Category Archives: Great ideas

Cancellations, Postponements, and Closures to Slow the Spread of Coronavirus/COVID-19

Drastically minimizing in-person social contact, particularly in large groups, is essential to #flattenthecurve and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease it causes. This is not just to protect ourselves from the disease but more importantly to support the network effect of limiting the speed of its growth so that it does not overwhelm our health care facilities and resources. For that overriding purpose, here are local STEM-related cancellations, postponements, and closures:

Cancellations

Postponements

Closures

‘Girls Who Code’ Workshop for Potential Club Leaders, Jan. 22

The MetroWest STEM Education Network will hold a free workshop on January 22, 8AM-10:30AM, at Synopsis (11 Apex Drive, Suite 302B, in Marlborough) for adults interested in learning about the Girls Who Code curriculum and various implementation models for Girls Who Code clubs in schools and out-of-school organizations. Register online.

Boston Tech Mom’s Annual STEM Gift Ideas

Boston Tech Mom has published her annual list of STEM Gift Ideas.

Newton Schools Foundation: Donor will Match up to $25K in Contributions to Calculus Project in March

The Newton Schools Foundation has announced that, for a fourth year in a row, an anonymous donor will match up to $25,000 in donations made in March for the Newton Public School’s Calculus Project.  The Calculus Project works in all of Newton’s middle and high schools to have more Hispanic, African American, and low-income students successfully complete calculus in high school, as a path to success in college.  Since its start in 2013, the program has increased enrollment by 70%, 200%, and 800% for these groups, respectively.  The program provides intensive, small-group summer classes, enrichment activities, and year-round mentoring and tutoring.  The summer program includes instruction in Computer Science, field trips to STEM-related companies, and college campus visits for rising 11th graders with a focus on STEM majors and careers. The program currently include 109 students in Grades 8-12 and will welcome 30 incoming 8th Graders this summer.

While the NPS operating budget funds part of the program, tax-deductible donations via the NSF are needed for the summer program, tutoring, enrichment activities, and supplies.

Holiday STEM Gift Ideas

Boston Tech Mom has posted her annual STEM Gift Ideas for 2018 and has also discussed the gifts recommended by educators from Project Lead the Way.

Eric Olson recommends the monthly subscriptions of fun STEM projects from KiwiCo. They’re available in 7 lines, by age:  Explore & Discover (0-3 years), Play & Learn (3-4 years), Science, Art & More (5-8 years), Geography & Culture (6-11 years), Art & Design (9-16+ years), Science & Engineering (9-16+ years), Engineering and Design (14-104 years). Choose 1, 3, 6, or 12 months, with increasing discounts. Change among lines at any time.

Kevin Osborn has an eclectic list of recommendations for makers and robotics fans:

1. Screwdrivers! They are definitely not all created equal! Wiha screwdrivers are always excellent, and you can buy them in multi-bit sets or as dedicated drivers with ergonomic handles. Once you start using them, you’ll want to throw out your other screwdrivers. If you are not buying a set, at least get a #1 and #2 Phillips head. They are available locally at YouDoIt Electronics or online. And if you ever need to open your Macbook or Android phone, specialty screwdrivers are needed. This Japanese made set is terrific and has regular drivers included, so it’s just about got you covered for any job involving small screws.

2. To explore electronics on a budget, look at Adafruit’s Circuit Playground Express, which has a bunch of sensors, a speaker, microphone, addressable LEDs, etc. It can be programmed in the browser with Microsoft’s MakeCode, with Arduino, or you can drag-and-drop Python programs to it. Many accessories are available, including Crickit, which turns the Circuit Playground #xpress into a great platform for building your own robots.

3. mBot is not like so many “STEM” robot toys that are expensive one-trick ponies (once you’ve learned what they have to teach you, they are no longer very interesting). mBot includes distance sensing, line following, motion, and more, and it’s part of a more extensive line (makeblock) that’s sort of an Erector Set of robotics. With many attachment points, you can also add on your own embellishments (both artistic and functional) with standard screws and nuts. Buy two to set up your own robot sumo contest!

