50 more easy science activities

Another fifty (or so) easy science activities, most require few materials, with links to many more.   http://buggyandbuddy.com/science-activities-kids/

My favorite picture from our game camera so far.   A baby raccoon meets the local feral cat.  Neither wants to tangle with the other, but neither one knows how to get out of it, either!  So they just circled each other and slowly backed away.

Maps of Ecosystems

Very nice maps of North America by region or by states, in a variety of different levels of detail, are available from http://www.epa.gov/wed/pages/ecoregions.htm

If you ask nicely you can sometimes get a large classroom copy mailed to you.

 

One example of how to use this is to post them side-by-side with a geology map of the same area, or a precipitation map and have the students looks for similarities and patterns in the distribution of vegetation types and the surface geology.  They can also look for patterns in the distribution of vegetation types and the amount of precipitation, or of any other weather characteristic you might be able to generate maps of.  Shown is Oklahoma but these are available for most states and regions.

Texas Science Educators conferences coming up!

Link

The 2012 CAST (Texas Science Teachers Association) meeting is now in the history books.  I know one booth gave out 6,000 catalogs so there were at least that many teachers present.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this kind of event will be a life-changer for you.  Whatever level you teach or hope to teach there is something about being a part of a HUGE group of the best of the best to get a person excited and energized and full of new ideas!

The best part for us Northerners (Oklahomans, as seen by Texas) is that there are several such events coming up near us.  The future CAST meetings are:

Nov. 7-9, Houston (OK, so Houston is not so close – but think what kinds of field trips there will be with Galveston and NASA so close)

Nov 20-22, 2014, Dallas

Nov 12-14, Fort Worth

And… drumroll…. the BEST of the best of the best – the NSTA National Science Teachers national conference this spring in Dallas, April 11-14 .  If you can only make one day, do it!  It will be unimaginably big.  http://www.nsta.org/conferences/2013san/

Free Green School Training, with STEM components

OK GREEN SCHOOLS 2012 TRAINING REGISTRATION NOW OPEN
Please register below for one (or more) of our five FREE Oklahoma Green Schools Training sessions. Join us for one of these events to learn how the Oklahoma Green Schools Program works, review the Project Learning Tree (PLT) GreenSchools Investigations in the five topics: ENERGY, WATER, WASTE & RECYCLING, ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY, and SCHOOL SITE (includes STEM-related activities), participate in small group discussions and peruse the toolkit. All sessions will be held from 9:00-11:00 am (except Weatherford which will be from 4:00-6:00 pm). Refreshments for each session are sponsored by Greenstar Recycling.

PLEASE DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO REGISTER! If we do not have at least fifteen (15) registrants three days prior to each event, the training session will be cancelled. You can help us increase registration by passing this email on to other folks you know who might be interested. We hope to see you in July or August at one of these events!

Click here to register: http://www.okgreenschools.org/okgs-training/

(View dates & locations below. Additional details are available on the website)

July 19—4:00 to 6:00 pm—Weatherford (SWOSU )
Host: Marie Pool, Clinton High School
Location: Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU), 100 Campus Drive, Weatherford, OK 73096

July 24—9:00 to 11:00am—Metro Career Academy— Oklahoma City (+optional tour)
Host: Barbara Loudermilk, Principal
Location: Metro Career Academy, 201 N.E. 48th, Oklahoma City, OK 73105
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July 31—Ada: East Central University (ECU)
Host: Dr. Douglas Weirick, Chair—ECU Department of Environmental Health Science
Location: ECU Physical and Environmental Sciences (PES) Building, Room 262

Aug 2—Bartlesville: OSU Extension Office (Dewey – suburb)
Host: Gale Mills, OSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Educator
Location: Washington County Extension Office, 205 E 12th Street, PO Box 10, Dewey OK 74029

Aug 9 —Stillwater: Skyline Elementary (+optional tour)
Host: Andrea Rains, Skyline Principal
Location: 1402 E. Sunrise Ave., Stillwater, OK 74075

Thank you for your interest in our program!
Please direct questions to: info@oklahomagreenschools.org

Project WILD schedule for fall, 2012

I have mentioned Project WILD elsewhere; it’s a great set of resources for teaching conservation concepts.   Our Oklahoma contact and high-energy presenter is Lisa Anderson; okprojectwild@fullnet.net, (405) 990-1292.  She can also schedule events at your school if you can get at least 15 participants.  The workshops are six hours long and cost $15 each.

