Category Archives: Science

Leprechaun Traps and Other Shenanigans

A couple of years ago I posted about the cute idea that I’d found on several websites of having students build leprechaun traps.   Since my Kinders were learning about Inventor Thinking around that time, we tried it out.  They were very earnest about creating efficient traps, and I’m pretty sure at least one of the students was disappointed that he didn’t catch his prey.  You can see our class blog posts from that year here and here.

Here is an updated list of St. Patrick’s Day links in case you want to try to capture your own leprechaun this year – or, better yet, his pot of gold:

Not enough?  Technology Rocks. Seriously has way more St. Patrick’s Day links.

If you’re looking for additional resources, I also have a St. Patrick’s Day Sudoku Packet ($1) and a S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Packet ($2) available for download on Teachers Pay Teachers.

image from: Sunflower Lily on Flickr
Leprechaun Trap image from: Sunflower Lily on Flickr

National Engineers Week

What does it say about my priorities that I started handing out Valentine’s Day resources in January, but I wait until National Engineers Week is practically over before I even mention it?

Not good.

Anyway, for those of you who didn’t know, National Engineers Week is February 22nd-February 28th.  If you don’t live in the United States, perhaps your Engineering Week is yet to come and this resource might prove to be helpful.

Of course, you shouldn’t leave the celebration of engineering to just one week a year.  And I’m pretty sure you won’t get in any kind of major legal trouble if you throw caution to the wind and try out some of these activities on an unofficial day.

Today happens to be Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.  As you know, our nation has a very high deficit of females in STEM careers. Part of this is due to stereotypes which lead to little encouragement for girls to pursue these professions.  Educating young women about their potential in STEM could go a long way to eradicating the blatant inequality we see today.

You can find all sorts of lesson plans and activities for Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day here.  Be sure to check out the playlist of short videos as well.

If you have a young daughter, Rosie Revere, Engineer, is a great way to celebrate this day.  And, if you have a child in middle or high school that shows even the slightest interest in STEM, then I would recommend How to Be a Rocket Scientist.

image from DiscoverE.org
image from DiscoverE.org

 

 

More Rocket Science Resources

Last week I posted about a great Kindle book by Brett Hoffstadt that gives practical advice on How to Be a Rocket Scientist. (The book is currently available for download on Amazon for $2.99.)  Through various social media outlets I learned of a few other rocket science resources that might interest anyone who wants to inspire students to consider that career.

All About That Space” is a fun NASA Intern parody of  Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.”  I love this fun video for several reasons, including the fact that there are many “real people” who appear in it – men and women of more than one ethnicity – which might dispel some of the stereotypes associated with science careers.

from "All About That Space"
from “All About That Space”

The SimpleRockets app, which is available for free on iOS or $1.99 on Google Play (not sure about the reason for the discrepancy), reminds me a lot of some of the coding activities my students did last week. However, in this particular game the pieces that need to be put together are rocket parts instead of blocks.  Not being a rocket scientist, I can’t judge the game on its realism, but it does seem to be a great introduction to rocket science, and could make the topic seem much less mysterious and intimidating to children.

from the SimpleRockets iOS app
from the SimpleRockets iOS app

How to Be a Rocket Scientist

I think I can safely say that rocket scientist was never in my radar as I considered different occupations growing up. It was never suggested to me and, quite frankly, I probably didn’t even know rocket scientists existed.  If I did, I’m pretty certain I didn’t entertain any notion of attempting that career path.

rocketscientist

If someone had given me a few words of encouragement and Brett Hoffstadt’s book, things might have been different.

Possibly.

Okay – maybe remotely possibly. I’m pretty sure I would have ended up teaching no matter what.  But maybe I would be teaching rocket science.

The point is that “rocket science” sounds very intimidating, but reading this book will show you that passion for the subject plays a much bigger part than an Einsteinian I.Q.  when it comes to success.

How to Be a Rocket Scientist is easy to read, and gives great suggestions for finding mentors, resources, and even movies that will help a teenager determine if this is his or her destiny.

It’s a short read (around 51 pages) at $2.99 as an Amazon Kindle download. You can also go to the “How to Be a Rocket Scientist” website for more information.

Mr. Hoffstadt has over 20 years of experience in the aerospace industry.  He also happens to be the parent of one of my 5th grade students.  But I’m not biased because of that connection.  I’m biased because I read his book and thought, “Wow, I really could be a rocket scientist if I want to some day.”

