Tag Archives: Science

Recycled Art – STEAM

This art piece was created by my 5th graders using recycled bottle caps (it took us the entire school year to collect).

STEAM teaching points:

S – Importance of recycling and the dangers of plastic in the environment.
T- Computer graphing and internet research to decide on a topic.  Students created a Google Form survey to poll the class.
E- Constructing and building the art piece.
A- Color and placement of caps.
M- Measurement of the bottle caps and backing measurements. Students also learned who to calculate the diameter, radius, area and circumference of a circle (bottle cap) Image


Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Art, Lessons, Resources


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Toy A Day

Add some artistic fun into your science, social science or literature lessons with free printable character from Toy A Day.  This website allows students to put a face (or character) to the person of study. The images are downloadable PDF files and easy to print or save. There are many different characters… some educational and some fun.  I printed color images for my students. However, black and white copies will get the point across just as well!

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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Art, Lessons, Resources


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False Assumptions Lesson

 False Assumptions Student Handout                     False Assumptions Teacher Handout

Purpose: Things are not always what they seem! Events can often be misinterpreted due to our tendency to attach certain meanings to words. The key is for students to recognize what the “false assumption” is in each short mystery story. The “false assumption” is what makes the solution tricky, and that many common problems are difficult to solve because we tend to assume a particular paradigm.

Background: Point out that one of the strategies of science is to recognize how easy it is to make false assumptions about the workings of nature (Earth being the center of the universe), and to devise methods for avoiding or revealing those false assumptions for what they are. This often requires a total paradigm shift…a different way of looking at the situation, in which common assumptions are critically challenged, on purpose. Encourage you students to “think outside the box” and be cleverly creative.

Procedure: Ask students to think about what “false assumption” means to them. Have an open discussion about what kinds of false assumptions scientists have made in the past, the problems this created, and how they solved the problems. Explain that science is a way to work around or through those false assumptions.

These little deceptive problem stories are presented to the class, and students are challenged to solve each problem by asking only yes/no questions.

Explain to students that their challenge is to solve each of the mysteries. Students can either as a group to solve each story or this can be conducted as a whole group lesson.  Students are allowed to ask you (the teacher) questions which can be answered with a “yes” or “no.” It is up to you how many questions each group is allowed to ask, I allow each group only one question – so they have to really think about what they are going to ask. All questions must be answered truthfully.  Encourage students to listen carefully to the other groups’ questions. Be sure to think out-of-the-box, keeping in mind the title of this assignment!

For each story, write down the answer and the false assumption.

Example Story:  A man and his son were rock climbing on a particularly dangerous mountain when they slipped and fell. The man was killed, but the son lived and was rushed to a hospital. The old surgeon looked at the young man and declared, “I can’t operate on this boy: he is my son.” How can this be?

Answer: The old surgeon was the boy’s mother           False Assumption: That the surgeon was a man.

This lesson plan is adapted from Steve Randak, 1999, ENSI.

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Posted by on March 25, 2012 in Lessons, Resources


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Stem Resources For Teachers

These resources are just a bunch of my favorite websites that can be used to explain just about anything you’re doing in the classroom with a video, lesson plan or a cool image of an experiment. Blogs are also great resources, they can keep you and your students up-to-date with the latest advancements and technology! There are five sections of resources:Free Money & Materials, Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math.  Resources for Teachers (PDF)

Free Money & Materials

Treasures for Teachers – Science and technology resource center in San Diego for teachers.  Very affordable!

National Girls Collaborative Project – $1,000 Grant – Mini-grants are awarded to girl-serving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) focused programs to support collaboration, address gaps and overlaps in service, and share promising practices.

San Diego Foundation – $ 1,000 Grant -This program will support the development and implementation of multi-disciplinary, classroom projects that address student needs and increase teaching effectiveness.

Donors Choose is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. Here’s how it works: public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom project requests on Requests range from pencils for a poetry writing unit, to violins for a school recital, to microscope slides for a biology class.

Funding for Skype in the Classroom – Through a new partnership with, Skype will donate $250,000 to teachers requesting technology materials to enable Skype video calling in their classrooms. Skype will give a $25 USD Gift Card to each new teacher who registers for Skype in the classroom. The teacher can then apply the value of the gift card to any classroom project at or one they create themselves, if an eligible U.S. public schoolteacher

Digital Wish Grants – Submit a technology-based lesson plan for a chance to win over 50 different technology grants.

