STEAM Learning Activity 1

Image result for leonardo da vinci everything connects

When my master’s degree changed from STEM to STEAM, I was kind of upset. (Science, Technology, Engineering, [Arts], Mathematics) Personally, STEAM is just another way to say “Hey, let’s connect LITERALLY ALL OF THE DISCIPLINES TOGETHER” Well duh. The more connections our kids can make, the better. What I have learned from this is that the ‘A’ in STEAM represents both the fine arts and liberal arts. I was upset because we still can’t succeed at STEM (I mean hell, I still need to tell people I’m not interested in STEM CELLS…… -.-), and now we want to include everything under the sun. Maybe this way will work better…

Notice how I said “was” – meaning that I may be coming around. I still have my objections, but as I continue to learn more about this STEAM stuff, the more I realize that I’ve been doing this the entire time. I’ve always been an advocate for connecting all the disciplines because not every student sees their math or science potential, thinking they can’t do it because they prefer English. It helps to make learning fun, engaging, and relevant. If we can see it in the real world, we have a better chance of remembering it. I’ve got research to back that up, if you want it. 🙂 I’ve always been an advocate for students to perfect their writing in math and science classes. They need to know how to write a mathematical or scientific paper, as well as actually know how to write. So, I’ve been doing these things for a while. Though, through my program I’m now forced to create things and apply research. Which is good; saves me time in my busy life.

This brings me to my next point. Right now I am redesigning my Algebra 2 curriculum to have a STEAM focus. This week we needed to share resources we use, and then take one of those and find a learning activity to do with our kids. Well, I found one I really liked and truly needed to share it with more than just my classmates.

Note: It’s written for an academic discussion, not a blog post. 

xo, LZE

 

Investigating Epidemics

NRICH. (n.d.) Investigating epidemics. University of Cambridge. Retrieved from http://nrich.maths.org/8336

 

Through exploring Youcubed.com, several of their lessons referenced a website named NRICH. NRICH offers a variety of lessons from the elementary level to the secondary level. While they are focused on “enriching mathematics,” NRICH also includes a variety of scientific concepts (NRICH, n.d.). With this, an Investigating Epidemics lesson was discovered, and can be used in a STEAM enhanced Algebra 2 curriculum. The purpose of this lesson is to educate students on how epidemics occur, which can be modeled by an exponential function. This lesson also offers three possible executions where it seems that each suggestion increases in difficulty, as well as the ability to make your own activity; thus, there is room to grow when using this in the classroom.

The Investigating Epidemics lesson begins with an activity called “Standing Disease.” This activity consists of all students sitting down except for the first person who claims to be infected with the disease. The infected person then chooses two people to infect, where they stand up, and then each infect another two people. This process continues until everyone is standing in the classroom. Through this activity, it provides an opportunity for students to get out of their seats, but it also provides a visual on how a disease – or exponential function – travels so quickly. This type of activity helps to connect mathematics and science, establish relevance as well as gives students an opportunity to be active in a “math” classroom – which are necessary when attempting to successfully practice a STEAM curriculum (Vasquez, Sneider, & Comer, 2013). Students will be able to connect a graphical representation of an exponential function or disease to how quickly their classmates stood up. To further this activity and represent different functions or diseases, the method in which people can be infected and their rates can be altered. Through these differences students can then work on achieving the Next Generation Science Standards – specifically, students will be refining their skills in “analyzing and interpreting data,” developing and using models,” “obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information,” as well as “engaging in argument from evidence” (Next Generation Science Standards, 2013).

Outside of the “Standing Disease” activity, NRICH also offers an activity called “Network Disease,” where students do a similar motion, but they write down two names on a piece of paper, and call those people out. This activity models the predictability and probability of being infected by the disease. Students can see their classmates’ participation in this activity as a visual representation, however, NRICH suggests to make a network diagram to help students develop a pattern. NRICH also offers questions to consider when engaging in this lesson; these questions challenge students to think of alternative patterns, and even bring in the possibility of vaccinations and how that would affect the situation. Just like the “Standing Disease” this activity connects math and science, as well as applies the concepts to the real world.

