Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Total Package Tuesdays

Today's topic is total PACKAGE topic is...ironically...package engineering.  It's something that most don't spend much time thinking too much about, but there is an entire industry that relies on this specific profession.  Check out Packaging World or  Packaging Digest for everything you could ever what to know.  There are articles, videos, examples, even blogs!   On our recent trip to Disneyland, I spent a great deal of time at the store trying to find small, portable, kid friendly items to pack in my purse.  It started me thinking about all of the thought that goes into packaging new items.  Companies are trying to corner a market, provide less for more, and convince us all to buy their "new" products.  Take some of my recent favorites...


My daughter's favorite new treat.  Applesauce in a squeeze container.  There are no worries about having a spoon and they are everything free that you can think of.

This must have been made just for me.  Too lazy to pack your lunch before leaving the house?  Just bring it along and make it at work.  Genius!

There is also the king of packaging: IKEA. Packaging is such a big part of their company that they've designed an entire web page to it.  They even have a case study on how to more efficiently ship tea candles.

When looking at our class's recent package engineering assignment, the students used the 6 thinking hats to generate ideas without letting one person "bulldoze" the conversation.  If you've never used it, you can check out what it is about by clicking on the hats or here (from Mind Tools).  It can be used for any subject area; not just in science!

Engineering: Go for It! has multiple activities to introduce students to this unusual niche in the engineering field.
Try Engineering has 5 different lessons available on package engineering.
Teach Engineering -evaluate packaging

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Learning the Periodic Table

I went back to school this week after 2 glorious weeks off.  (Fall break is the reason that I suck it up and go back to school in July.)  I missed Total Package Tuesdays, but I will be back next week.  I was so burnt after an entire day of meetings, I just wanted to unwind when I got home...i.e. not do anything school related.

Today was my first day back with kids, and I did something I rarely do today...I gave an extra credit assignment.  The 8th graders are learning about chemistry this quarter, so I challenged them to learn the periodic table song.  For fun, for a challenge, and for a trick they can someday do at parties to impress their friends.  What they don't know is that it is more to get them to investigate the table than anything else.  There are so many examples out there that they have plenty of tunes and versions to pick from.  One of the students asked if they could write their own song...by all means my overachieving gifted kiddos!  This version was especially motivating...


Although I wouldn't expect them to learn all of their names, I'm sure some will take me up on my challenge.  That's what it is really...a challenge.  I plan on making everyone memorize the most important of the elements and their symbols and am working on a new unit full of chemistry games.  Here is a I have, Who has? to practice some of those basics if you'd like a copy...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

More on the love of logic puzzles...

My 11 year old L-O-V-E-S logic puzzles.  She swears she will never be a teacher, and I hope for her that her calling is elsewhere, but this morning she wrote her own logic puzzle.  After a week of writing her own crosswords and word searches, she gave logic puzzles a go and did a great job for her first one.  I could tell by reading her clues that she had solved a fair share of puzzles on her own because writing them requires not only an understanding, but a higher level skill to create them.  She's given a copy to anyone who would take one, so I'm giving one to you too.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Chemistry Curriculum for Middle Schoolers

I haven't been quite this excited since I found the JASON Project curriculum!  ACS has a complete chemistry for middle school package for FREE on their website www.middleschoolchemistry.com.
It is a complete 9 week unit that provides inquiry lessons for everyday.  There is a reading "textbook" piece, assessments to use, and video clips.  It really is amazing and I'm so excited to be using it next quarter.  My other favorite resource for science is at Middle School Science.  Liz LaRosa offers so much of what she does in her classroom, and all for FREE as well.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Halloween Logic Fun!

My daughter LOVES logic puzzles, and unfortunately she has done all of the ones I have.  I made her a couple this past weekend and thought I'd share with you as well!

                                         You can get it here...

                          Or Here...

Total Package Tuesdays

To this day I still remember my favorite science class of all time: physics.  This was the only class in high school that really challenged me since I hadn't yet taken calculus.  During one quarter I even earned a D, much to my chagrin. It really should have been called engineering.  If it had been, I may have chosen that as a career.  We build toothpick bridges and dropped eggs strapped to parachutes from the top of the stadium.  We made a life-sized boat from cardboard and water soluble glue and had to paddle it across the pool and ran marbles down ramps to hit bulls eyes.  But nothing will ever be as fabulous as the lab activities that we did on our field trip to Magic Mountain. 20 years later I still remember my lab kit and calculating centrifugal force, rate of gravity, acceleration and velocity like it was yesterday.  To be honest, I don't remember more than a few moments of every other class I took in high school, but there was something about physics.

Being in California this past weekend brought back so many happy thoughts about physics class, and since our family just returned from Disneyland during our fall break, today's topic is Rollercoasters.

Build Your Own Coasters!
Discovery Kids
Amusement Park Physics
Coaster Dynamics
Roller Coaster Design -9 physics lessons

 Science Lessons/Contests
Teach Engineering Lesson Plan
Roller Coaster Mania!

Roller Coaster Statistics
Scale Drawing Lessons

Articles for Kids
Roller Coaster Thrills
     Questions/Cross Curricular Tie ins
News Detective: Emily rides a roller coaster
History of the Coaster
Physics of Roller Coasters

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Total Package Tuesdays

Today's topic is Urban Heat Islands!  This is an engineering topic that is relevant for the students I teach here in the suburbs of Phoenix.  At ASU, in Tempe, there is a relatively new college that focuses on sustainability.  They have so much available online from lessons to articles.  Since heat is the leading story on the news for at least three months out of the year, I find that this topic is something that all of my students have a creative mind to fix!  Piggy backing on our recent study of animal adaptations, the 8th graders began to look at how desert dwellers have dealt with the heat throughout history.
This topic lends itself to data collection and graphing in math.  There are countless sites that include tables of data from cities that students could graph and compare with other cities.  The Very, Very Simple Climate Model Activity is an interactive graphing program online that allows students to explore the role that CO2 plays in temperature change.

Total Packages!
Urban Heat Island Unit
SPARK UCAR Feeling the Heat lesson
EPA Links to multiple resources online
ASU Global Institute of Sustainability

National Geographic Education
e! Science News variety of articles
Heat Island Impacts
EPA Heat Island Reduction Activities
Tomorrow's Urban Heat Islands

EPA Where You Live
Green Education Foundation
Study Jams -Heat