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STEM and Motorsports

Welcome to series of Blog Posts brought to you by some amazing past Siemens STEM Institute and STARs Fellows. Today's guest blogger is Ed Hernandez, of Irvine, California, who teaches mathematics and engineering at Tustin High School in Tustin, CA. Take a moment to discover more about Ed  following his post. Please be sure to read and share…  make sure you give us a  follow on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad . As always, thanks for joining us at the Siemens STEM Academy!  Now… read on… and  have a STEMtastic week! – Mike Gorman

As STEM educators, we know that connecting the classroom to the real world is key to engaging our students.  Without relevance, classroom education remains a standalone, distant partner to our personal life – hence the proverbial question: “When am I ever going to use this?”

We all know there are many ways to bring relevance to the classroom.  In my high school, one of them is through vehicle design and motorsports.  After all, cars are an integral part of our lives!  In an old shop space at Tustin High School in Orange County California, my students are putting engineering principles to use by making electric cars.  Students in my T-Tech Engineering Academy work throughout the year building an energy efficient vehicle to compete against other high schools and universities.

In our area, just a few years ago many teachers were “tired of honors students who didn't know what they needed.”  Although book smart, students did not seem to have any hands-on experience and were not always equipped to transfer the skills learned in the classroom to the real world. 

A solution was soon to become a reality, as the UC Irvine Energy Invitational was born. At the UCI Energy Invitational, each team of high school and college students build and drive a vehicle designed to travel the longest possible distance on one dollar’s worth of energy in one hour.  Teams are free to use the energy source of their choice for the vehicle – gasoline, diesel, natural gas, or electricity.   Earlier this year at the US Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, Tustin High School’s electric racing kart finished in second place, just behind UC Irvine’s propane-powered racer.    A video of PBS coverage of the event can be found here.

So what are my students learning?  A car is an amazingly complex piece of machinery and provides a wealth of teaching opportunities.  Some of the concepts learned include principles of electricity, battery technology, gear ratios, friction, energy efficiency, 3D CAD design, aerodynamics, vehicle safety and much, much more.  They also learn to use tools of all types - from the proverbial screw driver to welding and other fabrication techniques including wood working and composites.

You may be thinking “I don’t have the money or space to do such a thing”.  In our case, we started with a donated go-kart and some old tools.  My students disassembled the whole thing, modeled it CAD using SolidWorks 3D modeling software and even made parts for it in a 3D printer.   Over the course of six months, they leaned more by working on that go-kart than they could have ever learned in the classroom!    Don’t have the space for a full-size vehicle?  There are also programs such as the Ten80 Student Racing Challenge where students learn all about racing using high-end RC cars!  All of the excitement and all of the engineering in a small package.

But it is not all shop time.  In addition to the build, each team will also have to put together a design portfolio complete with budgets, timelines, parts lists, CAD drawings, build pictures etc., and present in front of a panel of professional judges.  It is after all a design –then-build process.   Presenting in front of others and their peers also gives students valuable experience and increased communication skills, something every employer is looking for!

So what are you waiting for?  Get out there and build something with your students.  Will it be hard work?  Yes, will it pay off ?  Absolutely!

 

Ed Hernandez, Tustin, CA... Tustin High School, Tustin California

Ed Hernandez, of Irvine, California, teaches mathematics and engineering at Tustin High School in Tustin, CA.  After receiving a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from UC Irvine, he worked in the electronics industry for 13 years before turning to education.  After receiving his Masters in Education, Ed obtained teaching credentials in mathematics and engineering and joined the staff at Tustin High School where he is the director of STEM programs and head of its T-Tech Academy of Engineering & Technology. In addition to being selected as a Siemens Institute Fellow, he has also been selected as the Orange County High School Engineering Teacher of the Year

We hope you enjoyed reading about making that STEM Tech Integration plan with Ed.  Please take the time to retweet and pass this information out to other STEM educators you think might be interested!  Now is also a great time to sign up for an RSS feed and also follow us on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad.  We have more great STEM information coming your way including more STEM ideas from our past Fellows. Have a great week  and take some time to start making your own STEMtastic learning connections… today. – Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

Posted on April 13, 2014 by Michael Gorman
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Allow Your Students Explore The Virtual Landscape Of The STEM Collaborative

