The New Superpower: the Power of Code

By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator

STEM Club Program Highlight Video, by Meghan Thoreau, produced in iMovies.

Q: How many computer science jobs will there be in 2020?

A: In 2020, an estimated 1 million computer programming-related jobs in the US are expected to be unfilled. Many tech organizations are now turning to non-traditional applicants and internal training to fill these gaps. Learn more: Full Scale.

Here are some quick facts according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for computer and information research scientists:

Quick Facts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019.

This November, Teays Valley Elementary Students learned about a new “superpower” that isn’t being taught in 90% of US schools – the power of CODE. Students watched a short video starring Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, will.i.am, Chris Bosh, Jack Dorsey, Tony Hsieh, Drew Houston, Gabe Newell, Ruchi Sanghvi, Elena Silenok, Vanessa Hurst, and Hadi Partovi. Directed by Lesley Chilcott, executive producers Hadi and Ali Partovi, break down stereotypes about what it means to learn to code, how in-demand the skill set is, how coding impacts humanity, and especially how fun, interactive, and full-service some larger companies design their office space to attract and keep their talent pool.

Image from the program presentation by Meghan Thoreau, go.osu.edu/CODE_offline_scratch.

CHALLENGE 1: The kids started with the basics, binary code, which is a coding system using two digits (or bits) ‘0’ and ‘1’ to represent a letter, digit, or other characters in a computer or other electronic device. For example, the lower case ‘a’ in binary code is the string of 8-bits, ‘0110 0001,’ called a byte. Computers process instructions using this two-symbol system. The students made binary bracelets to practice decoding a letter into binary code.

Pictures from STEM Club Program, by Meghan Thoreau. 

CHALLENGE 2: To code or to write a program, is to write a set of instructions to a problem, or an algorithm. An algorithm is a process or set of rules to be followed in calculating or running a problem-solving operation by a computer. Below is a simple algorithm to make a PB&J:

Image from the program presentation by Meghan Thoreau, go.osu.edu/CODE_offline_scratch.

A good coder is a person who can think strategically through a problem and then write a clear set of instructions to end at a solution. Some instructions are easier to follow than others. Some instructions get to the solution more directly. The kids experience the skill in writing instructions, writing an algorithm, using a tangram challenge. A pair of students worked together verbally telling another pair of students how to arrange a series of shapes to end with a hidden image as the solution.

Pictures from STEM Club Program, by Meghan Thoreau. 

CHALLENGE 3: students went online, https://world.kano.me/challenges, and chose their own themed coding challenge to actually write a program and see what that looks like in JavaScript, a popular computer programming language.

Pictures from STEM Club Program, by Meghan Thoreau. 

NEXT MONTH: students will continue with the coding challenges on Kano Computer Kits. Computers that kids can build and start to learn to code through interactive tutorial options to code art, music, games, browse the internet, watch YouTube, access Google docs, write stories, and upload more than 100+ Apps. The computer plugs into an HDMI screen. The product is ideals of kids 6+ in age. Read an earlier blog by Educator, STEM Parenthood: every childhood needs a little coding. The students will also be developing their own public service announcements in a coded animation in Scratch!

Pictures from STEM Club Program, by Meghan Thoreau. 

Bureau of Labor Statistics computer science career video by CareerOneStop: https://youtu.be/jlZucw7_qWU

November’s Club Dates

This is a reminder that STEM Club will only be meeting once per elementary school building this month due to the holidays and some club dates may have been impacted. Note: Scioto’s Club date is now Wednesday, November 13th, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.!


 

Engineering a Catapult and Creative Writing Challenge

By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator

This September Teays Valley elementary students learned about catapults and the engineering design process which involves problem solving and building solutions through teamwork, designing, prototyping, testing, rebuilding, and continuing to improve and reevaluate their design solutions.

