Category Archives: Project

The story continues

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So the title is a bit deceiving. When I say the story continues the story continues for a couple of reasons the Mars rover, we are still troubleshooting and calibrating the wheels on the Rover. But the good thing is we are very close to finally getting it to drive.

Meanwhile, we finally had our Google Hangout with Michael Cox from JPL. It was a great talk, Mr. Cox first introduced us to all the missions going on at the center. I never realized how many missions they were or are involved with. But Mr. Cox pointed out that JPL does all  Robotic and unmanned missions.  I didn’t realize this. Some of the best missions have come from JPL.  If you think about it Viking, Voyager 1 & 2, Mars Pathfinder, Cassini, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity are all the missions that have come from JPL. Amazing! His talk was great because it showed the students all that JPL had done and what it offered.

The final discussion was about the Rover, he met the team and discussed how the Rover came about. The Rover team showed him all that they had done and talked about some of the difficulties they faced. It turned out to be a great meeting. I did suggest to him that maybe we could get all the high schools building the Rover together on a skype. Then trade different ideas. He thought that was great and would look into it.

One thing I believe is happening, students are getting a bit frustrated because of the calibration section. They are trying to get the motors and encoders calibrated, their efforts sometimes cause other problems or they find other problems. It’s a frustrating part of the whole build but a great problem solving moment. Actually I even think a great learning moment for them, not everything can go right in real life and this is just a example. I know it is frustrating to them and can be discouraging, they want the Rover to drive! But it’s a learning process that continues with this project.

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It’s Rover Time!

In this blog post I’m going to talk about a “mission” we are in the process of completing. We are building drum roll please…the Mars Rover, yep you heard me. An open source build developed by @JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory Open Source Rover) I came across the build one day when I received a newsletter from NASA and it had a bit of a blurb about a Mars Rover.  I went to the website and find out about it. It looked interesting and a great learning opportunity.  I thought this might be something that we could do here at school. Since I’m involved with the robotics team, it seemed this could be a good fit. So, I emailed our Mentor, Head Coach and Biggest Supporter. You name it, he’s an all-around total support and leader of the robotics team. I e-mailed him the website and information. I’m not kidding within next 24 hours he sent me an email telling me it was possible with a list of all the parts and cost. Amazing right, well he was as excited as I was to do this.

I gathered all the information needed and decided to approach our Principal. I stated my case by promoting the “mission” as a great community opportunity especially once the Rover was built.  It could really be used to bring in tons of other people and the Rover could be used for other club’s activities. While being a great teaching tool. He thought it was a good idea. And after a long talk with him he funded our project. We are planning on a ton of things to do. Once our Principal gave us the go, we started to order the parts and had a meeting. The Rover team right now consists of students from Physics club (@physics_cghsnc ), Gibbons Robotics (@robotics_cghsnc) and Space Explorers Club (@spaceexp_cghsnc). The group mainly has students from the Physics Club. Two members come to mind Peter and Mihir. Both have done an outstanding job working on this project. I can’t begin to tell you how much their leadership is appreciated.

So, this began our project two months ago. Check out the pictures from the beginning. It all started with having to inventory all the parts. The whole Rover has about 400 parts, if not more. Once that was finished we needed to manufacturer some parts. This is where our maker room came in handy.

For now, I’ll end here, because I could go on forever. The excitement around the Rover is building and hopefully we will have a fully functional Mars Rover by Thanksgiving. I’ll keep up with the posts. My next one will go over the good and bad we have faced since the beginning.

Sustainable Smartphone

Source: Sustainable Smartphone

This challenge looks really good for an environmental/engineering project. It would be a great start to Genius Hour. I’m wondering if I should point this out to some of my kids who are having problems with finding a topic for our Genius Hour this year. I like how it is using technology that the students use in everyday life.  You might say ugh smartphones, but I think this is a good way to show the impact of smartphones on the environment to our students. I have to give credit to Mrs. Chen who did this for her National Geographic Certification Capstone. The project has fours parts to it.  Hope this idea can work in your class.

Your challenge has four parts:

  • First. explore the social, economic, and environmental impacts of smartphone raw materials mining, manufacturing, and disposal and identify impacts that could be addressed by new smartphone materials and technology.

  • Second, evaluate new materials and technology that could mitigate the impacts that you identified.