Welcome to another post aimed at introducing you to an awesome STEM resource. Did you know there was a STEM Collaborative filled with amazing standards based STEM adventures?  Please be sure to read and share…  make sure you give us a  follow on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad .  As always, thanks for joining us at the Siemens STEM Academy!  Now… read on… and  have a STEMtastic week! – Mike Gorman

Are you looking for some engaging simulations that will also emphasize some of those important STEM standards. It is time for you to turn on that computer and point at browser at the STEM Collaborative. This wonderful site designed for middle school students employs technology-rich interactives that will bring  excitement to the classroom and offer a fresh, new way to engage students in active learning.  The four learning adventure are aligned to national standards and includes educator support materials, interactive activities and lesson plans. Let's take a look!

Math By Design - This wonderful site is an effort by Maryland Public Television. Student have the chance to get creative, build, play and learn! By becoming virtual junior architects of two interactive environments, students build a skateboard ramp, cover a picnic area, dig out a pond and more.  Students work their way through mind-boosting challenges as they use critical thinking and problem solving skills to increase their knowledge of geometry and measurement concepts. Students will discover Real-life Math in Action videos embedded in the interactive that demonstrate how math is used in everyday life from decorating cakes to designing landscapes or creating   sculptures.  (For students taking Algebra I and II)

Proportionland - Students will enjoy their opportunity to explore  Alabama Public Television’s ProportionLand. Along with some great amusement, middle school students  “reason” their way through eight brain-boosting interactive attractions at this virtual amusement park.  Students will enjoy  jumping in and enjoying the rides.  Standards will include proportional reasoning skills to solve a variety of science-based, real world problems. Students will enjoy their exploration and problem solving with roller coasters, an electric car, a parachute drop and more as they gain deeper understanding of distance, weight, balance, energy, and force. (Grade 8)

Rock-n-Roll World Tour - What students doesn't want to go on a tour as a member of their own rock band?  Students will travel to  five amazing cities courtesy of the Arkansas Education Television Network. On their musical adventure they will  solve real-life problems using measurement, ratio, fractions and proportion. Best of all they will tune up their math skills as they learn the relationship between music and math .  (Grades 6-8)

Scale City - Students have the opportunity to bring their understanding to an understandable scale in this interactive designed by Kentucky Public Television. Students will virtually explore the Bluegrass State as they learn about the mathematics of scale. Some highlights include  the Louisville Slugger Museum, a chicken festival, and a horse park.  Students can view a short video field trip and an engaging, interactive simulation at each stop along the road as they gain a better  understanding of proportional reasoning in real-world applications. (Grades 6-8)

The STEM Collaborative offers some one of a kind opportunities allowing students to experience real world STEM! Allow your student to virtual travel the land from their own classroom. You will watch them gain a whole new understanding as they journey the virtual landscape of the STEM Collaborative!

We hope you enjoyed reading about this wonderful resource that could be a part of your STEM digital curriculum.  Please take the time to retweet and pass this information out to other STEM educators you think might be interested!  Now is also a great time to sign up for an RSS feed and also follow us on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad.  We have more great STEM information coming your way. Have a great week  and take some time to start making your own STEMtastic learning connections… today. – Mike Gorman 

Posted on April 7, 2014 by Michael Gorman
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Stepping Outside Of Your STEM Comfort Zone

 

Welcome to series of Blog Posts brought to you by some amazing past Siemens STEM Institute and STARs Fellows. Today's guest blogger is Ann LaBrode who teaches 8th grade science and high school forensics at Hopedale  Junior-Senior High School, in Hopedale,  MA.   Take a moment to discover more about Ann  following her  post. Please be sure to read and share…  make sure you give us a  follow on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad . As always, thanks for joining us at the Siemens STEM Academy!  Now… read on… and  have a STEMtastic week! – Mike Gorman

I must admit I was definitely outside of my comfort zone when the Siemens Fellows created a dance to Dr. Lodge McCammon’s song “Back Up” about Transverse and Longitudinal Waves (http://lodgemccammon.com/).  Although I had taken years of piano, violin and ballet lessons- science and math were so much easier for me, so I focused on them.  As I was getting ready for the school year and reflecting on my summer experience I realized that I needed to challenge not only my students, but myself, to take risks and try new things in the classroom. I decided to step out of my comfort zone and incorporate more music and art into my STEM curriculum. There is an abundance of research to show that music facilitates learning across all disciplines. You may want to discover this resource as it shows how the arts are an important aspect of the design process.