Students learned the basic catapult design concepts and components. They learned about force, accuracy, precision, and angels – and made engineering connections – engineers apply science, writing, and math concepts early into the design process and prototyping before they’re ready to build final products to meet their clients’ needs.

https://www.gettingsmart.com/2017/10/integrating-edp-and-cbl-in-stem/

They also learned how force affects the motion of a projectile, the difference between accuracy and precision, as well as learned the optimum angle for launching a projectile the farthest distance, being at 45 degrees.https://wafflesonwednesday.com/accuracy-vs-precision/

Catapults may be an old technology, but engineers still apply many design concepts into modern applications that need to store potential energy to propel a payload. Examples such as clay pigeon shooting or more complex in aircraft catapult take off for short runways.

Our catapult project was a two-part challenge: 1) apply the engineering design process to building a catapult, and 2) use the catapults in a creative writing challenge. The students worked in groups moving through target stations.

They used their catapults to hit a dynamic target that gave them points, letters, words, and images. The students had to add up their points, look up new vocabulary with the acquired letters, add the words and phrases collected, and finally handwrite a group creative writing narrative that they read out loud to their peers.

Skills Applied:

  • Engineering concepts
  • Geometry/Angles
  • Visual Motor
  • Bimanual
  • Math/Addition
  • Alphabetization
  • Handwriting
  • Creative Thinking/Storytelling
  • Team Communication
  • Oral Presentation

*Pictures from Teays Valley Elementary Students registered for 2019-2020 STEM Club Program.

 

Club Highlights from 2018-2019

By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension

LED Display Circuit Board Challenge

Elementary STEM Club just started its third year of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) programming, engaging approximately a hundred 4th and 5th graders in after school hands-on STEM challenges and career exploration throughout the academic school year. Judy Walley, Teays Valley High School Chemistry Teacher, and Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator, co-teach the program, which also involves over two dozen high school mentor students. The mentors assist with club activities while themselves gaining both soft and technical skills, leadership, community service, and college/career exploration opportunities.

Physics and Center of Gravity Challenges

STEM education programs can have a positive impact on students’ attitudes towards STEM disciplines, 21st century skills, and a greater interest in STEM careers. Educators throughout Pickaway County have been busy in supporting a number of problem-based learning initiatives, business-teacher partnerships, and STEM teaching initiatives.

Foldscope, Origami Microscope Biology Challenge

Elementary STEM Club is one of those local initiatives that employs hands-on learning through a multidisciplinary approach into many subjects and career paths. The program challenges its youth in chemistry, astronomy, biology, coding, drone technology, connected toys, wearable tech, strategic mind games, escape classrooms, electric circuits, physics, renewable energy, beekeeping, aerospace, flight simulations, aviation, fostering a community service mindset, and more.

Strategic Mind Games and Bee Science Challenges

We invite specialists from the community to teach, share, and engage with the students, such as the Scioto Valley Beekeeping Association, OSU Professors, an Extension Energy Specialist, an OSU Health Dietitian, and the Civil Air Patrol to name a few. Next year we’re hoping to bring some virtual reality, 360 photography, and video production challenges to our students. If you’re interested in sharing a skillset, a technology, a career path, or a meaningful life experience to some amazing and eager-minded students, please email, thoreau.1@osu.edu or jwalley@tvsd.us.

We’d like to also thank everyone who has been involved in the program over the last two years. It’s been a pleasure and a plunge into the wild side of STEM education, youth workforce development, and promoting a mindset of lifelong learning – all critical to today’s workforce.

Civil Air Patrol and Aerospace Careers

Civil Air Patrol

We ended last year with a great program partnering with Civil Air Patrol (CAP). Civilian volunteers – with a passion for flight, science, and engineering – led the program highlighting STEM careers in aviation, space, cyber security, emergency services, and the military. The whole organization is powered by a team of dedicated civilian volunteers with a passion for aviation and STEM education. If you know of a student, 12-years and up, that has in interest in aviation, would like a chance to fly a plane, work towards their pilot license, attend leadership encampments, career academies, and more, visit http://www.ohwg.cap.gov/.

