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FREE STEM seeds PD Camp: June 4-5, 2014

We are excited to announce FREE registration is available for a 2 day, hands-on, elementary STEM workshop Wednesday, June 4 and Thursday, June 5, 2014, at Independence Elementary School in Yukon, Oklahoma. The workshop will be led by grade 4-5 STEM teachers Amy Loeffelholz and Wesley Fryer. More information about this professional development “camp” is available on camp.STEMseeds.org, including the planned agenda and EventBrite registration link.

The goals of STEM seeds PD camp are to provide opportunities for teachers to experience classroom STEM lessons from a student perspective, and develop STEM lesson facilitation skills. Camp provides opportunities for STEM teacher networking, idea sharing, and collaboration. Our June 2014 STEM Seeds Camp will focus on:

  • Hands-on building projects supporting engineering design
  • MinecraftEDU
  • Prosthetic Limb Construction
  • Building Design / Architecture
  • Forensic Science (CSI)
  • Kitchen Chemistry
  • Rocketry
  • Multimedia sharing through iPad-based narrated slideshows and interactive writing on KidBlog

We hope you can join us! This is late notice, so please help us spread the word via social media, email, and word-of-mouth!

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Upcoming: Interview with Chris Simon (Tue May 13th)

Please plan to join Chris SimonCrystal Butcher, Kylie Hill and Wesley Fryer on Tuesday, May 13th at 4:30 pm Eastern / 3:30 pm Central / 2:30 pm Mountain / 1:30 pm Pacific online (via a Google Hangout) to talk about STEM lesson ideas and ways to engage students through STEM learning. Please RSVP if you plan (or might join) our Google Hangout!  Chris Simon has been an elementary grade 4-5 STEM teacher and is currently the STEM Coordinator for the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma. In our interview he will share many of the “STEM kit” activities he’s put together and leads with local Girl Scouts. Please tweet about this event using the Twitter ID @STEMseeds and follow @STEMseeds. We hope you can join us for a lively discussion on May 13th! We will add links to referenced resources on our Google Doc for STEMSeeds show notes.

* Featured photo in this post:Making Samaras (helicopter seeds) with K-1st grade at Pleasant Vale Elementary” by Chris Simon

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Upcoming: Interview with Henry Ingwersen (Thurs Apr 17)

Please plan to join Henry IngwersenAmy Loeffelholz and Wesley Fryer on Thursday, April 17th at 4:30 pm Eastern / 3:30 pm Central / 2:30 pm Mountain / 1:30 pm Pacific online (via a Google Hangout) to talk about STEM lesson ideas and ways to engage students through STEM learning. Please RSVP if you plan (or might join) our Google Hangout! Henry is an elementary classroom STEM teacher in Wells, Maine, and maintains a blog about some of his classroom STEM lessons. Please tweet about this event using the Twitter ID @STEMseeds and follow @STEMseeds. We hope you can join us for a lively discussion on April 17th! We will add links to referenced resources on our Google Doc for STEMSeeds show notes.

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2014 5th Grade STEM Class Notebook

4th and 5th grade teacher Amy Loeffelholz in Yukon, Oklahoma, is using printed “STEM Notebooks” in Spring 2014 with her students. These notebooks include project information like goals, lab forms, recording sheets, vocabulary activities, and more. Each student has a copy of this STEM notebook in their folder to use and write on. A scanned PDF of Amy’s 5th grade STEM notebook is available. Its 68 pages include the following sections:

  1. Grouping Sheet (p 2)
  2. Measurement Intro (p 3 – 14)
  3. Length Lab (p 15 – 22)
  4. Weight Measurement Lab (p 23 – 25)
  5. Measure to Measure (p 26 – 30)
  6. Metric Mania (p 31 – 32)
  7. Pringles Challenge (p 33 – 39)
  8. By Golly by Gum (p 40 – 44)
  9. Mint Race Carts (p 45 – 47)
  10. Catapults (p 48 – 53)
  11. Prosthetics (p 54 – 57)
  12. Bag the Beans (p 58 – 59)
  13. Pop Fly (p 60 – 61)
  14. Tanagrams (p 62 – 65)
  15. Grid Paper, Brainstorming, Grouping (p 66 – 68)

Note: This file was updated on 4/11/2014. The original was 70 pages, some of the above page numbers may be slightly off.

