Library makerspaces are becoming more popular in schools and using technology is often part of the experience. Some school librarians in CA BOCES are becoming familiar with coding, programming, and open source software. As a result, makerspaces are frequently the place where students can explore, create, and learn. eTextiling is one method of using technology to engage students with varied interests.
eTextiles use circuitry to create interaction between the wearer and his or her environment. As a way to introduce fashion and technology to teachers, an eTextiling workshop was offered through the 510 Coser. Facilitated by S.T.E.M. Coordinator Clay Nolan, and School Library System Coordinator, Cece Fuoco, participants learned the basics of circuitry through the use of copper tape, a battery and an LED light.
Participants then used conductive thread to sew a circuit.
Open source technology allows for programming a component to make an LED light respond to sound or movement. The opportunity exists for students to work together, especially when a student’s interest is stronger than his or her ability.
An eTextiling workshop will be available again next year with the anticipation that this year’s participants will share what their students have created. If you would like more information about eTextiling, please contact Clay at Clay_Nolan@caboces.org or Cece at Cece_Fuoco@caboces.org.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES School Library Coordinator
In December the Board of Regents approved new Science Standards that will take effect in July of 2017. This means schools will need to coordinate their transition away from 1996 Science Standards into new standards so that students are prepared for assessments that will likely be implemented in three years.
It is predicted that new Science assessments will begin in 2020, three school years away. With this in mind, CA BOCES will begin transitioning Science Curriculum Kit titles so that students reach their assessment prepared. Title transition will take place over a three year period. The chart below outlines the planned transition.
All curriculum kit titles can be explored at our new website: www.advancingSTEM.com
Explore the new New York State Science Learning Standards: www.p12.nysed.gov/ciai/mst/sci/nyssls.html
Teams have been hard at work since the school year began to prepare for the Southern Tier Lego League Tournament on Saturday, November 19, 2016 at Houghton College. It's exciting to see the program continue to grow in our region. CABOCES is ready to host the largest Southern Tier Lego League Tournament ever!
First Lego League, a world-wide robotics program, was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in Science and Technology. Each year a new program is designed to motivate kids to get excited about research, engineering, math and problem solving, while building self confidence, knowledge and life skills.
The Campus Center at Houghton College is the place to be this Saturday to see almost two hundred 9-14 year old students, their coaches and families, and over 3 dozen volunteers discover innovative ways to explore robotics while having fun! Please consider attending and help us celebrate all the teams who accepted this challenge. We will announce, at the Closing Ceremony, the five teams who will be advancing to the Championship Tournament at the University of Rochester on December 11.
Call or email BOCES Student Programs at 716-376-8323 if you'd like more information. Also, to learn more about this year's Challenge, check out the link:firstinspires.org/robotics/fll/challenge-and-season-info
We're looking forward to seeing you on Saturday, November 19! Thanks for supporting our Southern Tier Lego League teams!
For GPS purposes, use Houghton College, 1 Willard Avenue, Houghton College, Houghton, New York 14744.
Watch for Lego League signs, once on campus.
The tournament will be held in the Reinhold Campus Center Lounge, the Student Union at Houghton College.
Parking is available in the Gillette and Gym parking lots.
There are 18 teams competing this year. This is our largest Southern Tier Tournament!
The Tournament Tables will be in the Campus Center Lounge.
The Matches will be projected onto a big screen for viewing.
The Pit Area will be in the Campus Center downstairs Rec & Cafe Area.
*Southern Tier FLL Qualifying Tournament 2016*
(times are approximate and subject to change)
12:00 Opening Ceremony
12:20 Competition Rounds begin
3:00 Alliance Round & Dance Party
3:45 Awards Presentations & Closing Ceremony
This Just In:
It's official! CABOCES will be hosting the largest Southern Tier Lego League Tournament ever on Saturday, November 19 at Houghton College. See flyer for details.
First Lego League, a world-wide robotics program, was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in Science and Technology.
Each year a new program is designed to motivate kids to get excited about research, engineering, math and problem solving, while building self confidence, knowledge and life skills.
