We are going to have a little chemistry fun this Saturday, May 8th @ 10:00 a.m. with experiments focused on chemical reactions! We’ll be sending home STEM tots to create some goofy glow gels, fizz wizards, and experiment with jamming jelly reactions!
IMPORTANT: Join this virtual meeting from your kitchen if possible and try to have your parents near by for this program, because we are going to be mixing materials that could get a little messy. We are sending home chemicals, powders, and dyes to mix for our experiments. Also, make sure you have some play cloths and not your favorite top in case anything stains. We’ll provide a smock in your STEM tote, but better safe than sorry.
Join Pickaway County Library’s Youth Services and OSU Extension as we create a Rube Goldberg’s Simple Machine together in our all ages virtual hands-on science program, Thursday, May 6, 2021, @ 6:00 p.m.Registration is required for this free educational virtual one-hour event, click here to register.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing personalized meeting details and a passcode to joining Zoom. We’ll also send a reminder email prior to the event. Participants will need a smartphone or laptop.
We will be making our machines out of simple household items and toys. Get creative and take a look around your house and see what supplies you can find to build your machine with us. Here the supplies list we’ll be using:
We very much hope you can join in. This learning event is great for young learners or the entire family to participate in!
Students learned about the Red Planet and the history of Mars exploration that date back to the early 1960s. We saw the first close-up photographs of Mars lunar-type impact craters in 1964 from NASA’s Mariner 4 and started studying its solar winds. Six decades later we are witnessing another phase of global exploration of Mars. Last July 2020 approximately 7 months ago three spacecraft launched to Mars.
Why did they all launch around the same time?
Launches to Mars are best attempted every 26-months when our two planets align in their orbits for the shortest trip.
February’s Mars Missions
The first mission to reach Mars was the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Hope Mission. The country has never launched a mission beyond Earth’s orbit before and hopes to drive a new economy around science and not oil. Hope’s pro entered Mars’ orbit on February 9, 2021, and will stay in orbit between 12,430 and 26,700 miles above the surface, completing a revolution of Mars once every 55-hours studying the atmosphere of Mars and the AMrtian weather.
The second interplanetary mission to reach Mars came from China’s Tianwen-1 (Heavenly Questions) robotic spacecraft consisting of an orbiter, deployable camera, lander, and rover. The spacecraft entered Mars’ orbit on February 10, 2021. China may become the third nation to reach the surface of Mars! The science objectives its mission hopes to achieve:
create a geological map of Mars
explore the characteristics of the soil and potentially locate water-ice deposits
analyze the surface material composition
investigate the atmosphere and climate at the surface
understand the electromagnetic and gravitational fields of the planet
Photo sources: https://www.cnet.com/news/chinas-tianwen-1-mars-mission-is-arriving-at-the-red-planet-what-you-need-to-know/ and https://www.cnet.com/news/chinas-tianwen-1-mars-mission-is-arriving-at-the-red-planet-what-you-need-to-know/
The NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover landed in Jezero Crater on Mars on February 18, 2021, and will search for signs of ancient microbial life, which will advance NASA’s quest to explore the past habitability of Mars. The rover has a drill to collect core samples of Martian rock and soil, then store them in sealed tubes for pickup by a future mission that would ferry them back to Earth for detailed analysis.
Perseverance will also test technologies to help pave the way for future human exploration of Mars, including deploying the first Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, a technology demonstration to test the first powered flight on Mars.
Earth Benefits from Space Exploration
Private companies and government space programs are shaping the future of space exploration. The research and engineering effects going into these missions have a direct benefit to Earth as many of the technologies and uses can also be applied here on Earth. Read this Culture Trip article, The Earthly Benefits of a Mission to Mars, to learn more.
Hands-on Virtual Mars Base Camp Challenges
Each club member received Mars Base Camp Kit and together we explored Mars challenges together virtually through Zoom. The Landing Zone Surveyor challenge allows youth to discover features on the surface of Mars that are important, selecting a safe landing site, learning about the Martian landscape, and determine where to set up a future base camp.
NASA lives and breaths the engineering design process. There have been over a dozen surface landing attempts to land on the surface of Mars, but with each attempt, a learning process occurs through the successes, failures, and re-engineering for future space missions.
Image from Planetary.org
Together we all dropped parachutes onto a grided Mars surface. This involved some skills and unknown variables in the parachute deployment. There were several possible outcomes, some failures, and some successful rover landings.
