Free Technology for Teachers

Free Technology for Teachers. This is a good look at ThingLink which is a pretty cool tool. The guest blogger Shawn McCusker, really does a good job talking about how ThingLink can be used in the classroom. Gave me some ideas.

14 Bloom’s Taxonomy Posters For Teachers

14 Bloom’s Taxonomy Posters For Teachers. I know Bloom’s Taxonomy has changed over the years. Especially when looking at different types of teaching strategies such as Flipping the Classroom and Modeling. And you have probably seen many of these, but I thought some of them were unique and different. I’m using some of the suggestions for questions in my worksheets and assignments on my vodcasts. Something recommended by “Flipping by Kirch”. But most of all I’m making it a goal this year to ask at least 3 higher order thinking questions each class. Now just remembering to do this will be another goal.

The DIY World of Maker Tools and Their Uses | Edutopia

The DIY World of Maker Tools and Their Uses | Edutopia. This is just an add on to my last entry. Seems woodshop is becoming popular again.

Makerspace vs Shop different or the same?

I decided I needed to write a quick note about this topic; Makerspace. Good idea? I think so, but remember anything is good when used correctly. It can be a room or within a classroom. That’s the new topic appearing on the internet. But for some of us do you remember Shop? I sure do and that’s where I learned how to use a drill, table saw and other tools properly. Is this beginning to sound familiar?

For the past couple of weeks Makerspaces have been the topic of discussion in many chats and articles. The website makerzine has some really great articles if you are looking for some help. At the ISTE 2014 conference in Atlanta there were a ton of workshops and discussions on Makerspaces. We just got our Makerspace at school and this school year the room should be really busy with new courses we are implementing.

So I’m getting off the topic, what I’m trying to point out here is that Shop during my time is the same thing as the Makerspace. Amazing how education and schools turned their backs on these types of courses in the 90’s or maybe later, and now they are coming back. Well in some other form they are coming back.

I guess my point is that when I was growing up engineering and problem solving were already a part of courses like Shop. So we had a good many students heading into engineering and other STEM areas. I think when Shop left the schools, we began to see the drop in students entering the STEM fields. I don’t have any data to prove this but is there a correlation? I don’t know. And of course I have no statistics. But I’m just pointing this out.  Thinking smile

Here are some resources you can us to set up a Makerspace:

What is a makerspace?

Create a school makerspace in 3 simple steps

How might we….create the next great innovator

Flipping with Kirch: Creative Commons

Flipping with Kirch: Creative Commons.Great graph shared by Ms. Kirch about creative commons and flipped learning. I have never thought about this, especially with all the pictures I post. But now I think I will be following this a bit more closely. I would also like to post this in my classroom as part of our Digital Citizenship initiative.

ISTE 2014

From Cleveland and NES, I went directly to Atlanta to the ISTE 2014 (International Society for Technology in Education). For three months we had planned this conference trip. And it finally arrived.

There were some good points and bad points to the conference. First if you are deciding on going next year here are a couple of hints. Do not go on the first two days, meaning the conference started on Friday, but the free workshops didn’t start until Sunday.  On Saturday there was the ignite session which was pretty good. But you had to watch it on TV because it was closed out.  In reality we both agreed (I had another person from our school attending with me) that you could arrive late Saturday and still enjoy some of the events on Saturday. We did get a chance to attend the celebration event. During the time there on Saturday we had a chance view some of the poster presentations. There were a variety of presentations. Poster presentations were topics being presented by different people about different topics.



Sunday and Monday were the best days for the conference, for us anyway.  One of the “presentation areas” of the conference that I thought was unique were the “playgrounds”. Here people presented various technology used in teaching different topics. For example, there was a playground named “Science and Math”. Presenters showed off some of the technology they used in their Science classrooms. These presentations were great because you had the freedom to walk around and talk to the presenters as they showed off their tools. Of course one of the presenters was NASA. Their table was constantly crowded. Nothing unusual about that.  Good resource for the magnetosphere mission called “Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission”. 

Both days had a number of presentations, but because of the amount of people who were attending the event seemed have a good many presentations closed because they were filled. We did get into the Expo on the first day and this was impressive. As a matter of fact this is where we got some up to date information about different tools. One of those tools was Google Classroom. I think this is going to be a hit among schools that use Google Apps and tools in their school.  During the conference you could ask for a demonstration of the tool. We did and were impressed. What was impressive was the way Google was streamlining all their apps so you could use them in one place. Also you could grade and do other assessment work in the classroom. Other talks introduced different ways you could use Google spreadsheets and draw.  I thought the best information of new tools were given out at each vendors presentation area. At Google, Adobe and Tech Smith. 

