1964 in NYSCI’s Great Hall, nearly 50 years ago…Frank Capra’s last movie, Rendezvous in Space is a 20 minute long quasi-documentary with Danny Thomas trying to explain what will happen in the Space Station that will eventually orbit the Earth (a question that still lingers with the International Space Station). At one point in the movie —which I have put on youtube, its a lousy print, but you can get the idea, —the footage cuts to the images that John Glenn took from his first Friendship 7 orbits of the Earth.
It is the first time most people every saw the Earth from outside the Earth. I remember it vaguely, but the rush of images, culminating in the image of the Earth from the moon and beyond, have diminished the shock. We are on one planet, not on separate continents. Political lines do not show up on the actual globe (I actually remember being kind of surprised, since the only globe I had at home was a political map). The ocean, the clouds, the atmosphere are vast and transnational.
For the new exhibition we are planning in NYSCI’s Great Hall, we are inspired by this sense of connectedness to consider the global systems that shape the future of the planet. Not just the natural systems, but the social, economic, transportation, and electronic networks that are deeply influential in peoples’ lives. The immediate impacts of these human global systems shape our lives more directly than the longer range impacts of changing natural systems.
Steve Uzzo, a network science PhD and polymath leading the Great Hall Project insists that climate change is a symptom of a world out of balance, and that making communities healthier and more sustainable (in a human sense…better education, health care, transportation, economic opportunity) is the best way to address climate change.
There is a wonderful set of TED talks by Hans Rosling that use clever visualization to show how data reveals transnational social change. Check it out. It is an image of a globally interconnected world that is more abstract than John Glenn’s orbital pictures of the earth, but equally compelling in showing how connected we are.
Is today’s music instruction a little hollow? Should science education be hit with a thunderbolt?
Don’t worry. The thunderbolt is in town and she has collaborated with NYSCI and the Creator’s Project on an education series for middle school students. Björk, the Icelandic music superstar, has made New York City the first U.S. stop on her Biophilia tour, with shows at NYSCI and Roseland Ballroom. Not content to just sing about nature and science, Björk has made education an integral part of her New York residency. Through the Biophilia Education Series, music and science instructors are educating 50 Queens students by using Björk songs to teach topics like dark matter, crystalline structures, and viruses. Students were recruited from middle schools in our neighboring communities of Corona and Flushing.
In the Biophilia after-school workshops and this week’s winter break camp, students explore the fundamentals of music composition and production using iPad apps created by Björk for her latest project, Biophilia. Students also participate in demonstrations and hands-on activities led by NYSCI instructors that explore the scientific themes of Biophilia. The result is a unique educational experience that will get kids feeling electrified about songs, nature and technology.
Think of it as a bolt of inventiveness for science and music learning.
Photo: Students learn about the phases of the moon at a Biophilia workshop. Photo by Andrew Kelly. View more photos.
At the NY Hall of Science, there are a whole slew of things I am working toward on any given day. This blog will focus on five projects that are all pretty large scale, all interesting and challenging across several different dimensions, and all in about the same stage of development. I will also…
The woman looked at the items on the table. Vegetable oil, egg yolks, linseed oil and other ingredients. The elements for a perfect creation were right there in front of her, if only she could find the right combination.
The woman was not cooking. She was attending a workshop where participants mixed powdered pigments with everyday materials such as oils, soap and sand to create unique paints. The workshop was part of the conference Design, Make, Play Growing the Next Generation of Science Innovators, which was hosted by NYSCI in collaboration with O’Reilly Media and the White House Office of Science Technology Policy. Design, Make, Play brought together educators, policy leaders, university researchers, and makers to discuss how the kinds of do-it-yourself innovations on display at the annual World Maker Faire can become inspirations for reforming and improving the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in schools.
Paints weren’t the only things created that day – wooden cars, mini bobsleds, robots, pop-up cards and other projects required participants to try out new techniques, find solutions to problems, and use their inventiveness.
So what’s the best recipe for getting kids and adults interested in science? Start with a base of make-inspired projects then add a dash of curiosity and a pinch of critical thinking. Innovation is sure to follow!
Design, Make, Play’s lead sponsor is Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds. Additional support is provided by the National Science Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, and the Kauffman Foundation.
Participants at today’s Design, Make, Play: World Maker Faire Workshop, Phase Two spent the day exploring ways to enrich learning and increase student interest in science and math with projects that focus on making, designing and engineering. Workshop activities included making pop-up cards with LEDs, creating a robot from scratch, and building a wooden car, among others. The two-day workshop is a collaboration between NYSCI and O’Reilly Media.
Pictured: A conference attendee builds a Vibrocraft in a session presented by the Eli Whitney Museum.
