Look for our Booth at the STANYS Annual Conference

October 29, 2008

You can find the Rochester Area Colleges’ Center for Excellence in Math and Science in Booth #77 at the STANYS Annual Conference which will be held at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center November 1-4.

We are giving away a membership to the National Science Teacher’s Association (NSTA) to one of the teachers who fills out the Preliminary Nomination Form nominating a teacher for the Second Excellence in STEM Teaching Award.

Hope to see you there!


SciPacks: A Wealth of Engaging Resources

October 29, 2008
Global Climate Patterns

Weather and Climate: Global Climate Patterns

When I first heard the name of this new web resource, SciPacks, I pictured a backpack neatly containing compartmentalized science resources. In reality, it’s even better… the ‘backpack’ is overflowing! Visit the website of the National Science Teachers Association’s Learning Center  to see all SciPacks offer.

Currently, visitors are able to download the Oceans Effect on Weather and Climate Pack free of charge. To try it out, you’ll need to enter your email address and create a password, but once you’ve done this, you can access the SciPack for one year.

Browse over fifteen pages of diagrams, text, movie, and sound files while you learn about our Earth’s environment. These facts and figures reach beyond the title’s claim out to many other areas of Earth Science.

Enjoy the quest!


Subscribing to the STEM Blog and RAC CEMS RSS Feeds

October 27, 2008

This is my third week working as a Graduate Student in the Rochester Area Colleges Center for Math and Science (RAC CEMS). One of the challenges I was faced with during my interview three weeks ago was to bring more visitors to the STEM Blog. Well, I’ve been reading a little about it and found that one way of getting more visitors is having them subscribe to the Blog’s RSS Feed. Therefore, in the past two weeks I’ve been trying to learn more about RSS feeds.

I have a friend who’s always up to date in the latest technology news and gadgets, and other types of news. This is because he’s subscribed to the RSS feeds that interest him. I’ve seen him use them before but I didn’t fully understand how they work or how they could be useful to me until now.

When you subscribe to an RSS feed, using an RSS Reader, you will get updates of the events, news, blogs, etc. posted on the website you subscribed to. So, I finally found the use of subscribing to an RSS Feed: keeping up to date with the latest Science, Technology, Engineering and Math news to bring them to you.

One way to know that a web page has an RSS Feed is by opening it in IE7 or Mozilla Firefox and looking for the RSS Feed Symbol at the end of the url (internet address) box.

With the help of my friend and co-workers, we discovered that the RAC-CEMS has three RSS Feeds:

The STEM Blog Feed: https://fingerlakesstem.wordpress.com/feed

RAC-CEMS Events Feed: http://raccems.org/Events/RSS

RAC-CEMS News Feed: http://raccems.org/News/RSS

Now, you can keep up to date with the RAC-CEMS’ events, news and blogs by subscribing to our RSS Feeds.

But then, the problem was: how do we subscribe to them?

I have a Yahoo! email account and I knew that I could subscribe to RSS Feeds there because my friend had subscribed me to some before. I subscribed to our three feeds and several STEM related feeds by clicking in the Add link next to All Feeds entering each of the urls above and following the instructions. Done!

When I got to work the next day, I saw that our RSS Feeds were in the Firefox Bookmark Toolbar and one of my co-workers and I were perplexed. How did that get there? I tried to help her subscribe to our RSS Feeds by clicking on the RSS Symbol and she only got the Google reader as an option to subscribe whereas I was getting other options. We troubleshooted and found that the Firefox in her computer was set to subscribe to feeds using the Google Reader only. To change it, we went to Tools -> Options -> Feeds and clicked “Show me a preview and ask me which reader to use” then clicked OK. She tried again and was able to subscribe to the STEM Blog RSS feed by going to the blog, clicking on the RSS Symbol in the url, choosing “Live Bookmarks” from the drop down menu next to “Subscribe to this feed using” and clicking subscribe now, make sure “Create in” has “Bookmarks Toolbar Folder” chosen, click OK. Done!

Internet Explorer 7 has a similar way of adding feeds to the Feeds “tab” next to the Favorites. Just click on the RSS Symbol in the web page you’re interested in and follow the instructions.

These are just three of the free RSS Feed readers that are available. For a more clear understanding about RSS Feeds, how to subscribe to them, and how they can be useful to you, watch the following short video clip, that we found very useful, titled RSS in Plain English.

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Soon, I will post permanent instructions on the www.raccems.org website of how to subscribe to our feeds.

I hope this post inspires you to subscribe to our three RSS Feeds and to visit us often.

If you have suggestions on how we can attract more traffic to this blog, please feel free to leave us a comment below. We look forward to your comments after each blog post!


Searchable Math for your Kids

October 24, 2008
A little extra practice can go a long way

A little extra practice can go a long way

Cyberchase is a popular show on PBS that teaches kids that math is everywhere. Their website provides activities that help teach children that math is something everyone can be good at!

If you’re looking for engaging resources to aid in your child’s math development, check out Cyberchase’s Search Engine. Type in the kind of activities you’re looking for: Money, Estimation, Area, Geometry, etc. The page will list all their matching resources including web games, print activities and video clips. You might be amazed at how easy and fun math can be!


Astronomy Image Repositories for Teaching

October 22, 2008
Moons, Rings, and Unexpected Colors on Saturn

Moons, Rings, and Unexpected Colors on Saturn

As a former Kodak employee and a visual learner, I believe that a picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures draw interest into almost any topic and at any age. They also raise curiosity in the unknown.

How can you explain to children the beauty of Saturn, of it’s rings, and of it’s moons without using a picture such as the one above? The look on their faces and the questions they come up with should be priceless.

Here’s a web page that has links to 61 web astronomical image repositories and has suggestions on how to start using them.

Images on the Web for Astronomy Teaching: Image Repositories

How can a teacher use this in the classroom?

How can parents use these pictures to generate interest in the study of astronomy in their children?


STEM Report Calls for Refocus in Education

October 20, 2008

A week and a half after the Collaboration Event, we came upon an article in T.H.E. Journal entitled, STEM Report Calls for Refocus in Education. The article outlines major action that must be taken immediately to increase the number of students enrolled in STEM degrees in college, and continuing on with these career paths.

According to the article, math and science skills are needed in the fastest-growing job fields, while “…only 8 percent of the total number of degrees awarded in 2001 were in engineering, mathematics, or the physical sciences”.

While the article does set forth some broad reasons why STEM subjects are lacking in the United States we would like to hear specific ways YOU think we can better infuse these topics into the curriculum.


Build a Bridge from the Safety of your own Computer Screen

October 16, 2008

ATTENTION Aspiring Engineers: Build a Bridge from the Safety of your own Computer Screen

West Point Bridge Design is a fun and easy way to experiment with bridge design and building. Visit the site, West Point Bridge Design Contest to download the software free! You can enroll in the contest, or remain anonymous and practice for your own enrichment. Here’s how:

choose a version

choose a version

  1. Go to the site and click on the “download” button
  2. Choose a Version to download
  3. Run the quick installation and you’re ready to go!

I have used version WPBD 4 and it is pretty intuitive. The user is able to build a bridge from a template, or create their own design. Choose which materials to build with in order to accommodate different weights and price ranges. Click on the moving truck to test your bridge, and then on the rulers to go back to the planning phase.

Let us know what you are scoring! My bridge currently costs $4,436 and I am on iteration 45. Remember, these values are for WPBD4.

HAVE FUN!