These two activities were chosen for their content and relevance to a STEAM enhanced Algebra 2 curriculum. However, they were also chosen for their growth potential in collaboration with other educators. Exponential growth, infectious diseases, and even medicine are all (at least) discussed in mathematics, history, English, and science at some point in the curriculum and to varying degrees. These two activities have the potential to help a high school apply any of the three approaches (multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary) to STEM/STEAM integration suggested by Vasquez et al to their current curricula. Not only will this promote and enhance the integration process, but by including other disciplines, these activities will continue to follow the best practices provided by Vasquez et al as well as the Next Generation Science Standards, and help the students continue to further their learning.

 

 

Possible activities educators can do to integrate STEAM:

Math: Exponential functions; use “Standing Disease” and “Network Disease;” model infamous epidemics (learned in history) mathematically.

Science: Discuss infectious diseases, their effects, possible medications and the pros/cons of vaccinations.

History: Discuss/research infectious diseases and the human impact in the past; perhaps discuss the implications of medicine back then, and the differences in technologies between then and now.

English: Research and write an essay about differences; Locate texts discussing epidemics (e.g. Fever 1793) and relate it to content discussed in Science and History.

Art: Perhaps observe art created in times during infamous epidemics, or art pertaining to diseases; discuss human impact and attempt to piece together a story based on the information learned in other classes.

Technology: Students can play the game “Plague” (app on phone) and model different situations by starting with different materials, and beginning in different countries based on criteria they have learning in other classes as well as personal curiosity.

 

 

References

Next Generation Science Standards. (2013). Appendix F – Science and engineering practices in NGSS. Retrieved from http://www.nextgenscience.org/sites/default/files/Appendix%20F%20%20Science%20and%20Engineering%20Practices%20in%20the%20NGSS%20-%20FINAL%20060513.pdf

 

NRICH. (n.d.) Investigating epidemics. University of Cambridge. Retrieved from http://nrich.maths.org/8336

 

Vasquez, J. A., Sneider, C., & Comer, M. (2013). STEM lesson essentials, grades 3-8: Integrating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

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Pi Day & Racing: What Could Have Been An EPIC Fail…

 18 Ridiculously Geeky Pi Jokes 

HAPPY PI DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Perfect poster for a math classroom.I'll be happy to share my bank account info with you! My PIN is the last 4 digits of Pi. I NEED THIS SHIRTTaxonomic classification pending. | 20 Spectacularly Nerdy Math JokesHa

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let me proceed.

For those who don’t know me, Pi day is my absolute favorite holiday of all time. And this year had to be super special because well it’s the only one that I’m going to see at this moment (3.14.15) I really honestly hoped to be married today because I really am THAT much of a nerd……. Don’t judge. BUT according to the Government, I’m still considered “single”. It’ll come one day.

MOVING ON.

So, in determining how to celebrate this FREAKING AWESOME day, I decided to run my first 10k race. Why not race on my favorite holiday? I love running and racing and Pi! Plus, I haven’t run a 10k before – though, I have to admit in December I did run a 12k; so distance isn’t really the reason. I just wanted to run something other than another 5k…

Well, let me tell you. This race had to be one of my most hilariously stupid memorable races I have ever been in. I did so terribly that it’s super funny! But for real, this was horrendous:

