Below is the alphabetical listing of our workshops from the 2014 VMI STEM Education Conference.
Expand each workshop listing to see if that instructor has turned in their resources. These are available for you to download and use.
Pre-Conference WorkshopMaking Waves: Easy Demonstrations and Experiments - Col. Jim Squire
Our most important senses, sight and hearing, are entirely wave-based, and yet the abstract nature of waves can make them difficult to teach. In this pre-conference workshop we will examine several simple demonstrations, both computer-based and physical, that will make understanding wave properties fun and intuitive, as well as directly address the Virginia Grade 5 SOL science requirements. You will also experience how our senses can be electronically enhanced to explore, for instance, the radio signature of lightning strikes on the other side of the earth, view sound waves using Ooblik and oscilloscopes, or view the thermal images we leave behind as we walk down a carpet, and discuss ways to attract guest speakers to your classroom that can provide these types of more complex demonstrations. Workshop attendees will be given a USB key with all computer software used, as well as sources and instructions to build the more complex demonstrations.
Conference WorkshopsAlgebra for Engineers - Col. Michael Hardin
It’s common to hear engineering instructors lament that “it’s not Calculus that kills them, it’s Algebra” when referring to student math capabilities in the solution of engineering problems. While incoming engineering students may have a firm foundation in the theory of algebra, it is in the application of that theory in solving engineering problems that most of their troubles occur. Through group solution of example engineering-related problems and group discussions, workshop participants will learn 1) the many uses of algebra in solving engineering problems, 2) the common difficulties students face in applying algebra in solving engineering problems, and 3) several algebra application ‘tricks’ that help students overcome those difficulties.
Bringing Advanced Manufacturing into your Districts - Robbie Munsey and Eric Bredder
As either a follow-on to Tuesday’s Advanced Manufacturing workshop or as a single session, this session will provide an overview regarding the introduction of advanced manufacturing processes in your district or school. Current physical science content in 8th grade is being taught through engineering design and advanced manufacturing technology. Students in 8th grade physical science experience their content through backwards design and real-world project based learning. The projects are based around open-ended design challenges in relation to content in physics and chemistry. Students develop an understanding of curriculum through the engineering design process and advanced manufacturing technologies such as 3D printers, laser-cutters, and CNC machines. Students choose their means and materials to solve common problems from simple movement to prosthesis development to communication devices and more.
Students in these classes develop an understanding of the world around them. They are provided basic instruction in use, safety, and maintenance of particular machines, and knowledge of various materials from paper to plastics. These students are given their own experience in developing products throughout guided or self-designed processes in order to discover how they learn and provide confidence in making something that has personal meaning to them. In developing useful products, students have played with topics such as form relating to function, combining the physical and digital worlds, and iteration and reflection of their designs, while providing continued documentation through self-expression of ideas.
Throughout the development and engagement of engineering within a science classroom, connections of history in devices and documentation are prevalent, connections in math through design and CAD (computer- aided design) occur naturally, and the ability to communicate and describe discovery through written word and verbal means are a must. Students have not only been solving the open-ended design problems put forth before them, but have gone on to spend countless hours outside the classroom to develop useful things for the school, toys, products, electronic devices, and more relating them to their understanding of the world.
We have seen a strong growth in attendance in engineering classes and a highly increased engagement in required science classes. Collaboration amongst other teachers in various grade levels occurs from the momentum of the projects and cross-curricular connections. We have also taken this work into elementary schools where the middle school students collaborate and teach younger aspiring kids basics of design, CAD, simple manufacturing, and problem-solving skills that they have picked up from their experiences in science and engineering classes. We wish to share our design of student choice in the classroom, success in student engagement in real-world problem- solving, agency in students’ experience in school, and developing personal purpose and ownership in their learning, all grounded on the input of engineering within the context of a science classroom.
In this workshop we would like to bring in random supplies (cardboard, scissors, glue, markers, other craft supplies) for teachers to generate ideas for their curriculum and what students can make with them (ex: use the linear motor to shot the magnets onto targets, open and close cards, etc). We will talk about electromagnetism and how to create unique projects around this particular topic and giving the students choice in how they describe and use materials in a classroom.
Building Bridges - John Tychan
Participants will receive a brief introduction and supporting information, and then build their own mini bridge from popsicles.
Building a LEGO® Clock - Maj. Joyce Blandino
This workshop provides participants with a hands-on experience demonstrating engineering design through the building of a Minute Clock using LEGO parts. The application of the theory relating gear ratio and rotational speed or revolutions per minute (rpm) is used in the design.
