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Learning at Home Grant Winners

Learning at Home Grants (New!) from the WSST Foundation This year WSST Foundation offered grants designed to assist students in learning science at home during the pandemic. Ideas specifically showcase how students can learn science at home either in a digital manner or with physical take-home supplies, kits or media. Take a look at some of the fantastic ideas teachers across the state have come up with.

Jennifer Bault Eco-columns

I would like to have my students make individual eco-columns using gatorade/water bottles. Students will need gravel, sand, soil, seeds, skewers (for bottle support), plastic cups, duckweed or other small aquatic plants and a small fish (goby) as well as nitrate and pH test strips. I would send home the supplies to fill the bottles initially. I would show them on-line how to cut and assemble their bottles, clean the gravel and sand, fill the bottles and plant their seeds. After two weeks, I will have a parking lot pick-up (with proper ppe) for the live aquatic items and test strips. I would love for the students to be able to monitor their systems for an extended period. Students will analyze pH and nitrate once each week for at least 5 weeks after adding the aquatic organisms. They will be learning about biogeochem/nutrient cycling, soil dynamics and water quality.

Rebecca McDermid 3D Molecular Designs (3DMD) Nucleotide Student Modeling Pack

DNA is at the heart of biotechnology, and hands-on modeling is at the heart of my teaching. There is an incredible amount of detail happening when you mix microliter quantities of liquids in a microcentrifuge tube. To bridge the gap between “because science” and a true understanding at the molecular level, I often start with modeling. The 3DMD kits have been a great asset to this. In previous years, the “regular” nucleotide kit made regular appearances in my classroom; my students used it to model and learn the complexities of DNA replication, gel electrophoresis, restriction digest, PCR, and Sanger Sequencing. My students often express how well these kits solidified knowledge and clarified complex topics. (“This makes so much sense now! Why didn’t we use these in biology?”)

Being able to send home an individual student version of this kit allows me to continue providing quality modeling activities for so many biotech concepts. Additionally, the hands-on modeling promotes problem-solving and minds-on kinesthetic learning, giving the students a break from watching an animation on a computer screen.

Teresa Harp Take home chemistry labs

Teaching Chemistry with a Hybrid and/or virtual model is going to require students to do more lab work from at home or via a virtual model.

This grant would allow me to provide a more meaningful lab based experience for my students by offering them some labs that they can do at home either with take home lab kits, virtual labs, or some hybrid model of videos and a lab combination kits that I have found from Flinn. Flinn developed Science 2 Go and Science 360 to meet the gaps with learning Chemistry (or any science class) with a hybrid model or virtual model.

Allison Haas Home based labs

Students need labs to take home with them to help inspire and motivate them to learn the curriculum when they are not able to be at school with their teachers and peers while remaining safe. Not all equipment and chemicals are safe to go home with students however there are many household supplies that could be used in a kitchen that would allow students the opportunity to learn without being at school. For example, my AP biology students are able to do an animal behavior lab with fish flakes, coffee grounds, a pie pan, and pill bugs or a cellular respiration lab with a syringe, food coloring, and a pipette. In my biology class, we will do an osmosis lab with distilled water and gummy bears, and yeast, sugar and balloons. In anatomy, we will create a toy that moves to learn about the motion of the body. All of these labs can be done with simple take home kits. Requiring students to provide their own supplies is not equitable as I have students who live in houses where these supplies are easily accessible and homes where there is not enough money to purchase them. This year I would like to take the next step and have enough supplies to send home to each student. My goal is to bring school home if I am not able to have them at school.

Kathy Biermat Foldscopes

Foldscopes are portable and durable paper microscopes with the ability for 140X magnification and with a 2 micron resolution. Each Classroom Kit includes 20 Foldscopes, 20 cell phone couplers (to allow students to take pictures of their observations) and a carrying pouch. Getting these powerful little microscopes into the hands of students will allow them to look at their world through a different lens (literally): that of a microscope. They will be able to meet NGSS standards of observation as well as the analysis and interpretation of designs found in nature and their lives.

The sixth and seventh grade students will be studying Earth Science this year. The microscopes will allow them to look at rocks and minerals around their homes. They will be able to step away from the computer and observe their own habitats. The Foldscopes will be used in conjunction with online, virtual activities including synchronous and asynchronous learning. Students will include their observations of the rocks, minerals, weathering and deposition in either a slide presentation or video that will be shared with the class. They will be required to draw out their observations, although they will be allowed to include cell phone pictures if this technology is available to them.

