Sunday, May 11, 2014

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You!

Hello STEAM community,

I have recently returned from a professional conference (Learning and the Brain), and my head is bursting with new ideas.  One of my "new" ideas has been one that has been germinating for a while-- creating a feature of this blog that would be exciting and interesting for students and community alike to read.  The take-away point is to help make students aware of the wide variety of career options available to them within STEAM topics and connect that information with real-live people!

So here's the pitch:   Would you like your fifteen minutes of fame?  Do you have a husband, wife, or loved one you can coerce for the good of education?  Do you LOVE your career in a STEAM subject? Tell us about it!  Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math, all welcomed!  

Here are the questions that inquiring minds want to know:

--What do you do/what is your title?
--How did you get involved with your current career?
--How long have you been working in this STEAM area? 
--What did you think about STEAM subjects in school?
--What skills/habits of mind do you find the most useful in your job?
--What is something unexpected that you have learned about yourself in this position?
--What are the most challenging/rewarding parts of your job?
--What does a typical day look like for you? 
--What do you find fascinating? 
--Any other advice/insights you'd like to share with potential STEAM professionals?
--Photo of yourself, your job, a product you make, etc
--Website for your company or something related of interest

Answer any or all of these questions (feel free to add additional info if you've got it)  in an e-mail sent to, and I will turn your answers into a lovely post here for the world to see!   

Thank you, in advance.  Remember, enthusiasm is contagious! 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Abstracted Organelles

STEAM students used their knowledge about cell organelles to explore the concept of artistic abstraction, where artists use actual objects to explore a broader theme.  We emphasized that context is often necessary to understand what you are looking at in an abstract piece, and practiced writing Artist Statements to explain our process.  Here are just a few of the many awesome examples we created!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mechanical Systems 2.2 Study Guide

Hi Everyone,
A Friendly Reminder that we will be having A QUIZ on MECHANICAL SYSTEMS on FRIDAY, March 14th!!  As always, with any quiz I give, the intent is not to trick you or confuse you, but to try and make sure we are all on the same page about the content.  Especially since this material will build upon itself in the later lessons, it's important that you truly "get it"-- hence, the quiz-- to make sure that y'alls are hearing what I'm saying.

So, Without Further Ado,
The format of the quiz will be mostly short answer and fill-in-the blanks with one short answer question.

  • Know the 4 types of motion
  • Know the 4 changes that a mechanism makes 
  • Definitions of:
  • Torque
  • Gear
  • Force
  • Mechanism
  • Work
  • Energy
  • Know what input/output gears are
  • When input gear is smaller/larger, what happens to speed/torque?
  • On mechanism chart, be prepared to compare and contrast these groups of mechanisms
    • Worm and wheel, Simple Gear Train, Universal Joint
    • Crank and Slider, Cam and Follower
    • Worm and Wheel, Leadscrew
  • Provide a real-life example of where your group's mechanism is used 
  • Name the 6 steps of the design process in order 

EXTRA SPECIAL TREAT!  Since you're reading this and being good l'il students,  draw a shamrock (four leaf clover) next to your name, and I will reward you with two extra points.  Be sneaky about it ;-)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Gear Resources

Hello All,

We are about to be starting our unit on Automation and Robotics.  This is fully-uncharted territory, and so I want to offer up some resources to help with the content we'll be exploring together.  Please keep in mind that these topics are extensive, expansive, and multi-faceted by nature-- we will be taking a basic approach to cement some fundamental understandings that we can build on later.

More resources to come-- if you come across things of interest, send them our way!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Why is ART in STEAM? Students respond!

