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Sarah Benton Feitlinger @shareitscience

Sarah Benton Feitlinger @shareitscience

Sarah Benton Feitlinger is a mom, former PreK-6th science teacher, curriculum writer and developer, blogger and kid's science news author. With over a decade of experience teaching in informal settings such as environmental education centers and museums and in the traditional classroom teaching and developing curriculum for Preschool through 6th grade science she has a passion for sharing science with others, particularly children. Believing very strongly that science is something that should be accessible and enjoyed by all, she now puts her Masters degree and experience in science education to use writing her blog, "Share it! Science", and writing science articles and curriculum for sites such as DOGOnews and Shmoop.com. When she is not crafting new ways to share a science concept, she is exploring the world with her family, out in the garden, or taking a walk in the woods.

Posted by on in General

STEAM

It has recently become more common to add the "A", or art, to STEM education to make it STEAM education. It is not only a popular trend in education, but it also makes a lot of sense! The world is not sectioned off into subject specific experiences! Learning all of these skills together engages the whole brain and develops skills that are transferable to many educational and career-related areas. For a stunning visual on teaching STEAM vs. STEM, visit this site.

I had a lot of fun planning family science nights for the school I was a science specialist for. The last one I planned and took part in celebrated STEAM. Each activity had some combination of science, technology, engineering, art and/or math. It was a big hit and I am excited to share the activities with you today.

Catapult Painting

catapult

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Posted by on in Education Resources

STEM logo

You've probably noticed that STEM and STEAM are really buzzy terms in the field of education these days. If you are new to the teaching field, or even a veteran ready to liven up your lessons, then this is a great time to leap into STEM. However, as an already very busy teacher, it can be daunting to change up your curriculum.

The good news is, if you are teaching in a minds-on, hands-on way, you are most likely already incorporating STEM into your teaching. Here is everything you need to know about why you should be teaching STEM lessons, what it means exactly, and how to get started.

What is STEM?

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Posted by on in Inquiry-Based Learning

With so many different approaches to teaching science, sometimes curriculum can be mystifying to parents and novice teachers. This is a brief overview of the inquiry science model and how it fits into today's science standards. 

Inquiry based science teaching is a way to frame science topics and questions so that students are driven by their own curiosity and discovery to find the answers. The inquiry model can be applied to just about any science lesson or curriculum with a little time and thoughtful preparation by the teacher. Although in many ways the learning in this type of lesson is student driven, teachers who use the inquiry model for their lessons must carefully frame them so that students have the resources, framework and background knowledge they need to be successful.

The “5 E Instructional Model” is a way to guide inquiry instruction. The 5 E’s are: Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend (or Elaborate) and Evaluate.

During the “engage” portion of a lesson, students are presented with a topic, idea or question that piques their interest and allows them to call upon and make connections with their prior knowledge. “Explore” allows students to directly engage with materials. After students have had a chance to make observations and ask their own questions, the “Explain” phase kicks in. This is where students can share their own explanations and teachers can provide content knowledge that confirms what students have found, or helps to redirect any lingering misconceptions. “Extend” or “Elaborate” is a chance for students to apply their new understanding to a task or further question. The process finishes with “Evaluate”, which is just as it sounds, teachers assess whether or not students have an understanding and mastery of the concept.

For example, an inquiry lesson at the elementary level on flower parts might look something like this:

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Big discovery

There have been so many exciting scientific discoveries and breakthroughs in the past few years. Most recently, all the buzz is around the confirmation of gravitational waves, theorized by Einstein a century ago. The question for me as an educator is always how to share these important advances in science with students.

How does one explain a concept like gravitational waves to the very young? Particularly if you have to read several articles on it yourself to feel like you've grasped it?! Good news: you don't. No, I'm not saying that young children are not capable of learning difficult concepts, nor am I saying that science is not an important part of early childhood and elementary education. However, I am saying that what is more important when teaching kids in the years before middle school is laying a strong foundation in the sciences so that they can grasp all of these cool scientific advances when they read about them in their future textbooks.

(That said, if you live with, or teach a budding astrophysicist, there is no need to stifle their passion by not exploring these more complex concepts.)

When I was a science specialist for Preschool through 6th grade, I was often met with the incredulous response of "You teach 3 and 4 year olds science?!?" as if the idea of it was crazy. Yes, I do, and it's a lot of play and discovery. I think many people hear science and can only think of lab coats and Bunsen burners. When you teach at this level you are building the foundation that students will pull from in the more advanced years of their education. Science at this age has so much to do with forming kids' understanding of the world around them. 

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Posted by on in Tools, Shortcuts, Resources

SCIENCE

To maintain student interest in science it is crucial to keep them involved and keep the science authentic. Let’s look at two programs that give students the opportunity to make meaningful connections with professional scientists. Both are easy to incorporate into existing curriculum or for use in a club or afterschool program.

We’ll start off by taking a close look at a great program called “Letters to a Pre-Scientist”. This program is a collaboration between teachers and scientists that aims to give students a view of science beyond what they may see in their traditional classroom setting.

Students are paired with a scientist pen-pal. Throughout the school year they receive and write letters to this scientist. “Letters to a Pre-Scientist” serves many areas where children do not have many opportunities to see what possibilities are out there in terms of higher education or careers. These personal connections can literally change their lives.

Receiving the letters is not only exciting for the students, but also gives them writing practice. The volunteer scientists hail from all over the United States and the world, which undoubtedly broadens the students’ view of the world. The program served 400 students during the 2014-2015 school year.

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