Wednesday, February 17, 2016

STEM-azing Facts About Jerry Lawson

Jerry Lawson and the gaming console that he invented. 

Gerald Anderson "Jerry"  Lawson (December 1, 1940 - April 9, 2011) was an African American electronic engineer known for his work in designing the Fairchild Channel F video game console.

The late Gerald Anderson was only one of two African Americans (the other being Ron Jones) to be a part of the exclusive Homebrew Computer Club in Silicon Valley. Other notables in the group were Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. The club began in 1975, when hobbyist, most with an electronic engineering or computer programming background, met to talk about the Altair 8800 and to exchange  schematics and programming tips.

Here are three facts about the Brooklyn born, self-taught electronic engineer that you might not know either:

1) Lawson was a self-taught engineerWhile growing up in the projects of Queens in New 
    York City, Lawson got a start on his lifelong tinkering. His love for all things electronic and 
    gadget-y compelled him toward the engineer side of things. As a youth, he operated his own 
    ham radio and as a teenager he made money by repairing his neighbors' television sets.

2) Lawson founded and ran his own companyVideosoft, a video game development 
    company, was created by Lawson, who used it to produce cartridges for the Atari 2600. 
    When the 2600 came out, it effectively made the Channel F obsolete. Unfortunately, the 
    company only released one, which was a technician's tool called Color Bar Generator.

3) Lawson produced one of the industry's earliest arcade gamesDebuting in a southern 
    California pizzeria only a few months after Allan Alcorn's PongLawson's Demolition 
    Derby marked one of the earliest arcade games in the industry. Lawson would go on to 
    work with the Stanford University mentor program in an attempt to write a book on his 

For more facts on this great self-taught engineer please read Kevin L. Clark's Tech Times article on the life and times of Gerald Anderson "Jerry" Lawson. 

Now lets take a closer look at and see how the students in expanded learning program 
have been engaged in STEM activities during the month of January.

Name of Expanded Learning Program Provider: Target Excellence

Name of District(s): Elk Grove Unified School District and Sacramento City Unified  School District

Name of School Site: Roy Herburger Elementary (EGUSD)
Sierra Enterprise Elementary (EGUSD), Ethel I. Baker (SCUSD)

Grade Level of Activity: 5th and 6th

Number of Students Who Took Part in The Activity: 20 per site

Type of Activities: Human Circuit - Conductors and Insulators

Catalytic Decomposition of Hydrogen Peroxide by Potassium Iodide,
Resonance: Tibetan Singing Bowls, Dancing Water, and Thunder Tubes,
Engineering Adventures

Learning Objectives of each Activity:

Human Circuit - Conductors and Insulators:

  • Understand that electricity is nothing more than free electrons moving from atom to atom through a material
  • Understand that the flow is called a current that goes in one direction at a time, and can be given a very strong charge or a very weak charge
  • Differentiate between conductors and insulators
  • Understand that transistors are electronic switches
Target Excellence learning about circuits while creating a human circuit.
Catalytic Decomposition of Hydrogen Peroxide by Potassium Iodide:
  • Understand the hazards and take the necessary precautions (e.g. wearing gloves and goggles)
  • Understand that the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide in the presence of iodide ion occurs in two steps: 1) H2O2 (aq) + I- (aq) = H2O (1) + OI- (aq) 2) H2O2 (aq) + OI- (aq) = H2O (1) + O2 (g) + I- (aq)
  • Differentiate between an exothermic and endothermic reaction
  • Understand that hydrogen peroxide molecules are very unstable and naturally decompose into water and oxygen gas
  • Understand that potassium iodide operated as a catalyst 
Target Excellence students learning about Catalytic Decomposition.

Resonance: Tibetan Singing Bowls, Dancing Water, and Thunder Tubes:
  • Understand that when an object vibrates at the natural frequency of another object resonance occurs
  • Identify Chladni (interference) patterns
  • Understand that every object has a natural frequency that vibrates when it is disturbed 
  • Understand that standing waves are produced by t he addition of two identical waves traveling simultaneously in opposite directions
  • Identify that hollow cavities are produced by the addition of two identical waves traveling simultaneously in opposite directions
  • Apply their knowledge to solve engineering problems relating to resonance
Engineering Adventures:
  • Learn that they can use the Engineering Design Process to solve problems
  • Learn that engineers design technologies that solve problems
  • Learn that they have talent and potential for designing and improving technologies
  • Be engaged in open ended challenges that are directly tied to NGSS standards
  • Learn to work in collaborative groups
Target Excellence students showing off their marshmallow tower.

