Summer boredom setting in? Check out the calendar of upcoming events at Tellus Museum in Cartersville:
This Saturday, June 22, 2013: Paleontology / fossil workshop. Registration required.
June 26: Lunch and Learn: Chemistry of fireworks
July 24: Lunch and Learn: Magic of science
As I wrote in my most recent post, I recently attended the Global Finals of Destination Imagination. While I was there, I met some folks who are building a new STEM web site for teens, especially those ages 13 to 15.
The site, called Sparticl, will feature articles, videos, games and activities. Teens can earn points and badges for participating in the site, sharing content with friends, and contributing content of their own. It’s a project from Twin Cities Public Television.
Sparticl is still in beta right now, which is where you can help. The site’s creators are looking for teenage beta testers to test drive the site and give their feedback about what works — and what needs work. Go to the site if you’d like to sign up.
I’ve just returned from Knoxville, Tenn., where I attended the Global Finals of Destination Imagination (D.I.), an organization that encourages kids to solve open-ended challenges that require technical skill, artistic talent, interpersonal skills — or maybe all of that and more.
This year, I’ve managed a team of kids as they’ve learned new skills, foremost among them the ability to cooperate and work together as they navigate the creative process. This week, I’ve watched as kids from all around the world came together to celebrate the ingenuity and creativity of the work they’ve done this year.
What kids do in D.I. is hard to explain. Sometimes they create a performance. Sometimes they build a structure designed to hold hundreds of pounds. Sometimes they build vehicles that run a course to earn points. Sometimes they conceive and implement community service projects. The specific details of the challenges vary from year to year, but what is always true is that the kids use their own minds and hands to solve them. All the ideas must come from the kids, and they have to translate those ideas into a performance, a project, a structure, whatever their challenge requires, without interference from parents, teachers, or anyone outside the team.
I’ve watched this concept in action, and it works. It teaches the kids to be self-reliant and independent, and in the end, the teams have tremendous pride in knowing what they’ve achieved, on their own.
Here in Georgia, D.I. does not draw as many teams as a similar organization called Odyssey of the Mind, and in my opinion, that’s a shame. My team and I are refugees from the Odyssey program, and while Odyssey loyalists can disagree, my personal experience has been that D.I. is more supportive, more positive, and more fun than Odyssey ever was.
If you’re interested in creating a team at your school, in your neighborhood, with your Boy Scout troop, or anywhere, check out the Destination Imagination web site. Registration for new teams won’t open until August, but now is a great time to start planning. The Affiliate Director for Georgia, Dave Lohrmann, is a terrific resource who can answer questions and help you get started. Please tell him Dori sent you.
The Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science is offering a summer special on its online series of math courses for highly talented students.
Order the three-course series before June 1 and you’ll receive the discounted price of $134.95.
IMACS is intended for middle-school students whose high intellect enables them to learn foundational concepts of math, which are then applied to topics in the standard high-school math curriculum. Completing the Elements of Mathematics: Foundations coursework in middle-school will enable these kids to take IMACS’ college-level math courses during high school.
Last week, students from a dozen schools around Atlanta took part in the U.S. Army’s Ten80 Racing Challenge, an event that brings STEM concepts to life.
Ten80, created as a NASCAR initiative for STEM learning, is an educational program for middle schools and high schools. It combines high-level math with real-world technical skills in a curriculum aligned with Common Core standards.
Students in Ten80 spend the school year building remote-controlled vehicles for maximum speed and stability, and can even incorporate high-tech elements — such as robotics or alternative energy sources — into their cars. They can choose to compete against other schools from around the country, or just use this project-based learning as an enhancement to teaching STEM.
Schools can purchase the curriculum with available funds or with grants, or can apply for a sponsorship from the U.S. Army. Getting the curriculum in place can take up to a year, so plan ahead if you’d like to bring this to your school.
I am passing along a note I received last week. I’ve heard only good things about the FIRST LEGO League.
I am Sunitha Jayakumar, homeschooling mom to a 10 year old gifted girl. I am looking to start a Girl Scouts Robotics FLL team (First Lego League), for the coming year. The team can have a maximum of 6-7 girls. The meetings will be at my place in Alpharetta (near McGinnis Ferry Rd). Please pass on this information to any homeschooling girls interested in joining the team. The age group is 9-14 years.
Thanks for your help.
You can contact Sunitha by reconstructing this e-mail address:
sunitha_jay AT yahoo DOT com
It won’t be long until fireflies make their evening appearances, signaling one another in their age-old dance. They’re a sure sign summer’s coming, and they also provide an opportunity to become a citizen scientist, helping researchers learn more about changing firefly populations.
The Museum of Science Firefly Watch is easy to do with kids. Just spend 10 minutes per week counting lightning bugs in your yard, or a park, or whatever spot you choose. Record some simple data about weather conditions and the flash patterns you see. Then, report your observations online. For extra fun, you can see what data others have collected, all over the country.
My kids and I have done this, and it’s a great learning project. Sign up now so you’ll be ready when the lightning bugs show up where you are!
Special guests Geoff Notkin and Steve Arnold, stars of the Science Channel program “Meteorite Men,” will give a presentation at 1 p.m., and will host a screening of an episode of their show at 5 p.m.
During daylight hours, visitors can view the sun in the observatory. According to the museum, the sun has been active lately, so you can expect to see sun spots and “solar prominences.” (I’m not sure what those are, but if Tellus thought them worth mentioning, surely they must be cool.)
After sunset, the observatory will zoom in on the moon, Jupiter, the double star Algieba, or Saturn. Also, at 9 and 9:30 p.m., Tellus astronomer David Dundee will lead groups on star walks to observe the night sky.
Tracy Caldwell Dyson, an astronaut who’s lived on the International Space Station, will speak this Thursday, April 18, 2013, at Fernbank Science Center, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
On Saturday, April 20, the center will celebrate National Astronomy Day, with family activities and planetarium shows.
To avoid confusion, these events will take place at the Fernbank Science Center on Heaton Park Drive, not the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
Fernbank Science Center in Decatur has two upcoming programs for young scientists.
First, this Saturday, March 30, from noon to 3 p.m. will be NanoDay. This free event will include a nano magic show and hands-on activities. In addition, the event will have a special activity area for children ages 3 to 7.
Then, on April 5, the science center will host Science Night Out, for students in third to sixth grades. From 6 to 9 p.m., graduate students from Georgia State University will conduct hands-on activities that teach kids about nutrition. Registration is by U.S. Mail only and is $15 per child.
Note: In the interest of avoiding confusion, these events are at the Fernbank Science Center, owned and operated by DeKalb County Schools, not the Fernbank Museum.