Together we identifying the different landing sites both visually through photographs and imagery. We shared reading out loud the associated landing site cards and gained a better understanding of the varied Martian landscape. We learned a lot of essential geography terms, such as channel, dune, fault, ice cap, impact crater, lander, lava flow, orbiter, remote sensing, rover, and volcano, and learned how they compared to the geography of Earth.
STEM club member participating virtually in Landing Zone Surveyor Challenge
The second Mars challenged we tackled was the Red Planet Odyssey. This activity involved learning more about simple circuits, simple motors, power, mechanical gears, and how they all work together with using the engineering design process to build a STEM rover and solve basic mechanical problems.
Girls Who Code currently is accepting applications for its Virtual Summer Immersion Program (SIP). During this FREE, two-week virtual program, participants will learn the computer science skills needed to make an impact, get an inside look in the tech field and join a supportive lifelong sisterhood — all while being virtually hosted by influential companies, such as Twitter, AT&T, Bank of America, Walmart and more.
Girls and non-binary students in grades 9-11 are eligible to apply. SIP is 100% free and need-based stipends of up to $300 are available for those who qualify. Low tech? No tech? No problem! Girls Who Code can help.
Apply here before the early acceptance deadline in mid-February and remember to mark the Ohio Department of Education as the Community Partner on the application to receive priority consideration.
Join the Girls Who Code Application Party. Sign up to attend the SIP ApplicationParty on Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. EST. Join a Girls Who Code staff member and other students to begin the application and get answers to questions.
SAVE THE DATE – January 16th and January 30th at 10:00 a.m.
This month’s club meetings will focus on financial literacy by bringing iNVEST YOUNG to our Virtual Elementary STEM Club! We’ve invited Dr. Laquore Meadows, OSU Extension Area Leader and Program Director, who will teach two interactive educational sessions designed to teach youth ages 10 – 17 about long and short term investing in the stock market. Concepts taught throughout the simulated Young Investor meetings will lead to the creation of individual mock stock portfolios and will expose students to concepts that align directly with Ohio’s Learning Standards for Mathematics. Furthermore, given the global reach of the financial markets, this fun educational experience helps to fulfill our STEM Club’s mission to empower youth for success as a citizen in a global community. (STEM Totes will be deployed on January 14th!)
iNVESTYOUNG is designed to teach students about methods in which they can utilize the stock market to accomplish their financial goals regardless of their choice to attend college or not and/or their selected career path. Anyone regardless of job title or degree status can put their money to work through making sound investment decisions.
Students will participate in a highly interactive activity where they will learn how the stock market works through building a personalized stock portfolio. Students will also learn strategies to make informed investment decisions by analyzing the following:
Bullish and Bearish Markets
After the conclusion of the sessions, students will be invited to participate in the iNVEST YOUNG Challenge in which they will use CNBC, Yahoo Finance, CurrentKids, NewsByKids, and other financial media sources to monitor, record, and report back to their teacher how well their stock portfolio performed the week following their iNVEST YOUNG experience. Incentives will be offered to students with the top three performing stock portfolios.
By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator, Community Development & STEM, Pickaway County
Simple Circuits with Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator, and Judy Walley, Teays Valley Chemistry Teacher. Full presentation link: go.osu.edu/simplecircuits
Why Understanding Simple Circuits is Important?
Basic circuit knowledge is important for many different disciplines, engineering, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. It’s also useful knowledge around this time of year when you may need to repair a string of old holiday lights? Understanding and building simple circuits show us important concepts learned in school that can describe useful real-world systems, like devices we use every day, cell phones, light switches, Chromebooks, cars, etc.
The electric charge that flows through your house is called your electric circuits. This carries useful energy through your house that you can transform into other forms of energy to do various tasks. The US standard household circuit has an effective voltage that takes 120-volts. Volts represent the energy per unit charge. We discussed these basic building blocks of simple circuits in STEM Club this month. Our hands-on simple circuit design challenge uses 3-volt lithium batteries. Before jumping into our design challenges we’ll cover a few basic circuitry concepts and energy principles.
The principle of conservation of energy is an effective tool in solving problems and understanding how different forms of energy directly impact our lives. There are also benefits to this principle. These include recycling of materials, lower energy costs for consumers, less pollution due to a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, and less harm to animals and the environment. We watched a short video, from Two Minute Classroom, that explained the basic concepts of how energy transforms itself into other forms and never truly disappears or is destroyed.