Gears are used in many mechanical machines such as engines and clocks to reduce or increase the motor speed and torque. Participants will be given a set of LEGO parts including a range of gear sizes, and a motor. Based on the speed of the motor and the size of the available gears, an arrangement utilizing different gear sizes is calculated to achieve the goal of one rpm.
The actual clock will then be built based on the calculated arrangement of the gears. Throughout the building process, the principle of engineering stability in a structure is emphasized.
This workshop links the mathematical concepts of algebra, fractions, and speed in engineering design.
Building Truss Bridges - Lt. Col. Chuck Newhouse and Maj. Matthew Swenty
Truss bridges are one of the oldest and most recognizable forms of bridges. They have a rich history and continue to be used in transportation systems today. This activity will introduce the background on what makes trusses unique and the engineering behind them. Numerous demonstrations will be shown ranging in cost and difficulty level. The session will culminate in two practical activities that are cost effective: one using a readily available, free computer program and one using household materials.
Building Truss Bridges
Concrete for Kids - Maj. Matthew Swenty and Dr. Kacie D'Alessandro
Concrete is one of the most common building materials in the world. We use it on a daily basis in our bridges and roads, but the question remains: do we really know anything about this highly engineered material? Concrete for Kids is a basic set of lessons that allows students to learn more about why concrete is important, where it is used, and how it is made. Included are demonstrations and activities that can be used in a classroom. Students can design, build, and even test their very own concrete for a minimal cost. The lessons can be easily arranged for a lab or classroom setting, single or multiple lessons, and various age groups.
Concrete for Kids Presentation
Enhancing the Science Classroom through Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing in Middle Schools - Robbie Munsey & Eric Bredder
In this session, an introduction of advanced manufacturing processes will couple with practical demonstrations. Participants in this workshop will be creating their own advanced manufacturing product and learn how they can apply this style of learning in a classroom or school. Current physical science curriculum examples for 8th grade will be among those highlighted in this workshop geared toward real-world project based learning. Open-ended design challenges encourage practical skills and supports meaningful learning while utilizing a range of technologies from paper and scissors, to CAD Design and 3D Printers. This extended session for teachers and administrators will provide a constructive forum for sharing experiences in science and engineering classes at all levels.
Engineering Our Way with Math and Science - Ms. Diane Leighty
Grades 3-5: This workshop will stress the importance of encouraging creative thinking, problem solving, and working collaboratively. There will be simple design activities which will include creating a basket that will hold two cups of rice using only very basic materials. The activies will incorporate measurement and geometry, as well as a bit of science. Throughout the workshop, assisting students with reasoning through problem and applying math in practical ways will be stressed.
Engineering Our Way Through Middle School Mathematics - Ms. Diane Leighty
Grades 6 - 8: This workshop will stress the importance of encouraging creative thinking, problem solving, and working collaboratively. Simple design/build activities will be undertaken, including creating a cube out of a cereal box while keeping the same volume as the box itself, and activities including measurement and geometry. Throughout the workshop, assisting students with reasoning through problem and applying math in practical ways will be stressed.
Five-year Plan for Integrating Engineering Design in the Classroom - Linda Harpine and Linda Wright
In this larger group setting, educators from grades 3-8 will meet with seasoned administrators to discuss specifics regarding how they have been able to successfully integrate engineering concepts and STEM into their districts. The seventy-five minute session should allow for ample discussion, question and answer time, and collaboration. Challenges, adjustments, and lessons learned from trial may be useful in helping participants begin to plot a course for their own districts.
Global Water and Sanitation Design - LTC Moore
Attendees will learn about global water and sanitation implementations currently being designed and constructed by student members of the Keydets Without Borders program. Attendees will also build a solar shower pipeline and learn about how it works.
Harnessing the Wind - Ms. Kim Dye
Participants will explore energy as they build their own generators to do work. Using the book "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind," teachers will leave with literature connections to science and engineering through the story of William Kamkwamba from Malawi, which will no doubt inspire students as they explore his story to see how reading a book on windmills gave William the idea to build one in his village which struggled from the effects of drought and hunger. Participants should be prepared to build, make connections and imagine the possibilities for upper elementary students.
