Sunday, November 11, 2012

Boston! Engineering! Clam Chowder!

 It was an exciting week for me as I got to head to Boston for the first time ever!  Although the Nor'easter was coming, the trip was still a good time!  Way back in April I blogged about winning a grant from Raytheon to attend a workshop at the Museum of Science in Boston.  I was awarded $3,000 to pay for the training, my travel expenses, and to buy some of the products I would learn about.

Okay, so I was by myself...maybe not the most fun, but still a very worthwhile experience.  Below is a picture from a window in our training room.  Remember, I'm from Indiana and drive by cornfields to get to work, so to see this view for 2 days was A-mazing!  Can you say beautiful or what?  This is the Charles River.  The people at the Museum of Science said that in the warmer weather people are rowing and the water is busy.  How cool to see this on a daily basis!?

The one bad thing about Boston in November is that it gets dark REALLY in 4:45 or 5:00.  Traveling by myself, I didn't really want to be out and about in the dark but I had to see Harvard.  It was beautiful, as imagined, and I felt smarter just walking on campus! do I create this feel in my school?  How do I make my kids feel like they are walking into Harvard everyday?

Okay, so onto my teaching and learning adventures in Boston.  The program is called Engineering is Elementary.  They have 20 units ranging in content areas from rocks and minerals to solids and liquids. They aren't just science units, though, they involve engineering, a design process, and collaboration among classmates.

To begin, we discussed what technology is...anything that helps us solve a problem...and then we had to create a technology that would help us solve the problem of a dog statue (bean animal) needing a 24 inch pedestal.  The materials we could use?  One pack of notecards and 12 inches of tape.  Oh, and 18 minutes.  I have to say that the friends I met at the training were awesome...I do believe we created the best tower!  I know, I know, there is no right way to make it as long as it supports the statue.  Not all groups were successful in the height requirement, and not all designs could support the weight of the animal.  The last part of the engineering design process is to improve what we created.  This reflection piece is crucial, and when I've done this with students, it's the source of some really great conversations!

From here, we read a story book that introduced a character who fell in the woods and hurt his knee.  They needed to create a knee brace to help him get out of the woods.  Learning from a biomedical engineer, we looked at the range of motion of a healthy knee, and then created a knee brace out of different materials to limit the motion of an injured" knee.  Each unit starts with a storybook that states a problem, introduces a specific field of engineering (mechanical, green, biomedical, environmental, etc.), gives them background knowledge, and then presents them with materials to solve the problem with their group.  Below are some of the books from the units.

I can not wait to get our units to school so that we can begin engineering!  The best part, as you can see from the pic above, is that the characters from the books are a mix between boys and girls, ethnicities, continents, etc.  They really stress that engineers can be anyone!  If want to see the grant I wrote to be able to do all of this, click here to go to TPT and get them for free.

Oh, and the next best part of my trip?  The food! Clam Chowder!  I was told that Legal Sea Foods was a good place to go, so I walked from my hotel to the location on Long Wharf where you can see the boats and the coast, and all the pretty things I don't see in Indiana.  I had to get the New England Clam Chowder, and I'm glad I did.  Of course, it's accompanied by a class of wine, but it was a Friday night!

And now, I'm safely home with the hubs and the pups getting ready for the week.  Oh, and did I tell you I get to go back to Boston in 3 weeks for a different conference?!  

Giveaway Alert!
Oh, and one last thing...Lisa Mattes at Growing Firsties is having a Pete the Cat giveaway that also supports Hurricane Sandy!  She'll donate different amounts of money depending on how many followers she gets!  Not only will you get Pete the Cat and a gift card, you'll also boost her followers, which will boost her donation!  Thanks Lisa for a great giveaway.  
Growing Firsties


No comments: