We are so thrilled and excited to announce that Groovy Lab in a Box has been selected by Popular Mechanics magazine for its “The 100% Wholesome Holiday Toy Guide.” The Popular Mechanics guide showcases toys that encourage critical thinking, problem solving and fun.
“We are so honored and humbled to be included in Popular Mechanics,” said Elaine Hansen, co-founder of Groovy Lab in a Box. “Having Popular Mechanics review our box, and acknowledge it as wholesome for children, validates what we are trying to accomplish with Groovy Lab in a Box.”
In their review of Groovy Lab in a Box, Popular Mechanics remarked that every box “is filled with projects that promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills” and that “each theme box includes everything kids need” to complete the investigations and engineering design challenge.
“We are thrilled that Popular Mechanics said our product promotes scientific inquiry and allows children to have fun while learning about STEM,” said Monica Canavan, co-founder of Groovy Lab in a Box. “We hope parents and grandparents will see Groovy Lab in a Box as the perfect holiday gift for the STEMists in their lives.”
Groovy Lab in a Box has many delivery methods, including single box orders, gift certificates and a monthly subscription service. Visit www.groovylabinabox.com for details on how to order. For more information about Popular Mechanics, visit www.popularmechanics.com.
When you hear the word, “Groovy”, what image comes to mind? If you are like many Americans, groovy conjures up flashes of flower power, smiley faces, peace signs, bell bottoms, mini-skirts and go-go boots. Others may think about the excitement surrounding the space program and the Apollo missions—a time where science and technology became part of pop culture.
Whichever image pops in your mind when you hear the word ‘groovy’, the way it makes you feel is most important – and why we choose to call our product, Groovy Lab in a Box. We designed our retro-style box to evoke excitement in your STEMists. Because children are natural engineers, Groovy Lab in a Box blends Scientific Inquiry and the Engineering Design Process, which allows children to create ingenious inventions, enhance critical problem solving skills, and have FUN. We want modern-day STEMists to be just as excited about science as children were during the Apollo Era.
A term that means tubular, excellence, awesome and cool, Groovy is considered a slang colloquialism— a word, phrase or other form used in informal language. Although the term in its original usage has largely vanished from everyday use, it has not disappeared from our language entirely.
Groovy derives from the word, “groove,” which was originally defined as a mining shaft or pit. According to the Word Detective, though, “groove” took on a new meaning by 1902. “Groove” was being used to mean the spiral track on the surface of a phonograph record in which the needle rides.
By the 1960’s and early 70’s, “groovy” took on its more modern-day definition of being something awesome. An example of ‘groovy’ in use may have looked like this:
Girl 1: Groovy outfit, Susie!
Girl 2: Did you catch Jimmy’s groovy hairstyle in school today?
Groovey During The Jazz Era
Although in today’s society, “groovy” is more commonly associated with the late 1960s and early 1970s era, “groovy” emerged on the scene more than 30 years earlier in the jazz subculture. According to American Speech (1937), the term, “‘Groovey,’ applied to state of mind that is conducive to good playing.” In the 1930’s, “groovey” included an ‘e’ before the ‘y’ in its spelling. ‘Groovey’ was a word typically used by jazz musicians when referring to their music as effortless, smooth and being “in the groove.” In other words, the musicians were producing the music as easily, fluently and flawlessly as a phonograph needle following the grooves on a record.
First Recorded Uses of Groovy
The first recorded use of “groovy” in its slang context goes back to September 30, 1941, on the Fibber McGee and Molly radio show, when band leader Billy Mills used it to describe his summer vacation. Then, in the 1942 film Miss Annie Rooney, a teenage Shirley Temple uses the term as she impresses Dickie Moore with her jitterbug moves.
In the 1945 film Miracle on 34th Street, “groovey” was included in film advertising.
Moving into the 1960s, “groovey” could be found on Simon & Garfunkel’s original record cover of the 1965 release of the single “The Sound of Silence” with “We’ve Got a Groovey Thing Goin’ ” on its flipside. The following year, another Simon & Garfunkel hit kept “groovy” in the mainstream, “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy).”
Now that you know the skinny on the term “Groovy,” consider getting your STEMists groove on with Groovy Lab in a Box. Our monthly-themed boxes will bring out the grooviness in every STEMist!
Today’s students need groovy new ways to learn. Many students are disengaged, bored, uninterested and unchallenged.
In fact, research places the percentage of disengaged middle and high school students between 25 percent and 66 percent (Taylor, Parsons 2011). That’s where project-based learning comes in.
What is project-based learning?