Hello All,

As part of our mid-year activities, I asked students to respond to a question prompt about why Art was included in STEAM (Bias hereby acknowledged).  I thought the responses they gave were interesting and thought-provoking, so I am including them here to share with you:

"Art encourages a different type of thinking than just STEM.  The components of STEM are all extremely logical (though not entirely).  Our world is not like that.  Most problems we face end up combining at least 50% creative innovation and invention with 50% logic, not just logic.   Also, STEM alone covers only one half of the brain .  The other half has a lot of art, which exercises our problem-solving skills, our creative and collaborative thinking, and our communication of ideas-- all of which are qualities searched for in many companies.  During our logo projects, the criteria given made us think "out of our comfort zone".  Most of us wanted a steam cloud somewhere in there, with words, and all those simple stuff.  When those were vetoed, we had to push ourselves to find a few designs that still communicated what we felt and passed all of the "logo tests".  That's art.  Art in STEM encourages us to think differently and go for "infinity and beyond", not what is less than an arms' reach away."

"When using Art, you can be as creative as you want.  I use art to express myself when there are no words to describe it.  When I joined STEAM, we had to think outside the box all the time.  Questions got harder, rubrics did too.  We were expected to do much more than the average brain."

"Art encourages a different kind of thinking and is included in STEM for this reason.  Normally, with regular classes, children are given material, they memorize it, regurgitate it, and forget it.  When art is included, they really connect everything and associate the knowledge with memories of their art.  For example, I could have memorized what the stages of the cell cycle are.  Doing the stained glass cell cycle project created an image in my mind of how everything actually fits together in this process, not just meaningless words."

"Art gives students a different way of looking at things.  Instead of just learning vocab words, we actually get to apply our knowledge by doing projects!  Art gets the creative part of the brain working.  We also get to experience the advanced "art world".  I was challenged by my creative ability.  I can honestly say that I am a more creative person now, thanks to STEAM."

"Art helps us develop both independence and collaboration.  It helps students use their personal strength in meaningful ways, and helps us understand other people's meaningful ideas too.  I was challenged to understand the way my classmates see STEAM when we were doing the logos.  I had to realize that there were many different ways to interpret STEAM."

"We can visually see what we are learning and visualize the process of different topics in STEM (like the stained glass windows).  We are challenged to think differently this year because we have to combine all the different topics (STEM and Art), and it can help us learn because we are thinking differently."

"Art this year has challenged me to think through ideas and make multiple sketches to perfect my thoughts"

"To do art, a student must be able to take their knowledge, imagine, plan, and push themselves in a way one is not often pushed.  This challenge to think differently has arisen many times this year, but I particularly remember it during Animalgamations (animal hybrids).  Not only did I need to totally know the [science] content, but also to practice art content I had yet to do, and think creatively but intelligently about my creation-- I had never experienced that."

"Art encourages us to think with different ideas that aren't as textbook-style and are more innovative.  For example, when I was working on my design for a logo, a lot of my ideas contained generic shapes that didn't really mean anything to me, and I was okay with that, but when I started to use shapes with more curves, I got really excited to show it off."

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Week in Review

Hello Adoring Public,

This week in STEAM, we continued our studies in genetics as well as exploring the importance of fact-based inquiry with Bigfoot!   Students have finished their cell-cyle stained glass windows, which were presented at a school committee meeting on Wednesday night.  As soon as I can figure out how to photograph them effectively, I will post the series.  We are now working on Animalgamations-- hypothetical combinations of two different animals into one new and exciting creature.  The students are having a blast with it.  Next week, we are fortunate enough to be able to go to the Museum of Fine Arts on Wednesday, where we will be looking at the Ancient Egyptian collection.  It is a very strong collection and well-worth a visit if you haven't been.  Many local libraries offer library passes which will drastically reduce the cost of admission, if you plan ahead.

Coming up, we will begin talking about protein synthesis, and generally fighting against entropy as the winter break looms in the not-so-distant future.

Friday, November 22, 2013

This Week in STEAM

This week in STEAM, students continued learning about the cell cycle (mitosis) and the stages thereof.  We started learning about genetics, so be prepared to answer lots of awkward questions (ha)!

We are finishing our related art project in which students illustrated a step of the cell cycle with cellophane and cut paper.   Our next related art project will be expanding on our observational drawing skills to combine characteristics of two different animals and assessing the "dominant (shown)" or "recessive (not shown)" traits in the third hybrid animal.  Here are pictures of the students working.