A Target Excellence student writes in their Engineering Journal.

For more information on the above STEM activities please contact Jenna Boyd at

STEM / Expanded Learning and Other Pertinent Educational Articles: 

1) Save After School (Website on how individuals and organizations can work
    to sustain and increase the ASES program in California)

2) Why Talking about the Brain Can Empower Learners (KQED December 2014)

3) Promoting Literacy and Empathy in the Artroom 
    (Kimberly Campisano, January 26, 2016; KQED)

4) Stanford Study: "Culturally Relevant" Teaching Boosts GPA, Attendance for At-Risk Youth 
   (David Love, January 26, 2016; Atlanta Backstar)

5) What Core Skills Do Teachers Need to Be Effective? 
    (Emily Hanford, October 20, 2015; American Radioworks)

6) How a Lincoln High teacher gets all of his students to pass the AP Calculus exam
    (Steve Lopez, February 3, 2016; LA Times)

7) Know Thyself: Developing Your Inner Leader (National Afterschool Association)

8) SEL Skills and Employability (National Afterschool Association)

9) Finding the Math in Storybooks for Young Children 
    (Herbert P. Ginsburg, February 2, 2016, KQED)

10) Top 10 Time Tips for Trainers (Laura Stack, Training Magazine)

11) Major Push by White House to Increase Computer Science Skills 
      (Lauren Camera, January 30, 2016; US News)

12) California Case Studies Promote Summer Learning Over Summer School
      (Marva Hinton, February 8, 2016; Education Week) 

13) The Math Revolution (The Atlantic March 2016)

14) How to Get Your Kids Interested in STEM (Without Forcing It on Them)
      (Melanie Pinola, January 6, 2016; Lifehacker)

15) The Key to Boosting English Learners' Language Skills? Challenging Content
      (Katrina Schwartz, July 10, 2015; KQED) 

16) What Kids Need From Grown-Ups (But Aren't Getting)
       (Corey Turner, February 9, 2016; NPR) 

STEM (and other interdisciplinary core content) Activities / Videos / Websites:

1) USGS Science Resources for Primary Grades (K-6)

2) Teacher Uses Legos To Explain Math To School Children
    (Architecture and Design, December 2015)

3) 5 of our favorite Ted-Ed Lessons written by #WomenInSTEM
    (Laura McClure, February 11, 2016; Ted-Ed Blog)

4) Lesson Plan: Teaching With Protest Music
    ( Michael Gonchar and Katherine Schulten, February 4, 2016; NY Times Blog)

5) Flocabulary - Educational Hip Hop (A Few Free Resources)

6) A Big Ideas video series on Growth Mindset (ClassDojo: 5 free videos for kids)

7) How Limited Internet Access Can Subtract From Kids' Education
    ( Alina Selyukh February 8, 2016, NPR Podcast)

8) Open Ed NGSS Resources (Open Ed)

9) The Science of Getting Kids Organized
    (Karen Brown, February 2, 2016; NPR Podcast)

10) Youcubed (Stanford University Math Website with Resources for 
      Students and Parents)

11) New Resources on Social and Emotional Learning (AIR)

12) Stretchy Universe Slime (NASA Activity)

13) Sun Paper (NASA Activity)

14) Comet on a Stick (NASA Activity)

15) Make a stained glass Earth (NASA Activity)

STEM / Educational Grants:

1) National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)Enhancing Student 
    Mathematics Learning Through the Use of Tools and Technology  
    ($3,000 grants are available)
    (Deadline: May 6, 2016)

2) Math Moves U: Math Hero Award (Math hero receives a $2,500 grant and school 
    receives a matching award) (Deadline: Applications open Spring of 2016)

3) Youth Service America (Grant Database) (Currently no grants available at 
    this time, but a great site to add to your "History" bar. )

4) Best Satellite Providers: Technology Grants for Educators 
    17 Resources for Future Proof Kids
    (Deadline: Varies by Grant Opportunity)

    (This webpage has been updated since January and offers new grants)

STEM / Misc. Professional Development / Contest / Events:

1) Enter the Cypher: Hip Hop Education Series - A three session workshop
    series focused around the best practices to empower Expanded Learning 
    Practitioners to use Hip Hop as an engaging and exciting tool within their 
    program. Presented by the Low End Theory Collaborative
    (Dates: February 17, March 15, and April 12) 
    (Fee: $22.00 per session)

    (Free) (February 24, 2016)

    (Free) (March 23, 2016)

    ($150 per participant) (April 22, 2016)

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-Williams (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