To increase student engagement and learning, many educators are turning toward project-based learning. According to Buck Institute for Education (BIE), “project-based learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem or challenge.” It engages students in active, not passive learning, through projects that engage their hearts and minds, and provide real-world relevance for learning.
With project-based learning, students remember what they learn and retain it longer than is often the case with traditional instruction. Because of this, students who gain content knowledge with project-based learning are better able to apply what they know to new situations. Education standards, such as Common Core, emphasize real-world application of knowledge and skills, and the development of 21st century competencies: critical thinking, communication in a variety of media and collaboration. Project-based learning provides an effective way to address such standards.
Assigning a project versus project-based learning
What is the difference between project-based learning and the typical assignment of a project in today’s classroom?
In most classrooms, an instructor may assign a project that is designed for students to show what they learned in a particular unit of study. This may include a term paper or book project.
In project-based learning for a science classroom, for example, students learn through the project. It engages students through lab-based experiments, hands-on participation, and student and/or team-led inquiry.
Project-based learning and Groovy Lab in a Box
Project-based learning is at the heart of Groovy Lab in a Box because our investigations and engineering design challenge drive students to learn through inquiry, and work collaboratively to research and create projects that reflect their knowledge. Each Groovy Lab in a Box includes the written materials and supplies necessary to complete the investigations and engineering design challenge outlined in a retro-style custom, subject-specific lab notebook.
The monthly-themed engineering design challenge is the culmination of what the STEMists have learned from their investigations. It helps STEMists engage their imaginations and apply critical thinking to supply their desired outcomes through the six steps of the Engineering Design Process:
Ask a question or fix a problem
Investigate to solve the problem
Brainstorm a possible solution
Plan and then build their solution
Experiment and run tests to see if the solution works
Redesign to improve the original solution
“Our Engineering Design Challenges harness the natural inquisitive nature and learning ability in children, which is generally lost in typical lecture-style classroom set up, and it’s the perfect example of project-based learning,” says Elaine Hansen, President of Groovy Lab in a Box.
“STEMists who use Groovy Lab in a Box become better problem solvers and more proficient in their communication and technology skills,” added Jennifer Pack, Communications and Art Director of Groovy Lab in a Box. In addition to science, engineering and math, Groovy Lab in a Box incorporates technology, encouraging research and other interactive activities and videos through its Beyond… In A Box online portal exclusive to Groovy Lab in a Box subscribers.
Taking the next (groovy) step
Are you ready to implement project-based learning in your teaching environment to help your STEMists rediscover the excitement of learning? Order a Groovy Lab in a Box today to incorporate project-based learning with your STEMists!
Homeschooling has its challenges from developing curriculum to finding educational activities that will keep your students engaged. Monthly themed Groovy Lab in a Box is the ideal complement to your curricula, traditional textbooks and supplementary workbooks. Collaboration is key to learning and each groovy box can fit the needs of up to five STEMists – STEM Team titles are outlined in the extended learning portal Beyond…in a Box!
Groovy Lab in a Box will quickly turn your homeschoolers into true STEMists through hands-on experiments that teach science, technology, engineering, and math.
What is a STEMist?
STEM•ist /stĕmʹĭst/ n. Expert in applying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Explorer, creator, inventor…STEMist!
Your homeschoolers will be delighted when they open their Groovy Lab in a Box to find all the supplies necessary to complete the investigations and engineering design challengeoutlined in a retro-style custom, subject-specific lab notebook. Full Steam Ahead homeschool educator Kristi Smith wrote in her blog titled, What I Learned About my Son,
“While he was opening it, my son was beaming, exclaiming, ‘This is better than Christmas!’ (Note to self: Return dirt bike!) He wanted SO badly to just start tinkering, and I wanted SO badly for him to listen as I read through the included Lab Notebook, absorbing all the information on electricity, neutrons, circuits, etc.”
The custom Lab Notebook is where your STEMists will find easy-to-follow directions for each investigation, take notes, draw each project’s design plans and record their findings.“The lab notebook was set up to make it easy to record what we thought would happen, our actual results and what we thought of them. My oldest loves building and doing experiments, but usually hates the writing/data portion. The question prompts and simple charts to record info made it more fun,” said Cheryl, the creator of Sew Can Do, and a self-taught crafter, designer and homeschooling mom of 3.
Cheryl recently tried our “Here Comes The Sun” solar energy-themed box. “It gave us everything we needed for 4 experiments AND a bonus item (solar paper) to use as we wished. I sometimes found projects like this kind of confusing back when I was a kid, but the lab notebook gave really clear, step-by-step instructions,” says Cheryl. “It was also nice to see the notebook reminding kids that failed results aren’t something negative, but rather an opportunity to learn more and redesign an even better solution.”