One of the first topics that we study in Grade 8 is heat transfer.  In the past I had played the “Radiation, Conduction and Convection Rap” and given the students the words (http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=159713).  This year things were going to be different; students were going to create their own videos and act out the song, just like I had done during the summer institute.  After students listened to the song I showed them the “Back Up Video”.  It was good for them to see their teacher, trying her best to keep up, but definitely looking like a deer in headlights.  Students had one 45 minute class period to plan and execute their video.  They worked cooperatively in groups and created moves that went along with the words.

The Grade 8 Team at my school embraced the idea of incorporating music into their classes.  This December, Jason Goss... a Hopedale graduate and accomplished musician, spent the day with the grade 8 students (http://www.jasonmylesgoss.com/index.html) Goss explained to the students that “…songs don’t just happen overnight, just as a good essay or creative writing assignment isn't always easy to come by.  The editing process and reworking your ideas are important to get your project to where you want it to go”.  In English classes, Goss spoke to students about the writing process and following their dreams, in Spanish students listened to Spanish songs, and in math students wrote raps about current topics.  In science, students made straw pipe flutes, exploring the physics involved in music (http://www.scienceoffcenter.org/science/430-straw-pan-pipes) and at the end of class student conductors led the class as they played jingle bells.  As part of this activity students learned about the landfill harmonic orchestra, a group from Paraguay that created musical instruments out of trash (http://www.landfillharmonicmovie.com/ ).  Later this year the physics teacher is going to have students make instruments from recycled materials during the sound unit.

As far as incorporating more art into the curriculum, my Grade 8 science students completed a Superhero Element Project.  This project was adapted from a resource found on teacherpages.nhcs.net/schools.  Each student was assigned an element and created a superhero whose appearance, characteristics and powers related to the element.  Each student also wrote a story or created a comic strip about the superhero.  Students used the free program Heromachine to design their superhero (http://www.heromachine.com/heromachine-3-lab/ ). We now have a binder featuring over 100 element superheroes, and throughout the year the stories will be read in class.

Finally I wanted to share something that we did last year, in my high school forensics class. As part of an anthropology unit students reconstructed a face from a skull. This interdisciplinary project involved math, chemistry, art and anatomy/physiology.  First a rubber mold was made by painting liquid latex onto a skull.  After the mold was peeled from the skull, it was placed into a tub of sand (the sand acts as a support to keep the mold in place) and plaster of Paris was poured into the mold.  Students used clay to build the face on the plaster cast. This involved using reference charts to determine the tissue depth at various points along the skull (http://www.askaforensicartist.com/2011-tissue-depth-data-from-drs-stephan-and-simpson/).  Finally, students painted the skulls and created a missing person poster and story to go along with it. One helpful resource was from Smithsonian, National Museum of History web site (http://anthropology.si.edu/writteninbone/).

Ann LaBrode, Hopedale, MA

Hopedale Junior Senior High School

TWITTER@AnnLaBrode

Ann LaBrode of Hopedale, Massachusetts teaches 8th grade science and high school forensics at Hopedale Junior-Senior High School, in Hopedale, MA.  Ann received a  BS in Biology/Psychology from Bowdoin College, a MS in Nutrition from Tufts University, and was licensed as a registered dietitian. She spent 15 years as a research nutritionist at Tufts University School of Medicine where she studied the effects of fat and fiber in-take on lipid and hormone levels, and investigated the effects of soy on menopausal symptoms in women at increased breast cancer risk. Ann enjoyed her  time as a researcher, but knew that one day she would return to the classroom as a teacher to share her passion for science. “I am thrilled to have been selected as a Siemens STEM Institute Fellow. Participation in this program will help me to learn more about real world STEM applications and careers so that our school can continue to improve our STEM curriculum. It will also give me the opportunity to work collaboratively and share ideas with STEM professionals and other educators."  