Our David Wells comments on a new squishy circuit kit made by NYSCI Friend AnnMarie Thomas and her crew at St. Thomas University. Look familiar? You may have seen AnnMarie exhibiting it at last year’s World Maker Faire.
Tornadoes in Queens, snowstorms in October, stranded polar bears. It’s clear we need to do some serious thinking – and acting – about climate change.
More than 100 teachers throughout the New York region have taken up the challenge and are implementing a new climate change curriculum into their middle school classrooms. Part of a two-year partnership between NYSCI and Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors, the My Carbon Footprint curriculum will give students the scientific foundation they need to understand climate change and its related issues. With hands-on activities such as analyzing layers of soil, deconstructing electronic products to determine their effects on the environment, and simulating the effects of sea level rise on a tabletop beach house, students will learn about scientific concepts related to climate change such as mitigation, adaptation, climate variability and more.
Last November, the teachers began the process by attending a professional development workshop at NYSCI, where they learned about the curriculum and tried out some of the hands-on activities. Within the next few months, teachers will introduce the climate change lessons into their classrooms, reaching approximately 12,000 students.
That’s good news for Queens residents, polar bears, and all who share the planet with them.
NYSCI announces ReMake the Holidays.Bend, twist, sculpt and taste a new version of the holiday season during NYSCI’s winter carnival of do-it-yourself creativity. Registration now open for workshops and camps. Musical Machines, LEDs, Robot boats and more. Sign up today
Now, more than ever before, teachers are faced with difficult decisions regarding their curriculum. With the onset of new standards and new testing, we are now asking ourselves what is important for us to teach? What is it that we currently do that continues…
We’re leading the way with SciGames, a new project developed by SciPlay, The Sara Lee Schupf Family Center for Play, Science, and Technology Learning. SciGames uses technology to turn playground play into interactive games. For instance, by attaching speed sensors to a common playground slide, the slide transforms into a powerful educational tool. Instead of simply racing to the bottom of the slide, kids can experiment with different variables, such as what type of material to sit on as they glide down the slide. This turns the act of sliding down a slide into a fun game that explores science concepts such as friction, and kinetic and thermal energy.
SciGames will also include the development of a mobile app that teachers and students can use to aggregate the data collected during the games on the playground and to conduct analysis of that data back in the classroom. This bridge between formal and informal learning environments is a hallmark of our initiatives to improve and reform education in science, technology, engineering and math.
As a finalist for a $3.44 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the SciGames project is poised to reach approximately 8,000 New York students over the next five years. We are one of only 23 foundations, museums and schools that are finalists for an Investing in Innovation Fund, or i3, grant. The i3 program supports projects that will improve student achievement or student growth, decrease dropout rates, or close achievement gaps.
So get ready. If the kids get high marks in this race, we’ll all wind up winning.
Though scientists have found methane on Mars, a gas produced by living things on Earth, the source remains ambiguous. Cows, termites? Not likely. Chemicals? Perhaps. Microbes? Perhaps if life on Earth is a model.
Explore The Search for Life Beyond Earth at NYSCI to understand why life on Mars may be possible. With NASA sending a new rover to Mars to explore the planet, now is the perfect time to learn about life in extreme environments.
Late last month, 450 of New York’s top business and community leaders gathered to discuss important topics such as the need to engage our youth in the sciences, the challenge of mitigating climate change, the direction of our nation’s educational system, and … how to create your own bling.
Using an LED and a battery, the Create-Your-Own-Bling project was a big hit at this year’s Evening of Science and Inspiration, NYSCI’s annual fundraising gala, which raised $1 million to support NYSCI’s research and programs. Using a theme of Design, Make, Play, the evening included activities such as building paper air dancers, writing laser graffiti, and doodling in the dark.
This year’s honorees included Google, which received the Vision & Benture Award for bold corporate vision to establish a creative corporate environment for achievement in science and technology; Kevin Parker, head of Deutsche Bank Global Asset Management, who received the Global Science Award for world-renowned excellence in engineering, technology and visionary leadership; and John Slaughter, the first African-American director of the National Science Foundation and former CEO of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, who was awarded the Distinguished Leadership Award for transformation, ingenuity and excellence in science.
But, it turns out, middle and high school students are having most of the fun, building their erector sets and dropping eggs into water to test the first law of motion. The excitement quickly fades as students brush up against the reality of what David E. Goldberg, an emeritus engineering professor, calls “the math-science death march.” Freshmen in college wade through a blizzard of calculus, physics and chemistry in lecture halls with hundreds of other students. And then many wash out.
