Grade 12 IB chemistry was pretty fun yesterday! We were learning about electroplating and thought why not try and text my dad and see if he is at work. My dad has been an electroplater his whole life and the head plater at his work. No sooner did we text him, we were FaceTiming from our phones and learning! I used AirServer to connect my phone to my MacBook so that the students could see and recorded the call in app with AirServer. The recording didn’t get us speaking but my dad came in loud and clear.
He gave us a tour of the nickel, copper, silver and gold plating tanks. It fit in so perfect with my lesson and really shows chemistry in action. STEM education is important and you need to know a lot about chemistry to do this job. From choosing the proper electrodes, and solutions to getting the amount of volts and timing right, the students got to see live plating.
Check out the video below of my Dad, Peter Zoras, showing my TDSB class how to do platting!
During TDSB’s board wide PD session I attended and presented at the STAO Conference (Science Teachers Association of Ontario). I attended some great sessions and got some real inspiration from Steve Spangler. He not only showed some great demos but shared many heart warming stories. Spangler stressed the importance of never knowing which moment in teaching inspires which students. Students may resonate with something that was trivial to you but sticks with them. His story involved a retired grade 1 teacher who ran into her former student during breakfast one day. The student, now with a family of his own, asked if she remembered the grade 1 solar system activity and that it inspired him. She didn’t remember at first and then upon his further explanation she remembers hanging planets on the ceiling and kids pretending to fly to them. She thought it was just a fun activity but the former student said it inspired him. The student was part of the team that worked on the Mars rover.
Heading over to the STAO Tweet Up I got to meet some great educators that are also using social media personally and professionaly in the classroom with their students. Always great to get a real life visit with people you interact with online and consider a valuable professional development resource.
My presentation – “Using Technology and Social Media to Explore STSE Issues”
“Engaging students with technology and social media to explore STSE issues and student-led, research-informed action projects. Lesson plans, student examples and demos include netbooks, Wikispaces, Twitter, YouTube, VROC, and simulations.”
I felt the presentation went well with many engaged educators who not only were listening to me but interacting and sharing their own ideas. I love when I can go present at a conference at learn from others in my own presentation. I think it shows a whole new level of engagement and respect for the attendees as valuable participants.
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Thanks John for the photo!
Dr. J. Lawrence Bencze – Associate Professor OISE, University of Toronto
Brandon Zoras ACL of Science, Cedarbrae CI
TDSB Eureka Conference, Friday February 15th 2013
Target: All Course Relevance Gr. 9-12
Room # – 242 KTL Ref: AM-S1.14
After a brief outline of theory surrounding promotion of student -led, primary research-informed, actions on STSE issues, practical classroom-tested examples will be shared. With issues, debates among powerful decision-makers are emphasized; with research, correlational studies are emphasized; with actions, IT- based ones are highlighted.
For more information visit http://stepwiser.ca
I was asked to lead a demonstration classroom to 8 other teachers within my school board. I was nervous at first, as I knew I was going to be one of the newest and youngest teachers there (which turns out I was). I was also very excited to share some of the ideas I have tested and receive feedback.
The session was called Incorporating Literacy & STSE to Engage Digital Learners. I firmly believe a great way to engage applied students in science is to pose a problem that is relevant to them. We started off by watching the trailer to the documentary called H2Oil (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xenYLY5lU58) , and then an ad from Cenovus Energy, a company wanting to extract oil from Alberta Oil Sands (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1mZMOP-wbY) . I had the students write on an oil drop if they believed we should remove the oil from Alberta and sell it to other countries. The students had various opinions, and were given the option to change their opinion once they watched both trailers. The following week we actually screened the full H2Oil documentary to the students.
The other teachers came into the room and watched how the students used netbooks to create a wiki about power generation. The lesson plans will be placed below the post. The idea was a new island was formed in Lake Ontario that needed its own type of power generation. The students needed to make a wiki to make a pitch to the mayor to choose their best power generation (nuclear, coal, solar etc.). Students had time to research and then use Wikispaces to create the site that included diagrams, picture and YouTube videos. The teachers were very impressed with how seamlessly the technology was integrated into the lesson. That is how technology should be integrated, the curriculum and concepts are more important, technology is the tool used. We can grow our technology skills and transfer them to other areas as well. We ended with an Exit Card, which had the students write down 3 things they learned, 2 things they wanted to learn more about and 1 way they can make a change to help the environment. This allowed me to read them and see what they learned from the lesson and what I needed to add next time, as well as their interests.
The debriefing of the demo class went very well, we worked together with the Instructional Leader for science to provide feedback and also how the other teachers could do this same lesson this year. I really enjoyed running the session and hope to do another soon. It is very important as a teacher to step out of your classroom and try a new project once and a while. The most important thing about technology that I have learned is that the students will always surprise you by doing something beyond or even helping you when you are stuck.
Learning Virtually with Virtual Researcher On Call (VROC) Partnership between University of Toronto and TDSB.