The November STEM Challenge: Turkey Cooker.
Advancing STEM Challenges are designed to bring engineering and design to your classroom in a simple, easy-to-implement, challenge-based way. Modify our Advancing STEM Challenges for your classroom. A new challenge will be posted monthly.
Post a photo of your students in action in our comment section or post a comment on how you modified the Challenge to work in your classroom.
For the past few times I’ve been meeting with teachers, I’ve been introducing them to STEM Challenges. These challenges have the participants work together to solve a problem I pose. Sometimes the problem has a fictional story attached to it or connects to the real world, but all of the challenges have the teachers working as engineers to find a solution.
Once the problem is introduced, I tell them the criteria and constraints that go along with the challenge. For example, there might be a time limit, only certain materials available or limits on the amount of material to be used, requirements that need met, etc. Participants get to ask questions about the challenge, imagine their ideas, plan it out with team members, create their solution, test it out, and then improve upon it, which is known as the Engineering Design Process.
So far, participants I’ve worked with have designed packages to keep a glass ornament safe, earthquake resistant buildings, towers made out of index cards and a foot of tape to hold a stuffed animal, boats to save the gingerbread man, windmill blades to lift a cup of washers, sails to catch the wind, Trojan horse carts to roll down a ramp, and built cup towers using only a rubber band and strings.
Through all of these challenges, I noticed the participants were engrossed with the challenge and trying to do their best to solve the problem. When their design wasn’t working, they were very eager to go back to the drawing table and figure it out how to make it work. When they were successful, it was a great scene to watch. Participants were high-fiving, cheering each other on, applauding one another, jumping up and down, and making sounds of joy and excitement. After the challenge, I posed to them that if this is how you are feeling, can you imagine how excited your students would be doing the same thing?
At Whitesville CSD on Tuesday, May 10, teachers were exposed to various STEM related products and activities. Teachers explored, Little Bits, Coding Apps on the I pad, online resources through their SNAP account and a Global Design Squad activity entitled; Seismic Shake-Up with staff specialists from CABOCES. Over the past several years, STEM/STEAM has become increasingly important within the school curriculum. Research has stated, that STEM education is important for our students to be competitive in the workforce. According to the National Department of Education:
The United States has developed as a global leader, in large part, through the genius and hard work of its scientists, engineers, and innovators. In a world that’s becoming increasingly complex, where success is driven not only by what you know, but by what you can do with what you know, it’s more important than ever for our youth to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and make sense of information. These are the types of skills that students learn by studying science, technology, engineering, and math—subjects collectively known as STEM.
One activity explored with Karen Insley of CABOCES was the Seismic Shake-Up! In this activity, students/teachers think about the need for earthquake resistant structures around the world, and determine what it takes to make a structure that is strong enough to withstand an earthquake. Through collaboration, design, problem solving, testing and researching; students learn and explore what it takes a to design and build a structure that can withstand an earthquake.
A second activity the teachers dove into was Coding with Clay Nolan from Learning Resources at CABOCES. Coding is one of the hot phrases of today and is important for ALL students to be exposed to programming as early as kindergarten. According to Eric Missio of the National Parent/Teacher organization states:
Coding (also called programming or developing) is telling a computer, app, phone or website what you want it to do. Some educators and experts are calling it the ‘new literacy’--a subject so important that every child needs to know the basics to excel in our rapidly changing world. Four- and five-year-olds can learn the foundations of coding and computer commands before they can even write and spell words. Older kids can learn to code through classes, mentors and online tutorials (see below for learn-to-code resources for all ages).
Learning to code prepares kids for the world we live in today. There are tons of jobs and occupations that use code directly, like web designers, software developers and robotics engineers, and even more where knowing how to code is a huge asset—jobs in manufacturing, nanotechnology or information sciences. However, for most kid-coding advocates, reasons for learning to code run much deeper than career prep.