  • First, my little puppy, Charlee, kept me up almost every other hour having to go outside. So that was nice. Love her to death, but she better break this habit once Spring Break is over…Displaying 2015-03-10 16.38.14.png
  • Second, boyfriend didn’t attend because of the weather – which I totally get. Racing on the outside is boring as fuck. I just really enjoy seeing him at the finish line – selfish, I know.. It makes me super dooper happy. Anyway, that wasn’t really an issue. I’ve gone to races alone before; I just wanted to throw it into the pot.
  • Moving on, the weather was stupid. It was cold and pouring rain. This was the very first race that I have actually run in where it was DOWNPOURING almost the entire time. It was so bad I had to wrap my phone in saran wrap…… I mean I’ve run in drizzle or a light mist, but never like “where are my rainboots?” rain.
  • Then, I was almost late to line up because of the damn port-a-potty line. Normally, I give myself plenty of time for this, however, it was an emergency. Trust me, now being a pro at port-a-potties while wearing a tutu, I give myself plentyyyy of time to handle that shit.
  • Since I was almost late to line up, I was pretty much at the end of the 10k line. Okay fine, I didn’t think anything of it until I began running. I was pretty much left in the dust. Now I know why I start in the middle front….
  • The road was fine except for the ungodly amount of hills with sopping wet pine needles – it’s slippery as fuckkkkk. However, I ran up every single one of those hills thank you very much. On a slightly different note, my county has no freaking idea how to deal with cars during race hours. This was my second race where fucking public cars were on the route! GET THEM OUT! It’s dangerous – especially when the fuckers speed past you. If you need to deal with public, CHANGE THE ROUTE. Runners don’t care about running up grass hills or shit. Hell, I’d prefer that over a speeding car on the route.
  • Since I was pretty much at the end of the line to begin with, I basically ran the route by myself with two twig bitches in front of me. I would pass them – while they were walking – and then suddenly they would run about 0.25mi in front of me, then walk again. This happened the entire freaking race. Bitches.
  • I didn’t let any of that deter me. I ran the entire time and finished the race in 76 minutes. (funny story: I initially thought the clock said 80.5 minutes……then the official times were announced..damn rain) I didn’t think I did too badly. I knew I could do much much better. But considering the circumstances, I did fine. It wasn’t until I got the official times when I realized that I placed 107 out of 112 runners. hahahahahahaha what? I don’t care where I placed, but dude, I SUCKED. I can’t help but to laugh at this ranking! Man, it’s terrible for someone who runs as much as I do. ahahahahahahaha

Despite all these negative things that happened, here are the positives and what I had learned:

1. Yeah, the weather SUCKED, but the energy was great. Everyone still had awesome attitudes and eager to run the races.

2. I have no regrets in participating. I had a blast.

3. I finished the race and that’s all that matters.

4. I’ve always been aware of the “one day you’ll place first, and one day you’ll finish dead last” saying. I try to have this outlook because it keeps me staying positive. Just like the Bill Nye quote: You’ll meet someone who’s smarter than you, and one who will not be as smart as you. Well, today I pretty much lived this saying. It’s okay to finish close to last. Builds character.

5. I ran this entire race. I only slowed down at the water stations so I wouldn’t choke. I’m proud of what I did, and how far I have come. My very first 5k time was 55 minutes. To run two 5ks in 20 minutes more than that initial time is rather humbling for me. I never would have thought that I would get this far in running.

Long story short, yeah basically this race could have ruined my day. But I didn’t let it. I kept my spirits up and looked on the bright side. It’s amazing what you can do when you change your perspective.

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xo, LZE

5 Common Sense Tips When Road Running

Running on a 45mph road is tough. Cars hardly move over for you. They are almost always speeding. They just don’t seem to care about you. Being a road runner myself, I’m not one of those people. I will move over, and I will slow down. I know how rough it is, and I know that running in the grass isn’t always an option. Well, it’s also common courtesy….

However, I nearly almost hit a woman this morning driving home. Why do you ask? BECAUSE SHE WAS WEARING ALL BLACK. At least she was on the right side of the road! I get road running, but please please please don’t make it harder than it has to be. Yes, it’s cold, but goodness gracious, why do you think they make neon running clothes? For safety! Cars going 45+ are extremely not likely going to be able to see you running on the side of the road in entirely black. You blend in more – I had a hard time seeing this lady because she looked like a tree or a trashcan. Of course she was moving, but as you know, when you’re moving fast it’s hard to tell what else is moving when it’s slower than you. I don’t even need to explain this with science. It’s common sense. Why do you think construction workers, EMTs (at night), and many others wear neon vests? It’s not to look cool; It’s so they can be safe while still doing their job.