Aerospace Officer Donna Herald, Lieutenant Casey Green, and Lieutenant Colonel David Dlugiewicz volunteered their time and aviation skills to lead our youth into exploring the history of the Civil Air Patrol, emphasize the value of civic engagement, and underscore the growing deficient of pilots and aerospace specialist in the workforce.

Physics Concepts, Bernoulli Principle on Air Pressure Differential Theory Challenges

The CAP lessons built on previous STEM Club programming that taught physic concepts, the law of gravity, and re-instilled aircraft principal axes, such as the friction, center of gravity, and coding parrot drones challenges. Lieutenant Colonel Dlugiewicz taught the discussed Bernoulli Principle (an air pressure differential theory) and Sir Isaac Newton and the laws of motion and lift. The students engaged in a hands-on activity such as filling an air bag with one breath, leaving a gap between their mouth and the bag to allow a vacuum to form, demonstrating Bernoulli’s principle.

Part of a Airplane and Axis Challenges

Lieutenant Casey Green discussed the parts of an airplane focusing on the components that control an aircraft’s moment and direction. The students broke into groups and rotated between two stations. The first engaged the students in building paper airplane that they cut strategic slits into. The students experimented by folding different components of their airplanes to change and control the overall direction of their paper airplanes. The second station engaged the students in two different sets of CAP flight simulators to further the students’ understandings of the aviation principles taught in the program. The flight simulators provided a semi authentic experience that helps young pilots learn to fly.

Flight Simulator Challenges

Our community has some amazing young minds that are thinking and embrace the many dynamic career pathways of a STEMist. Please get involved and support more STEM programming in your community, it matters.

 

2019-20 Elementary STEM Club Application Process is OPEN!!

OSU Extension, Pickaway County and Teays Valley School District have teamed up to plan and implement the district’s third annual after-school elementary-wide STEM Club. We will meet approximately 2 times per month in each of the four elementary buildings from 3:30-5:00 pm. Participants will be limited to 30 students per building. Acceptance in the after-school program will be an application based lottery. There will be a $ 25 fee for the year with financial hardship waivers available. The fee can be cash or check (written out to OSU Extension, Pickaway County) and turned in at the first STEM Club meeting or mailed to OSU Extension, Pickaway County, P.O. Box 9, Circleville, OH 43113. Save STEM Club blog, u.osu.edu/tvstemclub/, regular updates will be posted to website; such as, club meeting highlights, STEM challenges, and open access to the STEM Club calendar for your student’s STEM Club meetings. The goal of the program is to promote student interest and engagement in STEM in each of the elementaries. This program is considered an extension of the school day. Participants will be engaged in hands-on STEM activities and learn about careers in STEM.

Students who may enjoy STEM club are those who enjoy being challenged and who are interested in:

  • the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)
  • the process of learning, asking questions and problem solving
  • helping people and making a difference in the world

If your child is interested in participating in the lottery visit the STEM Club Blog site for information and complete the online application (NOW CLOSED)Applications must be submitted online by the end of the school day, Friday, August 23rd. NO LATE APPLICATIONS BECAUSE IT IS A LOTTERY! (STEM Club Meeting dates are subject to change. In the event of school cancellation, STEM club will be canceled and not rescheduled.)

CONTACT INFO:

Judy Walley, TV High School Chemistry Teacher & STEM Club Educator, jwalley@tvsd.us
Meghan Thoreau, CD & STEM Extension Educator, thoreau.1@osu.edu

Buzzing Around In STEM


By: Emma Rico, Teays Valley High School STEM Club Mentor

Photo: Emma Rico leads the honey sampling station

Over the past year, I have been fortunate enough to be able to be apart of the STEM Club mentoring program at Teays Valley Elementary School Buildings. The program engages young minds in STEM challenges while stressing the importance of the science fields and problem solving skills. I watched the students eyes sparkle with curiosity and saw each grow as a student and an individual. However, when I’ve assisted with teaching the students, I also learned a couple extra things. I not only learned things in relation to the science topic that day (which I found very interesting), but I also learned more about myself. There is something about nurturing the minds of others that allows me to see myself more clearly and to impact others. The STEM mentoring program has allowed me to stretch my mind and the minds of others.

