And We are Off to States-Robotics

Just a bit of an update on Robotics. Actually more of a summary of the year to this point. I neglected to write an entry for the past events, so I’ll catch up here.

We started the year off at Cisco, for the Kickoff to the NC FTC Challenge competition year.  And I will say what a challenge this year.  You can read about the challenge and watch a short video at the NC FTC page. It was a great day, two of our students got a chance to work with Congressman David Price. Half our team presented in different sessions during the day.

robotics      Robotics Kickoff 2015 (1)

Once our team found out the challenge for this year they got to work. The next event was a scrimmage and they didn’t do bad.  New wheels and a base were created using the shopbot and 3D printer. A couple of bumps in the competition but overall they did okay. This is the time the team usually will redo and improve on their build. Hint for mentors and coaches in robotics, give the students as much time as possible and allow them to experiment. Sometimes we need to let them fail to succeed.

Lauren Pettibone robotics tournament (368)-X3

The next event was the qualifier on January 17th held at Cardinal Gibbons, we had 24 teams from around NC come for a day of competition.  This year we hosted the event in the Gym and broadcasted the event. We estimated about 300 people came to watch throughout the day. If you missed it  check it out the broadcast is on High School Cube Channel. Over 600 people have watched so far. We didn’t do as well as we wanted to and had to go back to the drawing board. But that’s the point, making the robot better every time. We had two weeks to improve the robot. Our next qualifier was at Trinity High School. There we did well in our first two matches and then had a servo break on us. Overall the robot ran well. But again we needed to make some more modifications if we were to do well at the next competition. Ended up we won the Think Award, for our engineering book. We qualified for States. So the young men and women who worked hard on the robot are now getting a chance to go to States and try to qualify for the super regionals.

Through this whole thing I think the team learned a great deal about persistence and teamwork. Never expecting to place the team’s hope was to win something so they would qualifier. They did that and also came in second for another award. They might not have won the tournament. But they did well. That is the one good thing about First Robotics, they do give everyone a chance to win something even if they don’t win their matches.

Next stop for the team is States at A& T University in Greensboro on February 20th.

The Science of Learning (and technology’s impact on how we learn) – A.J. JULIANI

This is the third article in a four-part series answering the question: Does education really need to change? You can read the first two posts here and here. I leaned over the shoulder of a student in the library. She was quietly working with headphones in, and completely focused. What caught my attention is that …

Source: The Science of Learning (and technology’s impact on how we learn) – A.J. JULIANI

Interesting points brought up by Mr. Juliani with this series. This article is especially interesting when discussing the changes that have taken place in what we learn and how we learn it. With new technology, a new way of learning is introduced. How we deal with this is the question. I have not really thought about this in depth. After reading Mr. Juliani’s article I do believe “how we learn”does become important in education. Read his article and let me know what you think.

Rainbows reclassified | EARTH Magazine

Never knew rainbows were classified. How they develop and size supposedly depends on diameter of water droplet. But new research shows that there might be another factor, angle of the sun. Great geometry topic and optics topic.

Source: Rainbows reclassified | EARTH Magazine

American Meteorological DataStreme Course

Its been a while since I last posted and I need to apologize for that. I’ve been trying to keep up the blog by posting various small articles. Hopefully some of these have been helpful to my readers.  Why I’ve been a bit behind is because school has been very busy and I took a course this semester. I decided last spring I would take the DataStreme course from AMS.

The course is offered by the AMS (American Meteorological Society),  and given in both the fall and spring. I decided to take the fall since I teach a meteorological unit in the spring. There are two other course offered, one on oceans and the other on climate. The DataStreme covers all meteorological topics. Something I believed I needed a better background in so I could teach it next spring.

The course, DataStreme Atmosphere – focuses on the study of the atmospheric environment; DataStreme Ocean – explores the ocean in the Earth system;  and  DataStreme Earth’s Climate System (ECS) –  incorporates inquiry-based instructional strategies and a holistic concept of Earth from oceanic, atmospheric and terrestrial climate and problem-focused perspectives.


It was a pretty intense course but well worth the effort and time I put into it. I feel very confident now teaching some of the topics of our meteorological unit.  As I said before I decided to take the course because I teach a 4 – 5 week unit on meteorology in the spring. The resources alone were a great help. Many of the maps and data we used can be found on the National Weather Service and NOAA websites. We used the AMS textbook “Weather Studies”. The newer edition is digital but you can still get an older edition at Amazon.  This was a great resource! I would recommend it to anyone who needs a resource for this topic. It does go into some weather concepts in depth. And this might be a bit too in depth, but it gives you a good foundation for the topics. Definitely a great tool for teaching.

Part of the course was the ability to visit different organizations and their offices. We had to meet 3 times in person. It was worth the effort and travel. Our first meeting was at  WRAL and we meet with Mike Moss. We went through the studio and Mr. Moss talked to us about his daily requirements when working a shift at the Weather Desk. He was very informative and great to talk to. Our next meeting was at the beach, Moorehead City/Newport NWS Forecast office. Here we spoke with NWS meteorologists and helped launch a weather balloon. Another great time and very informative.