I love neon workout gear for many reasons, but my top two are because they are fun, and people can find me. Since not everyone feels this way, and I’ve seen some road running no-nos in the last few days, I decided to make a list of  “5 Common Sense Tips When Road Running.”

1. Wear bright clothing: White, Neon. You can wear black pants, but people need to be able to see you apart from the scenery. It might be also helpful to where bright running shoes.If it’s cold outside, try to find some type of neon clothing that you can include. It’s always helpful to have at least a bright neon light jacket.

neon running outfit ❤❤❤

2. Run on the side of opposing traffic. So typically it’s the left side of the road. This is for music and non-music runners. You can see cars coming and move appropriately if needed. This also allows for cars to see you. Yes, cars will see you if you run with traffic, however, you don’t know if they are exactly tailing you, driving past you, or whatever. You may also not know that they are there. If you need to run with traffic, try to run in the grass, away from the road for your own safety.

10 Ways to Improve Your Running Technique - Shape Magazine

3. Be wise with music. I am a music runner when the setting permits  If I happened to get lost, or I need to run with traffic, I will not listen to music. It allows you to be alert, and hear everything going on around you. What happens if you are running with traffic and a car just got into a wreck? You can’t hear the preliminary pieces to get out of the way; you may get hit yourself. I do listen to music when I run opposing traffic, but it is lowish and I can still hear everything around me. The only time I run with music loud is on the treadmill or racing. You need to be able to trust your surroundings.

4. Watch where you are going. You cannot be oblivious to anything. You need to be alert, attentive and able to adapt. AAA – triple A. This goes for road running and just running in general. Especially for girls. If you are running, usually you’ll have music on and wearing a ponytail. Do you know how easy it is for someone to grab the ponytail from behind and restrain you, when you couldn’t hear them?

5. I.D. For a while, I didn’t even run with my phone. No one knew who I was, or that I had even gone out for a run (except those I told).So if anything had happened to me, no one would know until it was too late and hours later. Since I have increased my distances, that has changed. Before I’d run 15 to 40 minutes, now, I’m at a minimum of an hour. I began to run with my phone, and then within one week I was tailed twice at 6am. Nothing happened because I was alert and switched my route to be more populated, but it still scared me. I now run with an ID bracelet that looks like a watch. Granted, an ID bracelet isn’t going to help if I were kidnapped.  But it can help if someone hit me, and I couldn’t call anybody. It seems cheesy and weird, but I actually like it. And for some insane reason, it makes me feel safe. You can buy different ID items at Road ID ; they are really good. 

Road ID bracelet to wear while running with emergency contact info. Great idea!

I know this won’t help everyone, and that everyone won’t follow it. But it’s just sensible to do these to help get the most out of your run. Nothing sucks worse than going on a run and never completing it because you forgot to wear neon…

xo, LZE

You Don’t Get It Until You Teach It.

The weirdest part about teaching is how everything makes sense now. It all just clicked.

What do I mean? Well, before college I hated math and believed I was never good at it. Truth was that I didn’t really understand it. My teachers always skipped steps and never fully explained their methods. I always managed to get by somehow even though I knew I didn’t get it. At this time it didn’t matter to me whether or not I understood it, I just wanted to pass the class. I didn’t think I was really ever going to need it again (even though I planned to be a scientist….weird) so I didn’t bother to stress myself out over it. Now, let’s fast forward to college where I decided to face my fears and base my future on something I knew I wasn’t the strongest in. When I say I love challenges, I mean it. This had to be the stupidest thing a normal human being would have done, but the most rewarding I have ever done. Anyway, remember when I said I didn’t think I was going to use the same mathematical concepts from high school again? Well I was wrong. Shocker.

The basic concepts I used throughout college in both math and physics all stemmed from ideas we learned in high school. Simple algebraic techniques that back then, I didn’t find to be so simple. The saddest part, is that I just realized all of this while teaching Algebra 2 and AP Calculus BC. It’s true, the saying: you don’t fully understand it until you teach it. All this time through my schooling, if I didn’t quite understand a simple algebraic concept, I just ‘did it’ based on how my professors showed me. Thank you for taking the time to help me relearn these concepts I should have already grasped and didn’t know that until now. I never actually understood why we did certain steps.
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I mean it never really hurt me. I still got really good grades. But knowing these tiny concepts, I could have gone so much further with my GPA; it would have been so much higher.

