The Science Beaker Journal

CMSD | Office of K-12 Science Education |Spring-Summer 2020

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Distance Science for Early Learners by Keisha Pitts-Bullard , Bolton Elementary

Are you a teacher looking for ideas for your scholars during this time? Are you a parent looking for ways to engage your child in daily learning opportunities?

This article will provide you with some suggestions to engage young learners.

One of the ways that you can engage your students at a distance is to drop a few seeds in the mail with a note, have them keep a journal and take pictures of what happens over the next few weeks after they plant the seeds with their parents. If this idea is cost prohibitive, create a nature walk scavenger hunt. Over the past few weeks, I have found some creative scavenger hunts and Online activities for students on:

Check out Jackie Clarke from Roots & Wings she has FAB Lab experiments that can be modified for an online lesson and you can modify the experience to provide parents and children a science connection that can be completed at home. The Fab Lab creates an Essential question that has you make a prediction between two objects. One activity that you can do online with your scholars online is: Which object with float? Have your students make predictions between objects to determine whether they will float or sink. With a parent they can choose objects make predictions and determine which objects floated or sunk. When you meet next students can tell about the objects that they have chosen. They can begin a journal with their parents to determine whether we had more rainfall in May or June.

Another activity that can be done with students at home or Online is to choose two objects and determine which two hold more liquid. Another way to keep learners engaged would be to create a show and tell day where you would provide the students with certain properties (color, size, and hardness for example) and they will locate and share the object they have around their home. If you are still looking for ideas, Pinterest can lead you in the right direction. Check out my Distance learning science board at:

In addition to teachers and parents being able to create scavenger hunts indoors and outdoors, you can get the whole family involved in a hide and seek game in nature. Check out geocaching at What is geocaching? Today, thousands of people around the world are doing just that through geocaching. Geocachers seek out treasures hidden by other players while exploring interesting locations. At its most basic level, geocaching is a game where players use GPS receivers to track down a container, or cache.(

Happy hunting!

For more tips or information you can email:

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Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Educator Resource Center Updates

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History continues to be closed. At this time, we do not have a re-opening date.

Museum leadership continues to monitor the State of Ohio responsible re-opening plans and is communicating with appropriate agencies throughout the closure. Updates on the Museum’s hours will be posted on our website and social media channels.

Do you currently have ERC items checked out or on reserve? If you currently have ERC items checked out, please email erc@cmnh.orgto schedule a time to return them. We also ask that you log into your myTurn accountsand cancel or reschedule your May reservations for a later date. If you need assistance with this, please do not hesitate to reach out to ERC staff (

Upcoming Events

CMNH Virtual Summer Camps

Do you miss the museum? Can’t take another day without dinos in your life? Check out our brand-new virtual camps! These online experiences reflect the research of our museum scientists, keeping your campers connected with current discoveries, amazing collections, and all the awesome that is CMNH! Registration opens May 15, 2020.

All camps listed below are virtual experiences, using the museum’s secure Zoom accounts. Your link and password for camp will be emailed to you the Friday before camp begins.

Note: at the time of planning these camps, we intend to include live-stream visits to Museum laboratories and collections, but these activities may change pending decisions on staff access to those areas during quarantine conditions.

Daily camp format:

9:30 am – 11 am EST, Zoom Session 1:

Watch a science lab and receive instructions for your Challenge Mission

11 am – 1 pm EST, Campers tackle their Challenge Mission at home

1 pm - 2:30 pm EST, Zoom Session 2: Campers report on their mission successes, experience a second science lab or virtually tour museum collections and meet a scientist.

See website for pricing.

Our virtual camp series is brought to you in part by:

Cleveland Clinic

Bruce A. Loomis Scholarship Fund

Paul Lincoln and Kathy Toderick

The S. Livingston Mather Charitable Trust

Virtual Science Explorers: The Present – Rising 2nd-3rd graders

Museums are not only about the past. Take a tour of the ongoing research our scientists are doing, even at home! Ornithology, Entomology, Astronomy, and Zoology are some of the disciplines featured in this week, and a small kit of materials will be sent to you prior to the camp for your Challenge Missions between virtual sessions.

Session I: June 15–June 19

Session II: July 6-–July 10

Both sessions listed are the same content; please only register for one week.

