Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Education in Action Around the Bay

Today I sat outside in a circle with 6 third & fourth grade kids at the Mission Science Workshop, who were testing out how many solar panels it would take to sound a buzzer and run a motor. I sat in on part of a 9th grade Physics class at Mission High School where a very intelligent, witty and enthusiastic teacher was SHOWING his students how Michael Faraday discovered the electric motor. They all were able to SEE the galvanometer respond to the electric current when he passed a magnet through a copper coil. I left before they got to convert AC to DC currents & watch the waves change on the oscilloscope.  I finished the day by heading over to Lighthouse Charter school in Oakland to visit their Maker Studio & saw kids building craft stick towers, soldering circuit boards and working with Rasberry Pi to build robots. I'm so excited to try out some of the new ideas I learned today at our Workshop. Next up for the John Muir Science Workshop is definitely a 3D printer!

Come join us on Thursdays from 2:45 to 4:00 for open make sessions! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Thursday After School Workshop

 Two of these upholstered chairs left the Workshop on Thursday... leaving a few bent nails in their wake, but the furniture builders were persistent and proud to leave with their projects. The balloon powered zip line has been an exciting challenge and is always fun to watch zoom through the room. Other kids had fun with chemistry guessing the perfect combination of glue, Borax and water ratio to make a great polymer blob of Gak. The other project that is now on week 3, is the making of a Lego/cardboard Rube Goldberg machine. This quiet third grade engineer dressed mostly in pink is patient, focused and determined and I can't WAIT to see her finished project.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Science of Fossils

 Collections of rocks, shells & fossils were arranged in the center of each table during our Science of Fossils workshop. Students made observations about what they saw & just loved just touching everything! They were asked to sort out the shells & rocks from the fossils. Older kids were given a few fossilized shells to decipher as well. After sorting, students were left with Miocene - Pliocene Fossils from the Central Valley of California (8 - 15 million years ago 'mya'), Eocene fish fossils from about 50 mya and trilobite fossils from about 550 mya! Depending on each class's age & interest, we talked about the Earth's timeline, how remains of plants and animals can become fossils, paleontology, geology, dinosaurs, Pangaea & of course trilobites. We also marveled at the fact that these water creatures were found in Utah, 1000 miles away from the nearest body of water... "so, do you think the Earth has changed over the past 550 million years?" A resounding "YES!" every time. Students were asked to think like a paleontologist while observing their fossils & draw what they thought the animal looked like when it was alive in it's environment. Older students made their own fossils by creating shell molds out of Plaster of Paris. Special thanks to Meg Delano, Dan Sudran of the Mission Science Workshop and to Lisa White, PhD of the Museum of Paleontology and the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University for the donations of fossils, rocks & shells that made this hands-on Workshop lesson possible!