Introduction to Robots - Col. David Livingston & Mrs. Barbara Livingston
This workshop will define the term “robot” and explore the components that make up a robot: sensors (senses), computer (brain), actuators (arms and legs), chassis (body), and power supply (digestive system). Examples of how robots can be used in the classroom to reinforce mathematics and physical principles will be discussed. The experiences of coaching a FIRST Lego League (FLL) robotics team will also be presented. To get hands-on experience, workshop participants will program a Lego Mindstorms robot to perform simple actions.
Introduction to Robots
Kicking Machines: Force and Motion - Ms. Tina Coffey and Ms. Lynda Graves
Participants will explore the physics behind force, motion, and energy through designing, building, and testing a kicking machine. Once the machine is built, a technology twist will be added. Participants will use iPads to film their machines working in slow motion, which will then be displayed via Augmented Reality posters created by participants. (iPads will be provided.) While this session focuses on designing and building a compound machine, tips for using digital technology in any children’s engineering lesson are included, as well as a variety of ways to use technology for displaying student progress/process throughout engineering projects. Mrs. Graves and Ms. Coffey will also share their experiences of doing this activity with a fourth grade class.
Kicking Machine Presentation
Learning by Design - Col. Jay Sullivan
Many kids are initially excited by the prospect of becoming engineers and scientists based on the technical wonders that permeate the modern world. For a large proportion of kids, this excitement turns to boredom and even horror as they begin their formal education only to find out that it will take them about 16 years to get to “the good stuff”.
The purpose of this workshop is to show educators how to incorporate simple design problems in the class room, to maintain students interest in STEM topics, while fostering their innate creativity and making connections to the concepts they learn in their other courses.
Design does not require the designer to be a sophisticated analyst and as a result is ideal for younger students that do not yet have a good command of mathematics. Older students with more analytical skill can use these skills to address more complex multi-objective design tasks.
During the workshop, features of successful design projects for different age groups will be presented and examples of projects that can be tailored to students at varying levels of development will be demonstrated.
Learning by Design
Lego Robotics - Nick Swayne
This workshop will provide a brief hands-on experience with LEGO’s latest robot – the EV3. You’ll get program a robot and learn just how easy it is to add applied to your existing curriculum. You’ll get examples of how to tie basic LEGO robotics to mandatory lessons and extend those lessons to engaging opportunities that deepen student’s understanding in several content areas. We’ll include a brief overview of the FIRST LEGO League which is a great way to create a sport-like competition to STEM content areas.
Magnetic Levitation Vehicle - Floating into the Future - Alisa Rushing
Participants will learn to construct an economical magnetic levitation track so that students may work through the engineering design process to design, build and test a vehicle. Workshop will cover magnetism, energy, sustainability, balance, polarity and the design process. Participants will leave with ready to use classroom lessons.
Mars Rover Challenge - Brianne Gunn
Can you build a vehicle that will outlast others on the Red Planet? How far will your rover travel when powered by wind? This workshop is designed to give teachers a take home activity that integrates math, science, engineering, and problem solving skills in an exciting competition among students. Using inexpensive materials and recyclables, teachers will create a “Mars Rover” that can be tested, redesigned, and improved as they experience the engineering process first hand. This activity integrates math, science, and problem solving skills that stress the importance of communication and collaboration among participants. Originally designed for the middle school math classroom, this lesson can be easily modified and adapted to suit the needs of an elementary group of students.
Materials Engineering: Hockey Puck - Mrs. Suzanne Bevans, Mrs. Corinne Doerr and Ms. Lisa Jacobsmeyer
Materials engineering involves studying materials and relating them to their properties. Participants will explore the use of different materials to create a hockey puck and analyze how the material affects the distance travelled. They will utilize their creativity and problem solving skills to collaboratively design a hockey puck and then test the distance traveled when a force is applied. The design brief will focus on force, motion, and energy concepts and integrate math objectives into the evaluation process. The session will also address how language arts objectives and English language development strategies can be integrated into children’s engineering (STEM) challenges.
Materials Engineering: Hockey Puck
Observing the Night Sky from the VMI Observatory - Lt. Col. Gregory Topasna & Lt. Col. Daniela Topasna
Come join us for an open-house observing session at the VMI Observatory. After an introduction to the night sky we will use the observatory’s telescopes to observe some of the visible planets, nebulae and galaxies that are in the night sky this time of year. Lt. Col. Gregory Topasna and LTC Daniela Topasna will lead the visit. Each session is limited to 12 participants.