Virtual Science Explorers: The Past – Rising 2nd-3rd graders

Come aboard this virtual tour of how a museum studies the past! Each day of this online adventure highlights a different scientific field, and challenges campers to try experiments that illustrate the importance of these disciplines. Geology, Paleontology/Fossil Formation, Astronomy, and Mineralogy are featured in this week, and a small kit of materials and worksheets will be sent to you prior to the camp.

Session I: June 22–June 26

Session II: July 13-–July 17

Both sessions listed are the same content; please only register for one week.

Virtual Science Explorers: The Past – Rising 4th-5th graders

Adjusting the adventure for older campers, each day of this week highlights a different scientific field and challenges you to try experiments that illustrate the importance of these disciplines. Geology, Paleontology/Fossil Formation, Astronomy, and Mineralogy are featured in this week, and a small kit of materials and worksheets will be sent to you prior to the camp.

Session I: June 15–June 19

Session II: July 6-–July 10

Both sessions listed are the same content; please only register for one week.

Virtual Science Explorers: The Present – Rising 4th-5th graders

Adjusting the adventure for older campers, we’ll take you on a tour of the ongoing research our scientists are doing, even at home! Ornithology, Entomology, Astronomy, and Zoology are some of the disciplines featured in this week, and a small kit of materials will be sent to you prior to the camp for your Challenge Missions between virtual sessions.

Session I: June 22–June 26

Session II: July 13-–July 17

Both sessions listed are the same content; please only register for one week.

Virtual Medical Camp – Rising 6th-8th graders

Does your child think they might want to be a doctor, nurse, or scientist? Give them a taste of real lab work and medical practices with Virtual Medical Camp. This online adventure is based on our popular onsite Junior Medical Camp, and features career opportunities available in medicine, live dissection labs, and challenges your young professionals to tackle at-home activities that will help them appreciate the heroes helping to keep us all healthy in present times. Note: A kit of worksheets will be sent to each camper prior to their first session.

Session I: June 29–July 3

Session II: July 27–31

Both sessions listed are the same content; please only register for one week.

Virtual Astronomy100 - Rising 6th-8th graders

Join the astronomers of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s Nathan and Fannye Shafran Planetarium for this week-long virtual camp exploring the fields of astronomy and cosmology. Become an expert on the basics, like the sky, the seasons, and the phases of the Moon. Learn how we know what we know about the history of our Solar System and our Universe. Be ready to stay up late and cross your fingers for clear night skies!

Session I: June 6–10

Bonus Zoom connection: 7:30 pm EST, Astronomers will be available for questions that came up during the day, a review of the night observing goals, and a virtual planetarium experience in case of cloudy skies

Backyard Biologists – Rising High Schoolers

Practice your scientific skills while learning about ornithology, geology, entomology, botany, and wildlife. You’ll construct and observe pitfall traps and a transect, learn bird ID, observe wildlife in our Perkins Center, and hone the skills that scientists use on the daily.

Session I: July 20-24

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Paying it Forward! On Becoming an Engineering

~ "Given all that my former educators have given me, I would be remiss if I didn’t pay it forward" ~

My name is Eric Simeonoglou. I’m originally from New Jersey (near NYC), and went to college at Cornell University where I earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, minor in Business, and a Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering with concentrations in Product Design, Rapid Prototyping, and Soft Robotics. After college, I moved out to Cleveland in February 2016 (what great timing for sports!) and started a career with Alcoa as a Forging Design Engineer.

The company has now gone through two name changes, and I’ve had a stint in Research and Development and Program Launch management. My experience includes being a Senior Forging Design Engineer for Howmet Aerospace (previously Arconic and Alcoa). In my subsegment of the business, I helped design how we made forged aluminum bus and truck wheels. Currently, I run my own 3D printing and rapid prototyping business called CoForm3D, and run my own independent financial advising business.

I believe two main things led to make me who I am today professionally. First, it was my parents’ willingness to allow me at a young age to scavenge just about anything that was going to be waste in the house to try to make something out of it. If that piece of “garbage” had a motor, light, speaker, computer chip, etc. inside it, they knew I would want to tear that thing apart to save that component for a future project. Second was my teachers’ abilities to identify that I needed “something more” in my education to keep me engaged.

In middle school and high school there existed advanced course tracks to challenge me, but these weren’t present in elementary school. My 4th Grade teacher, Ms. Primerano, was probably the best at this. She would identify times when I knew the subject matter well (especially something like math), and would say “ok, the next thing we’re going to learn that we haven’t started yet is Chapter 5: start teaching yourself it, you can ask me some questions when the class has breaks in time, and then when we get to that section you can help me teach it”. Needless to say, I had a blast with that!