Today our class had a virtual researcher in our grade 11 Chemistry class. Dr. Sanchita Bandyopadhyay-Ghosh joined us from the University of Toronto to talk about Green Chemistry. She is from Centre for Biocomposites and Biomaterials Processing University of Toronto and works with biodegradable composites, cellulose nanofibres , biopolyol and biofoam.
Her lecture was informative discussed the major links chemistry has to industry and the environment. She graciously shared her work in the field and discussed the next steps. She challenged to students to enter into science fields to fix the problems we have and make a sustainable future. She shared her passion for the environment and told the students how she got involved and why she keeps on working in this field.
“2050 ‘biological capacity’ equal to two planet earths would be required to keep up with humanity’s resource demands and waste production.”
VROC has proven to be an excellent tool for the classroom. We were able to link chemistry to a researcher in the field and look at the environmental impact.
Thank you Carol from VROC and Dr Sanchita Bandyopadhyay-Ghosh for participating in an enriching learning experience on Green Chemistry with the Toronto District School Board.
Today we had a great lesson with using circuits. Having just learned the symbols and how to create circuit diagrams, we moved onto circuit construction with series and parallel circuits. One of the best free resources out there for electricity comes from University of Colorado, PhET (phet.colorado.edu) using the circuit construction kit the students were able to make their drawings into online circuits, then use the equipment to make the physical circuit.
Having the mobile cart of netbooks was a great addition to this lab. We were able to bring a laptop to each work station and have students connect the diagrams, simulations and physical circuits. The students were incredibly engaged and started testing out their own circuit ideas. This allowed another level as well as a chance to practice computer skills. It is also beneficial, as many companies will use simulations to test before making costly prototypes.
The lesson started out with learning the basics and having students build simple series and parallel circuits, but quickly turned into challenges and problems that students needed to use their knowledge and critical thinking skills to solved. Students were told they were hired by a brand new game show that required contestants to flip switches to light up their answers. They had to figure out how to wire it, test it as a simulation and then physically build it.
Netbooks/Laptops have been an amazing part of my science lessons as it gives students an opportunity to become more engaged in science. It is preparing them to meet the needs of higher education and employers who use technology with science hand in hand.
What a great way to close the celebrations of African History month. Although it should not be a closing point but an opening point that has opened the eyes and minds of students and teachers across the country. My regular lesson was planned for the day on the atom and when I saw the museum being set up in the front lobby of our school I changed the plan and had all my classes take a 20 minute visit. The objective was to find 2 inventors/scientists, what their contribution was and most importantly how has this shaped current products on a science, social, environmental or technological level. The students got to see many scientists and inventors and without their contributions, many modern day products would not be the same or even exist. Many of my students of African heritage described the exhibit as motivating and they felt proud. Students of non-African heritage were intrigued at the range of contributions of products and technologies that they use each day and got to learn more about the history and the inventors. This was an amazing example of connecting STSE education and the science course.
I first saw this museum when Signs of Science brought Dr. Ben Carson up from the United States to present in Etobicoke and thought it would be a great thing for all students to see. They also have a section on African Americans contribution to space journey. Students were able to see that many people like themselves are able to contribute to and invent great things. I hope to see this push in the classroom for the rest of the semester and not limited to the month of February.
Links Below For More Info
This years conference was very successful and teaches us the importance to come together every once and a while and share. This is the 3rd one I have been to and first one I have presented at. There is always something for everyone from things as small as nano particles to as large as global warming and black holes.
Alan Nursall (@alannursall) did an amazing job opening up the conference. He engaged us with unique demos that got us all thinking of how to further open the minds of our students to science. He discussed the importance of shared learning and understanding science. This is modeled in his show on Daily Planet.
My presentation “Not another boring brochure! Using Wiki’s for STSE projects” went extremely well. This was my first time presenting at a conference as I have hosted demo classrooms for groups no larger than 10 in my class. (See here for the wiki we collaborated on and the handouts and power point notes http://mrzoras.wikispaces.com/). The most important part of my session was to have each teacher leave with a functioning wiki, a better understanding of using STSE education (Science, Technology, Society and Environment) and a list of their own wikis so we can collaborate in the future. I really enjoyed presenting and made me think that if someone has a good idea its best to share it as we have seen people who like to keep ideas to themselves. Within a public education board, we are all paid on a grid not on what lessons we produce. So why not help other teachers as I can only support my 90 students a semester and they shouldn’t be the only ones benefiting but if I help 35 teachers, do the math! We should all be collaborating, working on fluid projects that look at how to make ALL students successful.
I attended two other sessions, one “Incorporating Literacy, STSE and Co‐operative Learning in Gr. 10 Science” by Leila Knetsch, who I have had the pleasure to work with before. She did a great job sharing and modeling a wide variety of hands on activities to explore STSE components. The other session was about a site with online lesson plans and virtual classrooms. http://www.greenlearning.ca/ is a site about climate change and science. The subsite Cool 2.0 allows for collaborative, rankings and submissions of lesson plans and activities. This is a great way to share resources that are approved and classroom ready.
All in all, great conference and now with one conference complete I will be looking for ways to share at other events! Thanks to Nandanee Sawh one of the instructional leaders of science from TDSB for organizing such a successful event.