Margaret Honey pushing creative activities out of the classroom with NYSCI’s new Maker Space coming in February. Recorded at World Maker Faire as part of Making, Education and Innovation panel this year. Via Fora.tv
This Saturday, November 5, NYSCI will host 100 teachers for a My Carbon Footprint professional development workshop. The educators will learn all about the project, receive a copy of the curriculum, and get a chance to try out some of the My Carbon Footprint lessons.
To prepare for this workshop, members of NYSCI’s education staff have eagerly been gathering materials and organizing classrooms and labs. We had a difficult time picking which lessons we’ll be highlighting, but we finally selected Natural Variability vs. Man-Made Climate Change, Life Cycles of Electronics, and Adaptation and Mitigation: Sea Level Rise. Even if you can’t make it to the workshop, you can check out these lessons as well as many more by downloading the My Carbon Footprint curriculum found on the Curriculum page of this site.
These are photos of students completing the same lessons the teachers will try out on Saturday.
Check back next week for some pictures and stories from the workshop.
No carbs, lo carbs, cabbage soup, lemonade… heck, even princesses have their own diet. But could a food plan that includes bugs be the next big diet fad?
Many cultures throughout the world include insects in their diets, but here in the United States, the idea has yet to catch on. David Gracer is working to change that. An English teacher, writer and naturalist, Gracer advocates the eating of insects as an excellent source of nutrition and as an intelligent food choice for an overcrowded planet. Bugs, after all, are a good, and plentiful, source of protein, vitamins and minerals.
Gracer will be at NYSCI this weekend as part of the Dead or Alive Halloween event. He will talk about the value of insects in human diets and will even offer bug tastings all day.
If you like what you taste, you can make a bug-filled day of it by dining at nearby El Globo, where they serve quesadillas a los chapulines (grasshopper quesadillas), a Mexican specialty.
So hop, wriggle or worm your way over to NYSCI this weekend. You don’t want to miss this event – everyone will be buzzing about it!
For the past two weeks, Sesame Street viewers across the country have been treated to a morning science lesson with NYSCI and a loveable muppet named Murray Monster. Murray, with help from a Spanish-speaking lamb called Ovejita, cheered on as NYSCI Science Instructor Adiel Fernandez gave short lessons that encourage kids to learn science through design and think like engineers. Adiel is an educator with NYSCI’s Sara Lee Schupf Family Center for Play, Science, and Technology Learning (SciPlay), which created the science lessons.
The Sesame Street episodes, filmed in NYSCI’s Rocket Park Mini Golf, Rocket Park, and Science Playground, ran locally on PBS stations in New York and New Jersey, as well as in Nebraska, Montana, West Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Arizona and California.
See if you can spot NYSCI next week on Sesame Street on WNET Thirteen (October 20 at 10 am and October 21 at 7 am), WLIW21 (October 24 at 9 am), and NJTV (October 20 at 11 am).
We didn’t know exactly what to expect on our way to Queens, NY for the 2011 World Maker Faire NY, but we did knew that it was going to be awesome! We had spent some time on the Maker Faire website, which is chock full of videos of people making all sorts of things. The emphasis is on science and technology, and the flashy gadgetry drew in Matt and The Boy like moths to flame.
As the world’s largest DIY festival, it’s a celebration of making “stuff” with your bare hands, with an emphasis on inventing entirely new stuff, or finding a better way to create the stuff already out there! …
On September 17, more than 300 people packed into NYSCI’s auditorium to hear a panel of experts discuss the impact that “making” can have on education and innovation. The panel, called “Making, Education, and Innovation,” was held on the first day of World Maker Faire, a festival celebrating invention, creativity and the do-it-yourself movement.
Margaret Honey, NYSCI’s president and CEO, participated in the panel as an expert on children’s education. Margaret explained that NYSCI works to
“create experiences, particularly for young people, that are inspirational and, like Maker Faire, are catalytic and transformative … Places like science centers or children’s museums or other kinds of community-based organizations are also really important hubs for community activity because we’re less of a barrier and more of a resource that engages.”
Other panel experts included Tom Kalil, deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE Magazine, co-founder of O’Reilly Media, and creator of Maker Faire; and Francisco D’Souza, CEO and president of Cognizant.
The entire panel discussion can be viewed online here.
Congrats to 100kin10 on the launch of their initiative to respond to the national imperative to prepare, deploy and support 100,000 excellent STEM teachers over the coming 10 years. NYSCI is a proud partner through our Design Lab work, where we are committed to training the next generation of STEM teachers in design-based learning. Design Lab fellows Brian Schnee and Paige Teamey recently shared their latest design projects at World Maker Faire, held earlier this month. Design Lab teachers also helped facilitate a new design starter activity, Circuits in the City, where children, parents and teachers used LEDs, buzzers, pipe cleaners, wires and other materials to test out ideas for circuit-related items that will make the city a happy place.