Judy Walley led students through the basic concepts of atoms and electrons, because, without the flow of electrons, we have no electric circuit to work with.
Screenshot of our recorded club meeting where Judy Walley explains the basic concepts of atoms and electrons.
Walley also explained the chemistry of a battery and how chemical reactions occur inside the battery that causes an imbalance or a build-up of electrons (-) on one side of the battery over the other, hence why one side or one terminal of the battery is negative (-) and the other positive (+). We also introduced the basic materials for our hands-on design challenges and explain how a battery works.
Screenshot from our virtual simple circuit presentation.
How a Battery Works
Batteries are important to everyday life. Batteries are essential to most electrical devices. They exist in our cars, cell phones, laptops, and other electronic appliances, and serve as critical backup sources of electricity in telecommunications, public transportation, and medical devices. A battery is essentially a container full of chemicals that produce electrons (-). Inside the battery itself, a chemical reaction produces the electrons.
The battery is a device that stores chemical energy and converts it to electrical energy. The chemical reactions in a battery involve the flow of electrons from one material (electrode) to another, through an external circuit. The flow of electrons provides an electric current that can be used to do work. In our case, students use copper tape to build a paper circuit to create light energy with an LED. Below depicts the inner wors of a battery.
Screenshot of how a battery works from our virtual simple circuit presentation.
The students learned that a battery has three main parts: an anode (-), a cathode (+), and the electrolyte that separates the two terminal ends on the battery. We discussed the chemical reaction happening inside the battery that causes electrons (-) to buildup on one side of the battery causing one end to be negatively charged (-) and the other end positively charged (+). This buildup causes an imbalance of electrons (-), that want to travel to the other side of the battery, but can’t move freely until a conductive circuit is completely looped for the electrons to travel through; in our case, the conduit is copper tape.
When a circuit is complete, or a loop created, the electrons will flow through the conductive paths racing to reach the other side of the battery terminal. When the electrons flow through the loop, the chemical energy inside the battery is transformed into electrical energy running through the circuit. When all electrons (-) make it to the other side, the battery stops working. All of the electric energy was transformed into other forms of energy.
Electrical energy allows us to do work by transforming energy into other forms. We use LEDs in our paper circuit design challenge because it’s a simple way to show how electric energy is transformed or converted into light energy. We could replace the LED with a simple motor and the motor would convert electrical energy into kinetic.
Screenshot of simple circuit components and electricity concepts from our virtual simple circuit presentation.
What’s a Diode?
Both LEDs and motors can easily be added to simple circuits. However, LEDs are somewhat more restrictive than motors, because LEDs are diodes. A diode only allows current to flow in one direction. From the cathode (-) leg of the LED through the anode (+) leg. Note that the anode on a battery is negatively charged, but the anode on an LED is positively charged! The correct way to connect an LED legs to the battery terminals is positive to positive/anode to cathode and negative to negative/ cathode to anode. Study the image above if this is confusing. If the LED or battery are flipped in the wrong configuration then no current or electrons flow through the LED because the diode only allows for current to flow in one direction.
A motor does not have a diode, therefore current can flow in either direction, and depending on how the motor is connected to the battery will decide what direction the motor turns left/right, or moves forwards/backward.
As a virtual group, we challenged ourselves with a few NearPod activities to reinforce our electricity concepts before beginning our hands-on paper circuit challenges. A paper circuit is a functioning electronic circuit built on a paper surface instead of a printed circuit board (PCB). Projects can range from greeting cards to origami, to traditional art such as paintings or drawings. STEM totes went home with the students and included paper circuit design challenges and supplies.
Conductive copper tape
Plain card stock, or templates printed on card stock
We went through two paper circuit-build challenges with an independent bonus design challenge. The first design is depicted below. It had a basic road map for us to follow, which we added labels to ensure our understanding of which direction the electrons were flowing and which direction the current was flowing as well as how to position and connect the battery and LED to the circuit correctly.
Once you start learning the basics of paper circuit design you can explore more crafty designs to create circuit cards for all occasions and topics. A few ideas shared at our club meeting:
Jeni Ruisch, Director of Outreach and Academic Programming, Department of Entomology at The Ohio State University joined our November 14th club meeting to share some animals from the Columbus BugZoo via Zoom. Jeni curates a collection of live critters for outreach activities on or near The OSU campus. During COVID-19 she is providing virtual educational outreach programs. She not only shared her passion for animal husbandry but left the students with a newfound respect for our bug friends around the world. Many students were interested in the Latin names of the insects shared, they can be found below. Keep exploring insects and Entomology careers – the work is very rewarding and offers many interesting career pathways.