  • Third, use design thinking to identify the component(s) of the mobile phone that could be made more sustainable with a change in materials.

  • Fourth, present your design research proposal.

Designing Group Projects So That Everyone Participates – John Spencer

Collaborative projects can easily fall apart in the classroom. You start with a great idea but next thing you know, you have half of your students checked out. So, how do we fix this?   Listen to

Source: Designing Group Projects So That Everyone Participates – John Spencer

After listening to the podcasts I’m rethinking my group projects. How do you get all parties involved in the project? Buy in? How do you get students to own the process? John Spencer does a great job in giving teachers ideas how how to do this. But obviously each classroom is different, and something that works for me might not work for you. And there will always be that one or two students you just can’t get to work. Its frustrating I know, but its one of the things Teachers have to accept, its called “human behavior” (well that’s what I think). The classroom can’t be perfect.

 “It’s complicated, John Spencer says and its because kids are complicated”.

I know the projects that are successful in my classroom are the one’s that students are engaged and have ownership. “Creative Collaboration”, definitely agree here with John Spencer. Our earthquake towers are one of the most successful projects we do in class. Students take ownership and work together on building something.

I’m definitely taking some of John Spencer’s suggestions and implementing them in the some of my projects in class.

Thank You Mr. Spencer great article!

 

Invite Your Students to Create Their Own Countries With this Geography Design Project – WeAreTeachers

Your students will transform into world explorers in search of new land.

Source: Invite Your Students to Create Their Own Countries With this Geography Design Project – WeAreTeachers

This looks like a cool lesson for Geography or History Teachers. A new twist on it could be using it for Alien Planets when doing an Astronomy Unit.

Feedback…Is it important

After reading a blog entry from Random Teacher Thoughts Blog “Feedback Failure”, I started to think of about the two projects going on in class,  Genius Hour and Citizen Science. I agreed with the blog, you can’t just let the students go through a project and not give them something as they complete the assignment. The author of the blog is reading “Hacking Project Based Learning” by Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy. According to him Hack 7 talked about feedback. Side note here I will probably have to read this book. After reading the article I started to think about what I do for my projects. I have always valued students opinions and ideas in class, this has led me to give surveys to find out what needs to be improved. My point here is that the students have always suggested giving feedback. To address this, I had students create a journal in Google Documents. They shared the journal with me and their partner. Students have a rubric to follow when filling out the journal, it specifies exactly what they should have in their journals. Journals are due every couple of weeks. I wasn’t asking them to write a book, but I wanted a summation on what they were doing. I also wanted them to understand how science notebooks and journals are important components of science experimentation.

The project is still ongoing so I can give up to date progress. While keeping an eye on everyone’s progress, I have found that some have fallen behind. I’ve given them a bit of nudge by commenting in their journal. This is the type of feedback I think students need in order succeed in completing their projects. I would also like to point out here that, students find the journal check a great way for them to communicate their questions or research. I think students really do need feedback from teachers, sometimes it may seem to students that Teachers are only worried about the end product. Feedback allows Teachers to convey a sense of caring about the whole process.  So is feedback important? Definitely!

Google Docs makes it really easy for them to keep track of my feedback, and for me to keep track of their project. I do however want to try other forms of digital “journals”. Maybe next year trying OneNote.

Citizen Science Projects

Oh wow! Another blog entry! This time it’s about another project I having going on in class. I’m always looking for different ideas to use for class projects. If one works then I will use it again, if not I try others. This year I decided to use an idea one of my NASA colleagues has used in class; Citizen Science Projects. I really had never thought about this type of project before until I listened to this person give a discussion on the topic at an NSTA conference.

The reason I choose to do this project is because I believed that students should know more about what is happening in the science community and become informed citizens of science. I also like the environmental issues that some of the projects address. Different environmental issues are being addressed every day in the news, so I felt my students should understand the problems their generation will face. Which leads to a positive of this project, I have a good number of students working with the National Wildlife Foundations certified habitats. They are creating habitats that meet the criteria to become certified habitats by the NWF. Many of the groups are working with their parents to develop an area in their backyards to a “Garden for Wildlife” or “Wildlife Habitat”.  Another project a number of students are doing is Project Noah, a site that you post your spotting (pictures) of wildlife in your area.  The site allows a teacher to create a classroom and students can sign up. Through this site, the teacher can keep track of the student’s spottings. Students learn about different species from around the world and their scientific name for these species. I have taken part in this project and have posted some awesome pictures of animals. My username is rippie772011. I’ve enjoyed doing it too!