At Tech Smith I actually meet Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann, the guru’s of flipped learning. They introduced their new book “Flipped Learning Gateway to Student Engagement”  which goes beyond  “Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day.”  One of my goals this year is to improve on the flipped part of my classroom. So when I had the chance to obtain some advice from these flipped experts I took it. I got some really good ideas from Mr. Bergmann on how to introduce my students to vodecasts and note taking. Definite ideas for the beginning of the year and how to get them started on the proper way to take notes from the vodcasts. This was something I needed to improve upon.

The other really good presentation was by Microsoft and OneNote. It seems this program has made such improvements that more people are jumping on board with it. Gave me some awesome ideas for the upcoming school year since we are going 1:1.  Students could use this as their notebook, journal or even lab notebook. Take a look at some of the features at this website (Interact Café) and you might find some cool ideas.  Most of the tips are for OneNote 2013. Which I think is an improvement on the office products.



There were tons of other exciting material being given out at the conference, but of course we couldn’t see everything. The above were just a few of the highlights that I particular liked. I will say that we could have cut this trip down to 3 days instead of five. On Tuesday there wasn’t much to do. We did go to a couple of presentations, but we could have left in the morning. If you are going to this conference next year I would recommend you sign up for presentations that have pre-registration. Then you can always fill your time in with other workshops. Here are the numbers from ISTE, check out this graphic on the ISTE Blog. Hot smile

Teachers’ Practical Guide to A FLipped Classroom ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

Teachers’ Practical Guide to A FLipped Classroom ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. Interesting Infograph about Flipped Classroom.

Final Day NES

The final day with NASA explorers schools was a bit sad. We were getting the feeling that NES would be no more. The changes being made on the Federal level were going to affect many NASA educational programs and it was definitely looking like NES would be one of them. My thoughts on this are for another blog entry.


The final day we went Plum Brook Station. This is another testing facility that is part of Glenn Research Center, but located on a 6,400 acre area in Sandusky, Ohio. The first testing facility we visited was the B-2 building which housed the Spacecraft Propulsion Research Facility.  “It is the world’s only facility capable of testing full-scale upper-stage launch vehicles and rocket engines under simulated high-altitude conditions” (NASA) The facility has the ability to test all equipment that will encounter low temperatures, low pressure and other space environments.

DSC_0356                             DSC_0360

Our other tour was at the Space Power Facility (SPF), this is a chamber they use to test various rocket parts, payload fairings, ISS equipment and rover airbag systems.  Its pretty much the largest vacuum chamber built. The amount of pressure this chamber can withstand is amazing. Just a note here the facility was used in the Avengers movie. Everyone thought that was neat. Had to to get a photo in front of the facilities.

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So the whole experience came to end in flash. And many of you are going to ask; what did you get for your classroom. I got a ton of ideas. First, the Zero G Drop facility gave me some ideas for a mini engineering project. Gravity and planets. Students would  research different planets and how missions could land on them. They could build a model of the mission and test it on a Zero G tower model. Seems this would fit. Another lab or activity would use information from the Green Lab to teach students about alternative energy. We do a an alternative energy project in class, so I could add to this with a hands on portion. One other activity is the Slope activity. Using the EV3 Mindstorms students can create a rover that can drive on a slope similar to the one’s in the test facilities. Actually we did get a hands on activity for the slope from  the researchers. I’m thinking a box of sand set up in the room would work for the testing part of the assignment.  Tons of ideas for future lessons and activities DSC_0155.

These are just two ideas that I took from this experience. There are other ideas I’m thinking about. I think every experience I have had with NASA has always produced some awesome projects for my students. My students always benefit and they love to hear about all the places I have visited because of these experiences. Rolling on the floor laughing.

NES adventure continues ……Day 2

Day two was a bit unusual. Day one was about the environmental side of safety on the center grounds. Day two now would deal with human side of the safety, health.

Our first mentor was head of student safety training at the center. She gave us a brief outline about what college and high school students have to do for their safety training before they even start their internships. Interesting point here, I noticed in her packet for the interns there was a lab safety guide at the end of the training they had to sign. Similar to our lab safety guidelines we use in class.  I’m going to give the safety manual to the head of our science department and chemistry teachers. Definitely a good deal of chemistry safety listed in the packet.

The second part of the day included a visit to the NASA’s GreenLab Research Facility. Here we meet Dr. Bilal Bomani, Senior Research Scientist the person behind the lab. Dr. Bomani is working with alternative and renewable energy sources.

