Thursday, July 27, 2017

How is this STEM?

I saw this today and I stopped cold. I thought I recognized it but I really wasn't certain, I didn't think it was possible for a colder climate to have such a thing.

This one small change helps to solve a huge issue. When it rains too much of the water runs off and is dumped into the rivers and streams. While that might not sound like a big deal, it is! The rain should slowly filter through the ground and refill the aquifer.

I was visiting some people at Dressel and saw that some of the parking spaces had a very odd looking surface. I just happened to see someone who was busy install various things and asked him to explain what I saw seeing. He stated that this surface allows the water to slowly filter back into the ground solving the aquifer issue. Such a small change with dramatic impact on the overall health of our state.

This one tiny slice of the parking lot has the potential to push our kid in many STEM directions. I would bet we could take one parking lot space and create weeks worth of rich learning experiences.

Let us know, we would love to help you grow this idea. 

I would bet this one spot has a minimum of thirteen different STEM careers connected to it. Once you start looking around you just start seeing that STEM is everywhere. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

It is time... to update your Schoolwires pages.

We have created a series of very quick videos to help you update your Schoolwires pages for the new school year.

Make sure your Schoolwires has the following requirements ready to go:
     Welcome Page - think of this as your modern business card. Anything I need to contact you is listed here. Make sure you add your social media/blog links on this page.
     About Me - on this page you can list anything you think the students or parents need to know about who you are as a person.
     Links - add some links to resources your students will need to be successful in your class. Maybe it is Google Classroom or some other site. This page is very helpful if you have kids that move into your classroom after the first few days of school.
     SIS - add a direct link to SIS from the left side navigation bar.
     Calendar - embedding your school and district calendar is simple and very helpful for your students and parents.

Overview - a great place to start. This will walk you through the navigation and some important elements you might not be aware of.

Welcome - this is the first thing parents will see. Think of this page as your business card, everything I need is right there.

About Me - this is the place for your photos of your family and anything else you want the parents and students to know about you.

Links - add any link the students or parents will need to be successful in your class.

SIS - adding a direct link to SIS on the left side navigation of your site.

Calendar - embed your building and district calendars on this page. It is way easier than you think.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

How is this STEM?

I came home to this package the other night. Two feet by four feet and it weighs seventy-five pounds. If you Google the name you will see it is a mattress, a queen sized one to be exact.

We learned a number of things these past two weeks about how STEM is everywhere and to take what is around us every day to help our students realize that fact.

If you took this modern mattress as an example, what would you say?

Here are a few questions I have when I look at the box:

     How do they compress the whole mattress that small?
     How do the various levels of foam stand up to compression over time?
     How do they measure the level of out gassing?

     How many variables did they need to account for when designing one mattress for everyone?
     How do they calculate shipping costs and times?

     How do they measure the impact of their social media campaign?

By asking these questions it helps me and my own kids start thinking how STEM is everywhere. It helps to focus in on the idea that something as simple as the mattress encompasses many different STEM careers.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Is this the problem or just a symptom of something larger?

There are three things that really hit over the past two weeks. These new ideas have me thinking about how I approach problems and then move to solve them.

For years Mariano has been coaching me along this pathway and now it is all coming together. The big idea he was guiding me towards was to stop jumping towards solutions before fully understanding the whole problem.

    Last week I was in a stream with a biologist studying the issues surrounding stream erosion. He told us a story about New York City. The city had a growing issue of the declining quality of the drinking water. One solution was to spend many billions of dollars building a treatment plant, a solution that would require significant and expensive maintenance every year.
     The solution they deployed was to go way up river and fix a few issues. This greatly improved the water quality making it much easier to fix in the city. This solution was much cheaper and has a lasting impact all along the river.

