Thursday, April 17, 2014

Raising America's Top Scientist: April STEMchat, Part 2

There's still a few days before the entry deadline of 2014 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. The April STEMchat on raising America's next Top Young Scientist was so robust that I broke the summary into two parts. Read Part 1 here.

How can you help your child find a STEM mentor?

Science fairs.
Younger kids may find mentors in older students
Look at parent's or teacher's personal network: relatives, co-workers, neighbors, clubs, house of worship.
Other parents at school.
Library.
Local universities or community colleges.
Start a talent bank, so you have resources when you need them.
Make sure this person is accessible to your child. You want someone who is vested in their interests and learning goals. That said, Skype, Google+ hangouts and other technology help people connect over long distances.
Museums.
Put the word out and see where it leads.
Local STEM professional organizations.
STEM-based companies in your community.

Science is social; sharing ideas can lead to better solutions. How do you help your child collaborate with others?



  • Bounce ideas off of friends and family members. Encourage people to give constructive criticism.
  • One mom said that XBOX Live has helped her con work with others and build stuff. My son talks on Skype with his friends as they play Minecraft and other online games.
  • Talk to them about how it helps to have a team of friends supporting them if they want to accomplish big things.
  • Pitch an idea to a local company and solve a problem for them.
  • Have them on STEM teams-- robotics, Science Olympiad, Odyssey of the Mind, etc.
  • Keep in mind that socialization need not apply only to a child's age/grade peers.


Image via Krissy Venosdale, Venspired.com

How do you get your child to see him or herself as a scientist?

Don't give them the option of thinking any other way.
Enroll them in extracurricular science classes, clubs or STEM teams.
Explore the world and let your child be your guide.
Make it a point to learn something new (together) every day.
Let kids experiment at home--even if that means making a mess.
Just as we teach kids to do art, be sure to teach them to do science--lots of it.
Point out scientists that share their interests.
Remind them that being a scientist isn't about what you know, but rather how you think and know.
Point out their exposure to science and STEM.
Encourage questions.
Teach them the scientific method from a young age, so they are not intimidated by it later.
By a microscope, telescope and/or magnifying lens.
Assure them that one can be creative and scientific; there's no need to choose one.
Check local activity guides for STEM events for kids or families.


I Am Science from Mindy Weisberger on Vimeo.


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Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Digital Kids to College Kids

I don't know if I shared this, but I'm continuing to write for the Sylvan Mom-Minded Blog. Last month I shared tips for raising digital kids, which goes beyond mere tips to provide useful resources via the links in the article. Check it out! about tip Looking to mix up a batch of slime or have science fun with dry ice? Check out my archived Sylvan posts here.

I'm getting a little bit better at this Google+ Hangout On Air Thing. Give a listen to this conversation with Susan Goodkin of California Learning Center as she shares advice on 2E kids, SATs, and college admissions topics I didn't even know to ask about. We'll be having another college conversation in May, but the date is still TBA.



On April 29 Leticia and I will host our 2nd STEMchatOnAir. This episode will feature the Shedd Aquarium's Ken Ramirez discussing careers in marine science and animal care, which is right up my alley (or was 20 years ago). It's going to be a great talk. Official invite to be posted soon.
 
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Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How To Raise a Young Scientist: April #STEMchat Summary, Part I

Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge
The April 2014 #STEMchat Sponsor
There's still nearly a week left to enter the 2014 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge and if you're  looking for last minute ideas or tips to inspire your child to be named America's Top Young Scientist, keep reading!

This was one of our liveliest #STEMchats ever with 175 participants. Of course we had a wonderful group of panelists to keep the discussion moving ahead and a fabulous sponsor.

This chat was so robust, the summary of tips to raise wonderful young scientists will be presented in two parts.

How do you teach your child to identify problems—or more importantly potential solutions?


Blog post on the topic at Engage Their Minds "How 'why's' can make you wise."
Foster problem-solving practice, encourage struggle, give them space.
Have kids read the newspaper and choose topics or stories of interest
Ask children questions that lead up to identifying problems.
Let them fail and learn to recover and move on. Failure = data and opp for learning. Video games can be helpful for this, hard to level up without failing.
Revisions are part of the process.
Listen, really listen to them, encourage them to ask questions and take time to help them find the answers themselves.
Allow time and space for hands-on learning and exploration.
Instead of fixing broken things for them, have them do it themselves.
Have them draw solutions. This is sometimes better than talking.
Ask them how things work. Help them see the STEM that is all around us.
Challenge them to turn complaints in to solutions.
Encourage natural curiosity.
Don't give answers, help them find them.
Encourage: creativity, asking questions, problem-solving.

Studies show that interest in STEM starts to wane in middle school. How do you keep kids engaged at this age?


Nurturing curiosity which tends to lessen after kindergarten. Encourage problem-solving as they continue through elementary school.
Middle schoolers must experience STEM outside of the textbook: use real-world problems, connect with mentors and professionals via Skype.
Instead of traditional reports have them draw comics to restate and reconceptualize their learning.
Use in-school science that has a WOW factor (exciting!).
Work hard to keep girls engaged.
Start at a young age enforcing everyone's potential.
Provide maker spaces and opportunities to tinker-- informal education that allows for open-ended learning as well as afterschool programs and competitions- Science Olympiad, Robotics leagues, 4H, scouts, etc.
Student-created opportunities as opposed to ones the teacher serves up.
Help them understand that if they know how the world works, you can make and fix things
@AJollyGal shared her best Earth Day Project, which really is amazing! 
Teacher or leader's enthusiasm for STEM is contagious. Same thing if they see their peers taking interest or excelling in STEM.
Rely on rote memorization only when it's critical to do so. Instead, focus on exploration, observation and experimentation.
Get physical- have them build things, design prototypes.
To truly foster creativity and a love of STEM, we must rethink how we measure accountability.
"Step aside and be the guide."
Rachel Carson's book, A Sense of Wonder.




