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180:180 Final Rube Goldberg Projects

178:180 Tap, Tap, is this Mic on?

As per usual, the end of the year starts to fly by at an alarming rate. The students have done a great job with their final projects in telling the conservation of energy story through Rube Goldberg machines, calculations, and qualitative narration. This video is the trailer; full projects will be online next week.

153:180 Measurement of Ω

Students have been working with resistors, finding out how devices that use them can achieve different results: temperature adjustment, bright or dim lightbulbs, electrical circuit protection.  This also has allowed us to learn a different part of the multimeter.



135:180 Daily Date Doodle

Daily Date Doodle is a project that started in 2016 with Pi Day but quickly became an opportunity to learn about women and people of color in STEM fields. As a student, and even though I was a Physics and Geology double major at Mount Holyoke, the stories of scientists were, save one (Mme. Curie), were about “dead white males.”

The one area I don’t have many resources is on LGBTQIA & Nonbinary people in STEM, and it is an area that I want to do more research and find people to feature

I use many resources for inspiration for the daily posts:

Rachel Ignotofsky’s Women in Science (picture from her website)

Rachel Swaby’s Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science — And The World (picture from her website)

Patricia Sluby’s The Inventive Spirit of African Americans: Patented Ingenuity
David Foy’s Great Discoveries and Inventions by African-Americans

https://todayinsci.com/ – A good starting point for general regular information about the history of STEM

http://www.thehistorymakers.org/makers/sciencemakers – A great resource (not only biographies but also interviews!) of African-American Pioneers in STEM Fields

If the person is a medical pioneer, I will often end up here https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/

http://www.womenshistory.org/ – National Women’s History Museum

Twitter Accounts
https://twitter.com/smrtgrls – Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls
https://twitter.com/amightygirl – A Mighty Girl
https://twitter.com/womenshistory – National Women’s History Museum
https://twitter.com/minouette – A scientist by vocation, artist by avocation: marine geophysicist-printmaker, or vice versa

Many artists, graphic novel authors, and others have given me some fantastic ideas about how to show complex ideas visually.
Sydney Padua’s Amazing Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

Larry Gonick’s “Cartoon Guide to Physics”

The all the work of Ed Emberley

David McCauly’s “The Way Things Work” and his other works

Amanda Phingbodhipak’s projects

Mike Rhode – Sketchnotes

And Paul Hewitt – whose drawings have helped us all use a visual language to teach Physics


125:180 Laser Cutter

The engineering department has a laser cutter which has made battery building much easier (and more successful) this year.

Each of these recycled-cardboard discs were then soaked in vinegar to make our LED lightbulb systems work. Each cell gets about 0.8-1.0 volts.

124:180 Batteries

It has been quite a March, we are getting ready for our “Four ‘Easter” tomorrow. The students have been doing a great job with their investigation of voltaic cells, although I don’t think it will be adequate if we lose power again in the Northeast.

96:180 Telling the Whole Story

Reading an 1879 New York Times account of Thomas Edison makes it sound that we have lights today because of one person working in his lab. The story of the contributions and discoveries made by women and people of color in STEM fields has been under-told for years. Recently more and more books are published to help fill in the gaps.

Students read an account of the life of Lewis H. Latimer, a Black American self-taught mechanical end electrical engineer who worked for Edison’s company at the time of the development of the incandescent light bulb.

Students brainstormed together using whiteboards to synthesize the primary New York Times document, their own experience building the incandescent light bulb, and Lewis H. Latimer’s biography to try to tell a fuller story of the invention of the incandescent light bulb. They then wrote on their own to put all the ideas together in their own words.

88:180 Exams

The next four school days are exams for my students in Natural Science & Engineering, part of the exam will involve their knowledge about the tools they used this semester: digital scales with different precisions, multimeters, and Kill-A-Watts. The Legos are for modeling conservation of matter equations for combustion.

They have their engineering journals where they can refer to their notes about operation and usage but having the device to use makes for one final check during the exam.

87:180 Speed “Dating” Exam Prep

Today students used a packet with just pictures and had time individually to add any critical information: vocabulary, equations, tools, ideas, or concepts separately using their engineering journal about each build.

Then they spent 2 minutes with a partner sharing and 2 minutes listening to the concepts they found valuable, then switched partners.  They then annotated the packet with any new information they received  to differentiate original ideas from what was learned from peers.

Tonight, they will reflect on what areas you are strongest in, and what areas they need to focus studying for the exam.

76:180 Watts Up Doc

After building our own incandescent light bulbs, we took data about the number of light bulbs and types in each student’s home. With over 100 data points we are going to come up with a standard profile of LED, CFL, incandescent, and other bulbs used in our homes. Today the students are using Kill A Watts to take some measurements of voltage, current, and power use, inspired by the analysis done on Myth Busters – Does turning off the lights matter?

The other fun aspect of this data was borrowing the FLIR from the Engineering Technology Department. It’s nice when we share our toys.

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