The key to our future relates directly to our ability to use science, technology, engineering, and math the four STEM subjects, to solve problems. Solving problems will create the jobs of tomorrow.
We are putting together a collection of favorite STEM-related resources from Thinkfinity. What are your favorite Thinkfinity resources when teaching science, technology, engineering, and math?
One of my favorite resources is Power Up! I like it because it reaches out to kids at a young age (grades 3-5) and gets them thinking about the future of their world. It comes complete with the full Science Netlinks Lesson plus a student e-sheet, student worksheet, teacher worksheet and all the supplementals needed (readings, extensions, activities etc)
The second thing I like about the Power Up lesson is that you can follow it up or extend with the Power Up interactive/lesson designed for 6-8 grades. The interactive is fun and engaging and asks students to put to use what they've learned.
The one I like the best and got the most action when I presented at the Smithsonian Institute was "Invention at Play." There are many interactives at this site but I like the "Tinker Ball Exploration." Here is the URL: http://www.inventionatplay.org/playhouse_tinker.html
Exploratory play is about asking questions: "What happens when I do this?" "What if I did it this way?"
Experimenting with materials and pushing their limits encourages us to consider a wide range of possibilities when problem solving. Playing around with objects and ideas helps us see that there maybe more then one solution.
I teach at a very affluent middle school in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the biggest problem I find with these students is that they want to be spoon fed and can't solve a problem. I have taught for 40 years, 31 of them in the elementary grades in Chicago, and when it comes to problem solving my students from the south side of Chicago were great! They had to problem solve most of the their lives, and knew how to do it.
My favorite STEM related Verizon Thinkfinity resources come from the ScienceNetLinks site. The Science Updates provide a great assortment of STEM podcasts for all grade levels. The ScienceNetLinks websites are diverse and offer interdisciplinary sites for the seamless integration of science and math. Not all students learn in the same way so I also value the diversity of the sites to allow our teachers to find the right site for use with multiple levels of differentiated student abilities.
When you visit the SNL Tool Index, look for one of my MOST favorite SNL Interactives which is "All Systems are GO!!" Have you visited this SNL Interactive?? Listen for the familiar voice of a famous state governor!! These interactive science tools are great for challenging students....be sure to visit "Gravity Launch" and "Zap" while you are exploring the Tool Index.
I am big fan of the podcasts, too! I love the fact that we can be supporting literacy initiatives through STEM content - as the transcripts of the podcasts are provided so that vocab can be previewed, and work can be done to support extension with the materials provided by AAAS.
Another favorite of mine is from ArtsEdge - I used to teach Earth Science to 8th graders, and the meterology unit was always interesting to them, but I wanted them to think more deeply about all of the implications of our day to day weather - The Artsedge Look Listen Learn - Stormy Weather is a powerful intro tool - it can have kids really visualize weather - and the impact through the arts.
Planet Size Comparison: http://www.sciencenetlinks.com/interactives/messenger/psc/PlanetSize.html
“A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words,” and what a cool way to show the difference between the size of the planets! This is an excellent resource for our visual learners, who make up about 70% of our learners.
This tool, created by Science NetLinks, features an animation in which students can find out how Mercury "sizes up" to Earth or any other planet. At the top of the screen, students can choose what planets they want to compare. At the bottom of the screen, students can see the dimensions for each planet as well as how they compare in size. While this page links to the overview for the tool for grades 6-8, you can access reviews for additional grades and benchmarks using the navigation tools at the top of the overview.
One of my favorite resources that supports STEM is from Science NetLinks and is called, Make a Mission, http://www.sciencenetlinks.com/messenger/mission.htm. I love it because it is based on NASA’s space mission to explore Mercury using the spacecraft MESSENGER. The students have 6 goals to accomplish so they need to load the spacecraft with instruments that will accomplish all of goals. There are many choices and some instruments accomplish more goals however they cost more money. The students have to accomplish all their goals before they run out of money. There are 3 levels so students can challenge themselves.
It's terrific to see Science NetLinks resources being listed!
A newer favorite resource is our podcast with with Jean Craighead George (author of Julie of the Wolves, The Wolves are Back, or My Side of the Mountain...just a few.) I was lucky enough to meet her for this podcast and she's truly amazing. Check out the full lesson, Jean Craighead George: Unsentimental Naturalist.
Science NetLinks, Project Director
Gravity Launch was so popular with my high school students that they stayed after school to get to level 5. The competition was fierce! I guess that shows no matter the age, we all like a challenge. Another favorite interactive I like to use in my trainings with teachers is the Lunar Cycle http://www.sciencenetlinks.com/interactives/moon/moon_challenge/moon_challenge.html. It helps teachers experience a great science resource while challenging them to get the moon phases completed correctly. Again it is amazing to see their intense focus and determination.
I am currently teaching a summer robotics & technology camp. We are using the LEGO Mindstorms education kits to build and program robots. I don't know who is having the most fun, me or my students! There are many opportunities for inquiry and problem solving while having a lot of fun.
Are you aware that ScienceNetLinks provides trainers and teachers the cross-curricular materials for STEM? Check it out! Benchmarks 2 and 9 for ScienceNetLinks covers math and science in one lesson all the way through K-12. When selecting a Lesson, Tool, note the benchmark marked 2 or 9 you are getting a double whammy!
Check out eFGI (Dream up the Future) http://teachers.egfi-k12.org/ This site has lesson plans and activities for all grade levels that are matched to standards and are "doable" in a regular classroom without spending next year's budget. Prepare to amazed that so many great resources are available in one site.
I highly recommend reading a blog post in the group Thinkfinity in Virginia. The owner of that group, Jean Weller, has put together a wonderful list of resources related to STEM lessons that come mostly from Thinkfinity.
I'm a big fan of Rolling Robots in Southern California. They have a STEM resource guide for students of their robotics workshops.
Check them out here: http://rollingrobots.com/STEM-education-projects
Have you heard about Expedition Earth and Beyond?
This is a NASA project that uses astronaut photography to help students study the geologic features of the Earth.
You can find this whole program with a teacher and a student guide on the web type in Expedition Earth and Beyond. It seamlessly integrates mathematics and science with several launch pad activies as well!