I met a teacher at my very first Dubai Teachmeet who was speaking about the use of Plickers in the classroom. At first, I loved them just for the name but as he explained how they are used I was amazed by how many different ways teachers and educators can use them to collect real time formative assessment data in a simple, low tech, low cost, child friendly way.
These are Plicker cards. Each student is given a card with a unique visual code. The code has 4 sides, each lettered A, B, C, and D and the corners are numbered 1 to 4. The student holds the card so that the letter they choose to answer the question with is at the top of their card. The teacher uses the iOS or Android app on their smartphone to slowly scan the room. The app recognizes the cards and captures the answer that the student chose.
The results appear live and in real time on the teacher’s device, or they can be projected on a large screen for the whole class to see on the Plicker’s website if needed. They can be individually assigned to a student or you can use a class set to give you a general overview of where the class is at.
Due to the fact that all you need is a smartphone and some paper, it’s an app that can be used anywhere from inside the classroom, inside the wildlife garden, to class trips and beyond to monitor the students’ understanding. Another aspect of Plickers that I really like is that is so inclusive and encourages every child to be engaged. As each student has a card and will be scanned, every child must consider the question and give an answer. All Plicker cards are different shapes with tiny letters in different positions so there is no possibility of copying the answer of the student next to them. Also, it’s a hell of a lot fun! Sign up here
The Snap Science programme has been designed to cover the new primary science curriculum with enquiry, exploration, investigation and true progression at it’s core. Every lesson is already differentiated and the lessons aim to make challenging concepts meaningful for students. At £100 a Year Group it’s affordable enough but to check out the kind of resources and ideas that are presented Collins Connect have made the Year 3 – Plants module available here Collins Connect – free primary teaching resources. Being a plant biologist, I like the way they are approaching the topic in a questions based way. What is this for? Are all roots the same? Why are petals different colours? This is in stark contrast to the labelling parts of a plant on a worksheet which I have seen way too often in the primary clas
sroom. There is also a lot of scope to develop child-led investigations out of the lessons and easy to put in different types of enquiry in experiments such as pattern seeking and classification. See what you think!
Stefan Gates is famous for Gastronaut Live: food, science and adventure shows that are staged at major events, food and science festivals, theaters and schools across the UK. I saw him most recent show at The Big Bang Fair UK 2015 and was hugely entertained throughout. Some of the children who I brought along were so inspired that they introduced some of his fun demos into a mini lecture for school!
Timstar have been given access to a range of exhilarating science demo worksheets, videos and much more from Stephan. There are lots of ideas to show you how to inspire people with fascinating food science. Over the next few months videos accompanied by demo worksheets, non-video demo worksheets and features will be published. Keep a look out for updated content right on this page.
Science Foundation Ireland, through the SFI Discover Programme seeks to promote the awareness and engagement of the Irish public with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). The mission of the SFI Discover Programme is to catalyse, inspire and guide the best in STEM education and public engagement. All applications must clearly outline how the project will address SFI’s goal to enable an engaged and scientifically informed public in Ireland.
Projects should address this by showing how they
promote and support STEM education
promote STEM career pathways
increase the general public’s engagement with STEM and its importance in society
See here for more details and information on how to apply.
Active learning begins with curiosity! The Curious George STEM Collection is a great way to help young children understand science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts, such as measuring, building, and simple machines. Lesson plans with Curious George videos offer hands-on investigations and exciting new learning opportunities that will inspire children to explore the world around them. As students ask questions, predict outcomes, share observations, and formulate theories, they establish the science skills and “habits of mind” that lead to academic success and lifelong learning.
Just 13% of science, tech, maths and engineering workers are female. There are several initiatives around the the globe which aims to readdress this balance. From encouraging little girls to play with Lego to mentoring and inspiring female students in University. Many claim a lack of positive female role models is to blame for this gender imbalance. Certainly, I remember only one woman professor in the department I did my degree research in.
I passionately strive to encourage young girls to consider STEM careers and am a member of many organisations such as ScienceGrrl and Project Yamina which are working hard to keep girls interested in scientific research and careers.
Here, Rachel Swaby, author of a book highlighting women’s contributions to science, chooses her favourite female scientists, from the greatest dinosaur hunter to the inventor of Kevlar.
A pet peeve of mine is the fact that many apps for education are Apple only or simply just work better on apple devices. This is a good article on some android apps that promote good dialogue including my favourites Tellagami, Pic Collage and Explain Everything. In a science lesson, these apps are good for recording and annotating equipment, methods, results, decisive conclusions in a digital environment. This in turn promotes good use of scientific language and provides a platform for concise and insightful discussion.
I’ve recently been in Kerala, India and one of the most surprising outcomes of my trip was that I learned I didn’t know where pineapples came from, how they grew, what a baby pineapple looked like. This might be surprising to some people but I grew up in Ireland and we don’t exactly have the right climate for pineapple cultivation. Since then, I have asked others (albeit Irish and English people) where they thought pineapples came from and the answer was always the same – “Erm….a pineapple tree?” . So it’s not just me! When I came across this flowering pineapple I was stunned and actually stopped to consider all the questions that I now had about pineapple botany. And there were a lot….
The scientific name for the pineapple plant is Ananas comosus, ananas coming form the Tupi word for “excellent fruit” and comosus, “tufted”. The Pineapple – An Excellent Tufted Fruit.
So, no there is no such thing as a pineapple tree but rather they grow on medium-sized shrubs on the ground, surrounded by clumps of sword-shaped leaves. The leaves are evergreen and a grey-green colour with rather sharp saw toothed edges. These leaves grow in rosettes from the base of the plants and can reach 30-100cm. When creating its fruit, it usually produces up to 200 purple or red flowers. Once it flowers, the individual fruits of the flowers join together to create what the pineapple which we know and love.
I have found a great tutorial on how to grow your own pineapple plant at home which I am definitely going to give a go! Just remove the crown and put into water until you roots develop then repot. Seems almost too easy but I’ll report back shortly!