Sep 29, 2015

Blue-bots in First Grade

STEAM Task Force member, Salimah Valiani, bravely invited us to her first grade classroom at Rosemary. I mentioned at our last meeting that I was looking for a few teachers to pilot a few of our new STEAM Resources (before they are available to all CUSD teachers next month) and Salimah was the first to volunteer! I prepared the Blue-bot centers similarly to the Bee-bot centers, but I payed even closer attention to aligning them with K - 2 Common Core Math and Literacy Standards. Luckily my fellow elementary TOSAS, Amanda Haughs and Eve Lindsey, were around to make sure I was reinforcing the standards with rigor. 
Amanda even came with me to test out the math number line center! We carefully aligned that center with the Doubles +1 Eureka Math Lesson that the first graders are currently learning. Students selected a number and read it aloud, then their partner doubled it and added one. Another student then programmed this algorithm for Blue-bot to perform. Some students also took on the challenge of subtracting one instead. This truly made the number line concepts physically come to life!
The students are learning basic programming with the Blue-bots and having fun practicing the math and ELA skills they are learning in class. I will share more about the other centers next time!

Sep 26, 2015

Hot Air Balloon Launch

Yesterday was the big day for the Hot Air Balloon Launch at Blackford! After graphing the weather everyday, the third graders decided to launch their balloons at 9:00 a.m.! NASA education specialist, Russell Billings, taught the students that hot air rises faster during the coolest time of the day.
The students used tissue paper, gluesticks, and a lot of teamwork to build their balloons! They shared their learning with their parents, the Blackford community, and representatives from NASA and BloomSky. A special thank you to the Blackford third grade teachers and administrators, Anu Gupta, Tammy Bilbes, Michelle Giraudo, Shanti Lipari, Corrine Frese, and Jen Jasper for all their hard work in making this STEAM project possible!

Sep 21, 2015

Monroe Middle School In MinecraftEDU

Nicole (Lavia) Beardsley's 6th grade class has been hard at work creating a model of Monroe Middle School in MinecraftEDU. Nicole first planned this project in the summer, while she was collaborating with other teachers as part of the Advanced STEAM Cohort. She wanted her students to not only learn, but be able to teach others about the PBIS skills at Monroe. So she had her students carefully study and build different parts of Monroe's campus.
STEAMSpace leader, Josh Britton, also prepared a special MinecraftEDU world to help students visualize where different buildings on campus should be. Students later added signs and info blocks to teach other students the "Maverick Code of Conduct" in those areas. What a fantastic way to allow the students to really be leaders in promoting positive behavior at school!

Sep 18, 2015

Blackford Hot Air Balloon Challenge

All of the Blackford 3rd graders have been hard at work designing their NASA Mission Patches and designing their hot air balloons. After a visit from a NASA engineer, Anu Gupta explained to the students that for each NASA mission, the astronauts design a special team patch. Each part of the patch, including the shape, symbols, words, and colors have a special significance to the team. Here are a few of the 3rd grade team patches.
Then, after doing research about hot air balloons, students drew diagrams for their designs. To prepare the students for working with tissue paper next week, the third grade teachers had them prototype with paper towels. It was fascinating to watch the students problem solve how to attach the paper towels and how to help it keep its shape! 
The third graders and teachers can't wait to design and test their tissue paper hot air balloons next week!

Sep 16, 2015

3D Design and Printing with TinkerCad

This summer, Amanda (Ballinger) Del Real was part of our Advanced STEAM Teacher Cohort. One of the projects that she learned about was the animal and plant cell 3D design and printing. Her 5th grade team at Castlemont, Christa Norum and Susan Evans, had their classes participate in the project too! 
After learning about the different cell organelles, students sketched and labeled their own cells. Amanda Haughs and I later helped introduce the students to TinkerCad and how to use it to build their own 3D cell model. One of their favorite tools was making "new shapes" by cutting holes and grouping existing ones. We made sure to highlight the math connections with metric measurement, scaling, geometry, and degrees!

