Category Archives: Teacher Workshop

Does it work..Less connectivity

This is the start of a series of blogs that will discuss Angela Watson’s “5 Summer Secrets for a stress-free fall”. 5 stress-free ways for a less stressful fall? Is that realistic? After listening to Ms. Watson’s podcast and downloading all her resources, I started to take her advice and use her resources to begin my journey. And I became aware that it is possible. I did this is because every summer I feel like I don’t get what I need to get done. This year I’d like to be ready for school. I always feel like the summer goes by and I haven’t completed any of the tasks I wanted to get done.

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Less of this, means more time to complete other tasks.

 

How do you do this? Using Ms. Watson’s suggestions there’s 5 ways to attack this problem. First teachers are always stressing because they don’t get what they need to get done. How do you attack this problem? You start with connectivity and decrease social media use (this wasn’t part of the 5 Summer Secrets). You don’t always have to look at your phone for everything. You don’t always have to look at email or social media right away in the morning. That’s the first challenge, I did from Ms. Watson’s website/newsletter. It works, I started to do this, sometimes I fall back into my old ways where I look at social media. But that’s okay, I’m working on changing this habit. Email in the morning, doesn’t work. When I do this stuff, I find I go down those rabbit holes and it wastes my time. I’m wasting time in the morning and I can have a more fruitful morning by reading and doing other things. So I started off with this challenge to help me create better plan to conquer my tasks this summer. I’m learning how to deal with those bad habits, and hoping I can maintain this type of task management for the summer. This challenge was separate from the “5 Summer Secrets”, but it peaked my interest and now I started to use her “5 Summer Secrets to a stress- free fall”. If you sign up for her newsletter you can also receive other tips like the “8 things you can do now to make BTS less stressful” another great resource full of tips.

I know some people are saying this is a way for her to get teachers to join her “40 hour Week Teacher workweek Club” course, but quite honestly she is a great Coach! I’ve been listening to her podcasts and reading her blog. And the resources and advice she gives is very good. Go to her website “The Cornerstone for Teachers” see for yourself.  I’m beginning to think about joining her club next spring. Next entry for me will be about my start of the 5 Summer Secrets…

One last thing..Thank You Angela Watson

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Project Atmosphere-Severe Weather Days

The Monday back we had another guest speaker- Bill Bunting Operations Branch Chief (Chief of Forecast Operations
Branch Storm Prediction Center)of the NOAA/NWS Storm Prediction Center. Mr. Bunting discussed his role at the Storm Predication Center and the center’s role in weather prediction. The Storm Prediction Center has about 700 people working in the center and typically four forecasters on shift all the time.  He went over the history of the weather service; it was established in 1870 by Congress with Army Signal Corps. An interesting fact, the word Tornado couldn’t be used for the first 30 years in the service. Amazing huh! After going over the history of Weather Service Mr. Bunting went over Tornadoes and the prediction center’s job. The three main challenges in Severe Weather Predication is accurate assessment of current state of the atmosphere, accurately reflecting atmospheric processes in numerical models and conveying forecast (and uncertainty) accurately. Pretty impressive challenges, but something they are trying to improve on. Mr. Bunting ended with going over different radar maps and tornado predictions. An interesting talk and great information.

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After lunch Bob went over the Atmosphere and it’s basic structure. Once we finished that we had our “Best Practice” presentations. Everyone was to show one practice that worked for them in class. Some really good ideas were shared. Some were digital and others were activities used in class. For instance, one teacher shared an activity in which she had students name movies and songs with weather in their names. It was a fun activity and a great warmup to the topic. Other teachers showed off their digital resources such as Nearpod,  Plickers, and Showbie ( ipad app). This was an excellent way to collaborate and talk about what we do in class that works. I think this was one of the highlights of a workshop

Next day we continued with extreme weather, the Director of the National Hurricane Service Dr. Rick Knabb spoke to us about the Hurricane Center. He worked first for the Weather Channel and then became Director of the Center. The purpose of the center is to Advance Hurricane Forecasts, Warnings, and Resilience. His explanation and description of various components of Hurricanes and their forecasts were great. Every storm has its own characteristics and threats. But the one thing that was common in all Hurricanes was the storms surge which is deadly hazardous. “Storm surges are responsible for 49 % of deaths and rain (inland flooding) is responsible for 27% deaths. Not surprising Storm Surge doesn’t occur as frequently, flooding occurs more and is more deadly.” Amazing Statistics. He continued to talk about Hurricane Preparedness and the Hurricane Awareness Tour. The tour sounds really good for students and its suppose to be coming to Raleigh next may. Something I would love to take my students to. Part of this effort is the new hashtag they are using to promote preparedness for hurricanes

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The whole effort is part of the National Weather Services Weather- Ready Nation. A great question asked by one of the participants was about “How do we change Hurricanes?” Dr. Knabb’s answer was “the reality is we can’t do it” or rather it would cost billions of dollars. Plus he believes most have too many environmental consequences or could make it worse. He believes we should improve practical reasons such as making better evacuation plans and better forecasts. Totally agree with him from what I have read about this topic. Great morning with him and tons of information. You can follow him on twitter @NHCDirector.

