How does STEM work in the real world? Actually, how does anything work in the real world? It is all social. Nobody develops something from beginning to end without researching what has been done before and what others are doing at this very moment.
Think about Watson and Crick and the race to define the structure of DNA. They were competing against others to be the first. But, at the same time, all the scientists involved in the research were sharing what they knew. In the end, these scientists knew any advances in medicine that resulted from this work would benefit all of us, not just the winners of the race.
Now we have tools that let us do the same in our classrooms. Sharing is incredibly easy.
In the past couple of weeks, I have brought two new pieces of equipment into my office. First, I received two Vernier LabQuest2 sets, along with temperature probes, distance sensors, and light sensors. These devices let students access all data collected using a browser. I tested it out on my iPad and was having so much fun I had to tweet about it.
The second was a gift from a friend who knows I just love little bugs. He sent me two ProScope digital microscopes with all their lens attachments so I could take my macro photography of insects to a whole new level. Of course, he also knew I’d be excited to share with teachers and students. The day after the microscopes arrived at school, I had lots of people stop by to look at all sorts of crazy things magnified 50 to 200 times. Here is a sample: John Hendron’s eyebrows at x50.
Just like the Vernier equipment, the ProScope microscopes can be set to distribute data to a set of iPads in a room, making exploration of microscopic structures social and fun.
I do not have concrete plans for using these devices yet, but I have tons of ideas and a few teachers interested already. Check back in the spring. We’ll be having lots of fun.