## Exploratory Stations: simple circuits, magnets, and Makey Makeys builds

By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator

The short program highlights videos of the simple circuits, electrical stations, and Makey Makey exploration stations.

This month students built on their electricity skills introduced in September to better understand how electricity and magnetism are related, as well as learned about other forces that can accelerate a body, or how the center of gravity is a pulling force that acts upon two things.

A student proudly shows off their center of gravity project.

#### Center of Gravity

We explored balancing basics and the center of gravity. Students learned that if they support the center of gravity, the object will balance and be stable. If an object is not supported directly below its centre of gravity then the object will be unstable and topple over. Any object is more stable when the center of gravity is near the center of the base of support. Wobbler toys are another example of using physics, torque, and the center of gravity to keep toddlers entertained for hours. (1)

Students had an opportunity to look at several types of balancing objects and understand how each object’s mass was distributed and how stable its center of gravity was. For example, they were able to interact with objects with different bases and structural shapes and see firsthand that a smaller base is less stable than an object with a larger base. A triangular pyramid shape is much more stable sitting on its broad base than on its point, which in turn can also serve as a resting point to balance another object because of its stability and take advantage of the upper object’s center of gravity.

A balancing toy utilizes the concepts of stability and low center of gravity. By having two heavyweights on the two sides, the toy will make the object very stable. The students learned about stable systems and how they return to their state of initial rest after disruption or being disturbed. (2)

After class-led activities, students broke into groups and rotated through simple circuits, magnets, electromagnets, Makey Makey interactive installations, and origami-making stations.

#### Simple Closed Loop Circuit

Electrical devices surround us every day – calculators, space heaters, remote controls, lights, cell phones, drones, electric vehicles. Students started with the voltage source such as a battery that is required to close the circuit and operate the device. As the students moved to the different stations they engaged in the science and engineering practice of making observations as they used batteries, wires, small light bulbs, and light bulb holders to explore the phenomenon of electricity and learn the difference between open and closed circuits. They also engaged in concepts of electric current, energy transfer, and electromagnets, and how circuits can be used with circuit boards and code to make more advanced electrical systems and work.

Examples of some of the simple closed-loop circuit stations and electromagnetic exploration stations.

#### Makey Makey Circuit Board Stations (using coding)

Makey Makey is a circuit board that you plug into your computer and in some ways acts like a keyboard. Each metal pad that you see on the Makey Makey is a conductive touchpad. The touchpad can be connected to other things in a circuit to invent and try out different design concepts. Alligator clips and a USB cable can be connected to the circuit board to complete closed-loop electrical signals to send the computer either by a keyboard stroke, or sensory touch that closes the loop. In the Makey Makey stations, depicted below, students interacted and explored a coded electrical guitar, an electrical keyboard, and an interactive educational poster on butterflies. Makey Makeys are powerful tools for youth to use for prototype electrical ideas for more advanced designs and projects.

Pictures Makey Makey coded projects that used Scratch and a Makey Makey circuit poster-coded program that the educator prerecorded sound bits and GIF images into for the circuit to play when closed.

#### Engineering Connection

Electrical engineers design the circuits and batteries that are in the devices and appliances that we use every day. Circuits can be found in music players, computers, video games, appliances, microwaves, phones, televisions, cameras, medical equipment, vehicles, and many more products. Engineers take seriously the responsibility of designing circuits that work dependably and safely. While new devices are constantly being developed around the world, engineers strive to create safer, more efficient products that ultimately help improve people’s lives.

1 Balance basics. Science World. (2022, June 9). https://www.scienceworld.ca/resource/balance-baseics/#:~:text=If%20you%20support%20the%20centre,of%20the%20base%20of%20support.

2 Evantoh. (2023, October 20). Evan’s space. Evan’s Space. https://evantoh23.wordpress.com/

## Understanding Chemical Reactions and Exploring Careers in Chemistry

By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator

Chemistry is a part of everyday life. This month we focused on improving our students’ understanding of the importance of chemical reactions in our lives in producing many of the things we take for granted. We also worked on improving their recognition and comprehension of what is involved in a chemical change through hands-on chemistry labs. Check out our two-minute program highlight video for a recap below:

Students learned the five signs of a chemical change firsthand:

1. Color Change
2. Production of an odor
3. Change of Temperature
4. Evolution of a gas (formation of bubbles)
5. Precipitate (formation of a solid)

Students learned that atoms are the smallest units of elements that still retain the element’s properties. And that, atoms contain electrons, neutrons, and protons. In addition, they learned that each element is defined by the number of protons in its nucleus. Students used a periodic table handout to find the different elements we used in our hands-on chemistry labs.

Then we expanded to explain how elements can combine and form molecules. In a chemical change, the molecules in the reactants interact to form new substances.

