Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Welcome back to school!

Welcome back to UTES for 2016-2017!

While I will admit to loving summer as much as everyone else, it is so fulfilling to see all these sweet faces again for another school year!  I feel so lucky to get the opportunity to teach these kids every year and watch them grow during their time at UTES.  They change so much from year to year and I love being there for each part of it.  If you are curious as to what will be going on in STEAM class this year, please look at my annual plans here.  These plans may shift around a little bit, but that is the basic road map of the year for each grade.

Please let me know if you are interested in volunteering in my classroom.  Also, let me know if you have a special skill that might fit in my class and you would like to share that with the students.  I love to bring in guest speakers and special projects.  If you have any knowledge of Robotics using the Lego systems or if you know of someone who does, please let me know because we could use extra hands for that unit.

Thank you for sharing your children with us at UTES!  Hook 'em Little Longhorns!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Summer fun ideas

In my class there are projects that are specific to each grade level.  Lots of time the students express to me that they wish they could just go ahead and do that project when they see it around the classroom.  I want to share with you some of the projects that most kids could do with a family member helping over the summer.  We will still be doing these projects in STEAM class, but if your child would like to do some of them at home with you I want them to do just that!  :)  These are also just fun activities for the "I'm bored" discussion that sometimes happens in the summertime.  I have also included a list of apps you might like to have at home.  Some are free and some are a small fee.

These cool robots are made out of:
plastic cup
4 markers
a motor
a AA battery
a glue stick
lots of tape

You can buy the motor here:
Here is an instructional video for how to put it all together  This one is a little different than ours, but close enough to work.

Circuit cards
This is made with:
copper tape
LED lights
round flat battery
other decorative items

You can buy the copper tape here and the batteries here and the LED lights here
When placing the tape, make sure not to tear or break it.  Corners can be tricky, but just fold it over on itself to keep the circuit going.  The LED and the battery both have a positive and negative side.  They have to be turned the same way for the circuit to stay complete.  If your light isn't coming on, try flipping the battery first to see if that fixes it.  Usually that's the issue.  Here's an example of one type.  The ones we make in class are a little different.

Keyboard Art
You can use an old keyboard that is no longer working for this project.  We took donations from people who were trying to get rid of old, non-working keyboards.  Ask around and I bet you will find several people trying to figure out what to do with an old keyboard.  Use tech tools to unscrew the keyboard.  This is really small screwdrivers and small versions of other tools.  Once you have gotten the keyboard open start popping out all the parts.  The large plastic see through pages can make a wallet and the keys can make bracelets or necklaces.  Here are two detailed plans. Bracelets and wallets  This requires quite a bit of adult help.

App Ideas
Many times I get asked what apps I recommend for kids to use at home.  I have all of the apps that we use in my class listed on my school website, but here are a few notable ones.
Scribblenauts - this fun game uses creativity to challenge kids and help them tell a story.  There are too many battle scenes for us to use this at school, but you can use your judgement at home about that aspect.
Toontastic - this app lets you create a cartoon or animated story by actually recording your voice.  It walks users through the parts of a story and lets them pick background and character.  In the end they have a final animated "movie" that can be uploaded to YouTube to share.
Crayon Physics - with this app you draw things to help an object move across challenges.  Kids learn physics without even realizing that they are doing challenging science!
Cat Physics - this app has you try to move a ball from one cat to another by changing the course.  They likely won't get it right the first time and will be challenged to change just one small thing at a time until they come up with the best course.
TinkerBox - this is another physics style game that allows kids to build their own course of bouncing balls.
VideoStar - this fun creative app lets kids make their own short music video with cool effects.
Kodable - this app walks kids through logic puzzles that are actually pre-coding exercises.
Tynker - this is another coding app that teaches even the youngest kids basic coding skills.
iStopMotion - this is a stop motion animation app that lets them create their very own stop motion animation project.  I love how easy this one is to use and learn just by messing around with it.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Digital Yearbooks

Second through 5th grade made Digital Yearbooks.  We wanted to document their year!  They used BookCreator on the iPads for this activity.  They made a cover page and an end page.  The middle was full of interviews.  They had to interview at least 5 other students.  Their interview could be video, audio with picture, or text with picture.  Everyone had to agree to be interviewed, but we learned etiquette around that.  The interviewee was able to have final approval over video, audio, and/or image of him or her self.  The interviewer had to make sure of this before moving on.  The students were also tasked with being respectful with emojis and drawings around any photos.  We reminded each other that it is important to show the same respect in person as we show online.  This fits nicely into the digital citizenship unit they will all do in 5th grade.  Most of these projects have been uploaded to my YouTube channel which you can access here: YouTube

5th grade keyboard art!

We took the reverse engineering skills we learned from AWIT (Advocating for Women in Technology) and used those skills to take apart some old keyboards and other things that were broken and destined for a landfill.  We turned trash into art and learned how keyboards work in the process!  The 5th graders are used to using tools now so they were naturals at taking apart this technology.  We collected all the parts together and made creative things with them.  They made wallets, bracelets, necklaces, signs, or just artistic pieces.  You should see these coming home in the next few days and a few will be displayed in the lobby of the office.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

3rd grade aerospace

3rd grade completed their Aerospace Engineering unit and celebrated by letting their parachutes fly (or more accurately, drop!)!   We studied drag and tested the best canopy material, canopy size, and suspension line length to get the most drag.  After a lot of testing between the two classes, the students used that knowledge to build their own.  They were so creative!  It was fun to test and enjoy the drag they were able to witness.  Here are some photos of the process:

2nd grade Agricultural Engineering

Second grade has been working hard on their Agricultural Engineering unit.  They studied issues that happen when a new plant is introduced into an environment.  They learned about the pollination process and what can happen when there are no insects to pollinate a plant.  They they looked at several materials and tested each one to see which is best to pick up and drop off pollen.  They each picked a different type of flower to use to design their specific hand pollinator.  Each type of flower had different challenges based on how they are shaped.  Their hand pollinator had to work around those challenges.  Not everyone's first design worked so we had to try new things before everyone was successful.  They did such a good job encouraging each other when it got a little frustrating.  I was really proud of how well they showed empathy and concern.  Here are some of the photos of the process.