Students then saved their finished cells as .stl files in their Google Drive. Then Josh Britton our STEAMSpace leader at Monroe helped print a few cells out for each class! Thank you all for the awesome STEAM teamwork!

Sep 10, 2015

STEAM Lunch Club with Spheros

We had our first Wednesday STEAM lunch club at Campbell Middile School! Library Media Specialist, Sandy Richards, contacted me at the end of last school year to begin planning for this lunch club. After seeing that many of the public libraries are starting to add STEAM activities or MakerSpaces, we decided the CMS library was the perfect place to host some of our district STEAM projects. In September, students in grades 5 - 8 can program the Sphero Robot using the Sphero iPad App and the Draw and Drive App. An engaging way for our students to really use their critical thinking skills!

I'm excited to use the new education SPRK iPad App to help teachers integrate Sphero into their classroom lessons and STEAM workshops! Learn more about Sphero at:

Sep 8, 2015

Bloomsky Weather Station

Today we were so fortunate to have Carlos and Sam from BloomSky come to Blackford Elementary school! They introduced all of the third graders to the BloomSky Weather Station.
They demonstrated how the device works and how we can use the data to inform our choices in everyday life; such as what to wear and when to plan an outdoor activity. The students were also fascinated to see the weather in different parts of the world, such as China and Australia! 
We also organized some of the data on a class bar graph to represent the temperature in different locations and at different times of the day at Blackford. The third graders will continue to graph the temperature at different times of the day at Blackford to look for patterns over the next few weeks. A great way to integrate science, math, and technology!
BloomSky is donating a weather station to all of the schools in our school district and they should be installed in the next month or two! How will you integrate BloomSky into your classroom?

Sep 6, 2015

Printrbot Play 3D Printer

Our Printrbot 3D Printer arrived last week! Last year, we were able to get a Makerbot 3D Printer for each of our middle schools. This year, we are doing research to see if we can find an affordable, easy to use 3D Printer for some of our elementary schools. After visiting the Tech Museum of Innovation and the Tech Shop, I learned that they both highly recommend the Printrbot brand. Their newest model, the "Play" is just $399, a fraction of what other printers sell for!
When the Play arrived, it was assembled and the instruction manual was online. One thing that surprised me was that there is no power switch, so you must use the electrical plug to turn it on and off. Also, the print platform is 4"x4"x5", I was okay with this, but it is something to consider. Like other printers, Printrbot recommends covering the platform with painters tape for first layer adhesion.

Printrbot doesn't have is own software, but it recommends using a software called Cura. I liked that it was pretty simple to drag and drop my stl file into the software. However, Cura runs with specific codes, like "M500" which can be difficult to master and troubleshoot. Luckily, once I entered the codes correctly, it printed my first object pretty perfectly!
Unfortunately, as soon as I tried to print my second object, I ran into some trouble. The nozzle was too low and started scraping the tape and platform. I did some online research and troubleshooting, but was only able to manually adjust the nozzle, which isn't going to be practical when printing multiple student projects. I also learned that Printrbot does not offer phone support, so I sent them an email and am hoping to hear back soon!

Sep 5, 2015

Fairy Tale Engineers

On Friday, Mary Hill (second grade teacher at Forest Hill) invited Amanda Haughs and I to take part in a STEAMy engineering project! As a part of their ELA fairy tale unit, the second graders were presented with a challenge to build a parachute to help Jack safely get down the beanstalk.
Mary had her students use the engineering design process to brainstorm and draw a labeled diagram of their ideas. She gave each partner group a Lego "Jack" and a choice of different types of paper and string. We were particularly impressed with the quality of their labeled diagrams!
Students were then extremely excited to test their parachute prototypes from the playground! Each group collected data from two tests, recording of their parachute worked out didn't work each time.
After testing, students shared their results and what they learned with the class. It was really inspiring to hear the second graders talk about how much they love engineering and building! Thank you, Mary for letting us join your class on this adventure!