Posts about teachers

NASA Science Website

The NASA Science Mission Directorate sponsors scientific research, and develops and deploys satellites and probes in collaboration with NASA’s partners around the world to answer fundamental questions requiring the view from and into space. SMD seeks to understand the origins, evolution, and destiny of the universe and to understand the nature of the phenomena that shape it. SMD also seeks to understand:

* the nature of life in the universe and what kinds of life may exist beyond Earth;
* the solar system, both scientifically and in preparation for human exploration; and
* the Sun and Earth, changes in the Earth-Sun system, and the consequences of the Earth-Sun relationship for life on Earth.

Maybe, for this site NASA actually listened to the engineers: as this site works rather than making false claims about the visitor’s browser. The site includes content specifically targeted at teachers, students, researchers and the general public.

Related: Great Self PortraitBoiling Water in SpaceMars Rovers Getting Ready for Another Adventure

Computer Science Unplugged

Computer Science Unplugged offers a free, interesting collection of activities designed to teach the fundamentals of computer science without requiring a computer. Because they’re independent of any particular hardware or software, Unplugged activities can be used anywhere, and the ideas they contain will never go out of date. Unplugged activities have been trialled and refined over 15 years in classrooms and out-of-school programs around the world maintained by the University of Canterbury in Christchurch New Zealand.

Topics include: Binary Numbers, Text Compression, Error Detection, Searching Algorithms, Sorting Algorithms, Steiner Trees and Public Key Encryption.

Related: Leadership Initiatives for Teaching and TechnologyFun k-12 Science and Engineering LearningEducation Resources for Science and Engineeringk-12 Engineering Education

FIRST Robotics in Minnesota

photo of students working on robot

Robotics: The future is now

As educators statewide push for better science and math education, the popularity of an international robotics competition has grown drastically among Minnesota high schools. The FIRST Robotics competition, where high school students build complicated robots to push a ball along and do other tasks, has 54 Minnesota teams this year, up from just two in 2006.

Area educators attribute the growth to dramatic fundraising by Minnesota technology companies desperate to encourage future engineers and a statewide push to improve science and technology education. “It’s a long-term investment,” said Dr. Stephen Oesterle, senior vice president of medicine and technology for Medtronic, who pushed other companies to donate.

The competition started in New Hampshire in 1992. Now, it includes more than 1,500 teams from around the world. Founded by entrepreneur Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway, FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.”

Photo by By Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune, from left – Mindy Blom, Schanell Gauna, Andrade and teacher Jill Johnson

Related: National Underwater Robotics ChallengeNorthwest FIRST Robotics CompetitionRobots Wrestling, Students LearningRhode Island FIRST2006 FIRST Robotics Competition Regional Events

Scientific American Frontiers Webcasts

All shows of the PBS TV show, Scientific American Frontiers are available online. The shows feature Alan Alda exploring a wide range of scientific ideas. Specific information for teachers if provided for each show. Shows include:

  • Going Deep – “In 1977, scientists aboard Alvin were exploring the Galapagos Rift in the Pacific Ocean when they made one of the most important discoveries in modern biology. Hydrothermal vents are underwater volcanoes erupting magma-heated, mineral-rich water out of cracks on the seafloor thousands of feet beneath the surface. Despite the enormous pressure and total darkness, the vents were found to support an astonishing array of animal life.”
  • The Dark Side of the Universe – Dark matter, dark energy and the universe.
  • Natural Born Robots – “The next generation of robots swim like fish, play soccer and even experience emotions.”
  • Science and Sports – “Science enables people to run quicker, climb higher, hit farther, and sail faster in this sports special.”

Related: BBC In Our Time Science Podcast ArchiveCurious Cat Science Webcast DirectoryOnline Science Resources for TeachersUC-Berkeley Course Videos OnlineScienceLive video archive from Cambridge University

Grade School Engineering

Reading, Writing … And Engineering

More than 2,200 middle and high schools use engineering courses offered by Project Lead the Way, a Clifton Park, N.Y., nonprofit that receives industry support, up from just 12 when the initiative started in 1997. And Infinity Project, developed out of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, is now in 300 schools, up from 12 in 1999. The impact of these initiatives on the ranks of engineers remains to be seen.

