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10 STEM Vacation Ideas

It may be time to box up the microphone and the rocket, the robots and the VR headsets. But truth is, we could do a lot of interesting things related to science and technology during the long summer break.

So here’s what I am asking my students to do in July and August.

  1.  Become a ‘Maker’ – Build something. A tree house? Make a parachute out of a plastic bag, or a scarf, and a large eraser. Drop it from a balcony (or that tree house!) and change the way it lands.
  2. Create a Rube Goldberg device. Use scrap material, some dominoes, a tennis ball, a discarded cardboard tube, and a flower-pot… Watch this amazing example for inspiration
  3. Practice Coding. Work on a project at Code.org, or Scratch.Mit.edu
  4. Create a paper airplane or rocket contest. As we learned at the recent STEAM Night, some of the rockets that flew the furthest cost nothing, and were made of paper!
  5. Conduct a potato battery experiment! Two potatoes, a few nails, copper wire, and a light bulb from a flashlight. Ask an adult to download the steps here.
  6. Build a robot. Wrap a shoe box in tin foil. Add wheels and axles using bottle caps and skewers. For accessories like an antenna, and a probe, cut a coat hanger, and bend it into shape.
  7. Take up photography! Last year I taught a class using point-and-shoot cameras, and (the horror) phones! Figure out how depth-of-field, and back-lighting could enhance your pictures. No (Instagram) filters required.
  8. Write a short story! Try your hand at science fiction. Write your friends into the plot, and see where the story takes you! Check out these YA sci-fi authors
  9. Produce a skit. Before there was this thing called the Internet, we kids down the street created our own ‘drama.’ Find a friend who could help you co-write a short play about pollution, or landing on Mars.
  10. Build a solar oven. Start with a pizza box. Watch this video for inspiration! 
 
 

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How handwriting develops the brain in the digital age

If

If you’re interested in education, or chiming in on a controversial discussion of whether handwriting is still relevant (or ‘old fashioned’) in the age of keyboard, here’s some fodder:

Why handwriting is still essential in the digital age – by Perri Klass, MD

The key is to pay attention to “early fine-motor writing skills” even in pre-kindergarten. I’ll spare you the sciency details of this article if you are just scanning this blog. But suffice to cite this from the well documented studies that Dr Class cites:

“After the children were taught to print, patterns of brain activationin response to letters showed increased activation of that reading network.”

It may be satisfying to some that this is not an either-or discovery. There is a role for Manuscript writing, Cursive, and Keyboarding – the need for ‘hybrid writers.’

This is a topic that comes up a lot in my work as a teacher, and I will return to it shortly when I get back to work in my ‘hybrid’ computer lab.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2016 in Ed-Tech, Education, Technology

 

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