After lunch we had our usual weather briefing and then listened to Robert Rutledge, Head, Services Branch of the Space Weather Prediction Center. Why is space weather important? I think most who read this know why, infrastructure, grid, and satellites. Mr. Rutledge talked about how the Sun at any time could send out a Solar Flare or CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) that would affect the electric infrastructure and other items. The Space Weather Prediction Center hosts a ton of information about the various Sun events. Another website I have used in class for our Sun unit is the SOHO website.

After finishing the day we worked on our group projects that we would present the next day. The day ended on a quiet note. The next day we would start the last leg of the workshop.

 

 

Project Atmosphere Continues

One really important note I forgot to add to my last post was on the 3rd day Wednesday we meet the director of the National Weather Service Dr. Louis W. Uccellini. Definitely an opportunity I really enjoyed. He gave a great talk on the future of the Weather Service. He emphasized how important it was to get the weather information out to the community and how water forecasts were becoming an important part of the weather service job. After his talk we got to take our picture with him. I did get a picture with him. Highlight of my day.

By the 4th day we had done a number of module lessons and were heading into some heavy-duty weather concepts. Chad Kauffman was leading the way on this day. He went over how to read a 500 mb pressure map and he gave out some awesome resources. One of them was the National Weather Service Enhanced Display, a great tool to see weather plotted on a map in real-time. His other resource included MetED COMET program. Here you can find some really great online courses that can help you understand weather. Chad went over the CAPE (Convective Available Potential Energy) that can be seen on a stuve graph. We also went over radiosondes data. After Chad finished his talk we had another briefing with Jerry Griffin about the current weather. We did another module that went over radiosondes data and stuve graphs.  Bob then talked about our upcoming trip to the Topeka Weather Center. There we watched them launch a weather balloon to get some radiosondes data. When we arrived various people helped us understand the warning system and how it worked. This center pushed forecast warnings out for the Topeka, Kansas area. It was quite interesting to see how the warnings were created. We then were introduced to the people working in the office. Our visit ended with the balloon launch.

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Day 5 of the workshop we reviewed the radiosondes data that we obtained from the weather balloon launch. After going over that Chad introduced us to Severe Weather. The best site for information about Severe Weather is the Storm Prediction Center through NOAA. From there you can access the Violent Tornado Webpage, this I think would be a great page to have students use for a project on tornadoes. I’m beginning to have some ideas for this project at the end of the weather unit.

After lunch we had our weather briefing and then had another guest speaker.  Andy Bailey- Warning Coordination Meteorologist spoke on the Doppler Radar. His presentation was great. His topics included – Basic Radar Imagery, Interpretation Basics, Radar Limitations, Radar Display Systems, Storm “Signatures” and New Technologies. One of the most interesting things I thought was that radar’s lowest scan is ½ degree above horizon, reason is they don’t want the microwaves scanning through people etc. Never knew that. You can really read about radar at the NOAA site and accuweather. After explaining radar Mr. Bailey then showed us different storm systems and explained their radar map. It was a great discussion on radar, I learned more radar in this one session then ever before. He also recommended some apps to try radarscope , there are other apps out there too. One thing he did talk about was jobs. His recommendation to anyone who wants a job in the Weather Service, is to go through the military. They give preference to veterans who are qualified. Pretty cool!

The last thing to happen that day was we listened to presentations from two of the participants. One was on the weather at Mogollon Rim in Arizona and the other was on the education system in Canada. Both really interesting. Amazing the knowledge and experience different teachers will bring to workshop.

The weekend was ours, meaning we were off. So a lot of exploring is going to take place. We still have a ton of things to do the next week.

 

 

Project Atmosphere Begins A Summer PD

So my summer began on quiet note this year. I didn’t have any PD’s (Professional Development) at the beginning. Something of an oddity for me. But then I applied to the Project Atmosphere experience.  Supported by NOAA and NSF, the American Meteorological Society hosted a 12 day workshop that was all about weather. Something I teach in class and felt I needed a better background in. I took the DataExtreme Weather course through AMS. The course was very informative and gave me a good background in meteorology. So I took a chance and applied to the summer experience. Well that’s where I am now. I did get accepted.