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Water Bottle Rockets

This semester in my STEM class I’ve been planning to do an engineering design project involving rockets with students. Our district STEM coordinator, Adam Zodrow, alerted me to the possibility of helping students create plastic “water bottle rockets” instead of Estes rocket engine powered cardboard models like they have in the past. The Instructables as well as ScienceToyMaker websites both have instructions about how to create water bottle rocket launchers out of PVC, but this weekend at the first EdCampTulsa conference in Jenks I found something which might be even better. Lisa Seay (@lisaseay), a middle school science teacher in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, shared about the PITSCO Aquaport II Water Rocket Launcher which she’s used for several years with great success. She has shared a 3 page PDF lesson plan for “Water Rocket Construction” on her outstanding website wiki. The PITSCO water rocket launcher costs about $225. I’m going to borrow Lisa’s and try it out with our after-school Maker’s club students in April, and then in May try the lesson with my 4th and 5th grade STEM students.

In doing research on water bottle rocket options, I also found the AquaPod launcher, shown in the photo below. It’s much cheaper (only $35) and has positive reviews on Amazon, but it does not have the safety valve of the PITSCO Aquaport. It also appears to be prone to launch malfunctions, as demonstrated in this UK YouTuber’s review from June 2013.

Have you tried water bottle rocket projects with students? If so, what do you recommend and what have your “lessons learned” been?

PITSCO sells a couple teacher lesson guides but I haven’t actually read either of these yet:

  1. Water Rockets Teacher’s Guide ($25)
  2. Bottle Rockets ($2.50)
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Upcoming: Interview with Christie Paradise (Fri March 21st)

Please plan to join Christie Paradise, Amy Loeffelholz and Wesley Fryer on Friday, March 21st at 11 am Eastern / 10 am Central / 9 am Mountain / 8 am Pacific online (via a Google Hangout) to talk about STEM lesson ideas, STEM clubs, and ways to engage students through STEM learning. Please RSVP if you plan (or might join) our Google Hangout! Christie (@ChrisParadise on Twitter) is an elementary classroom teacher in MidWest City, Oklahoma, and leads an after-school STEM club for students at her school. Please tweet about this event using the Twitter ID @STEMseeds and follow @STEMseeds. We hope you can join us for a lively discussion on March 21st! We will add links to referenced resources on our Google Doc for STEMSeeds show notes.

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Upcoming: Interview with Brian Crosby (Tues March 18th)

Join Brian Crosby and Wesley Fryer via a Google Hangout on Tuesday, March 18th at noon Eastern / 11 am Central / 10 am Mountain / 9 am Pacific to talk about STEM lesson ideas and ways to engage students through STEM learning. Brian (@bcrosby on Twitter) is an award winning classroom teacher and currently a K-12 STEM coordinator in Nevada. His blog, “Learning is Messy,” is filled with STEM lesson ideas and can be found on http://learningismessy.com/blog/. We’ll remember to turn on the interactive Q&A feature of the Google Hangout on Air this time in ADVANCE so we can use it. Please tweet about this event using the Twitter ID @STEMseeds and follow @STEMseeds. We hope you can join us for a lively discussion on March 18th!

Please RSVP and connect to view this live Google Hangout on March 18th on this Google+ Event page.

Remember you can view videos and listen to audio podcasts of past STEMseeds shows by clicking the ARCHIVED SHOWS link at the top of our site. We hope you can join us March 18th!

Note: Jeff Utech is pictured with Brian and Wes in this photo from NECC in 2007.

