The Educators’ Spin On It: 100 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day Every Day with Kids

The Educators’ Spin On It: 100 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day Every Day with Kids. Some really neat ideas for Earth Day on April 22nd. We are celebrating on April 21st at Cardinal Gibbons. Have a food truck, ice cream truck, animals and other presentations going on.

Two Useful Google Drive Tools for Teachers

Two Useful Google Drive Tools for Teachers.  To add these add-ons you must be in Google Docs. Once there go to the add-ons tab and search for the apps. They work great.

Special 3-D Delivery From Space to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center | NASA

Special 3-D Delivery From Space to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center | NASA. Thisreally a step in a whole new direction in space travel. Think about, parts can be made on the way to other destinations. Definitely something new!

Top 10 Differences Between High School Sports and Robotics

Top 10 Differences Between High School Sports and Robotics.

Interesting perspective on Robotics and Sports. Check it out!

This new device recycles plastic bottles into 3D-printing material – ScienceAlert

This new device recycles plastic bottles into 3D-printing material – ScienceAlert. Looks to me like this could be a winner. It is a bit expensive, but I think within a  short period of time it would definitely pay for itself. Especially if your printer is constantly being used. What an idea by these students, I can see this taking off. Perfect example of engineering and solving a problem.

A year with Robotics

I’ve been wanting to write about the Robotics Team and my experience with the program for a while. Since it is becoming a very popular program in schools these days, I thought the information I posted might help those who are starting a program or have one already.  I know I have posted before about robotics. Some things might be the same while others are a look back on how the year went.

First I’ll update the results from the Qualifier at Cardinal Gibbons. As a team we won the Connect Award . The students did a good job talking about all the events and outreach they did during the year. The results and video of the competition can be found at our robotics page. 

Robotics Photo Gallery

After the tournament the team worked on their design. There were problems during the Competition which needed to be addressed. Team members did an awesome job addressing them for the next tournament. Lesson learned here, problem solving and making adjustments to their design so they could improve their tournament performance.  Next stop was the Trinity School Tournament.  The video from the competition is available here. The team won the PTC Design Award. Great achievement. All of the judges awards are located at 2014-2015 NC FTC Qualifier Award Winners .

Again the team worked on improving the robot and this time the State Tournament was the next stop. One of the major areas of the tournament for Robotics is not only the actual robots performing on the field but the team doing well in the interviews. In the last two interviews the team did a good job, but at States they were up against 32 other teams. Definitely needed to be at their best.  The Gibbons team walked away with the PTC Design Award again, but didn’t qualify for the Super Regionals this year. Results haven’t been posted yet. The team was a bit disappointed.  However, there will be other chances, the Robotics Club is here to stay at Gibbons.

As we close our season this year in Robotics, there will be a many changes coming. Many of our students are Seniors and now we will have a whole new team next year. This means a good deal of change for the program. We have already begun our outreach again for this year. Our coaches are more than willing to keep going and working on bettering the team every day.

There are many different ways to get your program support. One of them is having outside companies help with funding. We are lucky because now we have a maker room. This wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for our parent supporters. Especially our coaches Mr. Toebes, Mrs. Toebes and Mr. Kelley. Of course there are other parents who have been important to the program, and their support is very important to the success of the program.  They have helped get the equipment, such as the milling machine and 3D printer for the room.  Hint, if you are going to have a program make sure you have parent support. They are very important component to our program. If you are in a situation where you don’t have parent support, you might look at other teachers or industry help. I know there are Robotics teams that have local business people mentoring during the season. Second area of support is the Administration. We are very lucky to have a Principal who believes in the program and willing to support it.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I really am lucky to be a part of this program at Gibbons. Its been a great experience for me.

Creative Educator – Let it go: Giving students choices

Creative Educator – Let it go: Giving students choices. Neat idea. This is something I’m experimenting with right now for their projects. Trying to present their projects in different ways. Think outside the box.

Student Mistakes..That’s the Way it’s Supposed to be

I enjoyed reading two articles from the NSTA Reports February 2015 and thought a brief summary of each would be a good idea for a post. Also just hashing out some of my thoughts on them.

After reading the article “Helping Students View Mistakes as Progress” in the NSTA Reports February edition, I decided that I needed to revisit my strategies when it comes to “mistakes”. I tell my students all the time that mistakes aren’t bad in my classroom, you learn from them. But I think I need to show it a little better. This article does a good job in talking about how “mistakes or rather the wrong results are part of science”. Ms. Bigelow who is behind the Ms. Mentor column does a good job talking about how “kids get the impression that if things are not perfect they will not get a good grade”. That made me stop and think yep, exactly what I think my students believe.  I do believe I allow my students opportunity to learn from their mistakes but I think I need to encourage more discovery into why they made the mistake. One teacher suggested “pre-assignments” which I’ve thought about before and I will probably revisit.

It’s just as hard on teachers, we have a tendency we don’t want to make mistakes in front of students. Students see this and it becomes a norm.  I do admit my mistakes with students, example if a lab didn’t work as well as it should have, or a project wasn’t as good as it could have been. Once I admit this to the class they see me as human, and are not afraid to admit they made a mistake. I also turn it into a great collaborative opportunity for the class. I ask the students to give feedback on how I can improve it or change the activity to fit their needs.

The rest of the article references a professor at a school of education. He describes his classroom as an environment safe for mistakes. Meaning he is teaching his students to create environments safe and comfortable for students to make mistakes in their classroom. This article does a good job with this topic I think. Something I’m already thinking about.

Another article I found interesting in the February edition was the Ms. Mentor column. This is the advice column. I really liked the advice she gave a teacher who was trying to implement inquiry into their class. The teacher was frustrated because the students only wanted to “stick with cookbook labs”. Very rigid and organized activities. I sympathize with this teacher. When I first implemented some of the Flipping 101 strategy my students were not happy. As the columnist responds, we are creatures of habit! to introduce something different can wreak havoc on people. The advice she gives this teacher is pretty sound. Take it slow, this goes for flipping also. Work with students introducing them to the different skills. Explain to them why you are doing it and what it is all about. I did this when I first introduced flipping and I taught students how to use the videos. Now, if I don’t put up a video they request one. The inquiry part of this article is really good and something I really do want to implement in class. Ms. Mentor actually wrote a blog post on “Cookbook to Inquiry”.  I’ve read it and it does really good job in helping teachers change a cookbook lab to an inquiry lab.

This month’s NSTA reports was pretty good and taking the time out to read it gave me some ideas to try out in class. Glad I finally got a chance to read it this month.

4 Powerful iPad Apps for Teaching Kids Handwriting ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

4 Powerful iPad Apps for Teaching Kids Handwriting ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. I’m not a grade school teacher but I thought this was a good idea. I know by the time some of our students get high school, their handwriting isn’t the greatest. I think this might help??? And again I’m not a grade school teacher, so… Let me know if you try it. Is it something you will use in the future? Is it a good Tech tool for kids?

Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) : Notes from the Field : Blogs

Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) : Notes from the Field : Blogs. This would be a good start to introduction to satellites. Also the SMAP helps with weather forecasting, and its data could possibly be used in meteorology unit. I’m doing that section next. How the SMAP would be a great example for electromagnetic spectrum and how the satellite uses radiation on the EM to gather its information. Especially interesting is NASA started the “Early Adopters” program. This allows more collaboration between various interested companies. Overall this new satellite could be a great opportunity for a education.

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