Clay’s session started with the basics of human coding and advanced to applying this basic knowledge to a coding app or coding program on the ipad. The teachers began to make a code for other teams to follow in order to build a tower out of cups. The basic concepts of human code allows teachers and students to practice and understand the language of a coding program better. After the towers were built by following the developed codes, teachers explored two coding apps: Hopscotch and Code.org.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
Teaching science today in the classroom can be time consuming. There may not be time to fit in all the components from a CA-BOCES science kit due to time constraints. Students might be missing out on the hands-on activities, important vocabulary, and science concepts each learning experience is geared for only because of time’s sake. Also when getting that buckhorn science kit and opening it for the first time, it can be a bit overwhelming with the supplies, manual, books, live animal coupons, and reading that is needed to prepare the kit.
Last week, a few teachers wanted to explore a few of the science kits offered by CA-BOCES. Teachers went through some of the experiences, examined and manipulated the supplies in the kit, debriefed themselves on the manuals, learned about additional resources that coincide with the kit, and discussed implementation plans in their classrooms.
Hinsdale third grade teachers, Lisa Morrow and Christine Goodling, were both surprised and intrigued by how many ELA skills were intertwined with the science kit, Life Cycles and Traits of Frogs. They noted that it could easily be used during their ELA block because students need to pull main ideas, details, conclusions, evidence, sequencing, and inferences from the texts all while learning science concepts. The teachers also commented how excited the students would be to engage with the topics and activities since they would have actual eggs, tadpoles, and frogs in their classrooms. After their new found knowledge of the science kit and realizing its ease of use, teachers left rejuvenated and excited to bring science back to the classroom knowing how much the students would gain from this experience.
As our society becomes increasingly dependent on engineering and technology, it is more important than ever that everyone be aware of what engineers do and understand the uses and implications of the technologies they create. Yet few American citizens are technologically literate, largely because technology and engineering have not been taught in our schools (Pearson, 2004).
Children (and many adults) know shockingly little about technology and engineering. In fact, the vast majority believe the term “technology” refers only to electronics and computers and that engineering and science are basically the same (Lachapelle and Cunningham, 2007; Pearson and Young, 2002). To understand the human-made world in which we live, it is vital that we increase engineering and technological literacy among all people, even young children!
Children are born engineers—they are fascinated with designing their own creations, with taking things apart, and with figuring out how things work. In 2003, the Engineering is Elementary (EiE, www.mos.org/eie) project was initiated to take advantage of the natural curiosity of all children to cultivate their understanding and problem-solving in engineering and technology.
On January 29, the Pk-5 Whitesville Elementary teachers took part in a mini-workshop with Clay Nolan (CABOCES staff specialist for Learning Resources) about the new NYS science standards and how to incorporate engineering and hands on projects in the elementary classroom. Teachers were asked to design an earthquake-resistant building, integrating 21st century skills in a STEM activity.
The Activity; After watching Twig films about earthquakes, each group will invent an earthquake-resistant building and test the efficiency of the building according to certain criteria and constraints with the option of being reinvented. Students will also act as entrepreneurs by using job-readiness skills that enhance workplace productivity and career options based on what they learn from constructing the earthquake-resistant building. Finally, they will briefly engage with financial education and the economy in society by constructing a budget. The final activity was to reflect and collaborate their viewpoints and assess their peer’s presentation or writing.
The PK-5 teachers at the workshop reflected how engaging the activity was and how kids used various skills and content to complete the activity. Teachers noted that the students would be working and problem solving with their peers and learning the idea of trial and error, construction, mathematics, reflection and the idea that it may not work the first 5 times, but that is all part of the process of learning.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES and Whitesville Central School
Manufacturing Day is a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. It usually happens the first Friday of October. I was lucky enough to participate this year in the Olean community which was organized by Evelyn Sabina. During the day, I was invited to tour and learn about three companies within Olean, SolEpoxy, Napoleon Engineering Services, and Scott Rotary Seals.
These products are being manufactured in Olean, NY. How many students, teachers, community members know this? I was very surprised by the knowledge I gained and learned from the day. These companies would love to help the school districts more in order to help prepare their students for their future, and it should be something taken advantage of!
