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Lesson: Dance Pad Mania

dance pad revolutionIn this lesson, pairs of students in grades 4 to 7 will learn about the engineering design process and electrical circuits by building a dance pad that sounds a buzzer or flashes a light when stepped on.

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Students Summer: Richmond Science Camps. Grades 1-6. June-September 2011.

Five Mad Science summer camps are being offered at the Science Museum of Virginia. These one-week, non-residential camps for students in grades 1-6 offer a daily combination of in-class discovery and exploration, outdoor games and physical activities and hands-on applications of the scientific principles presented. Campers create a variety of take-home projects and participate in snack-tivities while exploring how science affects the world around us. Dates: Varied, June 20-September 2, 2011. Costs: Range from $49 to $269.

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Feature: Fired Up

Maker FaireThousands throng to Maker Faire, an annual Bay Area celebration of hackers, inventors, and do-it-yourself creators. And now, middle and high school students are joining in. One result: Saphira, an 8 1/2-foot-tall, fire-breathing dragon.

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Simulations and Games Offer Learning Potential

Playing Video GamesComputer simulations and games offer “great potential” to assist inquiry-based science learning, according to a report by the National Research Council. They may help boost motivation, understanding and skills, and encourage students to identify with science.

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Activity: Catapult Marshmallow Launch

MashmallowsThis simple catapult activity for students in grades 4 – 8 teaches them how energy is transferred when a plastic spoon is pulled back, then released, rocketing its payload — a single marshmallow.

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Contest: NASA’s Sports Design Challenge

Spaced Out Sports ContestStudents in grades 5-8 are invited to participate in Spaced Out Sports, a national design challenge that applies Newton’s Laws of Motion in the design of a game for astronauts of the International Space Station to play in space. The goal is for students to learn the “science behind the game” on Earth and in microgravity. Deadline: February 1, 2011.

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Making Math Fun and Relevant

Math by DesignFour Public broadcasting outlets have formed the STEM Collaborative to demonstrate that math can be both fun and relevant. The website’s challenges engage students in such projects as building a skateboard ramp and measuring a rollercoaster.

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Web Resource: STEM All-Star Trading Cards

STEM Card 05-FrontEach week for 25 weeks, Dupont will unveil a new STEM collectible trading card featuring one scientist out of the countless men and women who have made an impact through STEM research and education. Featured thus far? Albert Einstein, George Washington Carver, Sergey Brin.

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Resource: Thinkfinity from Verizon

ThinkfinityVerizon Foundation’s Thinkfinity website offers comprehensive teaching and learning resources that are grade-specific and are aligned with state standards. It provides lesson plans that teach 21st Century skills, literary resources, an online group for new teachers, webinars, professional development, tips for teachers, interactive games and tools for students, family learning materials, teacher features, and more.

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