Keeping with the "Rube Goldberg" theme over the past two days, below are a few submissions from students I have received. These clips reinforce the use of Rube Goldberg machines as simple STEM activities to engage student and bring families into the fun. Not necessary the most rigorous or "standards-based", but perhaps we are missing an opportunity to bring families together if we do not take time to break from the curriculum. Food for thought.
As I alluded to last Friday, there is something in the "Distance Learning Air" right now that is difficult to push through. That being said, I am determined to help my students negotiate this time the best I can. Sensing the need in all of my students to clear their minds and create, I decided to put traditional curriculum aside for the first part of this week and allow my students to strengthen their design, engineering, prototyping skills, and submit an entry to the Rube Goldberg "Bar of Soap" challenge introduced as a community building activity during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Click here for an NY Times article on the challenge. Click here for a video with formal instructions for your students. Click here for the lesson (via Google Forms) I pushed out to my students today to engage with the materials and here for the assignment prompt.
This is a simple post to remind all STEM educators out there that the HTML5 PhET simulations are A M A Z I N G tools for online teaching. Given the varying types of devices that students are using while under quarantine, simulation upgrade to HTML5 means students can interact with the simulation on ANY device (tablet, phone, computer) drastically dropping Extraneous Cognitive Load for the student.
PhET has always been a favorite resource for me, but the growing list of HTML5 simulations makes it irreplaceable right now. Click here for an example of how I leveraged PhET in the context of Google Forms to scaffold my students from Molecular Geometry into Molecule Polarity in today's online lesson. The simulation used is also embedded below. Which brings up another incredible point about HTML5 simulations: YOU CAN PLACE THEM DIRECTLY IN YOUR WEBSITE FOR USE WITHOUT THE NEED FOR A DOWNLOAD! So legit.
This year I am SUPER excited to teach a new class this year called "Engineering for Social Good". Click here for a short version of our class syllabus.
For each of the five projects I plan to facilitate in the course, I will post a similar blog post to share the successes and failures of the course as I modify it for future years.
For our first project of the year, we are leveraging the "Drawdio", a device imagined and designed by Jay Silver. Click here and here to learn more about the Drawdio circuit and here to view Jay's incredible TED Talk. Click here to purchase your own Drawdio kit.
After a brief live demonstration of how the Drawdio circuit works, I provided the students with the following prompt:
In 1979, Mattel created a game called "Electronic Connection". Using your Drawdio circuit, develop a game, made in the the spiriting of Electronic Connection, that helps young learners (4-5 years old) improve their fine motor control and handwriting skills. We will then deliver the games to local Preschool and Kindergarten classrooms. Go!
We finished prototypes today and I was absolutely blown away with the way the natural prototyping process happened seamlessly when the end user was clearly defined. The the low barrier to entry associated with this device and the "window" it opens to the subsequent learning of the interior electronics of the device make this activity one that acts as a perfect inquiry opening for this new course.
See videos of two student prototypes in action below:
See images of all students prototypes below:
If you are like me as a science teacher, you simultaneously live the acronym "STEM" and are exhausted by its overuse in nearly every blog, set of state standards, or professional development seminar that comes to town (Full disclosure: I often facilitate those seminars).
That being said, the more I dive into the world of Robotics (second year as an FRC Mentor and long time Summer Science Camp facilitator), the more potential I see in leveraging that which we often write off as "trendy, and that which we hold dear.
Tools common to enrichment programs (MakeyMakey, Arduino, MicroBit etc.) can potentially be powerful tools in my/our Biology and Chemistry classes during the school year, while also engaging students in a disciplines they would not normally see embedded in traditional physical and life science courses.
Below are links 5 activities I have done, or plan to do, that merge coding/electronics and biology/chemistry. Enjoy!
#1: MakeyMakey Interactive Eukaryotic Cell
#2: Lego Mindstorm Natural Selection Simulation
#3: Modeling States of Matter with the MicroBit
#4: Drop Counter Hack with MakeyMakey
#5: Arduino Conductivity Probe