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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

K'NEX Classroom Challenge & eCYBERMISSION

Bring it on!

Despite being an already overwhelmed teacher due to my new position, I have decided to participate in TWO different STEM challenges with my students after school and during our anchor (study hall) period.  (My husband thinks I am officially crazy.)

K'NEX Classroom Challenge
For this challenge students in grades 7-9 will construct an athletic stadium model for the 2016 Olympic games in Brazil.  Since I am limited in the number of K'NEX pieces I have in my classroom, I made up an application and asked interested students to complete it and return it to me before the thanksgiving break.  (K'NEX Application)  I will be meeting with my team on Friday to register and work out any scheduling conflicts!  I am excited to continue to post about my team's progress.

This FREE challenge is available to all students and sponsored by the Army.  For my grade level, students select a community problem that falls into one of the seven different categories listed on their site (Clean Energy, Fitness & Health, Robotics, etc.).  Students work in groups of three or four to develop a process for approaching their problem to find a solution.  Students are judged on the steps they take to find a solution, not on whether or not a solution is actually found or implemented.  For each team a teacher registers, he/she gets a free STEM research kit!  I currently have two teams and I am excited to meet with these students on Monday to get them started!!!

I am super pumped to get to work with these students!  I have heard of a lot of different STEM challenges lately for students, but these two stood out as the most interesting and easy to manage (for me!) I urge you to check them out and take advantage of these opportunities!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I posted my first item in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!  Please check out my Inventions & Innovations Unit and download it now for FREE!  Please post feedback either in my store or on my blog after reviewing my unit!  Have a fabulous holiday and make sure you watch my store for more goodies!  (I have a feeling I will have most things for free or at the most $1.00!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Opening a Teachers Pay Teachers Store

Happy (Early) Thanksgiving!!!

I know I am a few days early, but I doubt with all of the holiday hustle and bustle I will be able to find time to post.

As I comb through the lessons, activities, games, and resources I have created over the last two months for my STEM class I began wondering if there would be value to opening a TPT store.  I rarely find resources I can use anymore on TPT since I teach such a unique class.  With this said, I have created a number of thematic units that encompass science, technology, engineering, and math that other teachers can use.  Does anyone have any experience with TPT?  What I can sell and is it worth the time?  Should I use Teachers Notebook - a site that does not take a percentage of my sales?  Can I post on both?  Please post any information you might have on how to open a TPT store.  Have a lovely Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What does a STEM classroom look like?

As I complete my budget request for the 2012 - 2013 school year, I am thinking...

What does a STEM classroom look like?  What does it have in it?

We all know what we would find if we walked into a literacy room.  Comfortable places to read, visual reading cues for students and an overflowing library.  You would see literacy journals and notebooks as well as examples of paired books.  There would also be obvious evidence of guided reading and possibly Cafe.

In a math classroom (which I use to have) you would see my colorful bins of math manipulatives, a library with math fiction and non-fiction books, and calculators.  I had containers of general school supplies as well.  Reference charts and helpful information filled my walls.


What should that look like?

Well, starting with the units I currently plan on teaching (more to come) - money management, Rubik's cube, renewable energy (wind), green building, and restaurant design and management - I should have the supplies for those units.  So, I have my K'NEX kits organized in Ziploc bags stored in their plastic bins, general classroom supplies for building projects tucked neatly away in drawers, and my Rubik's cubes in colorful bins.  But what is next?  In order for an inquiry approach to learning work, I need my classroom to promote open-ended exploration.  Enter... THE STEM LIBRARY!  Scholastic and Delta Education (Green Collars and Mechanical Engineering) offer some great STEM library starter kits.  Continuing down this road, I decided an additional K'NEX kit may be the way to go.  The Discover Controls K'NEX Education kit offers students the opportunity to play around with computer programming - something I am very familiar with!  But will this be too much in the way of K'NEX?  I do not want a K'NEX curriculum.  So off to Amazon (my favorite place to shop and search for goodies)!  I found a number of Solar Energy, Renewable Energy, Force and Motion, etc. kits for sale, but are they meant for repeated use in the classroom?  Will they survive the kids and me?  Most of what I teach is computer based, so in addition to wanting a few laptops I am at a loss of what else would create a true STEM environment...unless that is what I am already doing?

Please post comments, suggestions, and links to resources that you have found helpful when teaching STEM (or any of the four subjects individually.)