I’m not upset about my realization, but I wish there was a way to go back. Not only for me but for all the other teachers in a similar boat. I wish everyone had the opportunity to at least retake their worst high school class after graduating college, and see if they understand it better. I mean of course there are other factors such a maturity level, area of study and your willingness to learn, but what would happen if you repeated that course? Would you finally understand it?

I take this experience as a goal in my teaching. I make sure to go through the steps with the kids, especially if they are struggling. But I also want to help them understand the concepts. I don’t want them to get to college under similar circumstances of my own and suffer because they never really grasped the concepts in the first place. Surely, learning is a two way street but if I can help in the slightest bit, I’m sure it will make some kind of difference. I just can’t believe it took me until now, while teaching the material, to fully understand the beautiful world of math. Yeah, I just called math ‘beautiful’……who is this person and what have you done with Lizzi?

Technology in Education From the Eyes of a Millennial

In school I’ve studied millennials and their technology habits. I’ve researched that we are the most technological generation and all of that. Naturally I understood the limitations and realized that some industries don’t need to be as technologically advanced as others.
Before my education career began, it was common sense to me to integrate as much technology as possible in the classroom.  It is something all the kids are growing up with and are interested in.  And it isn’t going away. It is really less work for you as an educator to grab their attention when it is something you are already interested in.
Anyway, I went through these technology training sessions for teachers – which was great! – except I am the youngest faculty member, and was incredibly bored to the point of clawing my eyeballs out. Since I couldn’t focus on the actual material, because I knew more than what they were presenting, I focused on observing the other faculty members. So I learned: many teachers do not understand the inner workings of a SMART board, or that I-clickers exist or even the tricks of using a computer or user-friendly webpage. NO WONDER WHY THERE IS THIS PUSH FOR TECHNOLOGY AND ENGAGING THE KIDS. Duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. It was a serious realization. My middle school was one of the testing schools for the SMART board so that thing is like second nature. It is really weird to think that some people don’t know how they work or the advantages of this type of technology. I guess that’s just the millennial in me.

I’m the kid that pulls out a piece technology to look up something that people were wondering mid conversation. Why leave it to later when there is time right now? There is a higher chance you’ll forget about it- plus if you look now, it will give you more time to ponder that idea and ask more questions. Anyway, in my career as a student, I’ve become an EXCELLENT researcher. I can find so many things and I love it. Do you know how many looks I’ve gotten when I’ve pulled out my tablet and begin writing on it? Way too many. I find it extremely convenient and easy and really fun. I also struggle with handwriting notes because of fabulous carpal tunnel. Anyway, it’s also helpful in the classroom. But too many people believe that you as a millennial abuse forms of technology. So if I were to pull out my phone or tablet, people automatically assume I am up to no good until I pull the stylus out and begin writing (I loveeeee the Samsung note series).
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I guess what I am trying to understand is their possible thoughts. If you are there for the kids and want to help them understand, wouldn’t you do as much as possible to engage them? Engaging them will open the doors to learning. Like learn how to use the technology they are already used to? I mean that even goes way beyond the classroom and teaching. This technology one day will be outdated; hell, the computers, no matter the type, are outdated the minute you purchase them. But, listen, if you learn this technology and become accustomed to it, you should have little to no issue “upgrading” – provided you know how to properly use technology, and there are a lot of other factors that only fellow scientists care about. If you choose to ignore the current technology, you are only going to fall further behind or even “off the planet” for lack of better words. If you cannot keep up with today’s technology, how the hell are you going to survive in tomorrow’s or next year’s? You won’t. That future technology is way more advanced than the technology you are currently skeptical of. To me, I see the benefits of learning all of the new technologies outweighing the cons.
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It’s all just so interesting to me. I guess I am surprised and perhaps concerned that this topic just connected to the brain.

