Dancing Out Your Science Report

November 24, 2008

Today, Science magazine announced the winners of the 2009 AAAS Science Dance Contest. “Six weeks ago, the Gonzo Scientist challenged researchers around the world to interpret their Ph.D. research in dance form, film the dance, and share it with the world on YouTube (Science, 10 October, p. 186).”


I found this really interesting and thought it could be adapted to a middle school/high school classroom. Again, I was thinking about the different kind of learners that could present their science project as a dance or another art form (play, painting, music, etc.) Why not let students, with any learning style, present their science reports in a creative way as an alternative to the traditional way?

What other ways do you think students can present their science reports?

Click here to see the dances presented by the Ph.D. researchers.

Congratulations to Ellen Lloyd and Sampson the Turtle!

November 21, 2008


A couple weeks ago the RAC-CEMS had a booth at the STANYS Conference. At the booth, we asked you to nominate really great teachers for our Excellence in STEM Teaching Award. Anyone who nominated a teacher, was entered into a raffle to win a full membership in the National Science Teacher’s Association (NSTA) and a feature on the STEM blog.

And the winner is… 

Ellen Lloyd of Sodus Central Middle School; congratulations!

Ellen teaches eighth grade science and the Living Environment at Sodus while also counseling the Middle School student council and Science Olympiad team. Her students “ask lots of great questions and are always ready to investigate things together”. In addition to her classroom full of students, Ellen has a pet turtle named Sampson who recently taught the class about food chains by eating all the new snails. The eighth grade students are getting ready to dissect fetal pigs, which, according to Ellen, is one of the most exciting parts of the year!

We asked Ellen if she would share one of her lessons with the readers of the blog, and she decided on one of her favorite adaptation labs. Be sure to check out the lesson, and visit her classroom blog.

Once again, congratulations to Ellen Lloyd, and we look forward to featuring other area teachers on the STEM Blog in the future!

Make Your Students Become a Heat Sensing Bug

November 19, 2008


I found this article at the Science News for Kids website about a seed-eating bug that feeds itself from the seeds of white pine cones. Well, that doesn’t sound special!

The special thing about this bug is that it finds it’s food by sensing it’s warmth. Scientists found that the pine cones are “always about 15 degrees Celsius warmer than the surrounding needles”. Then they did experiments with the bug to determine if it truly was using heat sensors to find it’s food.

Replicate the Experiment

The way the scientists determined that the pine cones were warmer than the needles is something that science teachers might be able to do in school surroundings to engage your kinesthetic and visual learners. To be able to replicate the test you need a heat sensing camera. Where can you get this? Both firemen and heating and cooling companies use thermal detectors. You could invite a firemen or an employee of a heating and cooling company that evaluates homes to help with a lesson like this one if their equipment is useful for this kind of experiment and if they’re available.

Check out the article to find out how the scientists determined that this bug found the pine cones by sensing it’s warmth.

Link to the article

Volunteers Wanted: Demonstrate! Science

November 17, 2008
Testing soapy mixtures and making bubble prints

Testing soapy mixtures and making bubble prints

The Demonstrate! Science committee is calling for Volunteer Scientists to contribute to this rewarding program. As a workshop leader, you will have just under one hour (55 minutes) to work with a group of parents from different areas of Rochester. Some have a strong background in science and enjoy seeing it through the eyes of a preschooler, and others are a little more hesitant to ‘jump in’. In the past, those who began more hesitant ended up being excited and convinced! Volunteers may work individually, or with their colleagues to develop and present their workshop.

The Rochester Parent Preschool Program (RPPP) works with over 450 local preschool children to jump-start their excitement of learning. The program increases early exposure to educational materials for children in the Rochester City School District. Historically, RPPP ‘graduates’ score about 20 points higher on their state tests in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades.

A new program, Demonstrate! Science, is actually geared towards parents. It is intended to demystify science for parents and teach them how to enjoy every-day science experiences with their children. The workshops present ‘hands-on’ science activities preschool students can do, and explains why science makes them so cool!

There is a lot of science behind vinegar and baking soda!

There is a lot of science behind vinegar and baking soda!

Using household products to shine pennies.

Using household products to shine pennies.







Generally, a brief introduction (~10 min.) is followed by hands on activities (~40 min) and a short wrap-up (~5 min.). Presenters are encouraged to circulate the room and explain scientific phenomena during activities so parents can ask questions, extend learning, and see first-hand how science can be explained to their preschool children. Parents will each go home with a kit full of materials so they can recreate the experiences at home, with their children.

The schedule below outlines future workshops. Please email the Project Supervisor if you are interested in volunteering to lead a workshop or learning more about this exciting program.



Zone 1

Zone 2

Zone 3

Physical Science January 17, 2009 February 21, 2009 March 21, 2009
Living Environment April 18, 2009 May 9, 2009 May 23, 2009
Parents take home an activity bag so they can recreate science experiences at home.

Parents take home an activity bag so they can recreate science experiences at home.

We hope to hear more about your experiences with this program. If you volunteer, please let us know how your workshops went, and share your topics with us so YOU can be the spotlight of a future blog!