By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator, Community Development & STEM, Pickaway County
Live clip from our first STEM Club Meeting, Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator introduces the basics to Virtual Club Etiquette and the rules club members promise to follow. Full presentation link: go.osu.edu/videomeeting_digitalcitizenry
We covered the basics for our club members to follow while in a virtual meeting. If any members missed the meeting a recording link has been added to our Schoology classroom materials. The general topics discussed: Digital Citizen, Academic Conversation, Future of Learning, Cultural Awareness, Video Meeting Etiquette, and Schoology classroom tour. Click here to access the unit’s presentation.
The Rise of Virtual Learning
The rise in virtual learning requires extra effort from today’s students. Students have to develop added knowledge and skills to effectively use the internet and other digital technologies, especially in order to participate responsibly in social and online civic activities and platforms. Digital Citizenship is the quality of habits, actions, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities. Students have to recognize that their citizenry now extends to their quality of digital engagement.
Not only are there behavioral and decision-making skills required online, but there are core discussion skills that students can start practicing to develop reasoning skills of understanding content and different perspectives. Academic conversations are critical to language and content development. Some basic prompts shared with the club members are below:
We discussed the Future of Learning and how learning systems are shifting and redefining themselves, and although ‘change is a constant,’ the rate of change schools have been going through has been escalated because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Cultural Awareness Skillset
Being aware of the many different cultures around you and afar is essential to living in a community, attending school, going to college, and being effective in your workplace – whether that be in-person or virtual. Being culturally aware is the backbone of communication and the foundation of respect. It is essential to grow as a person and be able to interact in a broader range of social groups. Being aware of cultural diversity can build confidence in a person and their interactions with others. Cultural intelligence is a 21st Century Skillset and essential to function in today’s diverse workforce!
We also covered some basic tips on how best to engage, communicate, and listen in virtual meetings. These tips apply in the virtual classroom as well as their future virtual workspace.
Image source: unit presentation slide by Meghan Thoreau.
Ensure your technology works correctly– don’t delay meetings, run a few tests prior to a virtual meeting.
Be on time.
Mute yourself when not speaking – mics pick up minor noises, like coughs, sneezes, dog barks, or typing. It’s distracting.
Wear school-appropriate clothing.
A good example of school appropriate clothing.
Frame the camera correctly – sit eye-level to the lens and try to position yourself so that it shows your midsection and up.
Have the right lighting – ensure enough lighting is in the room so the video isn’t grainy.
Look into the camera – ensure the camera lens is the equivalent of looking into a person’s eyes.
Make sure the lighting is in front of your face and the computer is at the right level to make eye contact with its camera.
Have a clean, simple, and organized backgroundor upload an appropriate virtual backdrop.
Schoology Course Walk-thru
We explored the Schoology course and how it organizes its resources, materials, and STEM Challenges. The materials landing page was designed to have quick links to the Zoom meeting link and club resources.
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?
OSU Extension, Pickaway County and Teays Valley School District have teamed up to offer the district’s fourth annual elementary-wide STEM Club. We’ve adjusted our delivery method to virtual format due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. That said, our program will remain interactive and focused on exploring STEM fields and careers. (Opportunity now available to 4th and 5th grade only!)
We are developing take-home project kits and a technology lending program to allow students a more interactive experience at home. We’ll meet virtually approximately 1-2 Saturdays per month – exact dates and times TBA and based on guest speakers and participant availability. Virtual sessions will be recorded and available to club members only for student security. Register now closed.
Take-home project kits and a technology lending program will be used to engage students in hands-on challenges with virtual instruction. Photo source: https://www.azscience.org/educators/outreach/stem-clubs/
If accepted, a $20 fee for the year can be turned in at the first STEM Club meeting or mailed to OSU Extension, Pickaway County, P.O. Box 9, Circleville, OH 43113. (Please make checks out to OSU Extension, Pickaway County).
We will be updating our STEM Club blog regularly, u.osu.edu/tvstemclub/ with club highlights, activity summaries, resources, and club calendar for virtual meet-ups.
The goal of the program is to promote student interest and engagement 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