Photo taken by Emma Rico, bee keeper Louise Adkins leads discussion on bee anatomy.

This April the elementary students learned about the community, function, and purpose of one of the oldest creatures on earth: bees. With the help of OSU Extension, the Scioto Valley Beekeepers Association, Teays Valley School District, and a senior high school student, Erin Robinski, we have been able to teach the importance of bees and what we can do to help them survive in today’s changing environment.

Video produced by Emma Rico

We started off with a brief introduction by Tina Bobeck on the importance of bees being pollinators and the other variety of pollinators that exists, such as hummingbirds and bats, but also by monkeys, marsupials, lemurs, bears, rabbits, deer, rodents, lizards, and other animals. We learned surprising facts such that there are over five-hundred different types of bees that live in Ohio alone. The students also discovered some medical benefits from honeybee products, such as honey, bee pollen, propolis, Royal jelly, beeswax, and bee venom, have all long been used in traditional medicine.

Photo by Emma Rico, Louise Adkins showing off honeybee products to students.

Erin Robinski provided a short presentation to the students on what flowers to plant to help the bees in our area. The program was fortunate to have the president of the Scioto Valley Beekeepers, Louise Adkins, talk to the students about the anatomy of the bee and what makes them unique. The students learned that bees have five eyes, communicate with their antennas, can see ultra light, and do not have lungs. (Instead, bees draw in oxygen through holes in their bodies known as spiracles and pump the oxygen through a system of increasingly tiny tubes that deliver oxygen directly to tissues and muscles!) The students were eager to learn more during this portion and tended to ask more questions then the program allotted for, but we appreciated the inquiring minds.

Photo taken by Emma Rico, Observation Hive built by bee keeper Tom Zwayer.

We also had the Vice President of the Scioto Valley Beekeepers, Tom Zwayer, talk to the students about the role of a beekeeper and how the hive functions. Zwayer share the bee hive history to the students. In the 1800s Lorenzo Langstroth, an American apiarist, clergyman, and teacher created the modern day beehive used today. Langstroth is considered the “father of American beekeeping (and lived most in life here in Ohio.) The students also learned how bees are very protective of their home and do not like outsiders. They were shown how beekeepers can add an accessory to a hive’s entry point to confuse outside insects and bees by changing the “front door” access point. Beekeepers also set internal traps in the hive to catch unwanted mites and beetles that can harm the hive and bees. The students were able to try on the beekeeper suits, look at some real bees in the observation hive, try honey, and ask more questions of our local bee experts. They even came up with questions that I had not even thought of!

Photo by Meghan Thoreau, students trying on beekeeper suits, O-H-I-O.

I think the bee program was one of my favorite STEM themes, because the students were able to learn about how small creatures keep our world alive. In addition, the students learned how they can help bees through planting local pollinators as well as growing food and treating for pests more sustainably. It doesn’t take much to make a big differences for bees. I feel honored to be able to influence young students in exploring STEM fields. It is an opportunity that I wish I could have been involved in more during high school. This program has allowed me to be more involved in the community, help ignite the flame of curiosity, and learn more about how the world around me works. It is one of the things that I will miss after graduation, but I hope that these young STEM students will grow and make real transformative impacts to come in our future!

Foldscope the “Origami Microscope” Build and Investigation Biology Lab

By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator

Photo taken by: Meghan Thoreau

A Foldscope is the ultra-affordable, paper microscope. It was designed to be extremely portable, durable, and to give optical quality similar to conventional research microscopes (magnification of 140X and 2-micron resolution). The Foldscope brings hands-on microscopy to new places and is especially great for our young STEMist to learn and explore with.