The next few entries will be about the experience and some of the resources I’m obtaining from the course. One thing to remember about this experience it is for 12 days and that means almost two weeks away from home. It also is at the end of July, for me that is near the end of my summer vacation something I had to get use to and plan around. But well worth it!

The experience started on July 17th, Sunday. We all had to arrive in Kansas City Missouri before 4pm. The hotel was pretty decent and the first night was a get to know you night. There are 24 participants in the workshop. Everyone comes from various grade levels and across the country. The next day really started the experience. We would be meeting every day at the Kansas City National Weather Service Training Center. The day would start at 8 am and end at 4:30 pm. Our first day was filled with guest speakers and welcomes.  Our four leaders during the workshop were Jim Brey, Bob Weinbeck, Chad Kauffman and Abby Stimach all a part of AMS. We were welcomed by John Ogren who is the director of the center. Then Mr. Brey would introduced us to the AMS education and what the future would look like with the program. Part of our day throughout the workshop would be our daily briefing on weather by Jerry Griffin. Using various maps from the NWS, Mr. Griffin discussed how to read a water vapor map, surface weather stations and convective maps. Most of these can be found at the National Weather Service Website.

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During the day they introduced us to Modules that the AMS developed for teachers. Some of these lessons and resources they presented you can get from the AMS website. The first module was about Highs/Lows. The lab used the hand model to help students understand the flow of air in pressure systems.  There are videos on YouTube that show you how to use the model. Once we finished our module we took a tour of ASOS (Automated Surface Observing Site). This ended our first day. Already racking up a ton of information and resources for the future.

“Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) units are automated sensor suites that are designed to serve meteorological and aviation observing needs. There are currently more than 900 ASOS sites in the United States. These systems generally report at hourly intervals, but also report special observations if weather conditions change rapidly and cross aviation operation thresholds.” (https://goo.gl/ZqdyJu, NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information)

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ASOS equipment

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ASOS training site

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ASOS Map of all sites

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Satellite Imagery

The second day included a talk by Chad Kauffman, a professor at California University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Kauffman presented a ton of information on Skywarn and Pennsylvania State University e-Wall The Electronic Map Wall. Two great resources for teachers to use, but a warning, the second resource can be difficult to understand. It does have a great map resources. He did a great job explaining basic weather concepts. If you want to follow him on twitter here is his handle @TripleVortex. After his talk Adam Stout came in talked about Satellite imagery and took us on a tour through the Satellite office. The one exciting point he made in his presentation was about GOES-R Satellite. A game changer for climate and weather.

The third day included a full day of guest speakers on various topics. The day started with research on Climate, Weather, and Laura Ingalls Wilder: Connecting Science to Narrative by Barb Mayes Boustead, Ph.D. A very different view of Laura Ingalls novels and the weather she wrote about in her novels, Dr. Boustead focused on the “The Long Winter” Wilder Book- 1880-1881, you can follow on twitter by the way @windbarb. Dr. Boustead talked about various parts of Ingalls novels that mentioned different weather events and using various research to collaborate the events.  Her discussion included the El Nino, La Nino and their effects on various parts of the United States. During the discussion she mentioned an event that took place 1888, called the Children’s Blizzard. A tragic event that caused many deaths among immigrant children during an unexpected blizzard. I would never had thought of associating Laura Ingalls novels with weather, but it works and Dr. Boustead did a great job explaining this whole topic.

After Dr. Boustead, we had our weather briefing by Jerry Griffin again. Of course nothing changed because of the High that was sitting over the center of the country. The day ended with a lesson on the electromagnetic spectrum. By the end of the day I had more information then I knew what to do with. And as for the other participants, there are a great bunch of educators here and they have some really good ideas. So far the workshop has not disappointed me.

 

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Summer Action begins

So the year is finally over, grades in and room cleaned. We have a ton of new teachers coming on board so its going to be a really different school year next year. Meanwhile, the summer is starting and I’m looking forward to the beginning. The month of June is when all the action is occurring for me.  I first am off to New York my hometown to visit my old school Saint Anthony’s. An awesome school and I’m hoping to find out what they have been doing on the science front. I know they are building new labs so I can’t wait to talk to everyone. I taught at Saint Anthony’s during the early 90’s before moving to Cardinal Gibbons High School. Both are great schools by the way. Common theme the Franciscan Brothers. The other place I would love to visit and hope I get a chance is the World Trade Center Building. I was there a month after the 911 attack, would love to see the new building. Many people in our area lost their lives that day, would love to pay my respects.

