Soldiers, Veterans, and War in American Life | Classroom Resources | PBS LearningMedia

These videos, images, and media-rich lesson plans allow you to bring stories from the battlefront into American history, world history, and health classrooms.

Source: Soldiers, Veterans, and War in American Life | Classroom Resources | PBS LearningMedia

NIST Stone Test Wall

Source: NIST Stone Test Wall

Great source for Weathering. NESTA shared this in their recent newsletter.

A year of Guest Speakers

This year we had the opportunity to have Skype sessions with aerospace engineers and scientists from the space exploration field. The opportunity opened up when we started our space explorers club. The young man ( Alex Longo) who helped start the club, asked members of the science community if they would Skype with us. Well low and behold they were more than willing to help out.

We had a total of 5 guest speakers this year. Matthew Golombek was our first speaker. His discussion centered around Mars and the next landing site. He explained the criteria behind deciding on a landing site for 2020.  Dr. Golombek was gracious enough to answer questions at the end. His talk was very interesting and students gained a better understanding about the future missions to Mars. Our next speaker was a bit different, he was associated with the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Dr. John Grant works with the Planetary Science Institute and agreed to talk to students. Students were really interested in his job and had many questions about what he did at the museum. Dr. Grant really did an awesome job explaining how he became part of the Mars landing site project. It was especially interesting because Dr. Grant was a geologists, not an engineer. After speaking with Dr. Grant we then spoke to Dr. Jim Rice.  He introduced himself by talking about how he came to love space exploration and decided to go into space exploration field. His talk centered around his work with Spirit and Opportunity. Again a geologist and not an engineer. But the highlight of his talk was the discussion at the end about NASA’s Budget. I knew the budget to NASA had been cut but I didn’t know how by how much. His comparison which is below was amazing.  Thanks to Dr. Rice for giving me permission to post these.






After Dr. Rice we spoke with Dr. Steven Levin from GAVRT. I had meet Dr. Levin a few years back when I attended the Teacher Workshop at GAVRT. I had been sent to the workshop when I was picked for the NASA Explorers PD. Dr. Levin works with the JUNO mission that is on its way to Jupiter. It will be there in July. His presentation was about what they are looking for when they arrive at Jupiter and mission itself.  Our last speaker was from Space X. Convenient since it occurred at the same time  they landed the rocket back on Earth.  Paul Wooster is a Spacecraft GNC Manager at Space Exploration Technologies. His talk centered around going to Mars and what were the future plans of SpaceX.  We had a ton of people at this one. Everyone was interested in knowing what is was like to work for SpaceX . Students asked a ton of questions at the end.

It was an awesome year for speakers and we hope to continue this next year. A couple of things about speakers, you need to be flexible because of their schedules. We did most of our talks after school. Also make sure you can use your internet connection with Skype sometimes school networks will  block Skype. All the talks were well worth it and the most positive experience ever for our students. By showing them the different STEM careers available, maybe they will want to choose one of these career paths.  That is the goal and purpose of our club and having these speakers.

SOS: Let’s Roll | Discovery Education

Fountas and Pinnell state “the reader constructs unique meaning through integrating background knowledge, emotions, attitudes, and expectations with the meaning the writer expresses.” In this strategy, after reading a selection, students will discuss the topic in a small group. This strategy will assist students in connecting what they have read to what they already know. By providing students the opportunity to discuss the selection with their peers, teachers help students form a deeper understanding of the text.

Source: SOS: Let’s Roll | Discovery Education


The Beginner’s Guide to Design Thinking in the Classroom – A.J. JULIANI

In the first post of this series, I shared my biggest fear as an educator (being ineffective and my students not caring about learning). We looked at the role choice, inquiry, and ownership play — in not only engaging our students — but also empowering them to intrinsically care about what they can learn and do …

Source: The Beginner’s Guide to Design Thinking in the Classroom – A.J. JULIANI

NSTA16.. First Presentation

Wow I’m always really impressed by this conference. Between the number of presentations, meetings, focus groups and attendees it has be an huge deal fro me. Not sure if everyone agrees. Some people don’t enjoy events like this but I sure do.  Sorry this is so late, its been a bit busy since returning to school.

The whole event was kicked off on Wednesday night with Bill Nye from the Planetary Society. It was a really good talk and I never realized how funny he can be. Fast forward when we at the Planetary Society table in the exhibitors we saw him again. He has such a following among everyone it is amazing. Camera’s don’t stop when he is around. His theme is “we are creating the next great generation”.  Teachers signed up for the new “STEAM TEAM”. Let’s see what happens with that. I did sign up for other opportunities so we will see how they pan out.