The Engineering Design Process for Project-Based Learning
Groovy Lab in a Box presents an engineering design challenge that takes great effort and requires STEMists to first identify the problem through investigative questioning, deduction and reasoning. Unlike the investigations, the Lab Notebook does not have instructions on how to complete the Engineering Design Challenge, making it the most challenging to perform. It’s true project-based learning where your homeschoolers will have to:
Ask a question
Investigate to solve the problem
Brainstorm a possible solution
Plan and then build their solution
Experiment and run tests to see if the solution works
Redesign to improve the original solution (because almost no one designs it perfectly the first time!)
Even more benefits for homeschoolers
STEMists also have special access to our online learning portal, “Beyond…in a Box”. Interactive activities, videos and other information are available on the portal to help homeschoolers learn about that month’s topic in addition to providing help to complete the engineering design challenge.
Cheryl says, “What I thought was most fantastic was that one box could be used just as easily with a single child or as a team – we tried it both ways. Having several kids, at different levels, is sometimes a challenge for us in homeschooling, but Groovy Lab in a Box made it a lot easier.”
So, whether you are homeschooling one child or ten, Groovy Lab in a Box has you covered with our monthly subscription or our single box orders. Visit Groovy Lab in a Box today to bring unique STEM-related, project-based learning to your homeschoolers.
What do you do with your Groovy Lab in a Box once your STEMists have completed the monthly themed activity? Teach your STEMists about the importance of recycling and reusing materials by finding new ways to use the Groovy box.
Below are 12 fun and groovy ways to repurpose your cool retro-style Groovy Lab in a Box
1. Make a Diorama. Use your box as a creative STEMist summer project by making a diorama using the theme, “My Summer Vacation.” Or, save your box for an upcoming school diorama project.
2. Use as a Shoebox. Our Groovy Lab in a Box packaging is an excellent way to keep your STEMists’ shoes in tip-top shape and an awesome way to organize your closet!
3. Make Wall Shelves. Paint or decorate our packaging to create unique and inexpensive wall shelving that you can use to store light weight knick knacks such as a small picture frame or flower vase.
4. Create a Memory Box. Cover the box with decorative scrapbooking paper, wrapping paper, or masking tape. Then, when your STEMists experience something cool or unusual, ask them to write that event on a piece of paper. The STEMist should then fold the paper and place it in the box. At the end of the month, at the end of the year, or anytime your STEMists are in need of cheering up, recommend they pull out their memory box to read some of their favorite memories.
5. Make a Sailboat. Cut off the front flap of your groovy box, and then cut into thirds. Take one of the third pieces and fold into the shape of a number 2. Tape the bottom edges of the 2 shape together, and then crinkle to make a C shape. Place a piece of tape down the back to hold. Place your groovy sailboat and let the wind blow. Groovy Sailboat VIDEO: Groovy Sail Boat.
6. Gift Box. Our boxes are great for packaging a gift. Just place your gift in the box, and wrap it with wrapping paper or make it more fun and colorful with the Sunday comic strip section.
7. Covered Map Box. Use an old map to cover the Groovy box to use as storage for your folded maps, or to store office supplies and other items. This project is great for an office and a fun way to display a practical-use storage box.
8. Charging Station. Cut several holes large enough to pull a charger cord through to connect with your mobile devices. Wrap the box with decorative paper or fabric for a more sophisticated look.
9. Photo Storage. Decorate to your liking and use the box for storing and organizing your photo prints. Remember to label the box for easy identification!
10. Ribbon Dispenser. Similar to the charging station (above), a ribbon dispenser is ideal for crafters or holiday gift wrapping. Cut one or two holes, depending on the size of ribbon spools you have, on each short side of the box. Starting outside of the box, insert the wooden skewers through the ribbon spools inside the box. Then, cut holes and use grommets for decoration; thread your ribbons through the grommets for easy ribbon measuring and cutting. Again, decorate the box to fit your room decor.
11. Sock Drawer Organizer. Use a straight-edge blade to cut the top off the Groovy box. Then cut pieces to use as dividers inside the remaining box piece. Insert the dividers and place pairs of socks in the box for easy access! Save one divider space to add a favorite sachet or dryer sheet to keep your clothing freshly scented.
12. Store your Groovy Lab Notebook. Finally, for prosperity— keep one Groovy box to store all of your Groovy Lab in a Box custom designed lab notebooks that has all your STEMists’ engineering design challenges!
To encourage your STEMists’ engineering minds, become a Groovy Lab in a Box subscriber and receive your Groovy box that you can use to complete all the DIY projects mentioned above!