Saturday, June 14, 2014

S.T.E.M.

       Am I the only one who did not know what this acronym stood for?  I mean I knew it had to do with science and mainly referred to some type of science curriculum but I wasn't exactly sure what it meant.  Well, today I pretty much realized it IS how I teach science.  In case you don't know STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  It is believed that these four subjects overlap so much that they should all be taught in conjunction of one another.  We don't have any fancy curriculum that we use for teaching math or science or any of these subjects but I can see aspects of them all in my kids everyday lives.  They design buildings, roads and bridges with their blocks, Lego sets, and various materials and supplies all the time.   They experiment, hypothesize and think about other ways to achieve the same results.  They naturally apply math to these areas as needed because my boys are left to think freely for themselves.  I encourage them to think outside the box and run their own experiments as they see fit.  I guess I didn't realize how much we did all of this until we attended Touch Tomorrow at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  It was an amazing day filled with tons of hands on science, technology and engineering projects.  I walked around all day in awe.  The college campus itself is gorgeous and they do an amazing job hosting this event; which was totally free of charge!  We only paid for lunch but even that was an unbelievable all you can eat buffet for a very reasonable price.  They had free water bottles, free popcorn, free souvenirs and tons of free projects set up throughout the whole campus.  We spent 5 hours touring the place an only managed to see a small fraction of the demonstrations and projects set up for today's events.   We'll definitely be back next year! 
     Ian elected not to come with us and instead spent the day working with his grandfather.  The younger two boys came with us and I'd have to admit that Alec was the one who got the most out of it.  I had a very hard time getting him to move from table to table.  He was so involved in each demonstration and surprised more than one person with his knowledge, observations, and questions.  At one point a college student who was talking to Alec about how he was able to power an LED light using lemons asked him if was interested in the sciences and knew what he wanted to be when he grew up.  Alec had just impressed him with his ability to summarize what he was learning about electricity and had hypothesized that oranges would work well too if it was the acid that was making the light work.  Alec was honest enough to admit he wasn't sure yet what he wanted to be when he few up and the guy replied that he had time to think about it.  Alec immediately came back with "yeah, I have a lot of time to think about it I'm only 8!"  The guy was like "your only 8?  And you understood all this and built that bridge?  Wow!"  Alec just BEAMED!  Evan was a bit intimated by the crowds (they anticipated 120.000 people this year) so he tended to stick close to us and didn't participate in much, but he did watch a stage show on science that Alec and I had missed and was able to tell me about it during lunch.  He was most impressed that a lady lying on a bed of nails with a nail blanket covering her could have a brick smashed on top of her with a sledge hammer and not get hurt "since the brick absorbs all the impact."  My husband was impressed and glad to hear that Evan had in fact been paying attention.  Here are just a few of things we got to do today:
     
Evan erupts a volcano

Alec learns how comets form with a demonstration of ammonia and
dry ice.

Alec erupts a volcano

Playing with tornadoes in a bottle and
a homemade lava lamp

Playing with tornadoes in a bottle

Making a pen cap dive; my husband challenged
 the boys to get the cap to stay suspended in the middle
of the bottle-- and they did!





Alec designs a sail boat

He was told that his boat was the fastest one they saw yet
and the lady was real impressed that it held the weight of an
entire roll of packaging tape. 




We sat through an hour long show about static electricity


Alec designs a bridge

All finished! 






Alec made a paper rocket and launched it to the ceiling

Making silly putty in a baggie

Making elephant toothpaste (the safe way!)

He had so much fun playing with the foam it made


Lunch included dessert-- yummy!

We stopped for quite some time to check out this really large tree growing in the middle of the campus 


Checking out some computer games made by WPI students


The computer games were a big hit!

Watching the robots

Checking out even more robots and the rooms in
which they were made

Alec was even run over by a robot! 


Playing catch with a robot. 

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