Science You don’t have to be a genius to understand the work of the Nobel Laureates. These games and simulations, based on Nobel Prize-awarded achievements, will teach and inspire you while you’re having FUN! (Personal Favorite) This site provides biology and chemistry resources for science teachers at the middle and high school levels. These include activities, worksheets, lab exercises, puzzles, games, online test reviews, and links to other useful pages, compiled by teacher Nancy Clark over her 37-year career. Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is a resource for education curricular programs used in middle and high schools. Global Health Curriculum– This comprehensive curriculum for high school classes, available from Seattle BioMed’s BioQuest program, covers topics such as tuberculosis, vaccines, and malaria. BioQuest data shows teens are more interested in classroom science and math when they learn how these subjects connect with global health issues. Lesson plans, interactive charts, and teacher and student packets—created by Seattle BioMed scientists, Washington educators, and animation experts. NSTA – Freebies for Science Teachers–Home.php Howard Hughes – This is a neat interactive website for searching a topic, a grade level, or a keyword and get cool science materials. This is just a list of neat science links Williams Words- Great diagrams and printable resources

Technology – Online video contests relating to science, art, technology…etc.  Most have cash prizes that can be used for you classroom!  Life Hacker is a technology blog that focuses on taking stuff apart, and how to do various things on your computer, e.g. computer Gizmodo is a very interesting technology blog. It’s one of the only (excluding this one and a few others) that I go to on a regular basis. This is a website about current technology in the news. This is another blog that focuses on technology in the news

Engineering  Pick your state and see current engineering projects happening right now! Tell your kids some fun facts about engineering. Maybe tell them one of these each day to keep them motivated and bring out their inner engineer!  This is a neat website that focuses on all of the cool engineering things that were created in the 20th century.

Mathematics AAA Math features a comprehensive set of interactive arithmetic lessons. ASM aims to support educators teaching math

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Posted by on March 22, 2012 in Resources


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Brain Hat Activity

Great science/art activity for students!

Learn about the major lobes of the brain while utilizing multiple intelligences.  I use this activity to explain the structure of the cerebrum and cerebral cortex, learn the lobes, and learn the functions of each regions of the brain. For those who prefer the messy, gooey art… I have also made these using paper mache placed over the top of a balloon as a form, and then painted each region accordingly.   To include kinesthetic learning into the lesson – have students place the hat on their head and while you (the teacher) name off different functions (smell, balance, taste…etc.) or region.  Students will then place their hand over the proper region or corresponding area of the brain.

The lessons are endless with this project!

Click on the picture above for printable template and lesson plan!


Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Art, Lessons


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Why is STEM Important?


STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills are increasingly necessary to engage in a knowledge-based economy and in daily decision-making. There is solid evidence to suggest that the fastest-growing and highest-wage jobs in future years will be in STEM fields. Workers in these fields must use STEM skills for problem solving in a wide range of industries. However, as the need for solid STEM skills is growing, the achievement gap is also growing. California lags other states in math and science proficiency ratings, and the nation as a whole falls behind many of its international peers.  A STEM based education needs to begin at the elementary level and continue throughout the high school years.  The following contains starting statics about science, technology, engineering and math in the California and the United States!

  • In OECD’s PISA 2009 rankings of international secondary education performance, the United States ranked 32nd (slightly below the international average) in Mathematics and 23rd (at about the international average) in Science. (Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development)
  • A World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey in 2008 and 2009 ranked the quality of Math and Science education in the United States in 48th place. (World Economic Forum)
  • In 2008, STEM-related degrees and completions accounted for 12% of all higher education degrees and completions. (California Postsecondary Education Commission)
  • The United States has fallen from first to eleventh place in the OECD in the fraction 25-34 year olds that has graduated high school. The older portion of the U.S. workforce ranks first among OECD populations of the same age. (OECD, 2009)
  • According to the ACT College Readiness report, 78 percent of high school graduates did not meet the readiness benchmark levels for one or more entry-level college courses in mathematics, science, reading and English. (American College Testing – ACT)
  • Sixty-nine percent of United States public school students in fifth through eighth grade are taught mathematics by a teacher without a degree or certificate in mathematics. (National Center for Educational Statistics)
  • Ninety-three percent of United States public school students in fifth through eighth grade are taught the physical sciences by a teacher without a degree or certificate in the physical sciences. (National Center for Educational Statistics)
  • 75% of the 50 fastest growing occupations in California require STEM skills with 70% of these jobs paying more than the state’s median wage of $18.12/hour. (Labor Market Information Division, Employment Development Department)
  • California ranked 43rd or lower across all states in mathematics and science proficiency in grades 4 and 8 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2005).


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Posted by on March 17, 2012 in Articles, Resources


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