Science, Education, and Science Education

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Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

September 14th, 2015 by Luann

All Means All Part 3: Graphing our Learning Styles

This is the third in a series of blog posts summarizing my reflections on what it means to provide learning opportunities for every student, every day. Find the series here, at  #AllMeansAll 

Disclaimer: I’ve read a good deal of literature and opinion around the validity of learning styles. Nonetheless, at the encouragement of a colleague (this colleague) during some collaborative course design work, I pulled out the learning styles inventory* again this year, in Physical Science classes. The intent was to use the data gathered to introduce graphing, and that was a win.  The colleague suggested we share with students WHY we are interested in their learning styles. We are interested so that we can be sure to make learning available to all students in the modality each student best learns. We discussed this in both classes. The real win, though, was what I learned about my students, and what they learned about themselves.

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September 12th, 2015 by Luann

All Means ALL, Part 2: Engineering Design

This is the second in a series of blog posts summarizing my reflections on what it means to provide learning opportunities for every student, every day. Find the series here, at  #AllMeansAll 

Created during Champions of STEM work with BSCS, who probably own the copyright. If asked, I will remove the image.

On the first day in Physical Science, we got into teams and built paper towers as an engineering design challenge. Our process followed the outlined by a group of district STEM teachers working together last school year.

The challenge was simple: Build the tallest tower you can with 4 sheets of 8.5 x 11: paper.

First, a little history on this class:

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March 31st, 2015 by Luann

A Perspective on STEM in the US and Interesting Implications

Today, I read this article from the Washington Post. The author’s opinions of STEM are interesting. The connection to STEM as I know it is pretty broad. Some claims are backed up with evidence, some simply reinforce his stance on a liberal education for all.

The author made some great points. I read with interest.  The twelfth paragraph really jumped out at me.

“No matter how strong your math and science skills are, you still need to know how to learn, think and even write. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon (and the owner of this newspaper), insists that his senior executives write memos, often as long as six printed pages, and begins senior-management meetings with a period of quiet time, sometimes as long as 30 minutes, while everyone reads the “narratives” to themselves and makes notes on them. In an interview with Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky, Bezos said: “Full sentences are harder to write. They have verbs. The paragraphs have topic sentences. There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking.”

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September 23rd, 2014 by Luann

Lab Clean-up

This is the year I organize the lab.

Teaching kids to work efficiently and keep their work area neat is pretty intuitive. Washing glassware, however, is not. I’ve outfitted every station with a small plastic bin that contains a sponge, a towel, and a spray bottle of table cleaner provided by the custodial staff. There’s nothing to clean glassware. So, I added a medium-sized test tube brush to the can in each cupboard, and placed a salt shaker (2/$1 at The Dollar Store) filled with Alconox in each bin:



Alconox is my glassware-cleaning detergent of choice, when a cleaner is needed. Students usually wash their own glassware at their lab benches. They will dump a handful of Alconox in one beaker when only a sprinkle is needed. The shakers are about 12 cm tall, plastic, easy to refill, and yes, they are color-coded to match the table color scheme.

Update, November 24: Working quite well.

June 24th, 2014 by Luann

Skillz for the Future


Framework for 21st Century Learning, Charles Fadel, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

We are asked to teach 21st Century Skills – Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication and Citizenship, to name a few. The last two schools in which I’ve worked have advisory classes. The point is career education and the relationship-building that increases chances for student success. We do prescribed career activities. We do grade checks and students reflect on their progress. I’ve been through many iterations of advisory during my tenure in 2 schools in 2 states over the past 10 years; and we are not yet sure what shape  I’ll be getting a brand-new batch of grade 9 lambs this year, and I intend to help them become as successful as possible.

To support these skills, and  state/district/building career-related activities and relationship-building activities, I’d like to suggest we consider the following possibilities for valuable use of advisory time:

Digital Literacy, Part 1

I see two components to Digital literacy. The first, easy component is establishing some accounts and learning to use current tools. At our school and in my classroom, as a minimum, these would currently be

  • Google apps including Blogger,
  • Prezi, and
  • Evernote
  • Disqus


My building has dabbled in Project-Based Learning. A part of our work, an authentic audience is important. It’s amazing how the quality of students’ work becomes a big deal to them when they know it will be seen by others.

As digital portfolios become important, students could maintain their portfolios easily in Google sites, and later transfer them to a personally owned account. The advantage to Evernote is its portability and flexibility with media. Evernote could be used for quickly storing info from recordings, links, photos and clipped images such as those students take of their lab work and whiteboarding adventures (see Plagiarism, below) and drafts of projects and work. Many teachers ask students to use Prezi, and class/project time is used just setting up an account and learning the app. Prezi could also be a platform for the digital portfolio. Many classes, particularly art, also use Blogger for photoblogs.

Digital Literacy, Part 2

Safety and etiquette.  That is all. No student may publish anything in my class to a public account with his/her name on it without parent permission, signed, and in my file.

Plagiarism: It’s not just for English class anymore.

Students must learn to vet every source they use for licensing. Creative Commons wasn’t around when most of us were in college, so we first need to learn the ropes.  Wikimedia Commons is a great starting place for images. Google Search now offers the capability to find usage rights (in search, select images > search tools > usage rights and then follow the rights granted for your intended use.)