LZE

Never Stop Questioning

It’s funny how the world works.

What makes you think of a certain person? Do a certain action? Watch that movie? Get those weird feelings inside? People usually respond with God or some higher power. I don’t think that way, but I am always astounded by the way nature works. The past week has been particularly interesting,  surely I have had weeks like this before but I figured that I would write about this one.

Late at night when  I can’t sleep I tend to ponder Facebook. Just skimming through profiles or whatever, friends and non-friends; catching up on all the latest and greatest. Well, I recently visited an old friend’s profile out of random curiousity – haven’t caught up in a while. I don’t message or talk to or add as a friend again. Because honestly I don’t care; I’m only interested in them at this given time. It’s weird and creepy but whatever. Anyway, just out of the blue, two days after I looked at their profile on Facebook, they messaged me. Now, keep in mind, we haven’t talked in years. So this was really weird, but like I said, nature is pretty fascinating.

It gets better. Four and two days ago, meaning on two occasions,  my boyfriend and I were watching Mrs. Doubtfire. We love that movie. And we were commenting on it’s greatness as well as how awesome Robin Williams was. We’ve always wanted to know if he adlibbed that whole animation scene, as well if the way the wig scene was filmed was the way it was intended. Through watching the movie, laughing of course, I was reminded that I really wanted to buy Dead Poet’s Society because I also freaking love that movie – and I am just starting my teaching career. I can see it now……tearing out the pages of the math textbook.. Hahahaha I seriously love that movie. THEN ROBIN WILLIAMS DIES oh my goodness I almost started crying. I am legitimately heartbroken over his death. I don’t care for celebrities too much, but he was one of the few. He was in all my childhood movies making me laugh,  cry, think about life. I am so sad for his passing. I am also happy that he is no longer suffering. While I wish his condition could have been cured or managed, it put a lot of things into perspective. It shows that even though you, publicly, are an awesome person and have things that others dream of having,  you aren’t always happy. All those things, despite what people think, don’t make you happy – I mean they can for a while, but certainly not long term. It’s so crazy.

Life works so weirdly. Have you ever thought about why you went through certain “life events”? Or crossed paths with a certain someone? Thought about why you think or the method of your thinking and why you might think that way? Life is so cool when you start thinking and connecting all those characteristics.

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LZE

Following Footsteps…Finding the Balance

Throughout my schooling, my teachers – particularly math & sciences – have always assigned “extra problems”. They were never required or graded, but were there for good practice. I never understood why they always gave us extra work. Didn’t they know that if it wasn’t going to be graded we weren’t going to do it? Until college, I didn’t realize that these extra problems were good for studying. And when later college years hit, and I actually really needed to study, I found that these extra problems were good for trying to understand what was going on in class……good practice.

These teachers also had more tests or quizzes than other subjects. I never liked to be tested; always gave me way too much anxiety even with extra time. At times, I had quizzes every week. While it became routine – and I didn’t like it at first – I realized that the more quizzes I had, the less each quiz would count toward my average quiz grade. It was also, good practice.

As obvious as it seems, this needs to be said: With applied sciences, the more opportunities you have to work out different problems, the better you get at problem solving, thinking critically, and understanding the fundamentals. Done. Intuitively, I knew this, but it wasn’t until after college that I understood it.


#BiggestLoser

I am now a teacher, and a student.

In my planning, I find myself following the footsteps of my previous teachers without even thinking about it. Until I realized why they assigned extra problems. Until I realized why they gave weekly quizzes. It is extremely scary when you come to this level.

I want to quiz them, but I know I despised being tested. I want to assign extra problems, but I know I never did them. I want them to like me, but I don’t want to let my guard down.

I have to find the balance between what I want and what it was like as a teenager. I certainly don’t think the same way as I did in high school. I have to back up, and look at the problem from the outside. What do I want them to take away? How do I motivate them? What do they want or need from my class? How far can I push without them breaking? I have to find the balance between what I want and what it was like as a teenager.

It’s just another problem to solve.

xo, LZE