Thursday, February 26, 2015

TED Ed Featured Lesson on Science in the Renaissance: Galileo Discover's Moons of Jupiter

Hey there readers!
Want a fun lesson to share with your friends, family, children or pets?
TED Ed challenged me (yes, I was there with them at the TED Ed HQ in New York...was AWESOME!) to produce a "lesson flip" on the Renaissance.

I'm a science teacher, so my lesson was about Galileo.

Each TED Ed flipped lesson has a video component, an online "quiz", additional links or online activities, a discussion question and some food for thought in the form of a famous quote on the topic.

This lesson was featured on the TED Ed blog:

Saturday, February 7, 2015

STEM/STEAM Games that Rock! Part 2

Today's app definitely has an artistic side.

Art materials feature largely in our home.  My kids have watercolor easels, their own sketchbooks, pencil boxes and they are very particular about their pencil sharpeners.  You have to know your pencil sharpeners to have a favorite.   My husband is an artist and we have his, and his friends' large canvases, his grandparents' oil paintings, and his mothers' watercolors all around our home.  We have a painting studio in our house.  STEM has turned to STEAM around here.  I also prefer to have the kids actually making something when they have screen time.  Many people will happily listen to kids talk about art or comic strips that they made, but no one (I've done a survey) wants to listen to kids talk about levels they completed on Skylanders.
A comic my son created by using photos and tools.

Strip Designer
In our house, we are comic-book fanatics.  My husband has been collecting comic books since he was a little kid.  He grew up in Brooklyn in the 70s, when his parents would give him 35 cents to go to the corner store to buy a comic book with change left over for penny candy.  Now we have an entire storage room in our basement dedicated to vintage and new comic books.  We watch all the hero movies while my husband whispers each character's backstory into our ears as the film rolls on.

Strip Designer and our kids are a match made in heaven. They have many different templates, styles and tools that you can use to overlay on your own photography.  The strip shown here that my son made took him about an hour or so with my help as photographer, but we were learning how the tools worked. Tools are robust, and would appeal to experienced artists as well as kids.  There are advanced editing tools like layers and other fancy things that I don't know how to use.


Friday, February 6, 2015

STEM/STEAM games that Rock! Part 1

As a mom, blogger and Science Technology Engineering (Arts) and Math teacher, I'm always checking out new math, science, puzzle or invention apps and trying them out on my children. Here's a list of the ones I or one of my children has obsessed over in the last month.  I usually get my recommendations from Graphite, because I have a full time job at work, at home and I'm a coach (not for sports, for STEM, but more on that another day).
Tinkerbox   This jewel of an engineering app was brought into the world by Autodesk of AutoCAD fame.  These folks over there are SERIOUS engineers and yet, my seven year old can play this game for quite a while. I love to watch him play. He loves the music and says he finds it calming and that it "helps him solve the problems".

Dragon Box after playing for 5 minutes
What I particularly love about this iPad app is that he is constantly in the "Develop and Prototype/Test the Solution" loop of the Engineering Design Process.  This little guy adjusts the position of the catapult button or electric fan by a millimeter, tests it and then readjusts as many times as necessary until he achieves SUCCESS!

DragonBox 5+ and DragonBox 12+
Dude, the kids ask me to do Algebra.  Every. Day.  My 7 year old solved a multivariable equation for x (the dragonbox) after playing this game for 45 minutes.  Zoinks!  There are two versions, 5+ and 12+, according to age.  Definitely play this game with your kid.  It's math like it shoulda been!  The sound effects and graphics remind me a little of World of Goo meets OmNom from Cut the Rope (both excellent STEM apps, also!) and the sound effect when you isolate the DragonBox is like a light saber! GeekDad at Wired Magazine went crazy over how it was better than angry birds.

That's all I have time for right now, gotta put the kids to bed and get ready to teach my Engineering & Design classes tomorrow!  More tomorrow...