10 cool ideas from the 2014 STEM Symposium

Last week, staff from the Watsonville and Sanger Science Workshops came with us to the 2nd annual 2014 STEM Symposium in San Diego, CA. Similar to last year, we set-up a “Share-Fair” booth with CSW projects and information, and we gave two break-out presentations as part of the conference (for a similar presentation on the CSW Network see this video). Staff also got to attend a variety of great sessions–here is just a taste of some of the great projects and ideas we saw:

1) Donald from High Tech High did a great presentation entitled “STEM on a Shoestring Budget”, which featured the Institute for Chemical Education’s NanoCrystalline Solar Cell Kit

2) A ton more project resources from Molecular Workbench: “Visual, Interactive Simulations for Teaching & Learning Science. Free and Open Source.”

3) Get your magnets here: http://www.magnet4less.com/

4) TeacherGeek has a great kit for building alternators (wind powered or otherwise)

5) A great technique for making little bulges in PVC (tip: just heat a section and hit then end with a hammer). Great for building water-bottle rockets. More on Instructables

6) Cheyenne and Josette’s presentation about teaching STEM with teens in Oakland recommended using Sexual Encounters of the Floral Kind to keep teens entertained and learning about flowers and the process of pollenation. How awesome is that!? Protip: Use youtube clips in short bursts and have them make model pollenators afterwards!

7) In the same presentation, the topic of music in the classroom/makerspace was brought-up. We definitely agree that letting the community/teens bring in their music is important for making STEM accessible. It’s also a great tool for “noise check” in the space.

8) This awesome cell-phone microscope:

More on Instructables

9) After-school or “Expanded Learning Time” is a great space for encouraging kids to talk to one another. It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a great way to think about facilitation and helping kids to argue from evidence (a key part of NGSS). Going deeper, as facilitators, we can encourage and/or challenge kids to describe and argue in greater detail and precision…

10) Finally, all of our staff loved this cool new high-tech “Immersive” viewing tool from Zspace

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