Students learned the basic components of a microscope, built their origami microscopes (as a take home STEM project), and engaged in a hands-on biology investigation lab.

Image source: STEM Club Foldscope Presentation, go.osu.edu/foldscope

Students also engaged in a club discussion on different research methods used in science.

QUANTITATIVE DATA collection which is in a numerical form which can be put into categories, or in rank order, or measured in units of measurement. This type of data can be used to construct graphs and tables of raw data.

VS

QUALITATIVE DATA collection which is empirical, observations, surveys, or interviews. This type of data provides insights into the problem(s), helps to develop ideas, or hypothesis for potential quantitative research. Used to uncover trends and dive deeper into the problem.

The Foldscope is a learning product that can be self assembled and includes art through hands-on origami, photography, and drawing what is observed. Foldscope is used in classrooms in over 130 countries worldwide. You can skim through the presentation by visiting go.osu.edu/foldscope.

How STEM Club has Impacted Me: a high school student mentor highlight

By: Allison Cheek, Teays Valley High School STEM Club Mentor

Throughout the past two years, I have had the opportunity to work as a STEM Club Program Mentor Assistant. This experience has benefited me in several ways. Working with elementary students, as well as teaching alongside other STEM mentors, has led me to choose a career path in math education. I continue to learn and grow each time I attend Teays Valley’s Elementary STEM Club programming.

The Elementary STEM Club program is a partnership program between Teays Valley School District and OSU Extension, Pickaway County. We visit each of the four elementary schools in our district. I have learned that each building has a unique atmosphere, which also means that the students are wired differently. They may come up with new questions or inventive ways to solve problems. My skills, as a future educator, are enhanced every time I am able to teach, explain, or demonstrate something to a student.

My favorite STEM challenge was assisting with the Egyptian mummy escape tomb! As part of the STEM team, I was able, along with several other mentors and educators, to attend an escape room training at Trapped Columbus in Columbus, OH. This helped the team plan and create our own escape room specifically geared with STEM challenges.

Students had to find clues and solve ancient Egyptian riddles to escape from a sealed tomb – in the dark – our attempts to recreating an authentic problem solving environment! Presentation by Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator

I also enjoyed helping the students learn how to program and fly drones. The students were exposed to dozens of career pathways where drones are being employed in the workplace.

Elementary students coding Parrot Drones in Swift Playground. Presentation by Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator

 

Allison Cheek, along with other STEM Program Mentors, assists with coding and drone flying challenges in Teays Valley Elementary STEM Club.

The biggest challenge of helping with STEM Club, is troubleshooting on the fly. STEM students are very curious, intelligent, and they ask very in-depth questions, some of which, I do not know the answers to or am able to fix all their problems. But I believe that’s ok, because the point is that they are thinking critical and seeking out solutions. Troubleshooting on the fly is difficult for me, but it definitely is expanding my adaptive skillset. With everything I learn, I am able to help and guide students into empowering themselves to problem solve. My favorite part of STEM is watching students light up with realization or creative ideas.

Cheek assists with Strategic Board Game Challenges

 

Cheek leads the students in a physical fitness challenge while wearing their Physbot fitness data trackers learning while learning about wearable technology and health monitoring. Presentation by Meghan Thoreau.

I feel that my job is accomplished when the students are having fun, while also gaining and understanding new material and concepts. This program is an awesome pathway to lead students into careers involving- science, technology, engineering, and math. Helping with STEM Club has been such an enriching and wonderful experience. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be involved.

Allison Cheek will be attending Bowling Green State University in the fall of 2019 for a degree in Secondary Education, Integrated Mathematics.

 

Winter STEM Challenges: snow, force, and balancing challenges

By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator

Photo by Meghan Thoreau

(Short video highlight at the bottom!)

This past December students explored a variety of science and engineering principles. First, they learned more about the science of color and why snow is generally white in color, as well as engaged in hands-on activities that looked at gravity and contact and non-contact forces as well as shared in group discussions on how these forces can impact engineering and construction designs.