Another important aspect of the program was exploring the many careers in chemistry. Take a moment and click through the Careers in Chemistry Prezi presentation with your child or use it in your classroom. The data used comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) is a valuable online resource to explore and is also available through the CareerInfo app. Both Web and the App, include 300+ occupational profiles that cover about 4 out of 5 jobs in the economy. You can browse job profiles by occupational group or top lists—or find a specific job type with a simple search and learn information that will impact education and career planning decisions such as median pay, entry-level education, on-the-job training, number of new jobs projected, growth rate, and career highlight videos, on the hundreds of occupations that provide most jobs in the United States. Click on a QR code to download the CareerInfo app to your mobile devices now!

## Virtual STEM Club November Kick-off: video conferencing etiquette, Schoology, bug benefits, and career paths within Entomology!

By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator, Community Development & STEM, Pickaway County

We have a full line up for the month of November. We’re starting with an important first club meeting, Saturday, November 7, 2020 @ 10:00 a.m. where club members and parents get to meet virtually for the first time and say hello. STEM teachers will share the club’s expectations, resource blog site, video conferencing etiquette, and provide a virtual walk-thru of the Schoology Club site.

(Students and parents please note that all Zoom meeting details can be found in Schoology’s Virtual STEM Club class! If you have any questions or issues finding the announcement please email STEM teachers.)

The following two Saturday’s will focus on bugs and learning about the benefits insects perform and provide vital functions within our ecosystems. For example, bugs provide foods for many birds, mammals, and fishes on which fishing and hunting depends. They also decompose dead materials, and reintroduce nutrients into the soil. On Saturday, November 14, 2020 @ 10:00 a.m. Jeni Ruisch, Director of Outreach and Academic Programming, Department of Entomology at The Ohio State University will be joining our club session. Jeni curates a collection of live critters for outreach activities on or near The OSU campus. During COVID-19, she is personally housing the Columbus BugZoo & providing educational outreach programs via Zoom.

She Majored in Psychology, minored in English, Pop Culture Studies, and Neuroscience. Her education focus is on human and non-human animal cognition and behavior, and professional background in husbandry. She has additional education in writing and publishing, with 10-years of professional writing experience, including three years as the editor of a magazine. Hobbies are pretty much like her job, diverse and pet friendly. She has lots of bug pets, stays busy caring and maintaining their enclosures, and also trains dogs. Jeni’s career is quirky, but throughly rewarding. Below are some photos of Jeni with some bugs at the Cincinnati Zoo. (The giant stick bug is over a foot long!)

During our Club meeting we’ll learn more about iNaturalist, an online social network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity across the globe. iNaturalist may be accessed via its website or from its mobile applications.

If you can’t wait still we meet, enjoy this Life of Insects educational video by environmental steward, David Attenborough, with some arthropods!

On Saturday, November 21, 2020 @ 10:00 a.m. we’ll engage in more bug challenges and learn about Entomologist Careers and why entomologists are so important?

## Educational Apps You Can Take Outside and a Family Virtual Tour of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate!

By: Meghan Thoreau

A girl uses a plant identifier app on her mobile phone to take a picture of a plant. Credit: © Bill Shribman Link: https://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_images.jsp?cntn_id=132237&org=NSF

#### Identification Apps: go outside, learn, & post

Plant identification apps helps you instantly identify plants! Picture This is accurate, fast, and offers rich learning content! In addition to plant description and plant care tips, you’ll learn about beautiful plants around the world from the plant community on the App. (Picture This is available in both the Apple Store and Google Play, links are attached below.)

Screenshot image: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/picturethis-plant-identifier/id1252497129

In the FREE version, it’s simple to take a photo, find the matching plant, and read through the description to learn more information. (We noticed after initially downloading the App and opening it that a Subscription Ad appears to trick you. Simply click the X on the top right of the screen and continue onward to the Picture this App’s landing page.) We think you’ll get a lot out of the free version of the app, but it limits how many plants a user can identify without upgrading. (We experimented with the App at home and still haven’t hit our limit after taking a couple of dozen pictures that identified our garden veggies, house plants, herb box, and random flowers and bushes planted in the yard.) For the club’s challenge and more, we feel the free version offers a lot of opportunities to learn and engage with, especially outside.

CLUB’S OUTDOOR CHALLENGE: bundle up in your warm spring gear, maybe an umbrella, and go outside exploring with the mobile App, take several pictures of plants in your yard, neighborhood, or better yet go on a hike. Read through all the information provided about the plants, flowers, bushes, or trees you have taken pictures of. When you get home, go through your collection of pictures and find your favorite to post to Google Classroom Stream for your classmates to read and comment on.

YOUR POST SHOULD INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION: 1) Picture of plant, 2) known name/botanical name, 3) a sentence summary (not a direct copy) of the plant description, 4) where the plant got its name, 5) if it has any symbolism, 6) list its characteristics, 7) list it’s the scientific name, 8) it’s planting conditions, 9) a sentence summary of any care guidance, and finally, 10) one thing you find interesting about this plant.
BONUS POINTS if you sketch the plant and include that in your post!

#### Heads Up: Field Guide to Clouds Mobile App

Screenshot image: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/field-guide-to-clouds/id1121399187?ls=1

The UCAR Center for Science Education’s Field Guide to Clouds is a portable guidebook to identifying clouds. We want you to learn about the different clouds in the sky, including how they form, how they get their names, and what they can tell you about the weather. This assignment will test your cloud knowledge with quizzes and share photos of interesting clouds you find on social media but for us Google Classroom Stream postings. (Field Guide to Clouds is available in both the Apple Store and Google Play, links are attached below.)

CLUB’S OUTDOOR CHALLENGE: go outside and study the clouds. Use the app to identify cloud types and associated weather patterns. Gather your observation notes and cloud pictures and login to Google Classroom Stream: 1) upload a cloud picture you took, 2) name the cloud type, 3) describe in writing how these clouds look, 4) describe what they are made of, and 5) tell us about the weather that is associated with this cloud type.

#### Virtual Family Field Trip to George Washington’s Mount Vernon

The Mansion at George Washington’s Mount Vernon is one of the most iconic 18th-century homes in America. The building began as a one and one-half story house built in 1734 by George Washington’s father, Augustine Washington, and received its well-known name from his half-brother Lawrence Washington. George Washington began running Mount Vernon in 1754, and over the next 45 years slowly enlarged the dwelling to create the 21-room residence we see today. Washington oversaw each renovation, advising on design, construction, and decoration, despite being away much of the time. Conscious that the world was watching, Washington selected architectural features that expressed his growing status as a Virginia gentleman and ultimately as the leader of a new nation.

Screenshot image: https://virtualtour.mountvernon.org/

CLUB’S FAMILY ACTIVITY: visit the main website and read about George Washington’s Estate, then go on a virtual tour, walking through each room and learning the history and the story behind the furniture, decorations, and objects on display. Please post in Google Classroom Stream one thing you learned that was interested in the tour.

## Video Conferencing Etiquette, Summary Writing Challenge, and Big Bang AR App!

By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator

Virtual STEM Club: video conferencing in a nutshell Prezi, go.osu.edu/videomeetings.

A significant part of the world population is currently on lock-down in an attempt to contain the coronavirus pandemic. People are turning to technology to go to school, to work, to communicate and stay in touch with their classmates, colleagues, friends, and family.

We held our first virtual STEM Club session last Friday through Zoom! It was great to see everyone’s faces, check-in, and teach video conferencing skills and virtual meeting etiquette; click here to review our presentation again with your child.

Young STEMist learning video conferencing skills.

#### VIDEO CONFERENCING ETIQUETTE (skill building)

Students learned some quick Dos and Don’ts in participating in virtual meetings:

• Ensure your technology is working
• Be on time
• Mute yourself when not speaking
• Wear school-appropriate clothing
• Sit eye-level to camera’s lens, framing yourself from the midsection up
• Ensuring the right lighting
• Looking into the camera, giving audience eye-contact
• Pay attention
• Have a clean, simple, organized background, or upload a virtual backdrop

#### SUMMARY WRITING CHALLENGE

Summary writing isn’t simple. It’s a difficult academic skill. As with any new skill, especially writing skills, students need to be explicitly taught and practice. The students went through some basic definitions and discussed why summary writing is important because it improves reading skills as you pick out the main ideas of reading; it also helps with vocabulary skills where you paraphrase a reading, altering the vocabulary and grammar as you do so.

A summary is a long text distilled to its essentials. It summarizes the key points worth noting, without writing examples and lengthy details. The sentence structure and vocabulary has been changed, but the main ideas remain. Critical thinking skills are improved as you decide on the main ideas of the reading to include in the summary. Summary writing also improves editing skills as you draft and edit the summary. It’s helpful to work with peers throughout the writing and revision process – cooperative learning.

Screenshot of Time for Kids reading resource: https://www.timeforkids.com/.

The students were asked to visit, Time for Kids, and read two short expository readings, select one article to write a summary on. (Time for Kids has currently opened it’s a digital library for free!) It’s important to underline or take notes of the main ideas as students read. More details to the assignment and submitting are found in your student’s Google Classroom, logging in with their student Teays Valley email address. If you experience any issues with Google Classroom, contact, Meghan, thoreau.1@osu.edu.

#### BIG BANG AR APP

The students learned about astronomy, elements, atoms, and virtual reality technology in previous club programs. We thought this free App engages many of the lessons learned in a fun interactive way to learn about the story of our universe. The Big Bang AR App is available on both the Google Play and Apple stores.

This is an immersive learning App designed by Tilda Swinton and CERN scientists to take people on an “epic interactive journey through the birth and evolution of the universe” – in mixed reality and augmented reality. It takes students “back 13.8 billion years and discovers how space, time, and the visible universe came to be.” Students can see the universe form in the palm of their hand and virtually “witness the formation of the very first stars, our solar system, and the planet we call home.” This lesson allows students to learn about the microscopic building blocks that make up everything – and everyone – we know, and find out if we are made of stars. The experience ends with the student able to take a #starselfie and share it with your friends and post it in Google Classroom!

Here are a few of the student #starselfie shares:

STEM Stars!

Please stay tuned while we continue to plan and line up guest speakers for our future Virtual STEM Club programs.

Quotes above from the Apple store description: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/big-bang-ar/id1453396628.