The Body
     The last two came when we took a trip to St. Louis University. We participated in a demonstration of how certain body parts work together as one. Someone in the audience asked how planter factitious happens and impacts movement. The presenter showed us on the cadaver where the symptoms manifest then pointed to where issue is actually located. These two points where nowhere near each other.
     The final event was during our pig heart dissection. The instructor was showing us three actual human hearts and pointing out the issues in two of them. He mentioned his frustration with school banning things like chocolate milk. While the underlying idea is sound, it misses the larger point which is movement. He is starting to see elementary kids with heart issues due to inactivity. While we ban certain foods it does not solve the underlying issue of inactivity.

These big ideas were a great reminder to me about slowing down and thinking before offering a solution. Sometimes I jump to solve the issue without really determining if what I am seeing is just a symptom or the root of the problem.

I am hopeful I can remember these lessons as the year starts to get busier. I hope to stop and think way up the river to see if the solution is really miles away from where I am.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

What is your plan?

We were driving down the road and experienced some odd electrical issue, the GPS stopped charging. The unit only had enough battery to last until we hit Chicago. I would have been concerned but I had a backup plan. Below the GPS I had my tablet running Waze.

I have been told there are two types of people, those who have lost data and those who will.

Do you have a plan if your laptop suddenly dies? Are there folders that need to be backed up but aren't?

Google just released a totally new Google Drive back up and sync tool. I currently have just over 110 gigs in my Drive which was too big for the older desktop Google Drive tool. What they added was the ability for me to just back up one folder from my desktop without having to download everything on my Drive. It is brilliant.

Download and Get Started
Download Back Up and Sync.
Start the install process.

I started by clicking GOT IT.

1. I deselected all of these options. I wanted to choose the folder that was backing up.

1. The folder I needed was located on my desktop.
2. I selected the folder. 

That is pretty much it. Now everything in my badges folder will automatically back up to Google Drive. When I add a new resource to the folder it will just back up without me doing anything extra.

Check out the official help site for more information.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Crazy idea or crazy smart?

gum on the ground by the Alamo

I have been watching a billion crime shows on Netflix over the past year or so. Mostly because many of the shows have lots of episodes, right now it is Bones. What those shows have taught me was that everything leaves trace evidence behind.

I was strolling by the Alamo and took the image above. Gum. I have noticed there is a lot of gum on the sidewalks. I wonder how much gold and silver could be harvested from that gum. There has to be trace amounts of precious medals in the gum, how might we mine it?

This reminds me of a time during my student teaching. A student exclaimed that ice cream was made of dirt. No one laughed or said anything, the room was quiet for a bit. Slowly others started to figure it out. His connection was that the grass grows in the dirt, cows eat the grass, people take the milk and turn that into ice cream, thus ice cream is made out of dirt. This connection was brilliant and helped the other kids think differently and take intellectual risks. 

What does all this mean? Sometimes I jump too quick to dismiss a good idea. Sometimes I don't remain quiet like those first graders did. Ice cream is made from dirt and maybe, just maybe, we could mine the gum for precious medals. Maybe we don't have the technology to extract the gold today but I'm sure that is just around the corner.

This summer has brought some hard lessons, but one of the benefits has been slowing down and taking life one day at a time. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Sometimes time off isn't a good thing.

Just too much noise!

It is just about July and I have taken a bit of time off. At home things can get all kinds of noisy. Kids talking (yelling)  to Alexa/Google Home to play some great hits like that pen pineapple song, someone else watching random Youtube videos, cell phones dinging, Nerf guns and more. All this noise can drive me nuts. Then there are times when the house is too quiet, so quiet I can't think. This post is how to fix the too quiet issue.

Simply, a way to create soft background noise like you are in a coffee shop or on a college campus.

Navigate to coffitivity and check out the left side.
Select one of the three top options.
Let the concentration begin!

Need more sounds? The premium is only $9! That is less than a trip to the actual coffee shop.

Add it to your mobile device for total portability. So sweet!

How is this STEM?

I saw this today and I stopped cold. I thought I recognized it but I really wasn't certain, I didn't think it was possible for a ...