Project Noah is a tool to explore and document wildlife and a platform to harness the power of citizen scientists everywhere

This has been such a success in class that I think I will be doing this again. I’ll give students a project survey at the end to see what I might have to do to improve the project. But overall I think it is going great. I’ve listed the various resources students used to pick their projects.

Project Noah: http://www.projectnoah.org/education: You will sign up under my classroom
Cornell Labs: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/citscitoolkit/about/definition
SETI: https://seti.berkeley.edu/
SciStarter: http://scistarter.com/index.html
Globe Observer: http://observer.globe.gov/
Hubble Telescope: http://hubblesite.org/get_involved/citizen_science/
National Geographic: http://nationalgeographic.org/idea/citizen-science-projects/
Zooniverse: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects?status=live
National Wildlife Federation: Certify your garden (this one you will need your parent’s help)- https://goo.gl/lNKQos
Globe Program: There are various readings and projects to do with this program. Please see the Teacher.
Museum of Natural Science- There are opportunities to work in labs. You need to see the Teacher for this.

 

LEGO Challenge Calendar Free Printable for Kids

Want some great new LEGO building ideas for your kids or family? We have a 31 Day LEGO challenge calendar perfect for screen free fun. Free printable.

Source: LEGO Challenge Calendar Free Printable for Kids

Maybe we could change this to suit High School Science Class? Ideas?

Cybraryman Internet Catalogue

Source: Cybraryman Internet Catalogue

Great resource for summer reading. Already a month into vacation and I still haven’t caught up with my reading.  You can also look at AJ Juliani’s Blog for some interesting suggestions.  Enjoy!

An end to a great project

Well as the school year ends so did our Mars Imaging Research Project. As you can see by the last student entry on our blog, we had a couple of surprises that we found during our research. Students were excited when we discovered a couple changes in their research sites. We might not have discovered RSL’s but we found some interesting changes on the surface of Mars.  During the presentation Dr. Meyer’s pointed out some interesting features in the students research areas. Overall I think the students did pretty good and the presentation went well.  Hopefully our work will be posted on the MSIP site.

Their last assignment for the project included a reflection on their research and what they learned from the research.  A summary of the assignment appears below:

Write a 2 page reflection on this project. Include the following:
1- Explain the section of the research you worked on and explain what results you found.
2- Describe what you learned from the project.
3- Would you do this project again? If so why? And did you like it?

Not very intense but I believe it was to the point and valuable to my assessment on what they learned from the project.

Students were very good in their responses. Meaning they were very descriptive and  informative about their thoughts. I was impressed by how many really enjoyed the project and would do it again.

Hereare some examples of their reflections in their own words:

I learned a lot about teamwork from this project. Every member in the group did their part, sometimes with the guidance of other group members. The continuous group meetings we had gave me something to look forward to after school because the topic interested me. Once I finally understand how to work the websites we were working with, understood the information, and got going with my research, it became a very enjoyable task for me.

The Mars imaging research project has affected and changed me in so many ways. I’m a lot more open minded and ready to try anything new. I learned so many things that I never knew even existed. I’ve never had an interest in science at all, but this project sparked a new love and appreciation in science for me. The things I loved the most about the Mars Imaging Research was the enthusiasm and support from fellow imagers, the amazing experiences, and finding my new interest in science.

 

I am really happy with the research and work the students put into the project. Of course our lead student Alex is the one to set us on this path. His enthusiasm and love for the topic was a motivator. We were all grateful to him for his guidance and help in this project.

Alex was a great team leader he always kept us on task and his knowledge of Mars definitely helped us with what we were looking at.

Not to mention, Alex was very informative. The information he provided us with to get started, and how he guided us through the whole project was exceptional. I don’t think our group could have done it without him…

 

If I was to change anything I would use this in class and put aside some time each week to complete the research. If you plan ahead you can probably complete the project in less than a month.  At the website the MSIP advisors give you a schedule you can follow depending on the type of research you are completing with your students.  Mars Imaging Project is perfect example of STEM in the classroom. But more importantly I think it shows students how research is not a perfect world, everything can change in an instant especially when dealing with a dynamic planet like Mars.  As one student said “the unexpected is what science is all about”.