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Center Assignment Grid

One of the challenges I’ve faced in having my students participate in center activities is managing their assignments as they rotate. For both center-based units I’ve done this year (“The Science and Technology of Music and Sound” and “Kitchen Chemistry“) we’ve done two centers per day. For the Kitchen Chemistry unit I started last week, I tried using a single page PDF file to track student group names and also manage their daily center assignments. I created a grid on the page, and when assigning groups had students circle the letter corresponding to their group. This PDF document is available via Google Drive.

I’m attaching a screenshot of this document too. It may seem like a small thing but this has REALLY helped my management of student groups. Perhaps this idea can help you too!

shared by Wesley Fryer (@wfryer)

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Upcoming: First STEM seeds Show (Monday, March 3)

You’re invited to watch and virtually participate in our first “STEM Seeds” webcast on Monday, March 3, 2014. The fun will begin at 11 am Eastern / 10 am Central / 9 am Mountain / 8 am Pacific tomorrow. Since we’re having a snow/ice day it should be a good day to start our shows! Please RSVP on the Google+ Hangout Event page, and use this link to join us live on YouTube! For our first show, Oklahoma STEM teachers will be discussing lessons we’ve been doing in our classrooms recently.

Also please follow / like “STEM seeds” on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+! I hope you can join us!

– Wesley Fryer (@wfryer@iesSTEM)

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Welcome to STEM seeds!

Inspired by the Seedlings podcast and a wealth of other educators who generously share as well as collaborate with social media, “STEM seeds” is launching in March 2014 as a website by teachers, for teachers focused on sharing lesson ideas, links, and resources focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teaching and STEM program support. I hope you will find the resources and ideas here helpful as you teach STEM and advocate for STEM in your school and community.

the winds of spring (365-99) by ** RCB **, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  ** RCB ** 

This collaborative space was originally envisioned as a spot where STEM teachers in Yukon, Oklahoma, could share lesson ideas. In 2011, Yukon Public Schools established a STEM program with fulltime, certified teachers teaching STEM for students in grades 4 and 5 at Independence Elementary School and Lakeview Elementary School. In 2012 the program was extended to Skyview Elementary School, one of seven K-3 schools in YPS. The STEM Program in Yukon Public Schools was recognized by Apple as an official “Apple Distinguished Program” for 2014 – 2016.

At a STEM workshop in February 2014, YPS STEM teachers discussed starting a website to share lesson ideas. Since a neighboring school district, Mustang Public Schools, just started an elementary STEM program in 2013-14 at Canyon Ridge Intermediate and Horizon Intermediate, we discussed the possibility of creating a shared site we could use to share lesson ideas and amplify STEM programs throughout Oklahoma.

In the summer of 2013, I discussed with Bob Sprankle (one of the founders of the Seedlings Podcast and an elementary technology teacher in Wells, Maine) the possibility of collaborating with the STEM teacher at their school. Today, on March 1, 2014, Bob and I visited again about this and I shared the idea for a website and periodic podcast which would be dedicated to STEM lesson idea sharing and collaboration.

After asking for suggestions and input on a website domain name via Twitter, Deb White suggested something related to seeds or roots.

I’ll be setting up a Gravity Forms powered CONTRIBUTE form soon so (hopefully) STEM teachers in Yukon, Oklahoma, Mustang, Oklahoma, Wells, Maine, and elsewhere can start using this site to briefly share lesson ideas. I also hope to soon start co-hosting a periodic podcast (recorded as a live Google Hangout) for STEM seeds.

Please follow STEM seeds on Twitter (@STEMSeeds), like our Facebook page and follow us on Google+. We’ll cross-post announcements about upcoming shows as well as new posts to the website on each of those social media channels. If you’re a STEM teacher, I hope you’ll consider contributing and possibly being a guest on a STEM seeds show. Hopefully this website will serve as a constructive catalyst for STEM teachers and others interested in supporting STEM education around the world!

If you have feedback or suggestions, I’d love to hear it. Please share via comments and/or on social media.

– Wesley Fryer (@wfryer)