Friday, January 3, 2014

Auld Lang Syne and a Little Reminder from Carl Sagan

As the calendar turned to a new year and the many creative interpretations of Auld Lang Syne; the 1788 Scots poem written by Robert Burns were played by bands throughout the world, the SCOE RISP decided to look at the beginning of the song and how it relates to the Power of Discovery: STEM2 Initiative.

The song begins by posing a rhetorical question as to whether it is right that old times be forgotten and is generally interpreted as a call to remember long standing friendships. The SCOE RISP says "Nay" to forgetting about the past. Our past actions have brought us to our current position on this STEM timeline. Even though we all may be at different points on the STEM implementation spectrum, we have all made gains at trying to make our Out-of-School-Time practitioners feel more confident when it comes to facilitating high-quality STEM activities. We have offered them a handful of STEM professional development opportunities. We have also introduced them to a handful of high-quality, inquiry-based, hands-on, collaborative, project-based STEM curriculum options. With our Out-of-School-Time practitioners feeling more confident and ready to facilitate STEM activities back at our Expanded Learning Programs; they have been able to awaken the innate sense of wonder that had been dormant in so many of our students for quite some time. Students have been reintroduced to their sense of wonder through Project WET, RAFT, NPASS, Engineering is Elementary, Engineering Adventures, KidzScience, SPARK STEM, Lego Mindstorms, and Steve Spangler curriculum /activities, and by even taking part in the Hour of Code. These examples are just a handful of STEM activities that the SCOE RISP saw and heard about taking place in the Expanded Learning Programs during the 2013 calendar year. There were some bumps in the road, but for the most part there were a lot of successes to be celebrated. The STEM foundations were either established or added to during the 2013 calendar year. So during the 2014 calendar year we must add to our STEM foundations. We must remember what we did so we can learn from our setbacks, add to the richness of our STEM curriculum, and proceed forward on this STEM trajectory.

The SCOE RISP also calls upon you to recall your long standing STEM community partners, or the new STEM community partners that you were introduced to during the 2013 calendar year. Some of these new partners being: Discovery Museum Science and Space Center of Sacramento, Aerospace Museum of California, California Food Literacy Center, OC STEM, and the California After School Resource Center. Then there are also the Expanded Learning Programs in Region 3 that have been kind enough to share their STEM stories and activities in this blog the last six months.These community resources can help you fortify the rigor and relevance of the STEM activities in your Expanded Learning Programs. Divided we fail, together we not only succeed, but we add to the richness and quality of our STEM programs.

Before we move forward, let us take a quick look back for some meaning and inspiration in regards to all things STEM:

"Science comes from the Latin word scientia meaning knowledge." Oxford Dictionary

"Science is having fun with ideas." Albert Einstein

"We as educators have a duty to encourage our students not necessarily to become scientist, but to  become citizens who have a responsible role in dealing with science." Carl Sagan: "Science is a Way of Thinking" NPR Science Friday May 1996

"Science is a dynamic, collaborative and creative human endeavor arising from our desire to make sense of our world through exploring the unknown, investigating universal mysteries, making predictions and solving problems" - ACARA 2011

Now let's take a look at the STEM-tastic activities that took place during December 2013:

Name of Out-of-School-Time Provider: Sacramento Chinese Community 
Service Center

Name of School District: Sacramento City Unified School District

Name of School Site: Caroline Wenzel

Grade Level of Activities: K-6th grade

Number of Students who took part in the STEM activities: 75

Type of STEM Activities: Josh Yang (the site coordinator and his staff) created a STEM Showcase with STEM Centers based on RAFT Idea Sheets that the children would roughly have 10-15 minutes at each STEM table.

Type of Activities: Tangram Puzzles, Puff Rockets, Hovercraft, Catapults, Dry Ice Balloons, California Voices Video Presentation

The Learning Behind The Activity: Students were able to:

RAFT-Tangram Puzzles

  • Investigate equivalency using a tangram and compare pieces to the whole
  • Learn that a Tangram consists of seven pieces; 2 large right isosceles triangles, 1 medium right isosceles triangle, 2 small right isosceles triangles, 1 small square, and 1 parallelogram
  • Learn that each piece is called a "tan"
  • Learn that in Chinese "Tangram" means "the seven boards of cunning"
  • Learn how each tan relates to the other 6 tans
  • Learn about relationships between parts and the whole, and to equivalency in decimal, percent, and fractional forms
RAFT-Puff Rockets

  • Investigate Newton's Laws at a basic level
  • Newton's Law: Every Object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in a state of motion unless an external force is applied to it (Inertia)
  • Newton's Law: The relationship between an applied force F on an object and the object's mass m and acceleration a is F=ma
  • Newton's Law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction
  • Repeatedly use the scientific method: hypothesize, experiment, collect data, analyze, and re-test

  • Learn that a force has both direction and magnitude
  • When an object is subject to two or more forces at once, the effect is the cumulative effect of all the forces
  • Identify separately two or more forces acting on a single static object, including gravity, elastic forces due to tension or compression in matter, and friction
  • Also learn about friction, air pressure, motion, and inertia
RAFT-Cork Catapults

  • Learn that the way to change how something is moving is to give it a push or a pull
  • Learn that the size of the change is related to the strength, or the amount of force of the push or the pull
  • Learn that tools and machines are used to apply pushes and pulls (forces) to make things move
  • Learn about force
  • Learn about motion

Steve Spangler-Dry Ice Ballons

  • Learn about a process called sublimation
  • Learn about carbon dioxide
California Voices

  • Learn about how to be informed, skilled, and creative members of their community
  • Learn about how to harness the power of media to express their public voice, preserve the community's legacy and create positive social change
  • Learn how to use video recording devices, sound equipment, edit video footage, add pictures, add music and create a five minute documentary of an issue of their choice
Here are some pictures of the activity centers and a truncated clip of their video that the students shared at the STEM Showcase:

Tangram Boat

Tangram Turtle

Students preparing their Puff Rockets.

