Pinterested in Education

I haven’t figured out Pinterest yet, but I think I’ll be checking this out.  Via Teaching Now at Education Week:

Prominent Edublogger Alexander Russo, somewhat reluctantly, has jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon, creating a pinboard called “Hot for Education 2012.” …

Pinterest, if you’re not familiar with it, is the latest social-media craze. Often described as a scrapbooking tool, it lets you organize and share images—and other tidbits—gathered from around the Web. …

We hear that teachers have been active on Pinterest, using it both for classroom projects (in which, for example, students pin materials to a lesson-specific board) and topical explorations. Let us know if you are using it or if you see anything that teachers in particular might want to know about.


Design eye for the science guy: Drop-in clinic helps scientists communicate data

From NSTA WebNews Digest, by way of the National Science Foundation, comes this interesting idea from the University of Washington.  It honestly sounds like a viable idea for many different professions, not just scientists!

Some of the figures scientists create are stunning. Others are not – mismatched fonts, poorly aligned tables, clashing colors.  Many fall somewhere in between. A deluge of data presents a challenge to amateur designers, often resulting in a cluttered presentation that can crowd out the figure’s main message.

A group of University of Washington researchers has launched a unique experiment matching science students with those in design. The new Design Help Desk, similar to a writing help desk, offers scientists a chance to meet with someone who can help them create more effective figures, tables and graphs. […]

“We are becoming a more visual culture,” says Karen Cheng, a UW associate professor of design (who also completed a bachelor’s in chemical engineering). Still, most science visuals “could use significant improvement from a visual point of view,” she said. “It’s just not a field where design has been part of the training.” […]

“It’s not just about looking pretty. It’s about conveying complex information in a clear way,” Cheng said.

Science Fairs Go Online

Via NSTA Reports.  My own personal jury is still out on this.  Any thoughts?

In recent years, virtual science fairs that allow students to transmit their submissions electronically or create a website to display their projects have sprung up around the world. “A virtual science fair means any student, anywhere in the world can participate. All you need is an internet connection,” says Maggie Johnson, director of education for Google, Inc., and a judge for the Google Science Fair, the world’s largest online science fair, open to students ages 13–18.

“Talent is universal; opportunity is not. By moving the science fair online, we level the playing field so all talented young scientists around the world can be involved,” contends Johnson. “Last year, for example, we received entries from more than 90 countries.”

Virtual fairs offer other benefits. “Since students are working in an online environment, they have access to a multitude of scientific articles, publications, newsletters, reports, and live broadcasts that depict the many facets of a particular science project of interest…They develop online search skills and [learn] where and how to find dependable [web]sites for useful, reliable information,” maintains Bruce Furino, program director for the Internet Science and Technology Fair (ISTF), which involves students in grades 3–12.

Bonnie’s Crazy Cabbage

Robert Jette at Frederick Douglass Elementary has his third graders participating in Bonnie Plants3rd grade cabbage program, which I had never ever heard of:

In 2002, Bonnie Plants started the 3rd Grade Cabbage Program with a mission to inspire a love of vegetable gardening in young people. Each year, we distribute more than one million free cabbage plants to 3rd Grade classrooms across the country. As part of the program, Bonnie Plants awards a $1,000 scholarship to one student in each state. Teachers submit a class winner and a child is chosen by each state’s Director of Agriculture. […]

Why a cabbage? It was the first plant sold by our company in 1918. The cabbages are the O.S. Cross variety, which is known for producing giant, oversized heads, making the process even more exciting for kids. Some kids have grown cabbages weighing more than 50 pounds! 

Sounds exciting!  I would definitely try this out with my kids if I were back in the classroom!

1,000 Scientists in 1,000 Days

Scientific American magazine launched an initiative earlier this year to connect K-12 classroom teachers to STEM professionals around the country:

What if [teachers] could invite researchers into the classroom to lead a lab exercise with students, to inspire kids about what being a scientist is really like, or to update them about the latest findings in their field?

That was the inspiration behind 1,000 Scientists in 1,000 Days, a Scientific American program that helps to connect teachers and scientists. We launched the sign-up component of the program in May, and more than 1,100 scientists, from all around the U.S., already have signed up to volunteer.

Let there be Light and Reflection at Lowe

Thanks to new Leaders in Science member Gonzalo Aguilar for sharing these great photos of him and his colleagues at Jack Lowe Sr. Elementary doing the Light and Reflection Challenge activity first presented at this July’s LIS Summer Institute!

Got pictures of you and your fellow teachers gettin’ down with the science action?  Send them to us and we’ll post them!

What I Would Do with an iPad in My Classroom

Bill Ferriter shares some more great ideas today on his blog The Tempered Radical.  Now I really want to see if I can get something similar to work on my iPhone…

Because it is so portable and easy to use, an iPad—-paired with a simple form developed in Google Docs—could help a teacher to begin systematically collecting and organizing those formative observations of student mastery. […]

Wouldn’t it be cool to carry your iPad around with you while student groups are working?  Then, every time that you interact with kids and learn a little something about their mastery of essential skills in class, you could quickly document what you’ve seen using this form.