughout history. As students work through the various lessons (missions), they discover the importance of computer science in many aspects of life; solve problems using algorithmic thinking and problem decomposition; practice computer science concepts such as sequences, events, loops, and debugging; create coding solutions to complete a task or solve a problem; and discover potential career opportunities in computer science. A digital educator’s guide provides content such as lesson goals and objectives, tips for teacher facilitation, a PDF of the coding solutions for each lesson, extension activities, and standards information.

Living Schoolyard Activity Guide: Take a break from the whiteboard, get some fresh air, and engage students in hands-on science and math learning with Green Schoolyards America’s Living Schoolyard Activity Guide. Downloadable as a PDF, the publication features more than 200 pages of rationale and research-based activities to engage K–12 students of all ages and levels in meaningful outdoor learning. The activities are organized in theme-based chapters (such as wildlife and habitat, watershed stewardship, energy and climate, art, play, health, thoughtful use of materials, schoolyard agriculture and food) and include learning experiences developed by more than 120 contributing organizations. From engaging students in Painting the Seasons (all ages) and Creating a Schoolyard Site Survey (ages 5–18) to participating in Garden Scavenger Hunt Relays (ages 8–15), Photosynthesis Tag (ages 9–13), and Planting a Native Hedgerow (ages 8–18), the activities in this guide aptly illustrate the many ways school grounds can be used to create memorable learning experiences for students before, during, and after school hours.

BIMS Bites-Kids
: This weekly web series targeted for upper-elementary to high school audiences features Black scientists presenting kid-friendly “bites” about various marine science topics. Available on the Black in Marine Science (BIMS) You Tube channel, each approximately five-minute video addresses a different topic, covering key themes such as climate change, tidal zones, ocean acidification, freshwater ecology, marine debris and alternative reef habitats, and coastal conservation and restoration efforts. Through the videos, students not only learn about current issues in marine science, but are also introduced to potential careers in the field.

NASA eClips at Home: Targeted for grades 4–7 and developed collaboratively by the National Institute of Aerospace and NASA, the NASA eClips at Home video series fuels students’ curiosity as they investigate science and the world around them through the lens of NASA. In each episode, students follow along with NASA interns as they explore and demonstrate science concepts such as simple machines, the solar system, and the water cycle. Each approximately 30-minute episode features relevant commentary from NASA scientists and includes a related hands-on activity for students to do at home along with the video.

What's Been Going On?


Spent some time just exploring the fun of the Ozobots! Next, story lines and mazes, and dance parties


Using popsicle sticks and rubber bands, we created catapults using various designs that could launch a candy pumpkin!

Cookie Mining

Can't go wrong mining a chocolate chip cookie! Using our knowledge of rocks and minerals we practiced our surface mining skills and counting money to get paid for our treasures.

Assisting Santa

The first graders provided Santa some assistance creating flying reindeer, making a parachute for Santa (in case of emergency of course), and designing a cart for the elves to zipline across the workshop. I'd say Santa is a pretty lucky guy to have such good helpers.

And last but not least...a fun fact and something to make you giggle

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