We hope you enjoyed reading about making that STEM Tech Integration plan with Ann.  Please take the time to retweet and pass this information out to other STEM educators you think might be interested!  Now is also a great time to sign up for an RSS feed and also follow us on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad.  We have more great STEM information coming your way including more STEM ideas from our past Fellows. Have a great week  and take some time to start making your own STEMtastic learning connections… today. – Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

Posted on March 30, 2014 by Michael Gorman
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Part 2...24 NCAA Basketball Lesson Links For The STEM Classroom

Welcome to another post aimed at introducing you to some awesome STEM resources. In this reading, we examine even more amazing sites that could bring the exciting world of the NCAA basketball tournament into your classroom. Please be sure to read and share… make sure you give us a follow on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad .  As always, thanks for joining us at the Siemens STEM Academy! Now… read on… and have a STEMtastic week! – Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

Please stake a moment to enjoy these 12 links that will allow STEM and the NCAA basketball to integrate into some amazing and engaging opportunities for you and your students.

  1. What is a Slam Dunk? – The website Wonderapolis provides this interesting question, video, and related ideas. It could just be a slam dunk lesson!
  2. Who Invented Basketball – You and your students can explore another wonder of the day from Wonderapolis. Students will enjoy the video, accompanying facts, and any activity incorporated with it.
  3. Robot Basketball – This lesson comes from Try Engineering.  It demonstrates the difference between precision and accuracy. Students design a device that can shoot a basketball free-throw shot accurately every time.
  4. Engineer Hoopsters – A great article of eGFI that lets students know you can excel in the STEM fields while also playing basketball… and winning. A wonderful article that promotes both sports and academics.
  5. Math Basketball Games – Are you looking for a way to bring a little basketball into your elementary of middle school math class? These games can be used in the classroom in connection with smart boards and Promethean boards.
  6. Penny Basketball – A site that poses a lesson that involves penny basketball. Best of all, students learn how to make sense of the data they collect.
  7. Energy Transfer – This is a great lesson in kinetic energy and energy transfer. It is also a wonderful time to use a basketball to display the laws of physics.
  8. Math In Basketball – This is a fantastic lesson plan from Get the Math.  Using video segments and web interactives, students engage in an exploration of mathematics, specifically reasoning and sense making, to solve real world problems.  Best of all,  students focus on understanding the Big Ideas of Algebra: patterns, relationships, equivalence, and linearity.
  9. Science of Hang Time – Can your students answer the question, “How High Can You Jump?” They can experience this great video for PE, Math or Physics as students learn about the science behind the hang time in basketball. Perhaps you can create an activity around this.
  10. National Geographic for Kids – Students can discover this great article on why the NBA uses leather basketballs. It could be used to create some experiments and a fantastic STEM lesson.
  11. Where Will it Go? – This is a lesson plan aimed at lower elementary allowing student prediction of where a ball will go when bounced. This is a perfect opportunity to use any ball… or perhaps a basketball?
  12. Sports Science – This ESPN series has three video dedicated to basketball. It might be the basis for a great STEM lesson during this exciting basketball season.

So there are the rest of the links. We hope you enjoyed learning about these wonderful resources that could be a part of your STEM digital curriculum.  Please take the time to retweet and pass this information out to other STEM educators you think might be interested!  Now is also a great time to sign up for an RSS feed and also follow us on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad.  We have more great STEM information coming your way. Have a great week  and take some time to start making your own STEMtastic learning connections… today. – Mike Gorman 

Posted on March 25, 2014 by Michael Gorman
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Free Webinar: Connect & Collaborate... Meet & Learn from STEM Educators

The Siemens STEM Academy would like to invite you to join us for an exciting webinar perfect for STEM professional development.  You  can join us on Monday, March 24, 2014 at 7:00 PM EDT. Don't miss out... make sure you give us a  follow on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad and share with others! As always,  thanks for joining us at the Siemens STEM Academy!  Now... read on and learn more about this amazing webinar and how it can make your last few days of March... STEMcredible! Have a wonderful week – Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

Note from Mike: I am especially excited to be hosting this webinar. Please take a moment to register and share with friends. See you there!

