Using STEM to make a difference

I use my science knowledge and entrepreneur abilities to directly impact my community. Through after school programs and recreation programs I try to expose students to the “wow of science”. Instead of just teaching science, I demonstrate the science in everyday things that students can relate to and bring awareness to the STEM careers that produce these items. I also volunteer to collaborate with preschool and elementary teachers to help enrich the “science” in their classroom. I probably take the most joy in working with at-risk students to use STEM domains to become entrepreneurs. In the future, I would like to be able to find sponsors to fund STEM-Preneurs competitions, where the winner is given seed money to start their venture. difference

What’s our Sputnik?

“The war on terror is prompting us to build bridges to nowhere,” a powerful statement made by Johns Hopkins foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum and quoted in the article What’s Our Sputnik?. Thomas Friedman, the author of the fore mentioned article, makes powerful statements about our priorities as Americans. As we addressed foreign issues, many nations focus on the infrastructure of their countries and the state of their education than their involvement in foreign policy issues. The Soviet’s launch of Sputnik sparked an outcry in the American people to surpass the Soviets in the race to space. To make this happen our nation had to reform how we saw technology and how we used it. The results of the space race sparked creativity and pride throughout our nation. Over time, we lost this drive, and a few years ago we found ourselves in the middle of a crisis when the White House issued a state of emergency address. Our educational system did not have the means to produce the next STEM competent workforce. As a nation, we have since rallied together to address this need. But consider how much further we could be in our STEM efforts if schools had more funding to undergird STEM programs.

Science Model

Implementing this weeks lesson proved to be a tasty task. We used graham crackers, tinted cream cheese icing  and cherry flavored jello to create models of earth movements. We covered the graham crackers in green and blue icing to resemble oceans and continents. We placed them side by side over the jello and slowly pulled them apart to represent divergent plates. We then applied pressure and pushed the “plates”  together to create convergent plates. The convergent plates caused the jello to push upward between the plates, demonstrating magma. Lastly we briefly soaked graham crackers and placed them over icing. We caused the “plates” to collide to create mountains.

graham cracker

Overall the lesson was tasty and educational!

The Lesson in Natural Disaster

In week one we were challenged with the task of correcting misconceptions in relation to the Earth’s water systems. In dealing with misconceptions I focused on a natural disaster that I often use as a teaching  moment, drought. I am sharing a section of that post as a teaching idea for a natural disaster.

The old saying that experience is the best teacher is especially true in science. In my summer camp, I create a scenario where students can gain a greater appreciation for the technology in our country and our access to water. For weeks leading up to the experiment, I collect rain water in rain barrels marked daily usage. I fill an additional barrel with gallons of distilled water (unknowing to students) and mark it drinking water. Over the next couple of days during camp students cannot flush toilets the conventional way, they have to go outside and fill a bucket with water and bring it in with them to pour into the toilet to flush it. They also need to reserve enough to wash their hands once they are finished. Let’s just say this experiment alone cuts down on miscellaneous bathroom usage. During this time water fountains are off limits and students are assigned to groups to start off the day by bringing in enough drinking water, purify it by boiling it and storing it for use throughout the day. Any use students may have for water, hand washing, cleaning, etc. has to be brought in and prepared for use according to the need. Students were also tasked with monitoring how much water was on hand to determine usage. Eventual guidelines, where established by the students to help, conserve their supply. For example, it was determined that only half a bucket of water was necessary for toilets to flush, and students voted to bring in hand sanitizer to conserve water. It only takes about 2-3 days before students develop and appreciation for water, but also become interested in environmental justice issues related to water. Now student’s possess correct knowledge that can be built upon (Abdi, 2006). I usually use this as an opportunity for students to research local issues concerning water and decide which one we will get involved in for the remainder of our time together.

References

Abdi, S. W. (2006). Correcting student misconceptions. Science Scope, 29(4), 39.

Ask A Scientist

I submitted the following question to ask a Pastor “Could we use cell therapy or repair to treat diseases and conditions that are mutations of natural processes such as Multiple sclerosis or metabolic syndrome? Unfortunately I received a response indicating that they did not have a medical expert in  their volunteer pool who could answer the question.

Latasha

Presentation Tools

When reviewing the list of suggested tools to explore I decide to focus on the presentation tools to discover tools that would be a benefit for our class project as well as other presentations. Most of us fall in a range from somewhat familiar to very familiar when it comes to tools like power point. For this reason I selected tools that would allow you to merge current knowledge with a new experience. Slide Boom (www.slideboom.com) is a tool that will allow you to take an ordinary power point and create an online presentation. When you upload your presentation into Slide Boom, all formatting and design features are kept intact. The presentation can then be shared in real-time in conferences, lectures and meetings. The presentation can also be discovered on the web and viewed and comments can be left. The second presentation tool I discovered was Vcasmo http:/www.vcasmo.com. Vcasmo is a hybrid blend of power point and video. You can record yourself presenting the presentation and merge it with the actually presentation to create one presentation complete with video and slides being displayed. The new presentation can be customized and offers a short tutorial to get you acclimated.

Force and Motion

I selected force and motion as my content are of investigation. The first noteworthy site I encountered on my search was Motion and Forces for grades 5-8. This site offers 18 interactive activities on this subject matter. Topics range from simple machines to two dimensional collisions. Teach Junkie is a collaborative effort of teachers sharing ideas and activities. This particular blog post offers ideas, resources and activities for teaching forces of motion to children in primary grades. Amy Hinz has used Pinterest to create a board with 144 activities that can be duplicated at home and in the classroom. Steve Spangler also offers an extensive collection of activities for a variety of grade levels. Motion and Forces is the site that impressed me the most. The ability to digitally construct experiments gives students an opportunity to use technology to engage in problem solving.  The site also offers correlations to NSES standards.