You can learn more about Manufacturing Day by visiting their website: http://www.mfgday.com/
By: Clay Nolan, CA BOCES Learning Resources
This STEM Manifesto was created by Caitlin Bowen from Genesee Valley Central School during the Educating STEM series.
PCS science students’ success began in February at the PCS Science Fair Exhibition: Best in Show was awarded to Zach Carlson’s project titled “The Material that Built America.” Mariah Bloise’s “From the Fryer to your Fuel Tank” won 1st place; Darienne Slocum’s “Polymers and Drug Delivery System” won 2nd place; and Grant Milne’s “We need Mortar Power” won 3rd place. Top honorable mentions were awarded to the following students: Colin Kloc, Lydia Lukomski, Ryan Kent, Ronnie Lott, Matt Weimer, and Anna Wray.
Next stop: Onondaga College, Syracuse. Winning students participated in the state-level Ying Tri-Region Science and Engineering Fair. Awards included: Zach Carlson “Honors Award”; Matt Weimer “Applied Chemistry Award”; Ryan Kent “Highest Honors, 6th Place Overall”; Darienne Slocum “US Navy Award”; “Runner up for $20,000 Scholarship to Onondaga College”; and “High Honors of Science Award”; Ronnie Lott “Highest Score in Cattaraugus Award”; “Science Award”; “Highest Honors of Science Award”; Mariah Bloise “$20,000 Scholarship for STEM Excellence to Onondaga College”; “High Honors of Science Award”; and Grant Milne “High Honor Army Award”; “Excellence in Use of Metric System”; “International Professional Engineers Award.”
Maryann Page, Associate Professor of Biology at Onondaga College, complimented PCS students: “I want to congratulate PCS students on the strong showing at the Ying Science Fair.”
Next stop: St. Bonaventure University. SBU hosted its first Regional Science Fair. Three-dozen students from five area high schools competed. PCS’s Darienne Slocum’s “Polymers and Drug Delivery System” took 1st place. Slocum tested the capability of gel beads to absorb and retain common medicines, which could be beneficial in developing delivery systems for medicines based on their ability to slowly release drugs into the body.
Next stop: Alfred State College Regional Science and Technology Fair. Nine local school districts participated: a total of fifty-nine science and technology projects were on display for judging. Winners in the senior division: Ronnie Lott’s “Blue Blood” won 1st place; Ryan Kent’s “Redox Raft” won 2nd place; Darienne Slocum’s “Polymers and Drug Delivery” won 3rd place, and Zach Carlson’s “The Material That Built America” won the Grand Prize!
Last stop: Jamestown Community College: Cattaraugus Campus. PCS science fair students were honored for their participation in the Ying Tri-Region Science and Engineering Fair. US Rep. Tom Reed attended the reception to present Congressional Commendation certificates. The following students received certificates: Mariah Bloise, Zach Carlson, Ryan Kent, Ronnie Lott, Grant Milne, Darienne Slocum, and Matt Weimer.
Congratulations to all of the young PCS scientists and engineers; job well done.
In addition to Science Fair success at PCS, the high-school science department faculty has earned some high accolades from Business First, 2014 WNY Science Department Ranking: PCS placed 31st out of 136 high schools in WNY. Robert Stives, chemistry, physics, and SUPA Forsensics teacher, was awarded a Business First Teacher of Merit Award.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Benjamin Franklin
“Tinkering is the way that real science happens in all its messy glory.” (Sylvia Martinez)
Are you looking for a way to help foster cooperative learning, problem solving, creative thinking, and student engagement in your classroom? Several PreK-1st grade teachers from Randolph and Cuba-Rushford school districts have been busy doing just that by incorporating engineering into their curriculum. Kudos to Tonya Thomas, Lisa Burris, DeAnne Gozdalski, and Melissa Grover for creating an authentic context for learning math and science and having students apply that knowledge to what they are learning in social studies and ELA as well!
Students need to learn how to fail in order to succeed and that it’s OK to not come up with a solution the first time you test out an idea. This can be difficult for both children and adults to learn, and the Engineering Design Process allows for students to be creative in their thinking and problem solving and to make multiple revisions to their work in order to be successful.