Besides creating curricular approaches, groups are lobbying state governments to add engineering to their education standards.

Massachusetts included engineering content in its state science requirements for grades K-12 starting in 2001. New Hampshire began sprinkling engineering and technology concepts into its science curriculum starting last school year. New Jersey incorporated engineering concepts into its state education standards starting in 2004. And more states are following: Texas is working on creating standards for an engineering course that can be used to fulfill a high-school science credit.

Teaching through problem-solving storybooks that feature characters from around the globe “becomes a lot richer and is liberating for many kids and many teachers,” she says. The curriculum can cost as little as $40 — the price of a teacher’s binder, including lesson plans and one storybook. For about $6,000, a school could furnish materials, refills and a storybook for each student in every grade.

Related: resource directory for teachersk-12 Engineering Education (project lead the way)k-12 Engineering EducationLego LearningEconomic Benefits of Investing in Science EducationEngineering Activities: for 9-12 Year OldsYale Cultivates Young EngineersPlaying Dice and Children’s NumeracyEngineering Education AdvocateNational Underwater Robotics Challenge

Technology and Fun in the Classroom

Bridging technology with fun

Mitch Lown and Dave Arndt teach technology education to students at Bangor High School and West Salem High School. A few of the courses they teach were once, years ago, called “shop class,” but the curriculum is far more advanced today. Not only are these not your father’s shop classes, they aren’t shop classes at all.

Computer programs, 3-D designs, architectural drawing, engineering, mass production and the design and marketing of products are only some of the areas local high school students are tackling in Lown and Arndt’s classes.

In their manufacturing classes, both Lown and Arndt give students a feel for what it’s like to set up a business and produce and sell a product. And they do make a profit. Lown’s students, for example, built and sold mounting kits for deer antlers and made a profit on the venture. Arndt said he always stays conscious of the world that students will face after graduation.

“I address every class as if it’s a job,” he said. “We’re not here to waste time because that’s not the way it’s going to be when they get in the job market. The biggest challenge for me is changing the attitudes of some students and instilling a work ethic. If they say they are going to do something, they need to follow through on that.”

Related: Educational Institutions Economic ImpactMiddle School EngineersInspire Students to Study Math and ScienceComputer Game and Real World EducationKids in the Lab: Getting High-Schoolers Hooked on Science

Engineering Resources for K-12 Teachers

Teach Engineering, funded by NSF, provides k-12 teachers “teacher-tested, standards-based engineering content” to “enhance learning, excite students and stimulate interest in science and math through the use of hands-on engineering.”

The TeachEngineering digital library provides teacher-tested, standards-based engineering content for K-12 teachers to use in science and math classrooms. Engineering lessons connect real-world experiences with curricular content already taught in K-12 classrooms. Mapped to educational content standards, TeachEngineering’s comprehensive curricula are hands-on, inexpensive, and relevant to children’s daily lives.

Available modules include: Engineering and the Human Body, Exploring Solar Power, Engineering: Simple Machines and Environmental Engineering.

Engineering is Elementary

Elementary Engineers: Engineering concepts should be taught at an early age by Polly Roberts, Richmond.com:

Christine M. Cunningham, vice president of research at the Museum of Science, Boston spoke to more than 200 Virginia elementary school teachers last week at the 10th Annual Children’s Engineering Convention in Glen Allen.

The EiE program then provides teachers with lesson plans, handouts and background information so they can discuss the engineering aspects of the book with their students and have them participate in their own “engineering design challenge,” which in this case would be developing a water purifier.

Cunningham said the program helps build and reinforce skills such as problem solving, data analysis, teamwork, creativity and more. Plus, starting the lesson with a book incorporates literacy.

Engineering is Elementary (EiE): Engineering and Technology Lessons For Children

This is another nice resource for teachers including lesson plans such as: Catching the Wind – Designing Windmills. For more resources see our: Science and Engineering Link Directory