Newton Public Schools: Systemwide Goals in STEM

The Newton Public Schools recently adopted the following STEM-related goals among its Systemwide Goals for the 2018-19 school year:

Elementary Schools

  • Implement Investigations 3 in grades K, 1, 2, and 5.
  • Roll out new science units in grade 3 to align with MA Science and
    Technology Engineering (STE) Frameworks and Next Generation
    Science Standards (NGSS).
  • Develop and revise science and engineering units in grade 4 to align
    with new standards.

Middle Schools

  • Implement Illustrative Math curriculum in all middle school grades.
  • Plan for improved research writing across disciplines in accordance
    with the MA DESE Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies,
    Science, and Technical Subjects in collaboration with library teachers.
  • Develop a plan for improving students’ literacy skills across disciplines
    in accordance with the MA DESE Standards for Literacy in
    History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects.
  • Begin developing short performance assessment and embedded
    assessments in new science curriculum to measure student progress.
  • Evaluate the use of anchoring phenomenon to engage students in
    critical and creative thinking in STE.
  • Continue the Calculus Project.

High Schools

  • Support Calculus Project students in grades 9-11, monitor course
    placement and achievement in both high school cohorts.

Newton Schools Foundation: Donor will Match up to $25K in Contributions to Calculus Project

The Newton Schools Foundation has announced that, for a third year in a row, an anonymous donor will match up to $25,000 in donations made in March for the Newton Public School’s Calculus Project.  The Calculus Project works in all of Newton’s middle and high schools to have more Hispanic, African American, and low-income students successfully complete calculus in high school, as a path to success in college.  Since its start in 2013, the program has increased enrollment by 70%, 200%, and 800% for these groups, respectively.  The program provides intensive, small-group summer classes, enrichment activities, and year-round mentoring and tutoring.  In 2018, the summer program includes instruction in Computer Science, field trips to STEM-related companies, and college campus visits for rising 11th graders with a focus on STEM majors and careers. The program currently include 138 students in four grades next year will expand next year to cohorts in Grades 8-12.

While the NPS operating budget funds part of the program, tax-deductible donations via the NSF are needed for the summer program, tutoring, enrichment activities, and supplies.

More Recommendations for Holiday STEM Gift Ideas

Boston Tech Mom builds on her recent list of recommended STEM-oriented gifts with a blog post about Project Lead The Way’s recommended STEM gifts focused on engineering and computer science.

Eric Olson recommends that you consider the wide range of STEM educational products at Picoturbine.com.

Kevin Osborn recommends Engadget’s article on Learning Toys and STEM Toys We Love.

Public radio’s Science Friday had a really interesting discussion this week of the Best Science Books of 2016 with Maria Popova of Brain Pickings and Lee Billings of Scientific American.  Their recommendations are written on the site along with the podcast, and the comments contain many more book recommendations.

Boston Tech Mom’s STEM Gift Ideas

Just in time for the holidays, Boston Tech Mom has compiled a list of recommended STEM-oriented gifts in the areas of Toys & Kits, STEM Reading, Maker Movement (DIY), Robotics Team, and Coding Club.

Newton LigerBots Host Their FIRST-Ever Worldwide 3D-Printed-Parts Competition and Announce Winners

The LigerBots — Newton’s high-school FIRST robotics team — ran its first-ever worldwide competition, team1965in which other FIRST teams from around the globe submitted 3D-printed parts that they had created for use in their robots in the last two years.  A panel of LigerBots judged the entries on three criteria: creativity in how teams solved a problem, elegance of the solution, and overall complexity.

First Place:  FRC Team #1965 FireBirds from Boston created team4613a full tread drive, including treads, sprockets, and axles.

Second Place:  FRC Team #4613 Barker Redbacks from Sydney, Australia created a low-cost and lightweight gearbox — and offered to help other teams worldwide by sending them a gearbox.team868

Third Place: FRC Team #868 – TechHOUNDS from Carmel, Indiana created a pair of two-inch Mecanum wheels that were not available otherwise.

And huge congratulations to the LigerBots for creating and running this contest!