Are you inspired by STEM educators?  Have you been looking to integrate more STEM-focused activities and lessons into your classroom?  Join Michael Gorman (@mjgormans) as he leads this high-energy professional development event.  He’ll be sharing resources you won’t want to miss.  And, he’ll connect you to like-minded educators Chris Lazartic, Maureen Barrett, and Tim Kubinak whom have entire STEM-focused units ready to share.  No matter where you are on you STEM journey, connect with us on Monday the 24th so that we can share real-world, practical examples of projects and lessons that you can utilize in your classroom the next day.

Connect & Collaborate: Meet & Learn from STEM Educators Presented by: Mike Gorman, Tim Kubinak, Chris Lazartic, and Maureen Barrett

Monday, March 24, 2014 at 7:00pm EDT For Educators

Click Here To Register

We are certain you will enjoy the this STEM based PD Webinar. Now is a great time to sign up for an RSS feed and alsofollow us on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad. You may even wish to share this post with others via a quick email or even a tweet!   Have a great week  and take some time to start making your own STEMtastic learning connections... today. - Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

Posted on March 20, 2014 by Michael Gorman
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Part 1...24 NCAA Basketball Lesson Links For The STEM Classroom

Welcome to another post aimed at introducing you to an awesome STEM resource. In this reading, we examine an a multitude of amazing sites that could bring the exciting world of the NCAA basketball tournament into your classroom. Please be sure to read and share… make sure you give us a follow on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad . As always, thanks for joining us at the Siemens STEM Academy! Now… read on… and have a STEMtastic week! – Mike Gorman

Please stake a moment to enjoy these 12 links that will allow STEM and the NCAA basketball to integrate into some amazing and engaging opportunities for you and your students. We hope you enjoy them and come back for 12 more in the near future!

Also, please join me for an upcoming free STEM Webinar this coming Monday, March 24 at 7:00 PM at the Discovery Siemens STEM Academy. I have some great educators (Tim Kubinak, Chris Lazartic and Maureen Barrett) joining me as we share some wonderful STEM resources  on Monday, March 24, 2014 at 7:00 pm EDT. Take a moment and Register  Here… and now on to those links!39”.

  1. Basketball Physics – This lesson comes from Science Friday.  It contains the Driving Question, “ How does physics affect your game?” John Fontanella, a physicist at the U.S. Naval Academy and author of The Physics of Basketball, explains the role of physics in basketball, from foul shots to side-arm passes. You and your students will find out what forces are acting on the ball, and what players have to do to offset these forces.
  2. 2013 NCAA Big Dance Basics – Take a look and get ideas from the STEM site eGFI. You will get hooked as your read their statement: “ From long-shot “Cinderella” teams to “field goal” averages, “giant killers” and “bracketology,” the NCAA Div. 1 men’s college basketball championship has generated a host of pet terms and traditions since it first tipped off in 1939”.
  3. Physics of Basketball – From the same author found above, watch this video that shows and explains some of the Physics involved in basketball.
  4. Tennessee Sports Math Project – This page provides not just Math ideas but a complete interdisciplinary set of ideas to bring the NCAA tournament into any classroom.
  5. The Team at Home – Another lesson from Education World that allows students to locate an NCAA basketball tournament team on a map, research the relationship of the team’s name and mascot to the history and geography of the college. This is a great social studies lesson.
  6. Who’s Number 1? Investigating the Math of Rankings – In this amazing lesson, students explore the use of quantitative ratings by examining how Division I college basketball teams are ranked, and how specific mathematical decisions can and do have significant consequences.
  7. Thinking About The Future… A Poem of Possibilities –  This resource from Read Write Think  focuses on the poem “Ex-Basketball Player” by John Updike, analyzing the details and the format of the poem. From there students are then introduced to a writing assignment in which they write a poem about themselves in five years. Might it involve STEM?
  8. Bracket Science – Do you really want a fascinating reading about the science of the brackets? This is a great read and could be a part of any language arts or math class.
  9. Basketball Jersey – This activity from the Smithsonian’s History Explorer examines Boston Celtics, Bob Cousy jersey…  using both the artifact at the museum and the image. What stories might one jersey tell?
  10. James Naismith… Inventor of the Game of Basketball – This is another awesome activity from Read Write Think. Students look at the original rules of basketball, allowing a perfect opportunity for students to practice their expository reading and writing skills. Best of all, students end up with some their own innovation as they put together their own hand out to explain a game.
  11. Using NBA Statistics for Box and Whiskers Plot – You may wish to substitute a student’s favorite NCAA player for the NBA player.  This lesson from Illuminations requires students to use information from basketball statistics to make and compare box and whisker plots. The data provided in the lesson come from the NBA, but you could apply the lesson to data from the NCAA men’s or women’s.
  12. James Naismith… Inventor of the Game of Basketball – This is another awesome activity from Read Write Think. Students look at the original rules of basketball, allowing a perfect opportunity for students to practice their expository reading and writing skills. Best of all, students end up with some their own innovation as they put together their own hand out to explain a game. Could they engineer their own brand new game... or possibly improve basketball as it is?