The following Saturday workshops are currently scheduled for open participation at Arcadia Lake (near Edmond.  Contact Lisa to register or for more information:

June 23 – Project WILD

June 30 – Growing up WILD

Sept 8 – WILD about reading

Sept 22 – Project WILD

October 27 – Growing up WILD

Fish Prints – Where will gyotaku take you?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the horrible pun.  This is an art activity that teaches science.  Gyotaku is the art of putting ink or paint on a fish and then rubbing the fish onto paper.  You can make the print on paper, fabric or even T-shirts.  You can use it as-is, you can hand-color details, you can add any way you want to and even add schools of fish.

A few minutes of searching the web for gyotaku images and you’ll be hooked.  There are also some great how-to videos on youtube.

You can use real fish or you can buy rubber casts of fish.  In either case you can rinse off the ink or tempera paint and use the fish over and over.  If you use real fish you can simply re-freeze them in individual plastic bags.  A good source for rubber casts of fish is Acorn Naturalists.  They have a great online catalog at http://www.acornnaturalists.com/

Don’s hints:  Use a good grade of paper.  Copy paper won’t take the ink nearly as well as art paper and you want your students to have a good experience!   Practice first.  Try intergrading different colors of ink on the same fish!  Add fins and other details by hand – just use the fish print for the basics.  With some papers and some inks it works better to slightly mist the paper with water first.  Finally, it is usually better to ink the fish and then place the paper on top rather than the other way around.  Gently pat the paper around the fish and then remove, dry and admire it!

You can also use the same technique to add some plants and make a scene, but plants don’t generally print nearly as clearly as the fish do.  Shells work nicely;  they have more texture.

Where is the science?  This forces the students to concentrate on the form and the details.  Now you can talk about the different parts of a fish and the different fins.  You can related structure to function – different body shapes and different mouth shapes for different purposes.  A diagram to label of parts of a fish will make a lot more sense after this activity than if it were before!  A good follow-up activity for younger students is the free sample activity “Fishing Fun”  from Project WILD at http://www.projectwild.org/growingupwild.htm

Project WILD

Project WILD – one of the most-used sets of environmental education curricula in the US. grades K-8 with some flexibility in the grade levels. You can’t buy the materials – it’s given to you when you attend in one-day (or more) workshop. You get the books while the actual materials are simple and cheap.

Don’s hint – get a plastic bin for each activity you will use and keep it pre-loaded with all of the things, be they paper towels, paper clips, whatever.  Add a few empty trash bags and a photocopy of the exercise and the teacher’s hints.  Then you can just grab and run.

A lot of learning about conservation, environmental and ecological principles can be taught through games and activities.  Project WILD and its companion, Project WET serve to provide the teacher with dozens of such activities that have been teacher-written, then teacher-tested, and revised so that they just simply work.  Most are keyed to objectives.  Read more at http://www.projectwild.org/

One more thing – here a free sample lesson.  It’s for young children, and it’s about how fish use their bodies when they swim.  http://www.projectwild.org/GrowingUpWILD.htm and click on the “Sample Activity”.

Wetland and aquatic plants of Oklahoma

If you do any environmental work with kids you will eventually be drawn to the water’s edge – or get deeper into it!   All of us who do this need to know the basic aquatic plants.  This site will help you in two ways.

First, it has the easiest key you will ever find.  You use pictures, photographs and short descriptions, not the detailed descriptions in Latin that we had to learn for Waterfall’s book back in the day.  Granted, these keys might not take you down to the most specific level but they can give you an answer in less than a minute to “what plant is that?”.   This is one reason to (carefully!) take that laptop into the field.

Second, it provides great photographs to many of the plants, but not all.  Did I mention that this is a work in progress?

Third, there are range maps for most of these plants.  I know, I said there were two reasons so think of the range maps as a bonus.

Add this to the bookmarks of your smartphone or tablet:  http://www.biosurvey.ou.edu/wetland/wetland_interactive.html

Birds of Oklahoma

Didya know that the GSO (Great State of Oklahoma) is only second in the nation (to Texas) in species of birds?  Birding is a fast-growing hobby here and it attracts visitors from all over.  We have so many different ecological areas packed into a small state – from the deserts of Black Mesa to the Coastal Plains of McCurtain County, Oklahoma is one of the richest states in terms of species diversity!

Here is a nifty site with superb pictures of birds found in Oklahoma.  Besides the great, detailed pictures you will find most of them have a few paragraphs about the natural history of that bird.  The site also has a checklist for Oklahoma birds, a link to Oklahoma Butterflies, Oklahoma Dragonflies, Oklahoma Gardening and more.  http://www.birdsofoklahoma.net/