Lastly, I leave you with some thoughts to ponder over from Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager, Ph.D, who wrote the book Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom:
1. “Creating a learning environment that deliberately breaks this teacher-as-manager focus is difficult, yet necessary. It requires a new teacher mindset and also requires giving students explicit permission to do things differently.”
2. “When we allow children to experiment, take risks, and play with their own ideas, we give them permission to trust themselves.”
3. “Adopting a tinkering mindset in your classroom allows students to learn in their own style.”
4. “We teach children science and math so they can make the world a better place, not so they can pass tests.”
5. “It seems that to many people, tinkering connotes a messiness and unprofessionalism that doesn’t apply to “real” jobs in scientific fields. I believe just the opposite is true – tinkering is exactly how real science and engineering are done.”
By: Kristen Keenan, CA BOCES
November 19 - 9am to 1pm - Southern Tier West, Salamanca
A recognized expert in the educational technology field, David Jakes will focus on the increased need to develop agile 21st century, personalized and digitally-enhanced learning environments. David works alongside of CannonDesign leaders to expand Education Practice.
David’s educational thought leadership encompasses digital storytelling, cloud-based learning environments and their relationship to physical learning spaces, mobile learning, professional development, and the use and impact of social media in education. His command of social media will enable CannonDesign to be the professional voice in the evolving conversation of primary, secondary, post-graduate and adult education.
"For me, design provides a landscape for innovation; a way to think and rethink what education is and can be, while focusing deeply on the needs of students and their learning," said David.
He has spent the last three decades in education as a teacher, technologist, storyteller and designer, most recently overseeing all technology and library services as the Coordinator of Instructional Technology and Information Services at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, IL. David is a frequent speaker at national and international educational technology conferences.
Registered participants will receive a copy of Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology, by Richard Halverson and Allan Collins.
Design is a process that can be used by educators to design innovative and human-centered learning experiences. In this session, learn and apply a design thinking approach to the development, implementation, and evaluation of a STEM education program. You’ll learn how the process of design thinking can be used to initiate and sustain organizational change and development, and provide a construct for the creation of creative and innovative solutions to the challenges faced by education. This session will also provide a framework for understanding how the topics of this series can combine to create a new ecology for learning based in an integration of science, technology, engineering and math.
Session Goals: Participants will be able to:
We want to make teaching STEM easier for you and more interesting for your students. As you know, the STEM Kits make learning hands-on with deep content and skills. Now you can pair those experiences with the NYS ELA Domains and Curriculum Modules. Use the kit curriculum for hand-alone science curriculum and/or pair with ELA. Either way, a great way to add context and rich experiences in STEM to your student's learning experience.
Order kits for your classroom today. Kits are delivered to any CA BOCES Region classroom (in participating schools only).
Visit our website for more information: http://caboces.org/mst
STEM Kit Correlation to NYS ELA Domains/Modules
() indicates grade level kit was designed for if different from the ELA grade level listed, so adjustments may be necessary to fit student needs. “Pending” indicates a kit that we are in the process of creating.
Six local schools were recognized for their role as Emerging STEM School Systems on Thursday, September 11th at a ceremony at the NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences on the University at Buffalo Campus.
Twenty-nine districts from WNY were included in the inaugural class, and representing Cattaraugus and Allegany counties were Cuba-Rushford Central School, Fillmore Central School, Hinsdale Central School, Pioneer Central School, Portville Central School, and Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES.
Dr. Michelle Kavanaugh, facilitator of the WNY STEM Hub, recognized these districts for their sparks of STEM growth, and urged them to find ways to make that growth systemic. She encouraged enlightened teacher leaders to collaborate with enlightened leaders to allocate resources to teach our students today for their world tomorrow.
Dr. Kavanaugh acknowledged that each district represented had its own story about integrating and growing STEM, and explained that those stories would be featured on the WNY STEM Hub website, wnystem.org, so other districts looking for inspiration around STEM implementation could read about their peers’ successes. Dr. Kavanaugh was joined by Bob Grant, Account Executive for Siemens, in congratulating the districts and their representatives for their current work, and hoped that today would mark an “important turning point for our region” in the area of STEM education.