WRAL        NWS

Our last meeting was held at the NC State Climate Office. Our guest speaker talked about the weather network the office had set up throughout NC.  Part of the which can be accessed at this link . Our conversation included the importance of these stations and Farmers.  Working on minimum  funds they were doing a pretty good job. One thing about all our visits, the people who spoke offered to come to our schools to speak with our students. Something that can be very helpful when teaching the topic.

Overall the experience in this class was good. One thing I would remind people is that it does take a lot of independent work on your part when completing the course material. I’m actually thinking about joining the oceans courses next semester. We’ll see. Check out the course webpage for more information if you are interested.

New Camera Sees Invisible Greenhouse Gas – Scientific American

If you teach environmental science, chemistry or electromagnetic spectrum topic. This is a good piece of information to show how one is helping the other .

Methane cannot be seen by the eye, but a new infrared image shows it pouring from smokestacks

Source: New Camera Sees Invisible Greenhouse Gas – Scientific American

Interactive ebooks for kids | JOIDES Resolution – Ocean Drilling Research Vessel

Source: Interactive ebooks for kids | JOIDES Resolution – Ocean Drilling Research Vessel


For those of you who are elementary school teachers this looks pretty good. And its ibook and pdf.

NASA’s New Horizons Yields Wealth of Discovery | NASA

This definitely looks like some great information if you teaching volcanoes in class. I’m always talking about Olympus Mons on Mars. Now I can talk about these cryovolcanoes.

From possible ice volcanoes to twirling moons, NASA’s New Horizons science team is discussing more than 50 exciting discoveries about Pluto at this week’s 47th Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences in National Harbor, Maryland.

Source: NASA’s New Horizons Yields Wealth of Discovery | NASA

Why Return to the Columbia Hills? | The Planetary Society

This is an awesome blog entry written by one of students at Cardinal Gibbons High School. Alex’s passion for Space Exploration is amazing. Due to Alex’s passion we have formed a Space Exploration Club at school. The club recently Skyped with Dr. Ming. It was a great opportunity for our students.

Real Martian Explorers…just what does it take?” This interactive presentation will engage your students as they interact with Doug Ming, a NASA scientist within NASA Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (NASA ARES) at the NASA Johnson Space Center. Doug will talk about the exploration of Mars, the Martian Movie, and what it might take to enable humans to live and work on Mars as real Martian explorers.

Where should NASA’s next Mars rover, the Mars 2020 sample caching mission, land? One site under consideration is Spirit’s old stomping ground, the Columbia Hills.

Source: Why Return to the Columbia Hills? | The Planetary Society

An Awesome Teaching Moment

After about 3 months of school I have come to find that I have already experienced a great teaching moment. Or maybe a great teaching strategy? Or how about the the Good for this year?  Yep I think it already happened.  Every year I end with the good, the bad and the ugly. Well the good has happened. Or so I think.

I gave my students an extra credit assignment. Oh I know some teachers don’t believe in extra credit or anything that would even resemble this type of assignment. Well I do and my reason for doing this assignment is whole other argument. Anyway, I gave students the opportunity to go see the movie “The Martian”.  Since I teach High School, all my students are older than 13 years and can see the movie. But be warned it is PG-13, and has some language in it. I made sure my students knew this and spoke to their parents before attending the movie. It worked out because a good number of my parents went with their children.

After seeing the movie, students had an assignment to complete. They were required to complete the assignment and hand in their tickets with parents signature. The assignment included the questions below:

Describe 3 scenes in which science plays a major role in helping the character Mark Watney survive on the planet

Give two scenes that the science is questionable . Make sure you explain your answer

What was your opinion of the movie? Would you now read this book? Did this movie stir any interest in Mars or Space Exploration?

The last question was the one I was surprised and impressed with. First, I think it was a win win situation as they say. Most students went with their parents and it was family night out. Good way to get parents involved. Second students were very impressed with the movie and really enjoyed it. One said “I was surprised I liked the movie so much when it had so much science in it”.  I couldn’t help but smile at that. Other’s said they would like to find out more about Mars and Space exploration. But the greatest take away from this, they all agreed they wanted to read the book now. For a high schooler to say they are interested in the Science and then to want to read a book, I would say the assignment was an success. When I surveyed the students about a project for next semester, I asked if they would read a book, answer resounding YES! If I do make this a project I would choose “Rocket Boys” by Homer Hickman  or “The Martian”. But I will admit I’m still working on my Genius Hour Project.

The Martian movie I think did its job. Kudos to NASA, Andrew Weir and others for peeking the interest of my students. I know that when some get to high school they lose that “excitement” about science. This has sparked some excitement in my students and now we are participating in  a webnair with NASA about Mars. Also, I became moderator of Space Explorers Club and I have had students asking me about Space Camp. Yep, a definite Win Win!

An Easy Yet Powerful Method for Differentiating Instruction

Source: An Easy Yet Powerful Method for Differentiating Instruction Great idea for class thanks for sharing Pernille Ripp


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