It’s nice to know I have options ;)

Circuit Stickers

For today’s Gifts for the Gifted post, I’m going to rewind all the way back to July of this year.  Back then, I wrote about a product called Circuit Stickers from Chibitronics.  I realize that the word “stickers” might make you grimace.  But don’t stop reading, because these are not your ordinary stickers you can buy in packs of 4 sheets at Walmart. These are stickers that light up – if you arrange them the right way.

gifts

With the Chibitronics Starter pack (which can also sometimes be found on Amazon or Maker Shed), you will get the following:

  • 12 white LED stickers
  • 6 each of red, yellow, and blue LED stickers
  • 1 roll of copper tape (5 meters)
  • 2 CR2032 coin cell batteries
  • 2 small binder clips
  • 1 swatch of conductive plastic
  • 1 swatch of Z-conductive tape
  • 1 copy of the “Circuit Sticker Sketchbook” by Jie Qi, an introductory guide to using circuit stickers.
Chibitronics Starter Kit
Chibitronics Starter Kit

The Sketchbook is very important.  It’s kind of a workbook, and very helpful to non-electricians like my daughter and me.  I’m embarrassed to say that I never made a circuit in my life until I ordered this kit.  The workbook is very good at scaffolding circuitry, and suggesting ideas to build on each little project.

Once you “get” circuits, you can really get creative with the stickers, as the video from Chibitronics will show.  You can design cards and make fun jewelry or other fashion statements.

Speaking of cards, you can buy a holiday greeting card kit from Chibitronics here for $25.  It includes L.E.D. stickers and materials to make 3 cards.

If you have a child that is in to “making,” then you should definitely check out the Circuit Stickers.  For other Maker ideas, check out my Make Pinterest Board.

My Gifts for the Gifted series of posts will appear every Friday in November and December.  Here are links to the first two that I’ve done so far this year: Osmo and Shell Game.  You can see even more gift recommendations on this Pinterest Board.

 

Periodic Videos from TED-Ed

Last week I did a post on the fabulous Elements 4D resource from Daqri.  Students can learn about the elements and compounds that can be made from some of them by using the free lesson plans now offered on their site.  Combine these plans with the free downloadable elements cubes and the free augmented reality app and you have a formula for success!

To add even more impact to your chemistry lessons, check out this great site that TED-Ed now offers.  In a collaborative project with film-maker Brady Haran, TED-Ed has produced videos to explain every single element of the Periodic Table.  Just click anywhere on the TED-Ed interactive Periodic Table, and take a look at the magical properties of any element!

You not only get to see each element, but demonstrations of them in action, such as the video of a hydrogen balloon exploding when exposed to heat.

Hydrogen Balloon Exploding
Hydrogen Balloon Exploding from TED-Ed Periodic Videos

Many of these are not demonstrations that could easily be done in a typical school science lab, so the videos are a good supplement to a hands-on curriculum.

Even if you do not have the elements in your scope and sequence, you may want to keep this site in mind for students who show an affinity or curiosity for science.  It would be a great resource for independent research or Genius Hour projects.

Elements 4D Lesson Plans

You may remember a post I did earlier this year on the Elements 4D Cubes by Daqri.  These augmented reality cubes, which you can print on paper (I would recommend cardstock) for free, are an awesome way to learn about the Periodic Table. And, yes, the app that brings these cubes to life is free, too!

Several teachers, including me, were asked to create some lesson plans to use with the cubes.  (Full disclosure – we received compensation for this.)  Daqri just released the plans last week. And guess what! Yep, the lessons are free to download! I’m talking Science Standards, printable worksheets, video links, and games.  ALL FREE!

elements

Once you start playing (and learning) with these cubes, you are probably going to wish you had a more durable set – like the wooden ones Daqri originally offered on Kickstarter.  You can sign up on this page to let them know that you would like to be notified when the new ones are available for purchase.  (Okay, so that’s not free, exactly, but it doesn’t cost anything to sign up – so that’s practically free, right?)

Feel inclined to create your own augmented reality content using the Daqri 4D Studio?  You can sign up and get fabulous tutorials here. Totally free! (See?  Back to the free stuff again.)

As you can tell, I’m a bit pumped about this.  Thanks to Drew Minock and Brad Waid, the Daqri 4D Evangelists who made all of this possible, as well as all of the teachers involved in the various plans! This is a great resource for teachers, homeschoolers, parents, and anyone else with curiosity and an interest in science.

If you want some more augmented reality resources, check out this page on my blog with activities, lesson plans, and recommended apps.