Have you ever had one of those moments where a student is so excited that they are beaming from ear to ear with pride over an accomplishment achieved as a result of a learning experience in your classroom? What if you could experience that once-in-a-lifetime moment with the job of a lifetime every day? What if you had the opportunity to change the course of a child’s life in one week? Sounds like a dream or a fairy tale doesn’t it?
Can you imagine having a classroom the size of approximately 30 acres? What would you do with all of that space? You could be like Scott and build a “Deerasic Park” Deer Research Center, a research pond with nearby wetlands and observation deck, a bone yard, a fish hatchery, and a log cabin style Wildlife Research Center. To top it off, you can capture the many smiles and accomplishments of your students every day and memorialize them with a student produced and created national television show! No, this is not a dream. This is the real life of Scott Jordan, Fisheries and Wildlife Technology teacher at Cuba-Rushford Central School.
Scott has a unique approach to teaching his students in that he turns control of the classroom over to his students every day. With his guidance, his students create their own projects to work on, some of which may take several years to complete. The class focuses on giving students the opportunity to study biological organisms in their natural habitats while at the same time, honing in on and utilizing the skills and future aspirations of each individual student in the class. Student managers are chosen to run and manage the various buildings and projects along with managing a team of student workers/researchers as well. Various projects include taxidermy; reassembling skeletons of large animals that have decomposed in the boneyard; capturing, collaring, tagging, and tracking whitetail deer; caring for and tracking the age, weight, and length of the fish in the hatchery and pond, and much more.
It doesn’t matter what field a student wants to pursue in the future as Scott will work with each individual student to develop a learning plan with projects that meets the needs and interests of his students. For example, students who wish to enter the computer science field work on producing and creating the television show and creating and maintaining the class’s website and social media accounts. Can you imagine writing on a high school resume that you have created and produced over 50 nationally televised episodes of a television show? You want to be a lawyer? No problem! Why not research the laws and regulations involved in creating a research pond near a wetland? Interested in becoming a doctor or a veterinarian? Excellent! You are in charge of working side by side with a professional to give inoculations to the deer!
In addition to all of the onsite experiences the students have, Scott also starts most mornings off during the various hunting seasons by taking groups of students out hunting before the school day even starts. The students also have the opportunity to participate in various annual hunting and fishing expeditions to Alaska, New Zealand, South Africa, Ontario, and Texas. Scott is always amazed at the transformations the students go through over the course of just one week on one of these trips. Their confidence levels are built up so much, not to mention the life skills that are obtained by traveling around the world and working and interacting with people from various cultures outside of Western NY.
Prior to becoming a classroom teacher, Scott was a fisheries research biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He actually was paid to catch fish and camp out under the stars, listening to the arctic loons, wolves, and brown bears. For Scott, that was another job of a lifetime. One day he asked his boss why he was chosen for the job over the other 300 applicants. He was told that it was not only because of his grades, but more importantly; because he was the only applicant with ocean beach seine experience. Scott’s philosophy as an educator is the result of that one conversation. “You see, I received that ocean beach seine experience during one Ecology class field trip to Cape Cod while attending SUNY Cobleskill. I landed that job of a lifetime because of one experience, during one class, while I was attending one single field trip!” According to Scott, he tries to create as many similar opportunities for his students, hoping that their experiences will eventually land them that job of a lifetime.
Scott currently has more than 7 recent graduates who are working in the field of fisheries & wildlife all over the world as a result of experiences they had in his classroom. A current student of his who happens to be the Hatchery Manager for the class and aspires to pursue a career in fisheries technologies and engineering told me that the main benefit of taking the Fisheries and Wildlife Technology class is that you get to experience everything for yourself instead of just reading about it. He said that because of his experiences in the class and Mr. Jordan’s connections, he will now be able to go out in the field and write field expeditions a year earlier in college.
