Preparing for Robotics

Preparing for Robotics
Students at DC's Whittier Educational Campus with ReSET Volunteer Peter Mehrevari

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Now That’s Using Your Cerebral Cortex!

Figure 1: ReSET students on a science cruise field trip about to violate rule number 1: never eat your science experiment!
ReSET volunteers are passionate about science, and they’ll go to great lengths to communicate that passion to their students. These scientists-in-the-classroom employ some unique and truly innovative methods of engaging children in their STEM field of expertise:
Philip Posner, who has a Ph.D. in Medical Physiology, shows his students various videos of a functioning heart and blood flow to complement what they are learning in Biology. The children then collect data on their own heart rate during rest, exercise and recovery. Their homework is to repeat the data collection at home with parents and siblings. At their next class they compare the results, and discuss how gender, age, size, and time of day can affect the results.
Chemical Engineer, Sonya Mazumdar and her US Patent and Trademark Office Team, provide the children in her class with different types of toy cars with solar panels. Using various factors, she has the cars race each other to see which will go the fastest when placed against the sunlight—each car directed to equal amounts of sunlight. Sonya was amused when her children asked her if she “raced and tested cars all day long.”
Electrical Engineer, Bill Gill, uses a battery, a piezoelectric buzzer, a light bulb, two jumper wires, and a strip of household aluminum foil to make a simple “Burglar Alarm.” He connects the buzzer and bulb in series with the battery connect the in parallel with the buzzer using the jumper wires. He then has one of his students act as a thief and cut the foil. What happens? The light goes out and the buzzer sounds the alarm—“alerting the police.” Bill explains why it works: “The resistance of the buzzer is 10 times the resistance of the bulb, so the demo is really about resistance . . . with a little fun thrown in.” 
Roberta Goren, who has a degree in Microbiology, has her students plant and sprout their own seeds, and shows them how to identify the leaves and seeds from various trees. The children also learn how to make their own slides, which they study under a microscope.
Michael Fitzmaurice, who teaches Astronomy and Optics, uses a ping-pong ball to construct a model of the human eye. The class then discusses the parts of the eye, how we see, and 2D and 3D vision.
John Meagher, who teaches Environmental Science, has a small frog pond in his backyard. He brings tadpoles to the classroom in early spring and leaves them there for the duration of the program. One teacher he worked with at Annapolis Elementary School had the students draw the tadpole each week during art class. As the physical characteristics of the frog change over time, the students are amazed by the metamorphosis. Many of them want to keep the metamorphs, but John explains that the tadpoles have to return to their natural habitat to thrive.
See for more ideas. How do you innovate? Share YOUR STORY on the ReSET blog.

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