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?

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.

 

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.