Beyond the Textbook: Multimedia Einsteins

Among the many hats that Patti Duncan wears, in the summer she teaches young boys in a Science Camp doing hands-on activities. Recently, Discovery has her on the road doing PD for science teachers and is home about 3 days a month (she’s even been to Anchorage). Her switch from the science world to the digital world she finds has recently merged with the affordances that Discovery (and other providers–are there any others…) provides.

Welcome to science class. Do you all have your lab coats on, your beakers ready? Are you ready to write your science lab? The marriage of digital and hands on in the virtual world is a great fit. Any new teacher (and the rest of us as well) needs to know the digital applications that are added to the hands-on classroom experience.

Patti began with Discovery Eduction, with a focus on Resources and then Featured Content selecting Siemens STEM. Patti believes that it is important to rethink how we teach science, including a focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) areas, melding again, hands-on with digital. Two great opportunities exist through the STEM Academy: the STEM Institute and STARS. The STEM Institute

The Siemens STEM Institute is a one-of-a-kind immersion program that promotes hands-on, real-world integration of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in the classroom.

Fifty teachers will be selected as STEM Fellows to attend this all expenses-paid*, week-long professional development experience, hosted at the world headquarters of Discovery Communications, located just outside of our nation’s capitol in Washington D.C. Fellows will be exposed to leading scientists, thought-leaders, personalities and innovators whose workacross STEM disciplines shape and define our world today.

The week will be filled with guest speakers at the forefront of STEM, field trips to leading institutions where Fellows will observe real-world applications of STEM subject matter, and opportunities for networking and collaborating with peers from across the nation. In addition to broad-based STEM applications, each Fellow will be assigned to a thematic working group that will provide additional deep-dive exposure.

STEM STARs is an Oakridge experience, a two-week DEN within a DEN.

Siemens Teachers as Researchers is a two-week residential professional development program, all expenses paid*, in which teachers will engage in mentored research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. STARs provides middle school and high school STEM teachers the opportunity to engage with top scientists and researchers on short-term research projects about current topics of national interest that are related to ongoing research at the laboratory.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is America’s largest, multi-purpose, national research laboratory. Its primary research areas are neutron science, advanced materials, biological systems, energy, national security, nanotechnology, chemical sciences, nuclear physics, and high performance computing. ORNL is home to more than 50 scientific centers and specialized facilities, including the Spallation Neutron Source, National Center for Computational Sciences, Joint Institute for Neutron Sciences, Joint Institute for Biological Sciences, Bioenergy Science Center, Center for Nanophase Material Sciences, National Transportation Research Center, and the Tennessee Solar Initiative.

ORNL mentor scientists will design short-term research projects on current topics of national interest that are related to ongoing research at the laboratory. Working in teams of 4 to 5, teachers will collaborate with ORNL scientific teams to conduct assigned research projects. DOE-ACTS teachers at ORNL will provide additional leadership and resources to help you incorporate research into your science and math classrooms.

Understanding Epilepsy is a great program; to read more about it on the PA blog, click here.
Think Green, NASA At 50, and the 3M Young Scientist Challenge is yet another science program that challenges youth to problem solve. To read more about this fascinating contest on the PA blog, click here. Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge is open for grades K-8 with a high school challenge in the works. For more information, click here. Fuel Our Future Now looks at car design and effective fuel consumption. This site is hands on and challenges students yet again to create and design effective solutions. To read more about this site, click here.
An amazing Discovery site that is game friendly and kids will love it is Discovery Kids. You simply just have to play with this site; it is deceptively simple yet challenging and teaches STEM through games for kids. I love it!!

According to Patti, the best science resource is Discovery Science. You need to login to Discovery Education (that means DS is a subscription service), but when there, the features for differentiated hands-on learning and teaching is exponential. ESL sticky notes, dictionaries, translation in Spanish, eReaders with cool functionalities make this a truly elastic tool. When you get past the devices, the content almost overwhelms, and you would really need to spend time exploring the resources. Again, Discovery Education brings you digital content, and it begins with the big idea 5-minute sound bytes, lesson plans, interactives including glossary terms. Inside the glossary, you have animated definitions as well as straight up, plus video definitions, as well as an audio and an image definition as well. Very cool. Students could create a digital vocabulary portfolio.

When you are in direct learning content, the explain part, Discovery gives you the 5Es: engage, explore, explain, evaluate, and extend. Each category drills down into content that covers the 5Es. How I wish I could have learned science this way. Where were you, Discovery when you would have made a difference in my career pathway…

The Teacher Center for Science Education includes virtual labs for things that you cannot do in the classroom either effectively (cost and manipulation) or easily (growing seeds). Virtual labs make the process easier. Hands-on activities go with every virtual lab, and Patti gives these a huge WHOOHOO!! Even I got excited. Best of all, all Discovery products, including Discovery Science, can be imported and implemented into Discovery Builders. Discovery Science has 2 levels: Elementary and Middle School.

Departing from Discovery resources, there are several other good sites with teacher, student, and parent focused sites. With the push for home schooling comes a demand for online with onsite campuses. Here are a few of the resources Patti featured.

The Science Spot

Expl40ratorium
EPA

Patti included her list of links (exhaustive, I must admit) and here it is.

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