So there is the links… want the next 12 links? Please follow us (SiemensSTEMAcad) and sign up. We have them scheduled to be very soon. If this has been useful please give a retweet!

Remember to join me for an upcoming free STEM Webinar this coming Monday, March 24 at 7:00 PM at the Discovery Siemens STEM Academy. I have some great educators (Tim Kubinak, Chris Lazartic and Maureen Barrett) joining me as we share some wonderful STEM resources  on Monday, March 24, 2014 at 7:00 pm EDT. Take a moment and Register  Here.

We hope you enjoyed reading about these wonderful resources that could be a part of your STEM digital curriculum.  Please take the time to retweet and pass this information out to other STEM educators you think might be interested!  Now is also a great time to sign up for an RSS feed and also follow us on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad.  We have more great STEM information coming your way. Have a great week  and take some time to start making your own STEMtastic learning connections… today. – Mike Gorman 

Posted on March 16, 2014 by Michael Gorman
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CIESE... Research-based Instructional Methodologies and Technologies To Facilitate STEM

Welcome to another post aimed at introducing you to an awesome STEM resource. In this reading, we examine an amazing site with multiple STEM and PBL opportunities. Please be sure to read and share…  make sure you give us a  follow on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad .  As always, thanks for joining us at the Siemens STEM Academy!  Now… read on… and  have a STEMtastic week! – Mike Gorman

If you have not already made the trip, it is time for you to visit CIESE which is the Center for Engineering and Science Education. CIESE sponsors and designs interdisciplinary projects that teachers throughout the world can use to enhance their curriculum through the internet. The projects utilize real time data that students retrieve online. Included are also collaborative projects that use the worldwide web to reach peers, mentors, and experts around the world. At the website you will discover a collection of projects that are currently being, or have been sponsored by CIESE . To help the teacher out, the projects have descriptions along with links to the National Science Standards and NCTM math standards it supports.

The collaborative projects usually run along a specific date. Examples of these projects include a Global Water Sampling Project and Biodynamic Farming. There are also Primary Source and Archived Projects, such as this one based on Population Growth. If you like a little design thinking than the Engineering Projects will appeal to you. There are also wonderful activities that deal with Real Time Data and some engaging Partner Projects. Make sure you visit the Educational Links that will hook you up with sources such as K-12 Engineering Resources,  Ask An Expert SitesPseudo-Science Resources, and Podcasting Resources.

It is a mission of CIESE to provide meaningful and effective integration of technology and foster the use of research-based instructional methodologies and technologies to improve and pioneer novel technologies while providing an engaging and powerful learning environment.  You just might want to make CIESE your next mission. Together with your students, you are sure to experience and live the STEM vision.

We hope you enjoyed reading about this wonderful resource that could be a part of your STEM digital curriculum.  Please take the time to retweet and pass this information out to other STEM educators you think might be interested!  Now is also a great time to sign up for an RSS feed and also follow us on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad.  We have more great STEM information coming your way. Have a great week  and take some time to start making your own STEMtastic learning connections… today. – Mike Gorman 

Posted on March 9, 2014 by Michael Gorman
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Soar into Aeronautics for Science Success... STEMazing!

