Winter STEM Update

Secondary Edition

PHEW...it's been a year!!

There have been some great conversations around incorporating more STEM ideas as well as including some resources and strategies into your classes. Thank you for those! As the year continues and you begin to think of ideas for next year, feel free to reach out about some STEM connections that could be made with what you are already doing.

What's in Lab C?

Lab C has been taken over by our Makerspace and STEM materials. There are materials for every grade level as well as disposable items that are available to use. We would LOVE to have your classes come in and use this space!

Examples of materials available include...

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):


https://my.nsta.org/resource/124589/archive-book-beat-live-uncovering-student-ideas-with-formative-assessment-probe

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:


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.


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.


Our Beautiful Planet: Our Beautiful Planet is a series of compelling 5-7 minute science films highlighting the cutting-edge research that climate scientists are doing to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues. NSTA, Kennebunkport Climate Initiative, and Kikim Media have partnered to launch these films and this collection of classroom-ready lesson plans that highlight the science and engineering practices scientists use to explain the phenomenon of climate change.


Alexa for Astronauts Virtual Public Tours: In the Alexa for Astronauts program, students become virtual crew members as Alexa heads to the Moon on NASA's Artemis I. Teachers and students of grades four and higher can join a free, interactive virtual tour, live from Johnson Space Center this spring, as Artemis I takes flight to the Moon. Students will learn how to program their own Alexa skills that could help astronauts solve problems in space and communities at home.

Amazon will offer two virtual public tours each week in spring 2022. The company will also provide an On-Demand option for teachers whose schedules don’t align with the tour dates. Both options will feature a standards-supported Teacher Toolkit.

In addition, high school teachers can register to receive NSTA’s Alexa for Astronauts: Using AI to Monitor Health lesson set, a five-day, life science instructional sequence. The curriculum is designed to expose high school students to ideas about artificial intelligence and computer programming using Amazon Alexa and MIT App Inventor, while applying previously-built life science ideas to begin to address the problem of monitoring astronauts’ physical health during deep-space exploration. Curriculum for Advanced Placement computer science students will also be available. Registration is required for the tour and the accompanying materials.


Deepwater Horizon: Analyzing Maps That Document an Oil Spill: In this activity from the Teaching with the Library of Congress (LOC) blog, students analyze documents (e.g., a map and a photograph) from the LOC’s collection to investigate how maps can be used to demonstrate the impact of an oil spill. Most appropriate for middle and high school levels, the lesson includes questions to spark meaningful discussion, close observation, and critical thinking. The lesson begins as learners observe and reflect on a map of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Next, students examine a photograph of the site and compare the two documents. After the comparison, students may want to investigate other natural disasters triggered by human error. The activity works well in both remote and in-person learning settings and can easily be incorporated into lessons exploring biology, climate change, or environmental science topics.


Ecology Project International Curriculum: Ecology Project International (EPI), an environmental advocacy group, has online curriculum that can be adapted to various teaching and learning formats, including remote or in-person settings. Targeted for the high school level, EPI Costa Rica: Exploring Human Impact in the Rainforest is the group’s first lesson series. The series contains seven lessons: Environmental Literacy Overview; Investigating the Biome and Species of the Pacuare Reserve; From Phenomena to Inquiry; Food Webs and Chains in Costa Rica; Counting Species in the Rainforest; Deforestation in Costa Rica Analysis; and Students Creating Change.


The lessons give students opportunities to experience the scientific process and develop environmental literacy as they analyze footage of active wildlife cameras, contribute to conservation research, and explore the biodiversity of this tropical ecosystem. Each lesson includes a teacher’s guide, student materials, standards information, and associated handouts.

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

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