Newsletters | Newsletter Archive BLOSSOMS What's New? April 2014

April 2014

What's New?

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Malaysian BLOSSOMS Lessons Combine Academics with Local Culture
Three new lessons are now on the MIT BLOSSOMS website contributed by our partners at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). Two of the lessons have been created by teams of educators at UTM, while the third lesson was produced by two high school teachers. These lessons cover topics in Chemistry, Physics and Engineering. One outstanding feature of these lessons—as well as of their earlier lessons—is the degree to which these BLOSSOMS partners draw elements of Malaysian culture into presentation of a high school Science, Math and Engineering topic. Cross–cultural awareness and understanding are two important mission goals of the MIT BLOSSOMS initiative, and for this reason we salute our Malaysian partners for sharing and celebrating their rich cultural traditions.

Thermodynamics: Energy Conversion in Generating Electricity
ThermodynamicsThis is an introductory lesson in Thermodynamics that supports students in visualizing the conversion of energy and its importance in real world applications. To this end, everyday examples are used to help students see the conversion of energy all around them. Energy conversion is explored through a simple example of generating electricity for lighting up a village shadow puppetry play. The chain process of energy conversion is fully explored, right through the end product of electricity. This lesson brings students to a Power Plant where the plant manager discusses equipment and processes involved in producing electricity for homes and businesses. Watch the lesson here.

Why Neutralize? Impact on Health and the Environment
NeutralizeThe aim of this lesson is to introduce the concept of Neutralization and its applications in our daily lives. It presents a series of situations relating to Neutralization—starting with the story of a girl being cured of a stomachache with the help of Neutralization. This lesson then moves through numerous other examples of the important role Neutralization plays on many levels in the world around us. Students are encouraged to construct their knowledge of Neutralization through brainstorming sessions, experiments, and mind mapping. Watch the lesson here.

The Art of Making Layer Cakes: Proper Construction of Bituminous Roads and Highways
The Art of Making Layer CakesThis lesson introduces high school students to the engineering concept of road construction and to the reasons why problems might arise in road construction. Presentation of this concept is made more accessible to students by comparing road construction to the art of baking a layer cake. This simple comparison serves to emphasize how important it is to follow proper procedures and to use proper materials for successful road construction. The approach used is highly correlated with the common knowledge of baking layer cakes in Malaysia. Watch the lesson here.


MIT’s STAR Program Bridges Divide Between Scientific Research and the Classroom
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 our educational software, the STAR website contains curriculum components/modules which can facilitate the use of STAR educational tools in a variety of educational settings. Students, teachers, and professors should feel welcome to download software and curriculum modules for their own use. We welcome your comments and feedback as you explore these educational tools. Visit website here.

BLOSSOMS Cryptography Lesson Adapted for “Strong Women, Strong Girls’ Jump into Spring” Event

I recently had the pleasure of hosting a Cryptography Exhibition at the Strong Women, Strong Girls’ Jump into Spring event, representing the Cambridge Science Club for Girls. Strong Women, Strong Girls is a nationally recognized multi-generational mentoring program. This event drew hundreds of elementary school girls from the Boston area to a convention center where numerous social service agencies gave ongoing presentations designed to educate and inspire the girls, who moved freely around the exhibition hall.

As a guide for this Cryptography Exhibition, I used the MIT BLOSSOMS lesson, “Building Cryptosystems”. In order to better suit the large and younger audience, I used a whiteboard to present the concepts of cryptography presented in the BLOSSOMS video, rather using physical props. We went over the principles of coding using a shifted alphabet, a randomized alphabet, and multiple randomized alphabets. In addition, my co-presenter and I introduced a new feature to the lesson plan - we had the girls construct their own code! Read more.