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Tag Archives: project-based learning

Failure Is A Groovy Way To Learn

How do you learn?  More than likely, learning from your mistakes is one of the ways you learn. Sometimes STEMists go through school afraid to make a mistake, but we’re here to tell you that failure is a groovy way to learn. Failure is how we all get better; it’s how we succeed.
Failure Is A Groovy Way To Learn

Failure also teaches you about resiliency and grit:

  • Resiliency is how you bounce back from adversity
  • Grit is how you persevere through challenges

As you learn and fail, you’ll need to bounce back and hang in there when things get tough. Remember, this is an important part of the learning process.

Scientists, inventors, and engineers are constantly battling failure. They also must be resilient and have a lot of grit to make it through their challenges. These STEMists confront failure and use it to their advantage.  In fact, these failures help them learn how to do their projects better the next time!

So, the next time you fail, remember these stories of how failure can turn into success:

Elon Musk and SpaceXElon Musk

Elon Reeve Musk is an entrepreneur, engineer, inventor and investor; he is the founder of the company that became PayPal; CEO and chief product architect of Tesla Motors; and CEO of SpaceX, the maker of launch vehicles and spacecraft.

Musk’s goal through SpaceX is to revolutionize space technology with reusable rockets so people can live on other planets.

When SpaceX’s latest rocket landing missed the mark, the company tweeted, “Close, but no cigar. This time.” Musk tweeted, “Full RUD (rapid unscheduled disassembly) event. Ship is fine minor repairs. Exciting day!”

His attitude is like that of a great inventor—accepting of failure, sometimes even excited—ready to apply what his team has learned to the next launch.

Jack AndrakaJack Andraka

Jack Andraka is a STEMist not much older than you! Born in 1997, Andraka is an inventor, scientist and cancer researcher. When a family friend was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Andraka wanted to find a way to test for cancers – similar to how diabetics check their blood sugar levels every day.

He contacted 200 research labs and universities about his idea – and received 199 rejections. Finally, a professor at Johns Hopkins University agreed to work with Andraka. Thanks for Andraka’s resiliency and grit, he developed a fast, easy way to detect increases in a certain protein, which often indicate early stages of pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers.

J.K. RowlingJ.K. Rowling

Imagine the world without Harry Potter!

After 12 rejections from publishers, author J.K. Rowling sold her first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, for only $4,000.  Rowling is now worth an estimated $1 billion and has had great success with the Harry Potter series and films.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison, inventor and businessman, had many failures that led him to great inventions.  For example, in 1889, Edison created Edison Portland Cement Co. because he believed everything could be made out of concrete.  Thomas Edison and the light bulbHe made cement cabinets, pianos, and houses; however, people did not purchase many of his products.  Edison realized the public would not pay for his costly cement products.  And, although the idea was not widely accepted, it was not a total failure.  Edison’s company was hired to build Yankee Stadium in the Bronx!

His most notable failure, however, is the light bulb.   Edison created 10,000 prototypes before getting it right.  He said, “I have not failed 100 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

Silly PuttySilly Putty

James Wright was an engineer at General Electric when he failed at making a substitute for rubber during World War II.  Wright was hoping his silicone substitute would help the U.S. Government make airplane tires, boots for soldiers, and other items that used rubber during manufacturing at wartime.  These items and other materials were being produced at a faster rate, causing a decrease in the availability of rubber. One of Wright’s experiments included adding boric acid to the silicone oil.  It did not work to replace rubber, but his invention gave children hours and hours of playtime with his Silly Putty invention!

Dr. SeussDr. Seuss Books

And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, the first book written by author Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was rejected by 27 publishers.  This means 27 companies did not think Dr. Seuss knew how to write children’s books! Later, Dr. Seuss’ friend helped him find a company to publish the book, and since then, Dr. Seuss wrote more than 60 books and sold over 600 million copies.  In fact, Dr. Seuss continues to be a best-selling author, even after his death in 1991.

Post-It NotesSpencer Silver, the inventor of the Post-It Note

In 1968, 3M Laboratories researcher and scientist, Spencer Silver, was tasked with creating a strong adhesive. His experiments were not successful, but he did make a less strong adhesive that he learned could be easily removed without leaving a mark on the object or material it was stuck to.  His newest, less strong adhesive was not used by the company.  Nearly six years later, a co-worker took the invention and applied it to scraps of paper to mark his place in his choir hymn book.  Later he applied it to yellow scraps of paper from the 3M Company, and the Post-It Note was born!

Failure is nothing to be ashamed about! In fact, it’s part of your journey to success.  Failure encourages, builds confidence and teaches. It also teaches you to be resilient and have grit.

Groovy STEMists – take notice to what happens when you do an experiment that doesn’t work; check your notes in your lab notebook and learn from them.  Failing to complete one of the Groovy Lab in a Box investigations or engineering design challenges will lead to more successful ones!