Beyond this, we also had a formalized program in Elementary school where the science coordinator, Ms. Crowell, would take a few students and lead “Independent Study”. On an annual basis, these students chose a subject they wanted to know more about (for me, highlights were “How do Helicopters Fly?” and “How do Computers work?”) and then she would lead them in a semi-formal research project, where the students had to find and bring back articles related to their topic, sort them by subject matter, and present their research to several different classes by the end of the year. With both Ms. Primerano and Ms. Crowell, what they were doing was teaching us how to learn for ourselves.

Once a student can do that, there’s no cap on what they can do or become in life. Given all that my former educators have given me, I would be remiss if I didn’t pay it forward. Some of you may know me already from helping run the SAE’s A World In Motion (AWIM) Program in the 5th grade for the past 3 years, where we’ve taught students about Straw Rockets and Jet Toy Cars. Usually each year culminates in a district-wide competition in the spring, but this year it had to be cut short.

That being said, if there is any way that I can contribute to your classroom experience, no matter what grade level, please feel encouraged to contact me. Pre-recorded sessions, Zoom Q&A’s… whatever can fit into how you’re handling remote learning. My email address is

Thank you for all that you do going above and beyond as educators!!

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Explore Weather Anytime and Learn a Lot More Than Just Meteorology!

Meteorology is often called a “science of sciences”

because its foundation is built on physics, chemistry and math. But meteorologists also have a solid skill set that includes geography, computer science, graphic design, and language arts, as well as other sciences.

The atmosphere is studied like a fluid. Air and water move in much the same manner. We can use a “snapshot” of current weather around the world to help us predict what the forecast will be for our area. You may have heard that whatever happens in Chicago will happen here the next day? That’s actually not that far off from the truth!

While college level classes in math and physics can be quite challenging, developing a love of learning about weather can happen easily at any age.

WKYC 3News Meteorologist Jason Frazer has been putting together weather lessons online so kids, parents and teachers can learn a little (or a lot!) right at home…anytime!


-Betsy Kling - WKYC Chief Meteorologist

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Don’t Squirm! We’re Learning with Worms!

~"A boy next to me asked, “Miss Lisa, can I use my hands to dig?” It makes me excited to see a child understand that it’s okay to get a little dirty–that’s what soap and water are for!"~

My job at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes is to open the eyes and mind to the wonders of the natural world around us from the smallest living thing to the largest and understand that each plays an important role outside. During a typical day, I am outside with kids in the stream collecting animals, getting our hands dirty digging in the dirt, and watching squirrels chase each other. When a child says, “This was awesome!” at the end of the adventure, I know I’ve done my job.

To continue reading this blog or to access the Worm Hunt Activity follow this link:
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Time to Get You and Your Students Outside

Greetings from The Holden Arboretum and Cleveland Botanical Garden. We so missed having many of you visit us this spring. But spring has indeed arrived in northeast Ohio and nothing is better than getting outside and enjoying the beauty all around us.

We are making all kinds of contingency plans for next year and plan to continue with the Garden Full of Life Cycles Program for all the third-grade classrooms. We might be doing it remotely, we might be in your classroom or we hope you can come visit us. We will wait and see, but know we plan on helping you teach your scholars about the beauty and importance of our natural world. Please reach out if you have any questions.

In the meantime, we have started the Observing Local Nature Project for students of all ages.You can do it for a school project or share with families to get them outside. The goal is to observe the changes that are happening in plants in your own backyard or neighborhood.

Visit our Online Learning Page to get started. There is a how to video along with weekly plant clues, backyard scavenger hunts and a coloring pages.

Explore the Online Learning Page here:

Sharon Graper, Director of Academics

Holden Forests & Gardens

K-8 Network #3 Science Support PLC for Teachers of Grades 5-8

On March 9th and 10th, teachers from the District's K-8 Network #3 experienced hands-on content support at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center. Lead by the Education Center's Associate Director, Amanda Schuster, Park Ranger Heather Berenson along with CMSD Science Managers, Terri Wade-Lyles and Kirsten Mahovlich, the teachers learned how to integrate hands-on environmental science content into their standards-based instruction.