Why is snow white?

This is a timely winter question for our young STEMist. Having a “white” blanketed landscape is a common picturesque image conjured up during the winter months – it supports many winter activities such as sledding, snowman building, and backyard snow fort construction.

Photo by Meghan Thoreau

The students had some probing discussions and watched a short video from our favorite online science teacher, Doug Peltz, in his ‘Mystery Doug’ video science series. The students learned that color is determined by visible light and the particular particles of objects themselves.

Photo source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color

The world is made up of many different objects that have many different combinations of atoms and molecules which vibrate at different frequencies that our eyes see as different colors. Snow is no different, it’s a collection of vibrating particles, but the way snow is made gives its particles a layering effect to consider when thinking about the answer.

Sounds complicated? First, the students considered what snow is made of – frozen water – and that water is clear, all things considered, so something happens when water freezes. Snow is made up of many different tiny pieces of ice particles and ice is not transparent or clear, it’s actually translucent. This is because ice particles are layered on top each other, and therefore, light can’t pass straight through, but is redirected in many different directions. The students took a snow making take home project to emphasize the layering translucent effect that creates a white snowflake ornament.

Photo source: https://www.open.edu/openlearn/science-maths-technology/introduction-minerals-and-rocks-under-the-microscope/content-section-0

Light is scattered and bounces off the ice crystals in the snow. The reflected light includes all the colors, which, together, looks white. In some unusual situation depending on the surrounding light sources and frequencies of objects, snow can take a hint of yellow or purplish glow color from its normal bright white color.

Moving from color science to physics and force 

What is a force?

Force is an agent which accelerates a body. The students learned a force is a push or a pull of one object on another object, but both objects have to be interacting with each other.

Image source: http://learntogethersim.blogspot.com/2017/07/what-is-force.html

Gravity is a pulling force that acts between two things (such as a person’s body and the mass of the earth) but its effect depends on the mass and distance between the objects being pulled together. It was also fascinating for the students to learn that force doesn’t produce motion necessarily, but rather adds acceleration. Additionally, all objects have a center of mass or a center of gravity that impacts movement in accordance to the laws of physics. We decided to challenge the students further by having them consider objects and people launched into outer space with the forces of physics at play.

Image source: https://www.wired.com/2010/10/why-do-we-launch-rockets-from-cape-canaveral/

We shared a Big Think video from Michelle Thaller, Assistant Director for Science Community at NASA, Why Zero Gravity is a Myth. Thaller broke down rocket science concepts and misconceptions about gravity in outer space. Many people think astronauts in space are weightless and floating because there is zero gravity. To better understand the forces at hand, Thaller asked her viewers to consider the space station orbiting earth 200 miles away, completing an orbit once every 90 minutes. (Pretty amazing when you realize earth’s circumference is around 24,900 miles.)

The astronauts inside are not exactly weightless. In fact, the astronauts probably weigh 80 percent of their earth body weight and are still close enough to earth to feel earth’s gravitational pull. Scientists have to use powerful rockets that blast off into space with incredible speeds to reach the distance to orbit earth. The floating effect is achieved by understanding how the objects and people are launched into space at these high velocities, shooting around the earth at extreme speed, while simultaneously being pulled down by earth’s gravity.

The space station, for example, is moving around 17,000 mph and the astronauts inside are actually free falling down to the surface of the earth by the pull of gravity, like a falling ball launched from a cannon. Because the astronauts are also orbiting so fast forward, they actually continue to miss the earth as they fall with the pull of gravity, which in turn gives them the floating effect we associate with outer space images and video clips. That concept of traveling at extreme speeds while free falling and continually missing your target is the definition of an orbit.

The students applied some new physics concepts and experimented with hands-on forces and center of gravity challenges in STEM Club; forces of frictional, normal, and tension force challenges. Here’s a short video that highlights a few of our STEM Challenges.