Financial literacy:

As 9th graders, perhaps a look at the cost of a cell phone contract, fast food, and driving a car, including a look at the good driver discount they get on auto insurance for keeping a B average. By 10th grade, looking at how to budget money from a part-time job, including savings, and the cost of college. By 11th grade, a look at taxes and more college costs. As seniors, they need to be looking at their actual expenses vs income after graduation. And then, there’s my personal beef that we’re teaching kids there’s actually such a thing as “good debt.”  Hello.

There are others, of course.  What are yours?


March 22nd, 2014 by Luann




I’ve been pretty amused by the mania to turn our science and math curricula into “STEM.”

My path to the science classroom was unconventional. I took my Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from The Ohio State University straight to a chemistry lab. I used atomic absorption spectroscopy, gas chromatography, and Kjeldahl digestions to analyze everything from the protein content in alfalfa to pesticide residues in soil. I had to be creative. I had to invent things. I had to mess things up, to do things that didn’t work, and then I had to make them work. Then, I ran the quality control department in a food production facility (human, this time.) If someone had gotten sick or died from consuming our product, I would have been responsible. I got pretty good at creative troubleshooting. I left that job when our first son was born. A bit bored, I joined up with 3 other scientists and a salesman to start a company. We collected soil and crop samples from dairy and hog farmers, analyzed the samples for nutrients, and then manufactured custom fertilizer for the soils and nutritional supplements for the animals based on the feeds they grew. I remained a partner until our last child was ready for preschool. I was at work until about 4 hours before his birth. I returned to work with baby in tow when he was 5 days old. But I digress. And, by the way, was any of this STEM?

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March 1st, 2014 by Luann

Instead of an instructional coach…

Here’s what I’d like to have instead of an instructional coach:


Instead of a coach…. an assistant*.

Yup.  That’s right.

I want an assistant. Not actually an assistant for demos and teaching, although that could work. I want more of a, well,  lab manager.

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December 12th, 2013 by Luann

Candy 2013: A First Adventure into PBL

For years, my chemistry classes have made candy right before winter break. In years past, we spent a day investigating solutions, then I handed out a recipe and we made the candy. This year, with the blessings of  grant from NBPTS to investigate project based learning, I began to learn how to integrate content into a project. I’m working on using more true PBL instead of simply asking students to do projects. In addition to the integration of academic content into making candy, students blogged about their learning and their work. Some students worked in Evernote and when they finished, posted their work using is now a paid app, and the features available for free may change before we use it again. Commenting must be done through Disqus, yet another sign-up and sign-in, so most students opted not to use it. I’m not going to lie – getting kids set up on Blogger through their school Google apps accounts was a challenge, and I’m on the hunt for something better. Next year, I will consider WordPress unless I find something better in the meantime.

Sophia C.
Shawna D.
Marcus D.
Hap F.
Makayla G.
Robert H.
Kearsten H.
Isabel K.
Tallan K.
Victor L.
Alex P-C.
Charlette Q.
Annika R.
Devin R.
Joscelynne S.
Emily T.
Sierra Y.
Ryanne B.
Jacob B.
Bronwyn B.
Donovan B.
Grace B.
Calliope B.
Dylan C.
Micheal E.
Klarissa E.
Marcus G
Alexis G.
Luke H.
Cuyler H.
Morgan J.
Jade L.
Kyle L.
Jason M.
Andrew M.
Ivette M.
Camile R.
Alisha S.
Jessica S.
Benjamin U.
Matthew W.
Maria E.
Devon E.
Lindsay G.
Gage H.
Sandra V-J.
Robert M.
Sasha P.
Shane R.
Martha G.
Luis S.
Makenna S.
Chantel S.
Esmerelda T-C.
Madison Z.
Jessica M.
Haley W.
Brad A.
Kayla B.
Skyler C.
Rachel C.
McKenna C.
Kylee D.
Ashyton F.
Colin G.
Jessica J.
Taylor L.
Rosa N.
Tori W.
Tyler P.
Jose P.
Chase P.
Deanna R.
Eduardo R.
Owen S.
Paige S.
Colin S.
Kylie T.
Keeghan V.
Joseph Watson!!!
Eugene W.
June 23rd, 2013 by Luann

The Paper Mill Project 2013

This post might well be titled “Adventures in Project-Based Learning.”

Students Working with Sludge


You have to start somewhere.

It was an experience in jumping in feet first, and fortunately, also an experience in collaborative problem-solving. Based on the student excitement level, the student-initiated collaboration, and the chemistry-rich discussions involved, it was also a very successful experience.

I’ve learned that students find a final project more relevant than just a final exam. I’ve used either or both together as a final assessment.  One favorite in the past has been the scavenger hunt. Most of my Chemistry kiddos had done the biology version last year, so I wanted to provide them with a different experience in Chemistry.

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June 18th, 2013 by Luann

Creativity and Science, Part 4

It’s been almost 2 years since we attended Learning and the Brain.

The first 3 posts are linked below.  I’ve had a while to implement some new ideas and process this topic. Anecdotal evidence from my own classroom began to show me that creativity in the secondary science classroom is different; in science, one must know something in order to create something new. I began to pay more attention to the push for creativity on social media. Here’s what I’m learning.

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