The Future- Revisited

November 12, 2008


Last Monday we blogged about a presentation given by Zach Kaplan and Keith Schacht at TED’s annual conference in 2005. After a little research, this is what I found out about their proposed ‘Six Products of the Future’

  1. Squishy Magnets” -These were developed and marketed by the Taica Corporation as part of their XGel product line. The company sells the material that is used for pen grips, medical equipment, and machines, but is yet to market a product that uses the soft, squishy magnet, or to sell it from their website. However, there is an application for a trial size that can be found on the main page
  2. 10-ft Pole” – I could not find any information about the use Keith and Zach mentioned of the pole by the US Army, but did find a similar 8-foot pole listed on a magicians website. It does not unfold quite the same as the one used in this presentation, but is equally surprising.
  3. Dry Liquid” – The liquid described in the video was manufactured by 3M. A search of their website showed a surprisingly extensive list of innovations.
  4. Bendable Plastic“- As for the idea of a bendable, shapeable plastic, it looks like a product called Wiggle Wonder has been winning a number of awards for it’s innovative ‘moves’
  5. Detectable Ink“- This search provided no results. I guess those of us hoping for the automatic conversion of information from paper to electronic text the presenters discussed will have to wait!
  6. Oder-detecting Ink” Again, unfortunately for those of us who were excited by the prospect of never smelling spoiled milk again, this product is not yet on the market. Perhaps some of today’s students can look into the invention of such a system!

If you hear or see of any applications of the materials described above that I have missed, click on “Add Comment” and let us know… we would love to hear about it!

Helping Your Children Learn How To Multiply

November 10, 2008

This semester I learned from a parent that kids are being taught how to multiply using different strategies than the traditional one we grew up with. This is great since kids that have different learning styles can use the strategy they understand or like the most to reach the same result. The only problem is that you may not be able to help your children with multiplication homework if you don’t know the strategies. I certainly didn’t know any of these strategies until today.

I hope this blog helps you help your children with their multiplication homework.

Here are some videos that demonstrate different multiplication strategies one of which may be the one your child is learning to use.

This video is directed towards parents and it demonstrates The Traditional Way we use to multiply, The Breakdown (called distributive property in the second video) and The Box:

In this video, children explain 4 Double Digit Multiplication Strategies: The Snowball Effect, Hundreds-Tens-Tens-Ones, The Distributive Property (same as The Breakdown) and The Old School (same as the Traditional Way):

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Lattice Multiplication Strategy (it looks like this girl is in a restaurant explaining to her dad how to use this strategy!):

I found more videos with different strategies but I will not attach them all or this blog will be inundated with videos. Here are some of the video titles and authors you can use to search in http://www.youtube.com:

  • Fast Multiplication Technique Part 1 and Part 2 from expertvillage
  • Quick Math Tricks: Multiplying Large Numbers by 5 from expertvillage
  • multiplication using vedic mathematics from shailyvipul
  • Cluster Strategy for Multi-digit Multiplication from SuperDubb007
  • Compensation Strategies for Multiplication from lindseyacadia

There are many more videos and some that repeat the strategies but those are the ones I found most useful.

Have you found yourself in this situation of not being able to help your kids with multiplication homework? Was this information useful to you?

STEM Events to look Forward to BEFORE the end of the year

November 7, 2008

It might be hard to believe, but we are now half way through autumn and well on our way to another wonderful Rochester winter. While there are many things to look forward to in 2009, there are also many STEM events taking place in our area before the coming of the new year.

Click on the calendar above to find more information on the RAC-CEMS website

Click on the calendar above to find more information on the RAC-CEMS website

Below are some highlights:

  • A General Astronomy Meeting will be held at RIT tonight at 7:30pm
  • The Elementary Science Program (ESP) will hold 3 free PD workshops on various topics for specific grade levels (2nd, 3rd, and 4th)
  • The Finger Lakes Institute will be hosting a number of community-based science presentations including a special three day event about the Love Canal neighborhood.
  • Numerous grant and award applications are due for 2009 awards.
  • And, on clear Saturday nights, the telescopes at the RMSC Planetarium will be in operation by the friendly members of Rochester Academy of Science (call ahead to double check).

More details on all of the above events can be found on the RAC-CEMS calendar at: http://www.raccems.org/events

If you know of an event that is not on our calendar, please let us know so we can add it to our listing.

Using Sand in Your Classroom

November 5, 2008

Browsing through my feeds I found an article on sand from Andrew Alden, a Geology Guide. As I was reading, it made me think about projects that could be done with sand in a science class, from Kindergarten to 12th grade. Some projects I thought about are: an art project in primary school, a report on what sand is used for in middle school, doing something with sand in the chemistry lab in high school.

This also reminded me of the sandblasting that young visitors can do at the Corning Museum of Glass.

The article Here’s Sand in Your Eye answers questions such as this:

– What is considered sand?

– What is sand made out of?

– What does sand form or make?

– Does sand make sound?

These are questions that a teacher could ask students to do a short report on.

What other sand projects do you think your students could do?

Spark Interest with Videos

November 3, 2008

Over the summer, a friend of mine shared an amazing site with me. It’s called ted.com; subtitle: ideas worth spreading. TED stands for technology, entertainment, and design. For the past twenty four years, TED has held an annual conference at which some of the world’s most facinating thinkers and doers have spoken. This site offers countless videos that can be used to spark the interest of students, introduce new topics in your classroom, as well as a conversational springboard for people of all ages.

One video that caught my attention today is entitled “Products (and toys) from the Future“. The presenters of this video, Zach Kaplan and Keith Schacht are co-founders of Inventables, a company that collects and shows off new materials and new ideas. In this video they present six specialized materials, and offer ideas how to best use them.

Six Products of the Future are explored in this video

Six Products of the Future are explored in this video

After viewing this video, I wondered how many of the six materials listed have indeed been marketed since this presentation. I will spend some time over the next week looking into this… please refer back to our blog to find out, and add any thoughts  you might have.

 If you take a minute to explore some of the other videos, please let us know which ones you find most interesting and/or useful in your teaching/learning. We hope you enjoy the resource!