                         

Welcome to series of Blog Posts brought to you by some amazing past Siemens STEM Institute and STARs Fellows. Today's guest blogger is Laura Wommack who teaches an array of high school classes including Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Food Science, as well as Forensics and Astronomy at Potlatch Jr-Sr High School in Idaho.  Take a moment to discover more about Laura following her post. Please be sure to read and share… make sure you give us a follow on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad . As always, thanks for joining us at the Siemens STEM Academy! Now… read on… and have a STEMtastic week! – Mike Gorman

Science teachers struggle with meeting many criteria in their classrooms today. We must meet Common Core Standards, Next Generation Science standards, state standards, ensure coverage of information on the high-stakes test, produce science students with 21st thinking, collaboration and creativity, provide educational experiences which integrate science, technology, engineering and math and motivate, engage, and even entertain students in the science classroom.

In my classroom, I have found one solution to meeting all of these criteria: Aeronautics. After participating in a NASA internship with NASA Wallops Flight Facility and NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, I was inspired to integrate some of my experiences into my already largely inquiry-based Physics classroom. The result has been improved engagement and motivation.

Aeronautics is a natural topic for a physical science classroom. Not only are students interested in space and flight, it meets many science standards that are required such as: PS2A Forces and Motion, PS2B Types of Interactions, PS3A Stability and Instability in Physical Systems, PS3C Relationship Between Energy and Forces (Next Generation Science Standards). Throughout the unit, students are meeting real-world engineering goals through inquiry-based projects.

Although the study of aeronautics can take many forms, when students begin this unit in my room, they begin with an inquiry-based project addressing the question “What size and shape parachute is most effective in slowing descent of an object?” Students soon learn that if parachutes are too large, they don’t fill effectively and, if they are too small, they are ineffective. Students create three iterations of parachutes, following an engineering process, to try to discover the “best” parachute. As they test their parachutes, the data they collect is the time of descent.

Next, they turn their attention to high powered air rockets. Their question is “What is the function of rocket fins?” Again, students follow a design process in which they create several iterations, testing at each stage, and revising a single design element each time. When testing rockets, they fly each one three times and collect flight time and distance data. The goal is create a rocket that will fly consistently. Through this project, they learn that the function of rocket fins is to allow stability and consistency of flight.

Their fin configuration and prior parachute design are then used to launch a solid-fuel rocket. Data collected, again, relates to how consistently the rocket flies which is related to the stability of the rocket.The culminating activity for the Aeronautics unit (and the class as a whole) is a scientific balloon launch which, in our area, can only occur in late spring due to weather constraints. Students create programmable payloads using Arduinos to collect data, typically barometric pressure and temperature collected on Arduinos programmed to act as data loggers. Students are able to observe the temperatures changes for each layer of the atmosphere as the balloon ascends to approximately 80,000 feet.

There are many ways to integrate science, technology, math and engineering into the science classroom, but few topics contribute all elements as seamlessly as aeronautics. Soar into aeronautics with the following lesson plan.

Wommack, Laura…., Potlatch Jr-Sr High School, Potlatch, Idaho

         

Twitter: PHSWomm

Laura Wommack now calls Moscow, Idaho, her home, after having been born and raised in Southern California. She received her B.S. degree from the University of Idaho and pursued science teaching as a second career. She currently teaches an array of high school classes including Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Food Science, as well as Forensics and Astronomy. Over the last two summers, she has traveled extensively to a variety of NASA Centers as part of a NASA internship, in collaboration with NASA's Endeavor program, as well as traveling to Kolkata, India, where she taught science to classes as large as 80-90 8th, 9th and 10th graders. Of her participation in the Siemens STEM Institute she says, "I am so excited to be able to participate in such a high-quality fellowship as this because I know I will have the opportunity to be exposed to the very best STEM education information while meeting and learning from other quality educators. I can't wait to bring new strategies and ideas back to my students in the Fall."

We hope you enjoyed reading about making that STEM Tech Integration plan with Laura.  Please take the time to retweet and pass this information out to other STEM educators you think might be interested!  Now is also a great time to sign up for an RSS feed and also follow us on twitter at SiemensSTEMAcad.  We have more great STEM information coming your way including more STEM ideas from our past Fellows. Have a great week  and take some time to start making your own STEMtastic learning connections… today. – Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

Posted on March 2, 2014 by Michael Gorman
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