Transportation – Trips will originate at the VMI Marshall Hall parking lot, and travel to the observatory which is located in McKethan Park, 3.8 miles, or a ten-minute drive. A VMI Shuttle will transport the first group at 7:15 pm and return by 8:45 pm. The second group will depart VMI at 8:15 pm and return by 9:45 pm.
Paper Circuitry - Melissa Techman
Light up your learning! Explore inventive uses of small paper circuits and lights in 2D and 3D paper formats. Paper circuits were invented by MIT PhD candidate Jie Qi,and and are part of the 21st Century Notebooking Initiative. These tiny flat stickers inspire learners to mix writing, art and technology, while learning simple circuitry. Participants will design something with small lights and get an activity booklet with templates.
Scuba Divers, Not Snorkelers! How Engineering-Based Lessons Promote Deeper Thinking in STEM - Dr. John Almarode
This highly engaging session explores the necessary steps for implementing effective integrated STEM education. Building on the latest research in STEM education and how the student brain learns, participants will experience an environment most conducive to the development of STEM literacy, interest and engagement in STEM, and smart thinking.
- Participants will understand the connection between engaging environments and the development of STEM literacy, interest, and engagement in STEM.
- Participants will be able to identify the essential components of an effective integrated STEM education.
- Participants will be able to apply these components to specific teaching and learning strategies in STEM.
- Participants will be able to develop an action plan for implementing these specific teaching and learning strategies.
Teaching Electrical Circuits is a "Snap"! - Col. Shawn Addington
This hands-on workshop will introduce educators to the “Electronic Snap Circuits” product as a tool to teach basic electricity and electronics to students in grades three through eight.
Electricity and electronics education often presents numerous challenges to the educator, and can be frustrating to the student – small parts and wires, confusing schematics, expensive components, boring simulations, etc. However, through the use of “Electronic Snap Circuits,” students can quickly and easily construct a variety of circuits, and educators can customize course content to suit the grade and size of the class.
Tetrahedral Kite - Clifton W. Jones, Jr. & Alisa Rushing
In this hands-on workshop participants will learn to build a tetrahedral kite using inexpensive materials. This lesson incorporates all areas of STEM and 21st century skills. Workshop will cover the forces of flight, gravity, Newton’s laws and the history of the kite.
The Sun, Earth, Moon Connection - Lt. Col. Daniela Topasna and Lt. Col. Gregory Topasna
This workshop discusses the interplay between the Sun, the Earth and the Moon. Topics covered include the phases of the moon, eclipses, tides, the seasons and climate. Part discussion and part hands-on activities, this workshop melds the two together for a total learning experience. Activities and resources to help students understand these topics will be presented.
The Thinking 3rd Grade Classroom: Beyond Hands-on Stem - Karen Heathcock & Melissa Techman
This team will show how a wide variety of open-ended science, math and engineering activities regularly implemented in a 3rd grade classroom supports the development of key skills needed for higher-level thinking, creative problem solving, and successful collaboration. We will give steps for teaching the inquiry and discussion skills that yield a curious and productive class culture. A list of weekly STEM activities and resources will help you connect curricular areas (including writing) and standards in meaningful ways. Attendees will be able to experiment with some electronics activities that can be readily used in upper elementary and beyond. One big benefit of this approach is the level of support from excited parents and community members. This past year, parents have guided projects ranging from homopolar motor exploration to hands-on biome tableaux that became the topic of student poems.
Urban Agriculture - Scott Barnes, Greg Donovan, & Ted Rosiak
The US Department of Agriculture defines a food desert as a place “without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food” and that the “lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases”1. Teaching middle school students how to identify and produce their own fresh, healthy, and affordable food is a necessity anywhere, but particularly in areas with high populations of economically disadvantaged students. In the Urban Agriculture program at Potomac Middle School, we provide an emphasis in educating our students on how to identify healthy foods as well as how to produce them, hoping that they will take their knowledge back to the community. In this workshop, we will highlight the hands-on strategies and lessons that we have utilized to achieve success with the students at Potomac Middle School so that you can help to eliminate any food deserts in your community. https://apps.ams.usda.gov/fooddeserts/foodDeserts.aspx
Wind Turbine Blade Design Challenge - Ms. Remy Pangle
Teachers will participate in a design challenge involving wind turbine blade design. Participants will work through the research phase and then brainstorm design ideas and create a prototype to be tested. Other wind energy resources will be reviewed and the session will end with a discussion on how the design challenge can be integrated into the classrooms.