Next day was our presentation day. I was presenting  for the first time at NSTA with a fellow colleague from NASA Explorers School Kathy Biernat, who by the way is inspiring.  She has some experience with presentations, so this worked out well. We had decided in the Summer that we would present at the conference on 3D printing. How we incorporated it into our class and how we were collaborating on different ideas.  If you are interested in 3D printing and want to join other teachers, you can see our presentation PowerPoint here and sign up with our discussion group. We are trying to form a group of educators who would like to bounce ideas off each other and help each other out. Hopefully we will be getting a website or Google group together.  The presentation went well I think and it was my first.  On to the next one!

It’s been two weeks since the event and I’m still sifting through all the information I obtained at the conference.  I went with another colleague from school.  He went on one of the day trips, Oak Ridge. He said it was very good. Meanwhile, the exhibitors hall was overwhelming and I did my best to get to the exhibitors I wanted to.  One of the exhibitors was Dremel 3D printing  company. Yep the tool company is now getting into 3D printing for education. I was invited to their lunch and they showed off their new 3D Printer that would be available in May.  My school is looking into buying some new 3D printers. Makerbot was also at the conference and showing off its goods.  Their new product also looked interesting.

One of the workshops I did attend was by NSTA and writing for their publications. I’ve always wanted to write an article for the Science Teacher but have never found out the criteria. Kathy and I would like to collaborate on article for Science Teacher and 3D Printing. This workshop was very helpful with that. If you are thinking about writing for one of the publications, you should really attend one of their webinars or workshops.  I also attended a Wards Scientific workshop, it was also good. Everything I went to was good and interesting.  Gave me a couple of ideas to bring back to the classroom.

Some advice the key is when going to the national conference I pick workshops out that you can get ideas from.  Of course there are some you find are not right for you, have a backup ready just in case. I will tell you the exhibitors workshops usually close really quick, you need to get there early.

Update on Modified “Genius Hour”

Just a short up date on how my version of Genius Hour is going. I changed things around this year by allowing students a bit more freedom with topics. Again another change made because of last years results or rather outcomes from the project. Which, by the way I think are improvements on the implementation of the project.

We have passed the halfway mark on our projects and I think this year they are going much better than past years. Or should I say they seem more organized and students seem to be on track with everything. I had put Fridays aside for students to work on project, but there have been changes along the way. Of course, when does anything stay on schedule? Flexibility is the word of the day when coming to this project. Which really doesn’t bother me. If you are going to do this project you can schedule those work days, but a little advice be flexible if you can.

I posted the introduction to the project in a previous post 5-ways to launch your genius hour projects. After Brainstorming students started a journal to track their progress with the project. I made it on line so I could grade their progress and comment on it. I used Google Documents to make it simple. I handed out an outline on how I wanted the entries to look, but gave them a good deal of latitude about their information.  Some of the requirements I obtained from ROBOTC Curriculum for TETRIX and LEGO MINDSTORMS “Engineering Design Notebook”. So far their journals are looking good. Some of the students needed a bit more guidance when working on their journals, but overall they are getting the hang of it.

Entries should include the following:
• Daily logs and notes
• All sketches, photographs, videos, plans, and drawings
• Notes from design
• Calculations relevant to your project
• Documentation of the changes of your project
• Research information, such as computer print-outs and newspaper articles
• Notes for presentations, reports, proposals, etc..
• Any resources being used in the project

Some information taken from ROBOTC Curriculum for TETRIX and LEGO MINDSTORMS “Engineering Design Notebook”

(resource:  and

I have some interesting projects this year, one set of students are using music and bacteria. They want to see if bacteria will react to sound. Another set of students are working on the Star Trek Replicator Challenge , being a Star Trek fan I was excited they decided to do this.  A great engineering challenge and hosted by the Future Engineers Website.  Another project has students creating a tutorial on how to use Tinkercad and a 3D Printer. This is part of a 3D Printer collaboration effort with another teacher. Also it’s a great way to introduce 3D modeling to my Forensics classes for their end of the year project. There are a ton of other projects that are interesting to say the least.

Students are deciding on how they present the information. I’m getting a variety of formats. Websites are bit more popular with this years group. I do have the normal Google slides and PowerPoint but they are becoming a bit more creative with adding video etc. As we get closer to the final projects I’ll make another post to summarize the whole process.

