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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in science

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 Early Childhood

STEAM play

What started as a dream has become a reality! One short year ago, our campus, Lawson Early Childhood School, began its journey from Dream to STEAM. Our campus recognized the growing need to provide uniquely designed STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) experiences for our 3, 4, and 5 year old students and began imagining what would later become a fully equipped STEAM lab. At the heart of our STEAM dream has consistently been the goal of developing our PreK students socially, emotionally, and academically while providing opportunities for them to explore, collaborate, problem solve, and question through play. Our global society necessitates a strong math/science background, and by building a STEAM lab for our young learners, we are providing foundational experiences and scaffolding academic vocabulary while fostering a love of learning through carefully designed, standards-aligned experiences that provoke creativity, problem solving, and collaboration.

Open-ended lessons requiring communication and critical thinking allow students to explore many solutions to a variety of problems. Our students benefit from opportunities to build lifelong math/science skills as they investigate the power of wind on a variety of objects using a wind tunnel, code Bee-Bots and Code-a-pillars, design structures and scenery with giant interlocking blocks to use as a setting to retell a story, build strong bridges with a variety of materials, and learn to persevere through trial and error with ramps and tunnels on a big magnetic wall. Through play and careful design, we are developing confident risk-takers while our PreK students explore STEAM for their first time.

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We design our STEAM lessons with a structured teaching cycle (thinking, planning, doing, reflecting) to ensure success in the STEAM lab. Each set of lessons is planned to meet specific academic guidelines. Higher order questions, visuals, “I can” statements, and reflection questions are built in so students acquire new academic and social vocabulary. STEAM lessons are introduced to teachers through flipped learning videos, giving them an opportunity to explore and ask questions about the lessons in advance.

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Posted by on in Teaching with Rigor

In late July, I had the opportunity to participate in the AASA digital consortium summer meet up. The consortium visited two superb districts (Leyden High School District 212 and Deerfield Public School District 109) as well as one Titan in its own class (the Chicago office of Google). 

The symposium started with an overview of the Leyden school district. A diverse, blue collar town, Leyden has a little bit of everything to offer. What was most impressive was the fact that Leyden truly understood the necessity to prepare young adults to be adults in the workforce.  Not that they weren't preparing for college prep too, but it's always fantastic to see what schools are doing for the student going into the workforce. 

Tours like this always start with "the nickel tour" (tour of the building),  which was immaculate. The building itself was over 70 years old, but you would never think it. I later found out that the entire maintenance team are non-outsourced employees, which we all know leads to high quality work and investment in work. When I say immaculate, I could have eaten my lunch off of the floor.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

When I was little, I was afraid of thunder and lightning, and you can be sure there was plenty of that in Northern Ohio, where I grew up. Lake effect storms were common, coming down as rain or snow. As I cowered from a storm, my father bid me come to the screen door to watch. He explained how the lightning always preceded the thunder, and that it demonstrated that the speed of light was so much faster than the speed of sound. Because I felt safe with him holding my hand, I gave in to my curiosity, which was, after all, behind my fear. I absorbed the sense of wonder in his voice. I fell in love with thunderstorms.

I’m not going to say I ended up as a meteorologist, as he’d wished he’d been (the Navy made him an engineer). But I still feel that grown-ups who model their love and wonder of natural phenomena must always be part of the young child’s learning. If a child becomes enamored of worms, find your inner worm-lover and join in!

On our playground during the spring, a few younger children found two enormous worms. Because I was near, they pulled me into the excitement. “They are so big!” “Giant worms!” “Ugh, I am not touching them!”  I picked one up. Without thinking about how I should approach this learning opportunity, I said, “Looks like night crawlers”. I could have said something more adroit, questioning them about their interest, but I guess I was channeling my Dad. They asked, "What's a night crawler?" so I looked them up on my phone. I showed them the pictures, which got them even more excited because the worms looked exactly like what we were seeing (and some were holding)! Jumping up, one girl went to get her teacher. “We found a night crawler!”, and showed her teacher the worm. “It’s another worm”, the teacher said, as if that was all that mattered. It was kind of deflating (in fairness, we were seeing every worm every child had found during a forty-five minute time period outside).

These children were seeking a meaningful connection with teachers, something crucial to real learning. Young children learn more, absorb more, if teachers fully connect with them in their interests. If teachers join in the excitement, giving opportunities to expand on the learning, they will provide the necessary container for the children’s exploration. Teachers' willingness to put aside their own agendas will be rewarded by their students' increased interest in learning.

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Posted by on in Education Resources

I recently watched a TEDx Amsterdam Talk by Sandra von Aalderen "Teachers, know your brain!" and it inspired me to create the infographic below. With the recent developments in the fields of neuroscience and how it affects learning we, the educators, have a unique opportunity to help students leverage the knowledge of how the human brain acquires knowledge to learn more effectively, all the while increasing student motivation, curiosity, creativity, and self-confidence.

Let's spread this message together.

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I hope you find the Brain Hacking infographic above useful. You can access the other Brain-Based Learning infographics I created by scrolling down my ED!Blog. Please share it with other educators, parents, and learners. I will feature additional Brain-Based Learning Infographics in my future NEWSLETTERS, so please SIGN UP if you would like to receive more tips and strategies that work in helping students become better learners.

And Remember: You Have the Power to Change the World. Use it often.

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