STEM Opportunities at The Great Holyoke Brick Race

STEM Opportunities at The Great Holyoke Brick Race

Intergenerational collaborations can provide young students with hands-on lessons in the basic science of physics and principles of design at the 5th Great Holyoke Brick Race happening on Saturday, June 4th!

Take on the coolest gravity based physics experiment around at the Great Holyoke Brick Race!  Similar to the Boy Scouts of America’s traditional Pinewood Derby, the event requires that participants create their own miniature car to race down a specific track.  However, unlike Pinewood Derby, the cars are not wooden – the main piece of material is a brick!

Sponsored by Paper City Studios and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the race is open to participants of any age and from anywhere in the world (No need to be a Holyoke native!).  Entries can be created by individuals, or by teams of any size, allowing for lots of intergenerational collaboration and knowledge pooling.

The event can be used as a means of providing hands-on physics learning.  Each car will need to be carefully designed and built with attention to the basic principles of physics.  Depending on the age of participants, car-building can lend itself nicely to in-depth explorations of mathematical ideas and the principles of design, too!

The race will take place on Saturday, June 4th, 2016 on Race Street in Downtown Holyoke.  Check in for racers will begin at 10am. Event runs 11am-3pm  For more specific information regarding entries, as well as design suggestions, visit the race website: www.brickrace.org.

STEMBite: Bite Sized Videos Supporting STEM Education

STEMBite: Snack-Sized Science Videos

Add some science to these hot summer days with STEMBite, a YouTube channel that offers snack-size videos focused on topics in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and the things in our everyday lives that they are related to. Most of the videos are between one and a half and two minutes long, and are shot from the perspective of the narrator using Google Glass, who explores a different topic, item, and/or surroundings in each one.

Interesting topics include the form and function of animal adaptations and evolution (Form, Function, and Chickens), the physics of sound waves and the concept’s application to shower time singing (Physics of Singing in the Shower), the science and design behind the barcodes found on mass-produced items and price tags in stores (Barcodes), and many others STEM topics.

While most of the topics addressed in the videos are best for older students (grade 4 and above), the videos are short and use fairly simple terms to explain each idea. Younger students may absorb less than an older student would while watching, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t learn at all! Perusing the channel might be a great way to help kids develop curiosity in parts of science that they may not discover on their own – like simple machines or light diffusion. The narrator’s fun tone and the sometimes silly activities that he does help to draw kids in, and the examination of everyday objects helps to provide ways for students to see how each topic applies in their own lives. Try viewing videos related to some of the topics that your child studied in school last year, or ones covering some of the topics that they might encounter once they return in the fall. Not sure what they might be learning? Contact your school for a copy of the district’s curriculum frameworks, or access the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for science online at  www.doe.mass.edu/frameworks/current.html.

Women in Engineering Career Day at UMass

UMass Hosts Women in Engineering Career Day for Local High School Students
Monday, October 29th, 2012

Open to young women in grades 9-12, Women in Engineering Career Day will take place at  UMass Amherst on Monday, October 29th from 8:30am-1:30pm. Activities include: hands-on engineering and computing activities; demonstrations of state-of-the-art technology, information about career opportunities; lunch chats with college students, professors, and engineers; and optional tours of engineering and computer science labs.

Historically, the field of engineering has been male dominated.  Today, however, women are breaking into engineering, computing, and other science-related professions more and more.  To promote women’s pursuits of science, technology, and engineering, UMass’ Society of Women Engineers and Women in Engineering Program host Women in Engineering Career Day!

Open to young women in grades 9-12, the event will take place on Monday, October 29th from 8:30am-1:30pm.  Included in the event will be a keynote speaker (Valerie Gordeski, a systems engineer with Raytheon, a major defense contractor), tours of the school’s engineering and science labs, hands-on computing and engineering activities, technology demonstrations, information about career opportunities and college pursuits, and a chance to talk with female students and professors of engineering.

No matter their background knowledge, Women in Engineering Day offers students a unique opportunity to learn about possibilities for their futures in an empowering, all-women environment.  Older students interested in pursuing STEM subjects at a women’s college may find the event particularly useful – they will experience firsthand what it is like to work with an all-female group to solve hands-on computing problems and piece together systems using basic engineering skills.  Space is limited and registration is required ($) – non-homeschooled students should register through their school guidance counselor.  More information at engineering.umass.edu/diversity/wepcareerday. Space fills up quickly!

MIT Launches Student-Produced STEM Educational Video Initiative

Original Short Videos Aim to Fuel K-12 Students’ Interest in STEM

Well-known education resource Khan Academy, a web site offering video-based learning to students, sparked a small revolution in the utilization of video in the classroom.  Videos, once reserved for rainy days or special activities, can now be an incredibly valuable educational resource.  Students are able to pace their own learning when using videos, as they can stop, repeat, and rewind as many times as they need to in order to understand, without feeling pressured to keep up with other students.

Well… MIT and the Khan Academy have teamed up to offer special videos on topics within STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) created by their students!

MIT, home to 10,000 STEM students, holds a wealth of knowledge, and students have created videos on many unique topics – everything from flying robots to the earth’s rotation.  The project, titled MIT+K12, includes videos for students in any grade.  The videos are available on the project’s website and on YouTube – teachers, parents, and even kids can search the site for videos to help with tricky subjects or to learn about something they’re curious about!

8 Ways to Create Engaging Engineering Activities at Home

Engineering Projects for Children at Home

I continue to be amazed at the natural engineering instincts of young children.  Ironically, with all the technology available to kids today (television, computers, tablets, video games), overuse takes time away from building and creating, both of which can lead our next generation of ethical scientists and engineers to solving some of the problems overuse of technology causes. Read the rest of this entry »

2 Ways to Get Creative with Robotics

Creative Play With Lego Robots

On Saturday, December 10 in Agawam, MA from 9am-3pm, there’s a regional qualifier for the First Lego League, which is an afterschool program where kids from all over the world compete to build the best design for a yearly challenge.

Toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners are natural engineers. They love sand castles, blocks, fairy houses, and other projects that support their creative, fantasy play.  We support this natural engineering instinct in schools with building bricks, Legos, and sand and water tables.  Yet, as students reach first grade and beyond, we remove all these activities from school and we expect them still be interested in engineering when they get to high school and college.

In the Williamsburg Schools, we have developed a preschool to grade 6 elementary engineering curriculum based on robotics: Read the rest of this entry »

Student-Scientists in the Berkshires

Science & Innovation Fair in the Berkshires

The First Annual Science and Innovation Fair, featuring the work of over 100 student-scientists from Pittsfield High School and Taconic High School, will be hosted by Berkshire Museum on Thursday, February 10th, 2011. Berkshire high school students, who have conducted scientific research and completed engineering projects in concert with faculty advisors, will display the exciting results of their work. The public is invited to view the work of these innovative students from noon to 8pm, which includes free public admission to Berkshire Museum that day.

Read the rest of this entry »

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