How do you help kids ask questions about things in their everyday life so they look beyond the lab or classroom?


If you don't know how something works, have kids look it up and explain it to you.
Looks for answers in books and encyclopedias, not just online. Have them ask a  librarian.
Get into the kitchen cooking science = chemistry.
Ask questions like "How might...?" and then step back and listen.
Encourage hands-on exploration with topics of their choosing.
Knitting = math, architecture is engineering, sports is physics, photography is chemistry.
If you inspire kids to find answers to their questions, they will keep asking great questions.
In addition to autonomy, give them a sense of purpose.
Be a model of lifelong learning.
Include cool robots, physics/chem show at school assemblies and pep rallies.
Turn off the TV talk as a family, play games, get outside.
For HS kids, game design is a strong incentive for learning how to code.

Movies and show to watch:
Apollo 13 to see ho the astronauts improvised with stuff on hand to save their mission (and lives).
Design Squad
MacGyver
How It's Made

There was a parent who said her child was interested in forensics:
CSI
Bones
Quincy, ME (old show; I loved it as a child)
Poisoner's Handbook from PBS

Tell kids they will do amazing research if they start with a question that's really bugging them.
Use everyday materials to design things and build things to solve problems. Look at a paperclip as a tool.
Panelist Kitchen Pantry Scientist has a lot of fun ideas for at-home science (she also has a free app and a book coming out in late summer 2014).

Step outside, Mother Nature has plenty of wonders and mystery. Investigate plants, flowers, insects, clouds, animal footprints, whose scat is that?
Present students with STEM role models taking care to include women and minorities in STEM.
Draw attention to everyday incorrect assumptions and peel the onion of questions using the Socratic method.

Other Resources:
Read about real students and their efforts
@PatrickNorton on Tekzilla  "DIY Trying" has projects to do with the kids.




Entrant to the Young Scientist Challenge share their ideas with a video. How do you help your child hone his/her communication skills?


Teach/model the importance of asking the right questions.
Leel Lefever's The Art of Explanation
One teacher mentioned starting a TED-Ed Club next year.
Help them be themselves and let personality shine through.
Practice again and again)!
Show them good presentations and videos.
Record your kids talking unscripted. Have them review it, take notes  and try again.
Get them used to making brief, impromptu presentations. They will get better/more confident over time.
Help them prepare outlines.
Blog!
Let them know it's okay to make mistakes--there's always room for improvement.
Let kids report on area of interest, passion to let enthusiasm shine through.
Let them use technology to present ideas- Power Point, Scratch, blogs, email or go old school with live skits.
Use art: comic books like @CMTribull does here.

Watch great YouTube channels like The Brain Scoop for example of relaxing and talking science casually.Also recommended: V Sauce, Vi Hart, Explainer TV and Numberphile.

Click to read Part 2!



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Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Entomology, For The Win!

Science Olympiad Entomology team
Between last weekend's exciting state Science Olympiad competition and Passover seders for the next two nights (I'm hosting 12 family members Tuesday evening), I'm low on bandwidth, but I want to take a minute to share the awesome performance of my entomology team. My girls came in the top five out of a field of more than 45 of Illinois' best teams! They know their bugs like a boss.

I saw that someone landed on this blog after searching for tips on teaching the entomology event in Science Olympiad, so I'll return at some point to share my award-winning advice. Really, though, the girls earned the win. I just assigned them homework each week. We studied bugs and even ate a few. (More about that too, eventually.)

Clearly I was meant to coach entomology, though. Goodness knows how long I've had those buggy glasses sitting around my office. Finally they got put to good use!

In other good news, our school team is back in the top ten after a poor showing in 2013! I'm leaving on a high note. After 5 years of student involvement in SO, including six "coaching years" between my husband and I, we'll be retiring upon our younger guy's graduation. That younger guy plans to continue on with SO in high school, so maybe I'll be back at state next year after all.

Well, I did say, I'd be open to some fun, informal insect exploration over the summer when the bugs are actually out. So maybe I'm retiring in the fall. But I'm retiring.

On a related note, kudos to the two dads who volunteered as coaches even though their kids have moved on from the program. And congrats to the brand new teacher who volunteered got suckered into taking the open role of head coach and his trusty assistant coach for making this year possible. And thanks to school for generously funding the program once again finally to all the parents who volunteered to coach events despite fears about not having the time, knowledge or teaching skills to do so. Maybe next year more teachers will get involved.

And now back to my potato kugel.

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Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Women in STEM Forge Unique Career Paths

STEM Girl Friday at TheMakerMom.com
Here's an interesting piece from The Atlantic positing that women in STEM, at least some of them, are using their skills to form new career paths.

If our efforts to encourage women’s curiosity and passion for STEM succeed, we need to be prepared for the way female perspectives and approaches could expand the definition and scope of what it means to be STEM professionals. Because women have traditionally been excluded from these disciplines, and because their fresh eyes allow them to make connections between fields, many women are launching careers, and even entire industries, based on a flexible and creative definition of what it means to be a scientist, artist, or engineer.
Go read.

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Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

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