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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in science education

Posted by on in General

The Soviet Union’s jump-start to space exploration, with the launching of Sputnik in 1957, left egg on America’s face and galvanized the Space Race that would last between the two nations well into the next decade. 

I was just two years old in 1961 when President John F. Kennedy announced, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”  A few years later, I was beginning my elementary school days, and, at the same time, the nation was ramping up its efforts to improve science education in order to produce the best science minds for taking on the president’s goal.

As the Apollo mission reached a fevered pitch in the late sixties, I was finally having science added to my daily lessons.  Truthfully, most of the lessons simply involved reading a text and filling out worksheets, but I was in heaven!  I loved science!  I loved learning about atoms and cells and pulleys and levers and electricity and biology.  I ran to the library and checked out all the books I could find about rocket ships and future plans for inhabiting the moon.  I begged my mother for money (from an already overstretched bank account) and bought my own books about the moon from Scholastic. 

I followed the race to the moon in the newspaper and clipped articles for a scrapbook that now, fifty years later, is yellowed and faded.  I wanted to be an astronaut, despite the fact that I could barely make it through a ride in the family station wagon without getting carsick.

Along with other boys and girls my age, I stayed up late on July 20, 1969 and rejoiced as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped foot on the moon’s surface. A few years later, we held our breath and prayed in the middle of class as the astronauts of Apollo 13 had to abort their mission and figure out a way to stay alive in order to return safely to Earth. Throughout junior high school and high school, we watched four more Apollo lunar modules land on the moon.  The country moved on to Skylab and space shuttles which still had the power of stopping science fanatics like me in our tracks to watch launchings and landings and, sadly, a few disastrous mishaps.

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Posted by on in General


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


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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 Common Core Standards
stencil.twitter post 60

April 22nd is Earth Day. I’ll be spending it in my daughter’s elementary school, helping to coordinate an all-day “Science Day” for a building full of eager kindegarteners through third graders.

It wasn’t until I had kids and started looking at their curriculum that I began to wonder how key ideas and concepts could be relayed to some of our youngest learners. Earlier this academic year, I marveled at how my daughter’s third grade teacher was able to make science (astronomy in particular) come alive for the class, while using it as a strong, teachable moment to reinforce the Common Core. Imagine that, being able to teach students science, while also teaching to our expectations around English-language arts, teamwork, critical thinking, and the like.

When it comes to the environment, my kids sorta get it. They understand that recycling is important, and will begrudgingly help as we both place our trash in the requisite bins in our garage and then haul them out to the curb each week. And in past years, as previous Earth Days have rolled around, they’ve been quick to come home with new lectures to preach at us. But it has never really gotten at the issue of how one can take a concept like the environment and Earth Day and really make it an integrated part of a student’s learning path.

Regardless of the subject matter, we know that, to be most effective, classroom lessons have to be tied to student interests. This is particularly true with younger learners. One can’t just get up in front of a class of second graders and begin to lecture them on the environment, the causes of World War I, or cell biology. No, we have to find ways to link content to the student. This means both what is taught and how it is taught.

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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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