If you want that job of a lifetime where you have the opportunity to provide your students with real life experience in the field, and think that all of that is just a dream, well think again. Scott’s advice is to start small and do what works out for you locally. He built his “classroom” with a lot of hard work, time, fundraisers, and grants. This has been a project in the making for almost 20 years, and there is always room for expansion, whether that means more building projects or more wildlife to research. You, too, can make a difference one student at a time!
(CRCS Outdoors airs on the Pursuit Channel on Friday nights at 6:00 pm.)
By Kristen Keenan, CA BOCES
It started with my questions, “Hey Mr. Silvers, what’s new? How has your school year been going?” I hadn’t seen Mr. Silvers in a few months. But our daughters are the same age, hence we run in the same circles. That night it was an elementary school Valentine’s Day dance. As Miley Cyrus played and our kids danced and ran around the gym, Mr. Silvers, a seventh grade Science teacher at Olean Middle School explained to me that his class had been studying the Gulf oil spill and their effects on the sea food industry.
“Cool,” I responded politely.
“So what exactly do you do at BOCES?” Mr. Silvers asked me in return. It was either keep the conversation going or join our 7 year olds on the dance floor. We opted for further conversation, as Taylor Swift was next on the playlist.
“I work in distance learning, you know, connecting schools for classes and video conferences.”
Then the idea came. “Hey,” Mr. Silvers said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could get a leading Environmental Scientist or a famous Environmentalist to speak to my class about the oil spill?” Without knowing or ever meeting an Environmental Scientist I enthusiastically responded, yes!
The distance learning team at CA BOCES went to work. Over the next few weeks we scoured CAP Space, a classroom networking site, twitter and friends and relatives looking for an Environmental Scientist who would be willing to speak to a group of 175 seventh graders. It wasn’t an easy find. About a month later, I found someone and excitedly sent his credentials to Mr. Silvers to see if he would fit the bill. Mr. Silvers wasn’t impressed with my find and in return sent me a list of names in return. He was hoping to get some of the most highly regarded environmental researchers in the county. We contacted everyone on Mr. Silvers’ list. Including, First Lady Michelle Obama, number 3 on the list- no response.
A few days later we met with Andrew Whitehead, Associate Professor and Environmental Scientist from UC Davis over some email exchanges. He had been studying the Gulf spill since it occurred and is a leading author and researcher on the subject. Over the next few weeks the Distance Learning team worked with Mr. Whitehead to test the technical aspects of connecting into Mr. Silver’s classroom. What most people do not understand about distance learning is that with all the firewall, content filters and security measures in place to protect students, connecting someone from the outside internet to our district’s secure and safe internet can be tricky at times. Luckily we have our team dedicated to making that happen. That’s why when we on the Distance Learning team hear, “Can’t we just Skype,” we on the Distance Learning Team often offer a wry smile before answering.
Finally, the day of the connection was here. The seventh graders filed into the auditorium and took note of Dr. Whitehead on the large screen. “He looks awesome,” noted one student. For the record, Dr. Whitehead is young, hip, funny and relaxed, all of which are highly prized attributes by middle school aged students.
By Brian Crawford, CABOCES Learning Resources
There is a new buzz word in town called “STEM,” but what does it really mean? Just as other catch phrases or words can take on various meanings, the definition of “STEM” or how STEM looks like in the classroom has also taken on various descriptions.
The book-ends of STEM are easy to define as “Science” and “Math” content, but defining the components in the middle gets a little tricky. Let’s look at “Technology”, for instance. Nowadays, when people hear the word “technology,” they think of computers or other electronic devices. However, technology is simply referred to as the tools and machines that are used to solve real-world problems. Yes, this includes electronic devices such as computers and tablets, but it can also include devices such as microscopes, hand-lenses, hammers, and even a spoon!
The last component of STEM we need to define is “Engineering.” Simply put, engineering is the practical application of science and math to solve problems. Some people view engineering as the manufacturing of products, but the solution to a problem could also be a process that is created. For example, creating a better traffic flow pattern through the cafeteria is an engineering task.
So how do we put it all together in the classroom? Simple. We teach the content of science and math and have students apply that content knowledge to solve a real-world problem, using technology.
By: Kristen Keenan, CA BOCES Learning Resources