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Snowflake Chronicler

William Bentley snowflake imageNo two snowflakes are alike, right? We know this thanks to a Jericho, Vermont, farm boy and citizen engineer named Wilson A. Bentley, who adapted a microscope to a camera and spent 40 years capturing thousands of unique images.

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Citizen Science

Alaska Chena Salmon citizen science projectMiddle school students learn that ordinary people like themselves can make meaningful contributions to science by reviewing examples of citizen science projects on Zooniverse, an interactive website. They then form “engineering teams” to brainstorm projects for their own community and design conceptual interactive websites that could organize and support them.

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Join a Citizen STEM Project!

NASA GLOBE Observer appEvery day, millions of ordinary people young and old help advance knowledge in fields as diverse as astronomy and zoology. These “citizen” scientists and engineers record bird sightings and rainfall amounts, classify stars, monitor lead in local tap water, count frogs, and even discover comets! Here’s a sampling of projects. Where will you or your students volunteer?

Some projects spur new legislation. Others inspire community involvement and a lifelong interest in STEM.

Here’s a sampling of projects. Where will you or your students dive in?

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STEM Takes Wing!

kids watching birdsWant to engage your students while helping scientists get the “big picture” on what’s happening to bird populations worldwide? Grab some binoculars and join the annual Great Backyard Bird Count, which takes place February 17-20, 2017.

One of the oldest and biggest citizen-science projects is the annual Great Backyard Bird Count, held this year from February 17 to 20

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Visualize STEM

Thermagram handIn this lesson, high school students learn the value of writing and art in science and engineering by designing visual diagrams to communicate the results of thermal conductivity (heat flow) experiments they have conducted to anyone with little background on the subject. The principles of visual design include contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity, and involve such elements as the use of lines, color, texture, shape, size, value, and space.

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Soil Biosolarization: Sustainable Weed Killer

seedlingIn this three-part activity, students in grades 5 to 7 act as agricultural engineers, learning about and testing the effectiveness of a sustainable pest-control technique that uses organic waste and sunlight rather than toxic chemicals to reduce weeds.

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All About Code

Navajo Code TalkerstStudents in grades 3 – 5 learn how alphanumeric symbols can be encoded for many fun purposes. In the first of two sessions, they learn about codes by making their own with a limited number of symbols. They then attempt to break each other’s codes and discover the relationship among encryption, decryption, and shared keys.

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No Phishing! Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2016

Cybersecurity password theftThe Department of Homeland Security designates October as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Its “Stop, Think, Connect” toolkit includes materials for various audiences, including students and educators, as well as guides to social media, phishing, and other topics.

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Shapes of Strength

house of cards with coins on topStudents in grades 3 to 5 use engineering problem solving to create structures from paper, straws, tape, and paper clips that can support the weight of at least one textbook. For the second trial, they examine examples of successful buildings in history and try again.

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