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BLOSSOMS What's New? February 2013


February 2013

What's New?

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Newest BLOSSOMS Lesson Created, Videotaped and Edited by Utah High School Teacher, with the Help of His Students
video imageDavid Black, a teacher at the Walden School of Liberal Arts in Provo, Utah, has created the latest BLOSSOMS lesson entitled “The Parallax Activity: Measuring Distances to the Nearby Stars”. Mr. Black made this lesson as the result of winning a contest co-sponsored by three organizations -- Teachers Without Borders, The What If Foundation and MIT BLOSSOMS. This competition was open to educators in the United States and Canada who had written or adapted lesson plans that cover space science or space technology topics, and who had previously implemented those lesson plans. Mr. Black’s winning lesson teaches how the distances to nearby stars are measured using the parallax effect: as the Earth orbits our sun, the positions of the nearest stars seem to wiggle back and forth compared to more distant stars. At the Walden School, Mr. Black’s students collaborate with scientists and engineers to create meaningful educational content, including 3D animations of lunar features for the NASA Lunar Science Institute and Martian dust storms for the Mars Exploration Student Data Team program; audio podcasts on astrobiology for the “365 Days of Astronomy” website; and videos for the SOFIA AAA program. Their blogsite, The Spaced-Out Classroom, shares projects and lesson plans in astronomy and earth science for classes around the world.

BLOSSOMS Holds Workshop for 70 High School Teachers in Beirut, Lebanon
LebanonSponsored by the American University of Beirut’s Science and Mathematics Education Center (SMEC), BLOSSOMS staff presented this initiative to an enthusiastic group of Lebanese math and science teachers, and also school administrators. Workshop participants reacted quite positively to the BLOSSOMS pedagogy and emphasis on deeper learning, and will test out lessons in their classrooms. There was also tremendous enthusiasm for the three BLOSSOSM lessons created by AUB faculty, including: “Tissue Specific Gene Expression”; “Who Do You know? The Theory Behind Social Networking”; and “Rational versus Irrational Numbers”. BLOSSOMS staff also presented the program to faculty at the Notre Dame University in Louaize, Lebanon where two professors have created video lessons. Read more.

The STAR Program at MIT Seeks to Bridge the Divide Between Scientific Research and the Classroom
starUnderstanding and applying research methods in the classroom setting can be challenging due to time constraints and the need for advanced equipment and facilities. The multidisciplinary STAR team collaborates with faculty from MIT and other educational institutions to design software exploring core scientific research concepts.The goal of STAR is to develop innovative and intuitive teaching tools for classroom use. All of the STAR educational tools are freely available. To complement this educational software, the STAR website contains curriculum components/modules which can facilitate the use of STAR educational tools in a variety of educational settings. You can visit this remarkable resource here.

New BLOSSOMS Grant for Work with Massachusetts Teachers

U.S. STEM education is at a major crossroads. New evolving national standards in math and science will require substantial Professional Development training for STEM high school teachers, who will be directed to teach fewer topics but each in a much deeper way. With assistance of a new grant from the Lounsbery Foundation, MIT BLOSSOMS will bring its “Teaching Duet” pedagogy and focus on developing critical thinking skills to this new style of teaching science subjects. BLOSSOMS will work closely with partners in Massachusetts, a state that by many measures ranks #1 in student STEM achievement nationally. We plan to match new BLOSSOMS lessons with topics of the new state science standards, and our focus will be on teacher training as well as content creation and delivery. We hope and expect that the majority of the planned ten new BLOSSOMS lessons will be designed and created by Massachusetts high school teachers. We believe our work will have national consequences, as all the new BLOSSOMS lessons to be created will be OER (Open Educational Resources), available freely to all.

Check Out Seven of the Most Popular BLOSSOMS Lessons

The Flaws of Averages

Roots, Shoots and Wood

Mystery of Motion: Momentum, Kinetic Energy and Their Conversion

Pythagoras and the Juice Seller

Biotechnology: Can It Help in Making the Desert green?

The Braess Paradox: Selfish Drivers and Traffic Planning

The Mailman and the Five Packages: Data Packets and Data Transfer Speed