Students testing their Puff Rockets.
A student getting ready to apply force to this Cork Catapult.

An after school practitioner talking to students about dry ice.

CO2 being released from the dry ice.

Students learning about carbon dioxide.

The students learning about how carbon dioxide inflated the balloon.

Any questions that you may have about how this STEM Showcase please contact
Josh Yang at

STEM Articles

a) Computing and Engineering in After School

b) Partnerships with STEM-Rich Institutions

c) Defining Youth Outcomes for STEM Learning in After School

d) STEM Entrepreneur: Government and Corporations Should Work Together to Help Schools

STEM Activities/Websites:

a) River of Words (River of Words® (ROW) is a program of The Center for Environmental Literacy committed to teaching the art and poetry of place to young people)

b) Weather Wiz Kids Welcome to Weather Wiz Kids®. Meteorologist Crystal Wicker designed this website especially for kids to allow them to learn more about the fascinating world of weather.

c) Artist Helping Children A website dedicated to helping parents and educators find simple art and craft projects to do with kids – including instructions at the link below for building simple boats to use with the K – 2 adaptation of ‘Rainy-Day Hike’ (Project WET, p: 169) or to provide more structure for the engineering portion of ‘Water Crossings’ (Project WET, p: 487) Find out how to make your own boats, rafts, canoes and ships at:

d) Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms The Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms explains over 7,000 idioms current in American, British and Australian English, helping learners to understand them and use them with confidence. The Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms, based on the 200 million words of American English, unlocks the meaning of more than 5,000 idiomatic phrases used in contemporary American English. Full-sentence examples show how idioms are really used.  The link is to a list of water idioms that can be used to extend or expand the activity ‘Raining Cats & Dogs’ (Project WET, p: 521).

e) Sacramento STEM Fair

STEM Professional Development Opportunities:

a) Forestry Institute 2014 These one-week institutes bring together natural resource specialists and K-12 teachers for one week, working side by side to gain a deeper understanding of the intricate interrelationship of forest ecosystems and human use of natural resources. You'll walk away with a wealth of knowledge and environmental education curriculum- including Project Learning Tree, Project WILD and Project Aquatic WILD! This FREE training includes all housing, meal and materials you will receive throughout the week (Free)

b) Green Ambassadors In this course we’ll use a multi-disciplinary approach to explore creative, hands-on projects to rethink the way we look at waste. You’ll leave with ideas for practical (and cheap) sustainable projects to implement on campus and in the community, as well as curriculum resources for exploring a variety of environmental issues, including waste, water and food. ($150.00)

c) California After School Resource Center - Online STEM Trainings (Free)

STEM/Misc./Events/ Grants/ Contest:

a) Student Cam Message to Congress 2014 (Deadline: January 20, 2014)

b) End Childhood Hunger Youth Grants (Deadline: January 31, 2014)

c) VH1 Save the Music Grant (Deadline: Rolling)

d) Share our Strength Grant (Deadline: Rolling)

e) P.E. Equipment (New Applications Accepted February 1, 2014)

f) Teen Safe Driving Grants (Deadline: Rolling)

g) Lowes Toolbox Fund (Deadline: February 14, 2014 or when
                                       1500 applications are received)

h) Fender Music Program Grants (Deadline: Rolling)

i) Placer County STEM Expo (March 1, 2014)

j) California Coastal Art and Poetry Contest (Deadline: January 31, 2014)

k) Caring for Our Watersheds Writing Contest (Deadline: January 31, 2014)

l) NEA Student Achievement Grants (Deadline: February 1, 2014) 

m) Captain Planet Foundation Grants (Deadline: January 31, 2014)

n) Clean Tech Competition (Deadline: February 7, 2014) 

o) The Young Naturalist Award (Deadline: March 1, 2014) 

p) Siemens "We Can Change the World" Challenge (Deadline: March 4, 2014)

q)  White House Student Film Festival Contest (Deadline: January 29, 2014)

You and your students are invited to participate in SMUD’s 11th annual Solar Car Contest, sponsored by SMUD and held in conjunction with The Art and Tech Festival at American River College onFriday May 2nd, 2014.   SMUD hosts the race to promote engineering, physics, environmental stewardship, and renewable energy.

The Solar Car Race is a free event pitting teams of high school students against each other to build and race solar cars.  SMUD provides the basic components for the cars, and student use their ingenuity and creativity to make the fastest, most durable vehicle they can.  The event is held in tandem with the American River College Art and Tech Festival, and when students are not racing they are invited to sit on classes and workshops to learn about advanced degrees and careers.

Teachers may bring up to 15 students.  To register, please respond to this email with the number of students who will participate.  The deadline to register for the race is February 28.  Only high schools in SMUD’s service territory may participate.  Once registered, we will send you your solar car kits along with more information. 

We hope you can join us!


Jacobe Caditz
Project Manager
Energy & Technology Center
Sacramento Municipal Utility District
6301 S Street, Mailstop A226, Sacramento, CA 95817
w.916.732.5066 |

Thanks again for all that you do in the field. Please keep us posted about STEM events/activities in your area. Please feel free to contact us at any time.

Monica Gonzalez-William (SCOE: Region 3: After School Regional Lead)

Phil Romig: (SCOE: Science Curriculum Specialist) @

Mark Drewes: (SCOE: Project Specialist II: After School) @

No comments:

Post a Comment