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After New York I come home and two days later I head to Cleveland Ohio and the Glen Research Center for NASA. I got the NES(NASA Explorers School)  teacher recognition trip this year. So I’m a bit exited since I have never been to this NASA center. Can’t wait. Also meeting up with 3 or 4 teachers I’ve been on PD opportunities with before. Plan on doing some reconnecting with everyone.  Hopefully I’ll be blogging each day about what we are doing. Never been to Ohio as a matter of fact and can’t wait. Once I finish this I then head straight to Atlanta, Georgia for the ISTE 2014 conference.  Now this is going to be amazing, I’ve looked at the convention center and all the presentations, what do you go to first??? I mean here is an example of the exhibitor floor plan. Amazing, I’ll be spending a ton of time in the exhibitor hall.  There’s over a 1,000 presentations going on. I’m just now sifting through to find things I would like to go to. They even have app for the iPhone and android for the conference. This should be interesting to find out about new technology and how tech is being used by other teachers in the classroom. Fits right in with my revamping of the curriculum. Might come away with some good ideas. I’ll keep everyone posted.

So, New York, Cleveland and Atlanta, all in June. And I thought this summer would be quiet, who knew. In July I hope to redo my curriculum using different strategies for different topics. I would like to implement a PBL for minerals and rocks. I think I need to do a better job presenting this topic. I’ve already decided to do a group project on local rivers and streams. Other ideas include coding and littlebits. So yeah many things to think about as the summer moves along. Thumbs up

Discovery Fall VirtCon 2013

The morning is over with and now we are taking a break from all the information we are absorbing. It has been a great morning here at Cardinal Gibbons High School. Teachers from different Diocesan Schools are attending our F2F event. Collaboration is the word of the day.

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Two rooms are going, so everyone can enjoy presentations. Steve Dembo prepared us for the day with some trivia and prizes. Great start.

The 9 am presentation was given by Troy Hicks a English professor from Michigan University. He teaches classes to help students integrate technology and writing in their education. He used his book Crafting Digital Writing as a resource for his talk. His wiki website  is a companion website to his book. It contains different resources and links for chapters in his book.  He discusses the five types of digital writing; Web-based texts, Presentations, Audio texts, Video texts and Social media. During his talk he presents different components of craft, discussing each one and giving examples of each. Very informative and helpful to implementing Common Core. I would recommend people watch his talk if they are interested in getting ideas for using technology for writing.

At 10 am we split into two groups, one group watched the session on “One Session, Four Lessons: Meeting Individual Needs in a Science Classroom”. Michael Bryant did an awesome job explaining different components of the Science Techbook for all grade levels. The other group watched the “Back-to-School with Discovery and some new Techniques and Tools” with Rita Morenson.  Definitely a hit among our elementary and middle school teachers. I had the opportunity to see Ms. Morenson on a Google Hangout about the uses of Google Hangout.  She posted her presentation on a google drive to share with everyone. I will tell you this presentation had tons of tools for technology. Our teachers were especially loving the QR codes section. Also the coLar App became the hit of the day. We printed out different pictures and tested our phones. Amazing what technology can do.

11 am brought another session of techbook and “Free & Easy Ways to Wow Your Students and Parents” . I hate to admit this but some of us continued to work with the tools Rita Morenson shared. Others tried to concentrate on the next sessions.  Heidi Morgan did an awesome job introducing Blogger and The App Builder. And again QR Codes were a big hit. Ms. Morgan posted her presentation on a google document.

After lunch we came back and joined the next 1 pm session.  Again our one room hosted the sessions on techbooks, with Brad Fountain. The other session was Full S.T.E.A.M. ahead  with David Fisher. Simple tools were introduced such as Smart Recorder and Quick Voice, both apps you can use on your smartphone to record various content.  Today’s Meet is another tool you can use in class for class conversation and discussion on topics. Tons of other tools were introduced during this session. If you missed any of the archived presentations you can access them at virtconlive.com.

I think I’ll end here and watch the next few sessions with everyone. The day is almost at an end and so far we have excited and thankful teachers for all the information shared today.

RALEIGH: Cardinal Gibbons science teacher brings research experience to classroom | Raleigh | NorthRaleighNews.com

RALEIGH: Cardinal Gibbons science teacher brings research experience to classroom | Raleigh | NorthRaleighNews.com. It’s amazing that this occurred a month ago. I’m still trying digest what I did this summer. I already started showing the students my experiences.