Last year (2016) was the first annual STEMfest for Stuart Mesa elementary students. The event was an opportunity for Middle School students to share their learning from the STEM Lab with parents, classmates, and the community. It was the first time that I had ever organized a student showcase, and although it was highly successful, I have some ideas for improving this year's event.
Today in STEM Lab, students began to think about and research their projects for this year's STEMfest. There was a lot of excitement and brainstorming happening, and I'm really excited to see the projects that the kids are planning. I gave students a link to sciencebuddies.org to help them brainstorm and check out possible project ideas.
The students do the bulk of the work for the STEMfest. However, as the organizer of the event, I have my fair-share of work too! Some changes that I will be making to the event this year include:
Friday, May 19th from 5:30 - 7:30 pm
For the past few weeks, the 4th and 5th grade classes at Stuart Mesa have been building roller coasters in the STEM Lab, using mini K'Nex kits. I was able to purchase the kits for the STEM Lab with a grant from Genentech and the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce. Building the roller coasters has been a fantastic experience for the students so far! There have been moments of frustration, perseverance, and celebration amongst the students. Some students even discovered a building talent which they didn't know they had!
The science concepts that we've been focusing on with this unit are some basic physics topics - kinetic and potential energy, gravity, inertia, friction, etc. We have also focused on math concepts, such as finding the mean speed of your roller coaster, measuring the track length, and the height.
I've recently discovered HyperDocs ... and I'm absolutely obsessed with them now! If you haven't heard of them before, a HyperDoc is basically a Google Doc with a ton of hyperlinks included. Student follow the directions of the HyperDoc, watching videos, reading articles, and accomplishing various tasks along the way. I really like using them with my Middle School students in the STEM Lab. HyperDocs make things easier because there are usually about 15 different things happening in the Lab with my Middle School students. I also really like them for Extra Credit assignments, since they can work through the HyperDoc independently.
One of the first HyperDocs that I used with my Middle School students was "Comic Life Digital Citizenship." This HyperDoc walked students through creating a Super Digital Citizen character that protects people online. It's based on a lesson from Common Sense Education, but also incorporates the Comic Life software that I use in my lab.
Check out this awesome student work!
A great resource for sharing HyperDocs is Teachers Give Teachers. This website has a massive amount of HyperDocs that you can easily add to your Google Drive, make a copy of, then modify however you need to. I just recently downloaded a "Getting to Know GAFE" HyperDoc that I'm excited to share with my Middle School students.
Try out a HyperDoc with your students today!
As I've mentioned in a previous post, teaching digital citizenship is a big goal for Stuart Mesa Elementary this year. One of the many hats that I'm wearing, as a site-based EdTech TOSA, is to model lessons and support classroom teachers as they present Digital Citizenship lessons to their students. I created a bulletin board in my STEM Lab that is all about the Digital Footprint, as a way to remind students that they should pause and think before posting anything online. I'm super happy with the way the bulletin board turned out, and wanted to share all of the pieces that I've created with all of you!! I cannot take complete credit for the bulletin board idea. I found some great inspiration on pinterest for this board, and put several of those ideas together with some of the excellent resources from common sense education.
All of the pieces that I created for this bulletin board can be found in this Google Folder. The giant footprint was traced on black butcher paper, using a google image of a footprint projected on my whiteboard. Feel free to use these resources for your own classroom and share the link with colleagues too! Add a photo of your own Digital Citizenship bulletin board in the comments, or share it with me on twitter @mrslovefleck. Good luck on your Digital Citizenship journey this school year!
Although I haven't begun to see students in the STEM Lab yet, I've been visiting classrooms to talk about digital citizenship. This year, Stuart Mesa has set the goal of becoming A Digital Citizenship certified school. Woohoo!! Basically, this means that students will receive lessons that focus on various areas of digital citizenship. So, why is digital citizenship so important? Watch the video below to get a better idea of the amount of time tweens and teens spend online.
So, excluding the time spent using media for school or homework, tweens (age 8-12) spend about 6 hours and teens (age 13-18) spend about 9 hours online each day. It is important that students are learning about what it takes to be a good digital citizen! We will be providing lessons on digital citizenship and handing out literature to parents as well. Join Stuart Mesa in our effort to create good digital citizens, one student at a time.
The Ozobots have been a big hit at Stuart Mesa this year! I have used them quite a bit with grades K-2 to teach coding, problem solving skills, and the 4Cs (communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking).
Mrs. Engel's 1st grade class has really taken off with the Ozobots!! I have been working with them about 1-2 times a week to practice coding with the Ozobots. One student in Mrs. Engel's class discovered that there is currently an Ozobot contest where you have to send Ozobot on Vacation!! Mrs. Engel's class decided that they would like to send Ozobot on vacation to Legoland. Using a map and images of Legoland, the first grade students worked so hard to recreate Legoland, then created a pathway "code" for Ozobot to move throughout the theme park. We (the teachers) created a short video of the Ozobots moving through the 1st grade Legoland, and will be submitting our video to the Ozobot on Vacation contest.
Check out the video below!!
Yesterday was Science Discovery Day at Stuart Mesa Elementary. Students in grades K-5 rotated through various science activities throughout the day. In the SmartLab, I challenged my groups of 3-5th graders to create art wiggle bots. Students were given specific materials, shown several online examples, then let loose to create with their partner. Communication and collaboration were an important part of the engineering process. Many students discovered that their bots did not work at first. They had to troubleshoot, problem-solve, and modify their bots until they had success. Check out the video below to see one of the art wiggle bots in action!
On May 26th, Stuart Mesa will host our first annual STEMfest. This event will be an opportunity for the Middle School students at Stuart Mesa to share the work they have been doing in the SmartLab. The ideas that the students have been coming up with are phenomenal! Projects range from video game design to solar powered vehicles to creating a new type of soap!
The STEMfest will be open during the day, for other students and teachers to walk through, and from 4:00 - 5:30 for parents and families to visit. Please come by for a visit. We hope to have a good turn out to support the work of our middle school students!!
Learning to type is a vital 21st century skill for students! For the remainder of the school year, our students in grades 2-8 will have access to the TypingClub program, by EdClub, Inc. This a great program because it keeps track of student progress, and they can continue where they left off. There are also badges and incentives to keep the students excited about typing.
The students, grades 2 - 8, are absolutely taking off with this program. They especially like the leader board, as it adds a little fun competition to typing!!
If you don't already know, Donors Choose is a great way to acquire supplies and materials for your classroom. Teachers create a project, then spread the word about their project to family and friends, usually through social media. People, as well as businesses, are able to contribute to your project, showing their support for hard-working teachers everywhere.
Recently, I posted a Donors Choose project for 6 Ozobots, to teach robotics and coding to students in the SmartLab. With donations from family, friends, and the News Corps organization, my project was funded and the Ozobots are now being enjoyed in the SmartLab.
I encourage every teacher to sign up for a project! Start with something small and be amazed at the amount of people who want to give and support classroom teachers!!
Here is my Donors Choose page.