If you’re a basketball fan, you’ve probably already filled out your bracket for March Madness. If you’re a teacher (especially if you’re a biology teacher), then you have to check out March Mammal Madness!
The bracket resembles that of the NCAA tournament, but instead of predicting who will score the most hoops, you must decide which mammal would win in simulated combat. For example, who would likely win a battle between a Tasmanian Devil and a Ghost Bat? To follow along with the battles follow #2018MMM or @2018MMMletsgo on Twitter, or check out the March Mammal Madness Facebook Page.
A few weeks ago, I made a stop at a local butcher’s shop and left with a cooler full of cow muscle, tendons, fat, and a kidney just for fun. I was prepping for a tissue engineering unit where students would research authentic tissues before tackling our big question: Can low-cost, synthetic tissues be engineered for use in under-resourced medical schools and research labs? This unit was based on the Tissue Engineering guide from Allen Distinguished Educators DIY Guides.
One of my goals is to increase peer observations and encourage a school culture where teachers open up their practice to others. This can be challenging, as teachers most often have to give up their own time with students to make these observations happen. So I fired up my Swivl, and decided to step out of my comfort zone to demonstrate another way to share our practice when time is short — through video! As part of my work with the Tch Next Gen Science Squad, I decided to focus on the implementation of engineering as described in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
I’m a big fan of science notebooks for students. My students use notebooks to develop Cornell Notes from content material, record and analyze lab data, and create “interactive notebook” elements like foldables, flashcards, and puzzles.
I’m NOT a big fan of the lengthy process that ensues when attempting to assess student notebooks. What I find most frustrating is collecting notebooks to see what students are thinking. As a high school teacher with multiple sections of students, trying to carry home hundreds of notebooks isn’t only logistically difficult, it’s time-consuming and inefficient.
We’ve created a number of interactive videos to help us all examine how content known in the NGSS as Disciplinary Core Ideas can be taught using the Science and Engineering Practices, as well as the Cross Cutting Concepts.
Watch — and contribute your own thoughts and ideas — as a group of fourth graders plan and conduct an investigation to determine how to build and then improve a magnet that can be turned on and off. In this video, a fifth-grade class works with a model of the sun and the Earth. Their teacher asks questions as they collectively develop an understanding of their model.
And check out Scientific Modeling With Young Students at Tch Video Lounge, a collection of many of our interactive videos.
Editor’s Note: In honor of Earth Day 2016, Teaching Channel asked science teacher Kathryn Davis to describe her work teaching a biopolymers unit that resulted from a partnership between Tch and The Boeing Company.
According to the United Nations, each year enough plastic is thrown away to circle the earth four times, and these plastics can take over 1000 years to degrade! Sobering facts such as these and images illustrating the devastating effect of plastic waste on wildlife can leave many feeling paralyzed and hopeless.
While there are startling examples of the negative impact humans have had on the earth, there are also stories of innovation and incredible problem solving. I shared with my students the story of the engineer in India who created edible utensils, replacing plastic forks and knives with cutlery that is both delicious and eco-friendly, and the graduate student designing biodegradable clamshell containers from actual clamshells. I want my students to be inspired by these stories, and to feel hopeful that through human innovation and design, we can begin to tackle problems and make changes that can alter our current environmental trajectory.