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.

 

Developing the 21st Century Skillset through Learning and Building Electric Circuits

By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator

Our STEM Club focuses on developing a lifelong learning mindset that supports our youth in exploring exciting STEM careers and promoting an engaged life. The 21st Century Skillset is a cycle of applied learning, critical thinking, collaboration, and learning by doing. Our STEM Challenges build foundational literacy skills, competencies, and character qualities that are critical to our day-to-day lives, how youth look at complex challenges, and how youth deal with their changing environment while retaining a growth mindset of persistence and grit. Below is an image that highlights important life skills that students and parents can work towards attaining.

September’s STEM Club: Day 1

Wondering what a club day looks like? Here’s a quick video, STEM in action. Try to listen to the communication going on, productive chaos.

Make sure to like us on Facebook, OSU Extension posts STEM Club Albums for parents who want to stay engaged!

September focused on two hands-on electric circuit challenges. The first engages students in designing and building an LED Display (light emitting diode) to light up their initials. Students learn basic electrical design components, how to read an electrical schematic, how to interpret an engineering data sheet, how to design the circuit, and finally how to build a LED Display Board! OSU Professor, Betty Lise Anderson, of The OSU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering came down from campus each week to teach the electrical outreach activity she developed. Many thanks to her and her STEM team! Dr. Anderson is amazing and generous with her time, knowledge, and materials. To learn more about Dr. Anderson or the department click here. Below is an image of the LED Display and a sheet explaining how to read the pin connection table, and understanding an electric schematic and basic electrical symbology. Each student determines which of the 16 segments of the LED display they need to connect resisters in their bread board.

Mentorship Benefit

Our program benefits immensely not just by our STEM Educators and OSU Extension’s partnership, but by the high school mentors that come and make the difference in young people’s lives by offering stable relationships to support students’ academic and social development. Below one high school mentor, Summer, came to assist despite it being Homecoming week. She received a round of applause by our students as she walked into the classroom!

Teamwork

Below we have a short video that allows you to see first hand students building an LED Display, but also demonstrating team building skills – one elementary student takes a moment to help a fellow STEMist troubleshoot the correct wire connection. May seem small, but this is an extremely important skill for real world success.

 

September’s STEM Club: Day 2

Our second STEM challenge took the knowledge the students learned about electric schematics and circuits and applied it to building a LED flashlight (take home project). The challenge involved basic materials, an cardboard box, copper wire, a battery, a resister, and a LED (light omitting diode), but it also introduced a switch.

Inside the Flash Light

 

Future Engineers! O-H-I-O

 

October’s STEM Club will involved a little Chemistry in Action!