Computer Science in the Science Classroom

First let me just say that Computer Science can include a broad range of topics. One of those topics can include 3D modeling or coding. Recently I was asked how can you implement these in a science class. Well my answer was I can do it because the administration supports it. However, as I think about it I would figure a way to integrate the topics into class. Meaning, even with testing and other requirements today there are ways to implement some of these computer topics in class.

Here’s an example I’m working on now; of course this can be a bit different for middle and elementary school, but I think it the premise is the same.

I’ve decided this year to give my Forensic class a different end of the semester project. This year I’m having my students Write/Sketch/Build a crime scene. This will include 3D printed parts. I’m giving the students a bit of a change and allowing them to use the 3D printer for some of the building parts. Below was a test of our 3D printer and a hotel room stl file from thingverse. Let’s see what they come up with. This should be fun.

(This file is created by lgstoian)

In my other class Earth Science I have students working on the Genius Hour/20% project. Which I still have to give an update on. I can briefly say it’s working great this year. Two groups have chosen to do their project in Computer Science. One group is working with the EV3’s and the Space Challenge. Which includes building and coding. Using the challenge has been a great way to introduce students coding and robotics. I’m especially looking into introducing coding at some point hopefully in the future.


The second group is creating a video tutorial on the 3D modeling program Tinkercad. They are creating this video for a middle school audience. They will use their video to teach middle schoolers how to create various items for 3D Printer. Part of their project, which I think is a awesome, they are creating houses for a another groups tsunami project. I can’t wait to see their work I think it’s going to be great. Actually they are actually making this video for another teacher I know. Her class is starting to use a 3D printer and she would like some type of tutorial for her students. Since her and I are collaborating on a talk at the NSTA National Conference in Tennessee. We thought this would be a great way of collaborating on the topic of 3D printing. Our talk is “Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation: Using a 3D Printer to Energize Your Teaching”come on by if you at the conference.

5 Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Unmotivated Students | Cult Of Pedagogy

If we know what works to motivate students, why are so many students still unmotivated? These five questions will help you determine if your practice is really in line with research. Continue […]

Source: 5 Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Unmotivated Students | Cult Of Pedagogy

There are some really good points in this article. I really never thought about some of these. But now I think I might have to think about some of these.

The End of the season is Here!

Well the FTC robotic season ended with our state competition this year. There were 32 teams at the states, it took place at A & T University in Greensboro.  The day started really early in the morning with hardware, software and field inspections, which we passed. Even though we might not have won the competition or came in the top 5 for Super Regionals we did learn a lot this year or so I think. A major lesson team members learned was that there was more to winning competitions then just the building a winning robot. Our members realized that we need to remember that the engineering notebook and other components of the competition play a major role in winning at competitions. They also realized that winning isn’t everything at competitions the Journey to these competitions was just as important. As one of our mentor/coaches said he was not worried about what we won, he wanted members to learn along the way how to use the design process to build a robot. Making mistakes was just as important as doing things right. Which of course brings up a whole other discussion that we need to allow our students to fail before they can succeed. And we do know that this is becoming a big discussion in the educational field.



The last meeting of the year was held just the other day and our mentor/coaches talked to the team about various components of the year. What worked and what didn’t. What can we improve on and what did we do well this year?  We tried to stick with the positives and one positive was that we improved our engineering book tremendously. In the previous competition we won the Think Award which qualified us for the state tournament. Advice to anybody who is coaching and mentoring a robotics team one of the things I’m learning is that the engineering book is really important and putting the time and effort into it is worth it. I would advise anybody to make sure you have someone in charge of the engineering book that is going to put the effort into making sure the book is complete. We had a an awesome student/member coordinating the notebook.



As a result of the end of the year meeting we came to the conclusion that next year we’re going to have 2 teams so that everybody will have a chance to have hands opportunities with the robot. This means that next year we should be registering two teams for FTC competition. I think this is a great idea because not only will it give everybody a chance to be a part of the decision making with the robots but also I think the younger team members will be able to learn bit more then when you have a larger team. Sometimes the larger teams don’t give young members ability learn because there’s too many people and not enough robot.

So we ended on a really good note by agreeing on what we needed to do to be successful next year in competition.  Now we wait and we’ll see, meanwhile over the summer we already have some outreach going on. We have a week long EV3 Mindstorm robotics summer camp for rising 5th to 9th graders at school, check it out on our school website. Also next month we are going to be at the Triangle Tech Expo at the Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh. So it’s going to be a busy next couple of months with outreach and also preparing for the beginning of next season. Good job by all this year and looking forward to next year.


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