Friday, October 26, 2012

STEM video

So I guess it has been awhile since I have posted, but after looking at my last post I realized I didn't post the STEM videos that were produced by Loft 49 films for NEA and AT&T.  So here they are.

The first video has three of the original 9 teachers involved in the first year of the STEM project with Ohio University.  We were the only 3 who stayed with the project all 3 years.  These are GREAT guys - it is so nice to get a chance to collaborate every summer.

The second video has a new member to the team.

Keep doing what you love!


Monday, April 23, 2012

2nd Semester - catching up with the activities

Things sure have been busy lately with school and activities! You would think after finishing my master's I would have more time, but I just added more to my list.

 February - Quality Matters Training was on my list. This is a program to show you how to improve your online or blended course. It is a great review of concepts that were taught in education coursework (aligning your curriculum) and newer things that involve technology. There are many courses in the Quality Matters Training - and it is all done online.

Right to Left:  Caleb, me, Jay

March - Wrapping up some of our STEM work with Ohio University and AT&T partners. Caleb Loft 49 Films in NY came to the school to do some more filming for the PSA that will air sometime this spring/summer. I was able to see the first PSA and WOW, hats off to Caleb, Jay (music) and the entire team for making Larry King (Warren High School), Troy Weaver (Vinton County High School), and myself look like stars!  LOL.
Opening Day at NSTA with NOAA in Indy

More March Madness! (mad like a scientist that is) - I attended the National Science Teacher's Association National Convention held in Indianapolis, IN. I always enjoy going to the NSTA to meet up with old friends, learn new things, and make new connections with people and organizations. This event I worked with another GREAT NOAA staff (and volunteers with the Teacher At Sea alumni). As usual I found new things on the NOAA Education site and another TAS told me about another great opportunity through the American Meteorological Society..... more on that later.  But first, if you teach grades 9-12, or honors 8th grade, then check out the new Coral Reef Ocean Acidification Program.  There are some great videos, powerpoints (that you can edit!), lessons, and more.  Click here

Sunday, October 30, 2011


What is STEM STEM? Most people already know STEM - Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics, but STEM STEM is Second Tuesday Every Month Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics.

Most science teachers are already teaching science, technology, engineering, or mathematics in some form or another, but STEM STEM brings the application of these disciplines to the forefront of the lessons. With the push for more STEM teaching teachers are left to their own resources at times to do this. For some this is easy, for others they may not know where to start.

The majority of teachers feel very confident teaching in their expertise, but when asked to teach something outside their field (yes, it happens all the time) they are left in situations that may have them apprehensive to try new things in that discipline.

Knowing your discipline is very important, but what is also important is allowing students to ask questions and explore things that may be unfamiliar to you. Right now I have a group of students working on a solar water heater. Did I mention I was a biologist? I may not know everything needed to assist them in this project, but I know where to get help and I know the basic elements of scientific methodology.

STEM STEM has allowed me to invite teachers and students from local high schools to come and share independent inquiry with each other. This collaboration allows students and teachers to review project elements not just horizontally (student to student) but also vertically where teachers, students, mentors, professionals in the field all together discuss project elements, ideas, etc.

Two other components of STEM STEM are technology and teamwork. Technology is not just replacing blackboard notes with powerpoint slides, or spiral notebooks with laptops, but in STEM STEM we will use social networking. Teachers and students will be enrolled into an online course that will allow for collaboration and peer review in a format familiar with today's student. It is important for k-12 teachers to teach proper professional online conversation which differs from their personal 'facebook' type of social media. Already these lessons have had to be revisited as this is an ongoing process. Students may not know what is acceptable if they do not have a model to follow.

Each team will also document their projects from inception, design, testing, and evaluation. I have been able to acquire equipment that each teacher will need to successfully complete the technology portion. Teamwork is an ongoing lesson that students will learn. Teamwork in this case is dependent on each group member being a valuable 'cog in the wheel'.

Out of the 7 schools invited, we had response from 3. The first meeting was attended by my students, and teacher/student teams from 2 other local high schools. I am hoping this pilot program is successful so that we can continue it next year. I have had a couple of schools contact me since our first meeting that asked I invited them next year.

Sleepless in Seattle, no wonder, it is an amazing place!

Last month I had the most amazing trip to the Northwest. This wasn't a family vacation, but it some ways it felt like it.

NOAA asked me to be part of a symposium on Education Outreach at the American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting. It was very exciting to be asked to join fellow teachers, professionals from NOAA, and biologists in the field to showcase our projects at the convention.

As I went to register at the convention, in my zip dry pants and NOAA Oregon II vessel T-shirt, I saw many people in suits and ties walking through the convention center. I thought to myself, "I brought the wrong wardrobe!". But then I was re-directed to the south end of the convention center for the AFS registration. As I got closer, I saw more khaki's, blue jeans, outdoor wear, hats, and T's walking through the corridor. Yes, I was now in the right place! In fact, I was overdressed at times! But don't let the attire fool you as the talks I attended were very technical in nature. There were fascinating speakers from all levels of education.

Orlay Johnson, our symposium's coordinator, was like a distant cousin that I just met at a family reunion. The entire group was very nice. Everyone in my symposium had a deep love for the education of children as their number one goal.

Photo: Here I am with Orlay and two associates from the local university.

