As if figuring out zombies wasn’t bad enough, Texas Instruments’ latest STEM Behind Hollywood installment has a dead body on its hands and you have to figure what he died of. Developed by crime-scene investigator Dr. Diane France, the appropriately named Body of Evidence, there’re missing person reports, evidence and suspects galore to sift through on a TI graphing calculator, iPad or computer. The best part is that even if you can’t tell a patella from a pancreas, there’s a set of detailed teacher notes to help guide you through this fun and informative activity.
The best way to teach science is to make it into a real world situation, such asa cleaning up an oil spill or how much water a tree requires to live. Discovery Education and 3M have teamed up to create a bunch of science lessons, ready for the classroom. Called Science of Everyday Life, the materials are free and quite detailed. There are four lessons online with videos, games and virtual labs.
Ask any gamer in your school where to get their online games from, and the answer is likely Steam. The gamers Web portal will soon have an educational title. Reach for the Sun from Filament Games shows how a mature plant grows from a seed and then decomposes. Along the way, students learn about photosynthesis, sugar creation and consumption and everything that has anything to do with a plant’s lifecycle. The game is available now, will be part of Steam’s offering in November and costs $89.70 for a one year classroom license.
It’s the rare school that can afford a planetarium or even a rudimentary astronomical observatory, but there can be one inside every school iPad. That’s because Vito Technology’s Star Walk can put more than 200,000 celestial objects and a wide variety of facts about them on the slate’s screen. In addition to integrating an image from the pad’s camera, Star Walk has an eye-friendly night mode for actual star gazing evenings out. It can even help align a telescope to find objects and see them close up. It costs $3.
Here’s a cool visual lesson about our impact on our planet. Go to NASA’a Landsat earth-observing satellite page and show some of the images and time-lapse videos that have accumulated over Landsat's 40-year lifetime. The site has everything from high-resolution photos from space of the current fires in California to videos of how urban centers like Las Vegas evolved over time and the earth’s glaciers are receding. Each comes with a nice description of what you’re seeing along with the science involved, perfect for a visual lesson about our changing earth.
Discovery’s latest free lesson plans are sponsored by the Navy, focus on STEM education and are aimed at high school science classrooms. In addition to nuclear power and robotics, the topics include sonar and GPS. Each has an outline, key academic subjects covered as well as a PowerPoint slide show.
The latest MimioScience lessons are not only interactive but there are 26 physical science units as well as 18 for scientific processes with more than 130 actual lessons available starting in June. They’re aimed at grades 3 through 8, will be available this summer and many more lessons are coming this winter. Access to them costs $1,299 per school for two years if you order now.
With access to more than 70 sensors – for everything from pH and temperature to carbon dioxide concentration – Pasco’s iPad-based SPARKvue HD application can be the basis for building a STEM curriculum. The software can not only show the current level of the sensor but analyze the data and display it as a graph. The $10 app is available at the app store and comes with 60 built-in labs and a place for students to record their measurements, ideas and lab details.
Already a good thing for the classroom, Compass Learning’s Odyssey Middle School Science just got a lot better with a slew of updated content. The science curriculum program now has many new lessons – including 45 new flash exercises, assessments – including 45 new quizzes – and many new activities. Teachers also now have more power to customized Odyssey curriculum and efficiently manage class data.
If there’s a better way to get kids interested in programming than by getting them to create video games, I haven’t found it. The AMD Foundation has teamed up with Brain Pop, the Boys and Girls clubs and others to sponsor the 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge, a contest for the best student-written video games. The kids can win $200,000 in cash and prizes. For those who don’t know where to start, there’s a ton of resources for teachers interested in doing it as a class project.