At the GreenLab Research Facility at the NASA Glenn Research Center, we are concentrating on green solutions for aviation fuels as well as green energy solutions.” Dr. Bomani

We spent a good deal of the morning at this facility and actually came away with an awesome variety of material to use in class. Dr. Bomani also has a TED talk, in which he summarizes his work. Great teaching tool for environmental topics. Actually thinking of using this when we do our alternative energy unit.

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The second part of the day included a talk with a Biotech researcher who was on the edge of new research. As we all know 3D printers are becoming very popular everywhere, but what we don’t know is what type of fumes and particles are being given off with these printers (Article). NASA has actually started researching this, especially because they are popular with other project researchers. According to this researcher, they are looking at the hazards that might be associated with the nanoparticles. NASA actually called OSHA to see if there were any regulations about the printers. There were none and now OSHA is waiting on the results from the NASA research. I’m curious as to what the data will show. I know we are looking into getting a 3D printer, I think precautions are going to have to be addressed about these printers.


After a brief lunch we went to the radiation safety area and had the opportunity to see the particle accelerator. Built in 1940’s by General Electric the cyclotron or particle accelerator is being dismantled. A bit different.


Our last stop was the countermeasure laboratory where they worked on various equipment that was being used on the ISS. The focus in this lab was “to mitigate the detrimental effects of microgravity on the human musculoskeletal system, astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).” This would be a great tool to use in class to discuss human body and different conditions that effect the human body.


The 2nd day ended on a great note when a few of us took a dinner cruise on Lake Erie. A definite recommendation for anyone visiting Cleveland. The next day we visited the Plum Brook Station, an extension of the Glenn Research Center.

NES Experience Begins…Glenn Research here we come!

Amazing that the summer started and within a week of ending school. I was already going on a professional development adventure. This year I was given the opportunity to go to Glenn Research center in Cleveland Ohio. And it didn’t disappoint me. And the most exciting part was meeting up with other teachers I had been with on other NASA adventures. I call them adventures because you never know what is going to happen.

DSC_0015         Beginning

Our first day included an introduction by our Mentor or Leader Marge. 19 Teachers from around the country ranging in grade level from elementary school to high school were part of this PD experience. The next morning we were given an introduction by Rob. Okay I forgot to his last name, my bad. He is a representative for the educational section of NASA. He talked about how the career growth in STEM was between 18 – 20 %. Estimating that for every non-STEM job there were at least 5-6 people waiting to be hired, while every STEM job there were maybe 2 people? (Not sure if his stats are correct, but they seem feasible to me). He briefly discussed the future of NASA education. It looks like there is going to be consolidation of agencies and their educational departments. Everything is going to be put under one umbrella. They are also interested in doing more challenges, real life designs, like the exploration design challenge.

NASA Safety                              Introduction


After our talks we our day began with meeting our safety people. I was partnered with another teacher I had meet 3 years ago at GARVT. They were a great group. We were assigned this experience the night before. They couldn’t do enough for us. One person, Mike the engineer, (again forgot the last name, ugh) was awesome. An encyclopedia. His knowledge of all the research going on the base was amazing. As they took us around to different facilities he explained all the research going on and the safety requirements behind the research. Glenn is one of the largest testing facilities in the world. There are hundreds of research testing taking place every day.

Hot/Cold Vacuum facility

Hot/Cold Vacuum facility

First stop was vacuum testing area. Not only could testing be done with heat it also used liquid nitrogen to cool the chamber down to 77 degrees Kelvin. Amazing. Great presentation for Thermodynamics. The next stop was the Zero G Drop tower. As tall as the Washington Monument, this test facility was mainly underground. A microgravity state of 5.18 sec can be achieved. We were fortunate enough to see a drop. I’ve included the movie. The object being tested reaches 35 G’s by the time it reaches the catching area.

Before heading to other parts of the facilities we visited the testing area that was being used for simulating conditions on Venus. You ask why? because they want to send something to Venus and they are trying to simulate the conditions. Interesting tidbit Mike told us, the ring gasket on the system is not holding up to the extreme conditions, so researchers are creating one that will. Spinoff in the making!

Venus Testing

Venus Testing

The slope was the last research facility we visited for the day. In this area they were testing tires for rovers and other vehicles. The scarab was their test vehicle and we got a chance to drive it. Robots all over again. Definitely giving me ideas about creating our own slope in the classroom and using it as a PBL with our EV3 Mindstorms.  This was our last visit for the day. Yep again my brain was exploding and I was trying to keep everything in perspective. Throughout the day our mentors stressed how safety played a role in all the facilities and the testing going on. The next day would be the Health issues and safety associated with the center.  Day 2 coming soon and look for ISTE updates.

Control Room 10 X 10 Wind Tunnel

Control Room 10 x 10 Wind Tunnel





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