Melinda Storey, a wonderful and recently retired TAG (Talented and Gifted) teacher and also a former Teacher At Sea, was my companion for most of the week. Not to mention a truly amazing educator and public speaker. She would be a wonderful person to co-teach with or shadow.
Photo: Melinda and I at the Market.

On my field trip day to the Yakima River and Dam I was with a very small group of people. I was the only teacher, but I felt very comfortable with the other 10 people in my group. One of the best stops was at the Salmon Recovery Station that is co-run by the Washington Dept of Natural Resources and the Yakima Nation. The state biologist along with members of the Yakima nation co-facilitates the Salmon Recovery efforts.

Yakima Basin Fish and Wildlife Recovery Board
consists of representatives of the Yakama Nation and local governments in the Yakima River basin. The Mission of the Board is to: Restore sustainable and harvestable populations of salmon, steelhead, bull trout and other at-risk fish and wildlife species through the collaborative, economically sensitive efforts, combined resources, and wise resource management of the Yakima River Basin.

This first week in September showed to be the most beautiful weather of the summer. Sailing on the Puget Sound, visiting the aquarium and seeing the neon colors of wildlife living off the coast, friendly people, 75-85 degree sun shining days and the best Seattle had to offer was enough to sell me on this city.

Photo: Here I am buying sustainable seafood from the Seattle Fish Market

Collaborating with educators and professionals is a great way for teachers to get re-energized.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Is Bigger Better? My trip to the Great Barrier Reef

Photo: GBR off the coast of Townsville, Queensland, Australia - note the clam in blue.

This past spring I started preparing for my trip to Australia. For many years I have wanted visit Australia and see the GREAT BARRIER REEF. I had the reef built up in mind so grand I couldn't wait to get my scuba gear on and get in! So there I am, finally there. We had storms come through the area and had to reroute our trip to a different part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Our new location had a silty bottom and with new divers, that means we can stir up the bottom! So silty bottoms + new divers + bad weather = low visibility.

Photo: GBR

At one point in time I was feeling a little down about my GBR experience because in my mind I had this idea of of seeing the most pristine and beautiful site in the world. Then a friend on my trip said something that changed everything. "Nobody said this was the most beautiful reef, but it is the largest and you learned to scuba dive on the largest living coral reef in the world!" Wow, I did! The only living thing that can be seen from outer-space and I was there diving in and around it.

Photo: Me in Juno Bay during my scuba certification check offs

I can't believe I forgot to blog about this great dive experience earlier, but I was watching a show about diving in the Maldives Islands and thought I want to go there next. There are many beautiful places out there to dive, some small, some big. Just take it all in and breathe! (literally, don't forget to breathe! LOL)
So my final thoughts on the GBR? It was truly life changing, everything is OK.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

STEM - Larry, Troy, and I: The last of nine

This past week I went to Ohio University's Voinovich Leadership school where I met with 2 fellow teachers that I have worked with the past three years along with 4 amazing people involved with OU and our STEM projects.

Summer 2009 I along with 8 other science teachers attended a workshop on STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) in the classroom. We had a couple of days of great lectures and tours from OU staff and Athens industry. We toured Dr. Botte's lab where they are using the hydrogen from ammonia to 'fuel' Fuel cells, Dr. Bayless's coal research, and much more. Each teacher received a $1000 grant to take back to their school district to implement STEM projects in the classroom with their students.

Spring 2010 Dr. Johnson contacted everyone again to see if we were interested in 'doing it again'. I am not sure how many of us took her up on the offer, but you can bet I was onboard. This past year my students designed a flange to go around a wind turbine that was mounted to a mock residential roof. With a meeting from a local engineer and then again a Skye conference after they were done, the students were ready to present their project at the state Skills USA competition. The NEA (National Education Association) STEM grant helped fund this project and another in which my students tested the effects of UV radiation on E. coli contaminated water.

Spring 2011 Dr. Johnson once again contacted a group of the original STEM workshop teachers. I agreed as did Larry (Warren HS) and Troy (Vinton Co. HS). We met this past week and found out our grant budget quadrupled. I am so excited to implement more projects and to document the progress through photo and video accounts. This year we will be visited by a videotographer that will visit our schools and SouthEastern Ohio to record footage for this STEM videospot.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer Collaborations - Get out there, there is still time.

There are many opportunities for teachers in the summer. Some are free, some are not.

Mailers start coming in Feb/Mar for summer workshops. Some of the opportunities I was aware of just couldn't fit into my already booked summer. At the SECO conference I attended a session that promoted a FREE one week beginner chemistry (with simple labs using cheap materials) workshop. The lessons continued throughout the fall with 6 credit hours to be earned at the end of the program. I would have LOVED to attend, but I was already committed to 2 weeks in Australia with Earth Expeditions the same month.

Some collaborations can be offered by your state's Dept of Education. I have been on a science range-finder committee (committee of teachers that help re-write the rubric for the Ohio Graduation Test in Science) for the past 3 years. This committee met during the school year at the beginning, but now meets in the summer. Hotel rooms are provided for those outside of the commuting area. It was from a fellow teacher from this committee that I learned about the Teacher At Sea Program.

It is still not too late. Get on the web, contact your school or university and see what is out there. Go to TEDed to get some inspiration if you can't attend anything.

I will be heading to Athens, Ohio August 11, 2011 to meet with a group of teachers and facilitators for a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) project. This will be our third year running - and this year we are incorporating video for a professional media presentation by a professional producer. This project is funding by NEA.