Groovy Ways To Attract Backyard Birds

More than 50 million Americans are considered backyard birders, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.  After gardening, it’s the second-most popular hobby in the country.  What many birders may not realize is that there is a science to feeding birds.

Groovy Ways To Attract Backyard Birds

Bird Metabolism

STEMists may be shocked to learn that birds need at least 10,000 calories each day.  Comparatively, an appropriate daily calorie intake for an active 9-13 year old STEMist is 1,800-2,200.  Birds need a massive amount of calories because their metabolism rate runs extremely high, specifically in flight, in extreme cold weather and during breeding season.

Birds are skilled at determining which food items are the most efficient and the best nutritional choice.  Some birds will test the seed’s weight and taste with their beak before making their choice – one reason you find birdseed on the ground instead of in the bird feeder. Generally, low-quality food is discarded.  Birds also look for seeds that are easily digested and don’t take a lot of work to eat.  Because of the amount of food a bird needs to consume (remember, food is fuel/energy), its choices are foods that are fast and easy to manage.

Birds and their Food Preferences

Birds and their Food Preferences

  • Nyjer (thistle seed) attracts American gold and lesser gold finches and pine siskins. Nyjer is considered gourmet for a bird.
  • Millet (white-proso) will attract towhees, sparrows, dark-eyed juncos, quail and mourning doves. This seed is best scattered on the ground because perch feeding birds won’t eat it.
  • Milo or Sorghum is birdseed for ground feeding. It attracts Curve-billed Thrashers, Gambel’s Quails, towhees, sparrows and juncos. According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology seed preference tests, these birds prefer milo to sunflower. In another study, they found that House Sparrows did not like Milo, but cowbirds did.
  • Black oil sunflower seeds attract the most perching birds including Purple finches, Oat titmice, Scrub jays, Blackheaded grosbeaks and more.
  • Safflower, an elongated white seed, can help birders attract cardinals found mainly in the eastern United States, and chickadees whose home is generally along the coast or in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
  • Suet is a popular choice among nuthatches and woodpeckers.
  • Mealworm (live) acts like a magnet for bluebirds!
  • Fruit such as oranges, grapes, apples and berries are a perfect menu item for the tanager and orioles. Placing a small dish of jelly in your feeding area will almost definitely attract your bird friends; however, be cautious about putting fruits and jellies out in warmer weather.  This delicacy is best used in cold winter weather.
  • Baked, or dried, melon seeds and pumpkin seeds are a popular choice for birds; however, smaller species will be grateful for crushed seeds for easier digestion.

Designing the Perfect Bird Food for your Backyard Tree

Build A Bird Seed Ornament

  • 1 package of plain gelatin
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cups mixture of  black sunflower, millet & thistle seeds
  • 3 T. rice syrup
  • A dab of butter
  • Star-shaped cookie cutter or small Bundt pan for wreath shape

Dissolve gelatin in 1/2 cup warm water; whisk rice syrup and flour to create a paste; add bird seed and stir well.  Grease the inside of the star-shaped cookie cutter with a dab of butter (Bundt pan, or other mold), place on cookie sheet and press seed mixture with a spoon to fill the shape. Use a pointed object to make a hole in the star to make room for stringing a piece of rope or ribbon. In 24 hours, flip onto a plate or wax paper and let dry for another 24-48 hours. Birds will flock to your groovy stars!

Make a Sunflower Butter Pinecone Feeder

Make a Sunflower Butter Pinecone OrnamentBirds love sunflower butter!  A great choice for winter months, birds love homemade pinecone feeders. Use a spoon or butter knife to apply sunflower butter into the crevices of a pinecone and roll the cone in a mixture of black sunflower, millet and thistle seeds. Then, hang on a tree or set the cone in a feeding dish.

For the Birds” Groovy Lab in a Box

You and your STEMists can learn more bird science with the educational activities found in “For the Birds” groovy box—all about birds in your local area, their drinking and feeding habits, and what types of bird feeder structures best suit them. Join Now! and challenge your STEMists to a monthly Groovy Lab in a Box, full of everything a child needs to learn about and do hands-on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) investigations. Our monthly box activates thinking, questioning, inquiring and original creation as we guide children through scientific inquiry and engineering design process.

A Groovy Approach To Project-Based Learning

 

A Groovy Approach To Project-Based LearningToday’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.

Groovy Lab in a Box and Project-Based Learning

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

Engineering Design Process

“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.

STEMist using technology with Groovy Lab in a Box

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 is Groovier with Groovy Lab in a Box


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!

Homeschooling is Groovier with Groovy Lab 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!

Groovy Lab in a Box lab notebook

Groovy Lab in a Box fosters imaginative innovation and encourages problem solving through project-based learning. Each month’s box has a theme, such as Lunar Launch, Fly with Me, What’s the Matter, and Greenhouses.

Our Groovy Lab Notebook

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 challenge outlined 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:

Engineering Design Process

  • 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.

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