A STEM Diet of Awesome Snacks that Scaffolds into PBL… Better Then Dessert!


Welcome to a post that gives a short break in a series of articles dedicated to PLN’s, Twitter, Curriculum Curation, and Social Networks in Education!  In this break I thought I would share this amazing STEM resource that could even connect to PBL!  Before reading about this discovery, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS  to my 21centuryedtech Blog and also give me a follow on Twitter at mjgormans.  I have more great resource filled posts coming your way involving 21st century skills, PBL, STEM, Web 2.0, and educational transformation.  Enjoy this post!! – Mike Gorman (http://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com)

This great snack of information comes to you from the The Exploratorium Teacher Institute (TI) which  has been a professional development home for middle school and high school science teachers since 1984. TI offers a rich mix of hands-on activities based on Exploratorium exhibits, content-based discussions, classroom materials, Web-based teaching resources, and machine shop experiences. In this posting I wish to introduce you to an area that  Exploratorium TI refers to as Science Snacks. I like to think of them as STEM or even STEAM (include the Arts) Snacks because they really do involve activities based on today’s STEM curriculum. The Exploritorium refers to these wonderful morsels as  miniature versions of some of the most popular exhibits at the Exploratorium (The Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception) in San Francisco. While I could report to you about this wonderful place of exploring, I invite you to explore the link. My emphasis will be on the delicious snacks of exploration and learning that Exploratorium TI provides.

Think of a Snack as a wonderful way to increase your students’ appetite for STEM inquiry, learning, and exploration. These Snacks are bite size opportunities to bring science alive in small but engaging size. The people at the Exploratorium explain the concept best.

“For three years, nearly one hundred teachers worked with staff members to create scaled-down versions of Exploratorium exhibits. The results were dozens of exciting “Snacks” — miniature science exhibits that teachers could make using common, inexpensive, easily available materials. By using Snacks in their classrooms, teachers can climb out of the textbooks and join their students in discovering science for themselves.” – Exploritorium TI

These activities could stand alone or provide teachers the opportunities to build into a PBL unit, either as a learning activity in the project scaffold… or  as an engaging entry event to promote “need to know” and inquiry. You will find the Snacks are divided into easy-to-follow sections that include instructions, advice, and helpful hints. Snacks begin with a descriptive image, an overview, and a listing of  materials needed. You will also find  assembly instructions. Best of all you will discover ways to use the completed exhibits.  Snacks can be completed by an individual or group.  There is even a section  that includes scientific and historic information to promote further understanding and inquiry.

Take a moment to explore this menu of amazing and delicious Snacks at the Exploratorium Snack Home Page .  You can also explore them by subject, supplies, or an A-Z listing.  While these Sacks were developed for high school students, the professionals at the Exploratorium found them being used by a wider audience.

“We received a message from a teacher in the Australian Outback who needed help finding materials.We heard from elementary school teachers and university professors. Art teachers were using Snacks, as were shop teachers and math teachers. Sixth-graders at one school were building their own miniature science museum. At another school, an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher found that building Snacks helped her students interact more. The ones who understood science best were helping those more adept at building things, and all were getting better at communicating with each other.” - Exploritorium TI

You can learn more about these amazing morsels of STEM (STEAM) learning at the  Exploratorium Science Snack Question and Answer Page. You may also wish to discover the Exploratorium’s newest Snack Book entitled “Square Wheels”  This publication contain 31 new Science Snacks based on Chemistry, Light & Color, Electricity & Magnetism, Sound & Waves, and Heat & Mechanics.

Hope you enjoyed this opportunity to explore an amazing resouce that is just the right course for your STEM diet.  Please remember to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and follow me on twitter at mjgormans. I have exciting resource filled posts coming your way. I also appreciate your sharing of this post and any retweets. Keep up the amazing work and please enjoy the wonderful world of current educational resources I try to bring your way. Welcome to the Future! – Mike Gorman (http://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com)

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