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.