Friday, August 12, 2016

Gearing Up for the Year Ahead

In my mind I have this idea for #OurSTEAMCafe. I hope students will explore documentation more this year. As I learn about who invented/modified the modern light bulb Edison or Tesla, I begin to realize how important documentation of ideas can really be. As I listened to friends at #DENSI2016 who kindly remind us to share/write up ideas and spread the word, I am reminded how this should apply to my own work and ideas.

So here are some of my ideas and plans for the 2016 - 2017 school year. Last year, I became more aware of some of the gorgeous creations that people generate that fall under the genre of Steampunk. I love the concept of merging the vintage and classic with new-age and futuristic technologies. Many of the items of tomorrow have not yet been dreamed of at this time. Perhaps some of my students will be some of those dreamers who invent our future technologies.

So in my head #OurSTEAMCafe will be decorated with woods, brass, copper, leather, industrial pipes, clocks and gears. The phrase "Gear Up for the Year Ahead" comes to mind. I can see all of the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math concepts that can intertwine with this. The boxes and bags currently "collecting" in my apartment will hopefully help to bring this design decor concept into fruition.

Now that most of our students and staff have an understanding of the STEAM concept, I feel I can move away from a room focused on stations for these concepts. The idea is that they should be combined in a transdisciplinary method anyway.

My new plan (which I hope will be brought to light) is to have the following areas:

  • Documentation Area (A section with light cubes for photography or student work, black velvet to display items, camera, ipads, mini-greenscreen areas, document camera and the like.
  • Devices Area (Of course a large portion of #OurSTEAMCafe is a way to lockup resources for security purposes when not being utilized. Naturally I prefer when my items are out being used by classes. Hope to make it more clear what items are available to loan to classes)
  • Discovery Area (An area for exploration. Hop on a computer to learn more about a topic of interest. Participate in a Discovery Education Virtual Field Trip. Explore offerings from Discovery Education Streaming to enhance understandings)
  • Design Area (A collection of materials and resources so that students and teachers can create. Art supplies, cardboard, Legos, K'nex, and more to build and create with to bring ideas to light)
  • Drawing Board Area (All good ideas need to be flushed out and reworked and revisited. I hope to provide a collection of wipeboards and clipboards for students and teachers to use to collaborate and draft plans)
  • Discussion Area (Hope to also provide a comfortable area where teachers and/or students can come sit and reflect on their ideas. Seek assistance. Review ideas and discuss with peers)
Now as always these ideas are very clear in my head. Just hope I can also make them clear in the real world in #OurSTEAMCafe. In a few more days as I beginning redecorating I intend to be more concious about taking before and after photos. I'd love to hear about the plans and ideas that are circulating in your head. Please share. Remember document your work...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

NASA S'cool Project

A kindergarten class joined me to track the weather as part of a wonderful project with NASA. Yes, I said a kindergarten class. When it comes to technology integration it is all about the teacher and their flexibility. The Kindergarten teacher that paired with me, would ask the students to remind her when it was the correct time (Math). We had a 15 minute window of a specific time to record data for NASA. The teacher and class took a sky photo (in the same location) or I did from #OurSTEAMCafe. We recorded the date, time, temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure of the day. Yes, I invested in two sets of digital weather instruments for #OurSTEAMCafe. This data was then submitted to NASA. Those involved in the S'Cool Project at NASA would compare our real-world observed ground data, to the satelittes measured data. Some days the data was well aligned. Others not so much. I'm sure the class had some interesting discussions regarding this. Here is the overview PDF of our collected data that we created. Hope to resume this amazing project again in the Fall.

March - Beautiful Butterflies

During the month of March, #OurSTEAMCafe was invaded by butterflies. The Science area had gorgeous DVDS, posters, books, and a toy model of the butterfly life cycle. The Technology area had access to online videos, informational websites, LittleBits projects and interactive life cycle sites all for exploring. The Engineering area had some block challenges to create butterflies (also involving math as butterflies have symmetry). The Arts area had several projects available as well as materials to create original works. Using coffee filters and markers we also explored the chomotography in markers (making interesting butterflies) [also involving Science]. Ah the beauty of STEAM Education. It all inter-relates. And of course the math area had butterfly measurements and manipulates to work with to continue learning.

Part of my role is help teachers integrate technology in their classrooms as well. Here it the resource I created to share with teachers. You mind find a resource or two that works for you as well: Click here. If you do find something useful, we would love to hear your story.