With the Network Leader, Dr. Allayna Ratliff's vision of excellent science instruction, encouragement and support of her team, as well as, the building principals , the Network's PLC science cohorts will continue into the 20-21 school year.

The Network's participating teachers are: Teresa Jordan and Ryan Mark (Wade Park); Sara Baldassar (Memorial); Meg Hoare and Jonessa Sprock (Almira ); David Range (Marion Sterling ); Dustin Davis (Marion Seltzer ); Thomas Wiemels and Yvette McGowan (R.G. Watts);Lisa Moore (Adlai Stevenson); Laura Parilla (Daniel Morgan); Kelly Vogel and Deborah Ostrosky (Charles Mooney).

Visit the Ohio Department of Education Office of Learning and Instructional Strategies Resource

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Virtual STEM resources for families at the Great Lakes Science Center

Great Lakes Science Center has been busy transitioning our programming to provide the following virtual STEM resources for families.

Early Childhood Resource Webpage

Great Lakes Science Center is proud to introduce new educational resources for our youngest audiences. Each early childhood video features a book read by a Science Center team member, followed by an experiment families can try at home featuring common household items. We encourage parents and caregivers to watch the videos with their child(ren) and discuss the topic together following the lesson. Look for more information as well as additional resources coming soon! Visit:

Curiosity Corner LIVE on YouTube
We present live, interactive science videos every day! Explore chemical and physical reactions, complete engineering design challenges, see behind the scenes videos, and more! Live videos are posted daily at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. but also can be viewed at any time on our channel. See our full channel here!

Camp Curiosity Summer 2020!

The STEM HQ staff at Great Lakes Science Center is ready to welcome everyone back to Camp Curiosity this summer! New this year, for our K-8 campers we are offering both @Home and @GLSC camp experiences to best fit the needs of your family. Both options have been designed with your child's health and safety in mind. All materials are provided by the Science Center -- let us take care of the science! We have an individualized adventure available for your child that is also convenient for you, whether you're working from home, or back to commuting. Scholarships are still available!

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Crew Members: Calling Future Zoo Keepers

When Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s teen program was first envisioned, the hope was it could serve as a steppingstone toward careers in science and conservation for area teens. More than 30 years later, the Zoo Crew program has proven to do just that. Over three decades, numerous teens that have participated in the program have gone on to pursue university studies and careers in the sciences.

Zoo Crew members between the ages of 13 and 17 are provided opportunities to participate in conservation initiatives at the Zoo and to interact with our guests to inspire participation in securing a Future for Wildlife. The program encourages teens to learn responsibility, develop job and career skills, and grow in their personal conservation ethic.

Through the years, we have had the privilege to work with many enthusiastic teens in the Zoo Crew program. From our initial meeting where we learn about each teen’s goals and dream careers, through the various opportunities we provide them to explore and participate in conservation, to the time they leave our program to go out and positively impact the world; we are honored to be a part of their journey. Today you can find passionate Zoo Crew alumni working in a variety of conservation and science careers all over the world, including right here at Cleveland Metroparks.

Past Zoo Crew participants Rebecca Farmer and Miranda Beran work as animal keepers at the Zoo, Courtney Freyhauf is an Education Assistant with the Zoo’s overnight programs, Dr. Nichole Nageotte serves as a researcher with Conservation Education, Erik Mullins works in Zoo Facilities, Dr. Debra Barbarits is a veterinarian at the Zoo, Gina Wilkolak is the Interactive Media Specialist with the Cleveland Zoological Society and Emma Strick works as a naturalist at Rocky River Reservation. When the proposal for this article was shared, Emma Strick replied, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without Zoo Crew”.

We are proud of all that our Zoo Crew alumni have accomplished and look forward to seeing them continue to inspire others and create positive changes in the world. We are also excited to welcome the next class of Zoo Crew teens and assisting them as they find their way to becoming the future generation of conservation heroes.

Dr. Terri Wade-Lyles, Newsletter Editor in Chief & Manager of Science Education, Grades K-8 || Kirsten A. Mahovlich, Manager of Science Education, Grades 8-12


The Cleveland Metropolitan School District shall provide a rigorous, inquiry-based, and integrated curriculum empowering all student to become independent, scientifically-literate thinkers who successfully compete in the global workforce.


The Cleveland Metropolitan School District will mobilize the wealth of resources in Northeast Ohio to deliver exemplary science education that produces students passionate about the natural world.