Stephanie Baker Green Screen Studio

We would use the funds to create a green screen studio for our Middle school science classes. We will need to purchase a portable green screen, microphone, stand, and an iPad tripod to create our productions. Having these resources will allow students to learn about storytelling through visual aids and learn the technique behind presenting. A portable green screen studio brings another level of technology, rigor, interest, and engagement to student learning. The studio is an authentic and interesting way for students to evaluate, reflect and report on their work. Most importantly, students will become more involved in their products and presentations.

The green screen studio will not only be used in science class but in literature, history, and science classes. This project will allow my students to build their confidence, gain valuable experience in the T.V production field, create fluency, and expand their creativity as they demonstrate their knowledge in any given subject.

Students will use the green screen to transport their presentations to an ecosystem they are learning about in science. In literature, they will be able to recreate scenes from the novels they are studying, and in history, they will be transported back in time! Our exploring technology class will compile daily news and community events to create a newscast, connecting our school community on a daily basis!

Kathleen Hallenbeck Protein Modeling Kits

I would purchase 18 “Protein Modeling Kits” for my Biology students. Students will check out these kits for at home use and return them when the unit is completed. Then, these kits will sit for a week and be sanitized prior to the second quarter.

Students will be able to individually explore enzymes and proteins using hands-on models. The enzyme kit will allow students to identify the enzyme and substrate and model how they might interact. Then, they will manipulate the pieces to model enzymatic processes such as analytic/catalytic reactions and competitive/noncompetitive inhibition. By simulating the activity, students form better connections to the material and can use the pieces when explaining the terms. This activity will include guiding questions to give evidence of their newly obtained knowledge.

Students will use this enzyme kit and protein kit to model enzymatic processes or primary, secondary, and tertiary protein structures by making short videos on Screencastify. Students will communicate information while they complete their model.

Daniel Koslakiewicz 3D Molecular Designs (3DMD) Nucleotide Student Modeling Pack

I would like to bring manipulatives, like 3DMD Student Modeling Packs, to my students learning virtually from home. These individual kits would allow students in a hybrid learning model to participate at home in the same learning activities as their face-to-face classmates. Using these packs, students will be able to experience polar attraction/repulsion, examine enzyme activity and biochemistry, understand cellular membrane structure and transportation, manipulate chromosomes and apply genetics, as well as work with DNA and central dogma. Visualization of these concepts helps students to understand them.

Brenna Baumgartner Home lab packs

I would love to be able to provide my students with materials at home so they can conduct experiments themselves while I demonstrate for them! Our curriculum is IQWST, specifically we use the “What Is Going On Inside of Me” book. This book focuses on the human body and how our body is one system that works together to carry out our daily functions. For this launch experiment, students “dissect” a ball point pen to learn how the different parts work together. In another experiment, students taste different foods like a saltine cracker and watch how their saliva breaks down the food, this gets the discussion going about the different systems (digestive) within our body. These are just a few things I would like to do with my students this year! I would love to be able to make science packages containing a lot of these key components for my students to use when they are at home.

Terry Schwaller Pivot Interactives

In anticipation that we will have to institute virtual learning again this year, I'm looking for funding for Pivot Interactives. I have used this interactive with great success in the past, and it offers a fantastic alternative to in-person labs. I would use the money to offset the cost of purchasing seats for my 40 Chem/Physics students.

Mary Ellen Kanthack Generation Genius

I used Generation Genius as a free resource last March online while instructing science to grades 4 and 5. At some point, I would like to see it available to the whole district. I love the quality of the lessons and explorations. It is an NSTA partner, ensuring trusted coverage of standards and overarching concepts. It allows me to differentiate and attack difficult subjects virtually for 8th grade, such as genetics and physical science, easily. Adapting strategies I use for special needs students can be easily created, allowing me to individualize and meet their needs. It has a read out loud option for students who struggle with language. Vocabulary words are not read aloud, but I can adapt practice to meet needs for students needing support through my other instructional applications.

Exploration materials are easily accessible to parents, or I can easily supply them through creating a kit. The DIY material lists and costs are listed, making it easy for planning and budgeting. The high quality videos and explorations reach all types of learners and meet needs of the whole student. This resource would be used throughout each unit throughout the year, whether face to face, blended.

Fran Grant 3D Molecular Designs (3DMD) Nucleotide Student Modeling Pack

3D Molecular Designs, a Milwaukee Based company, has developed Student Modeling Packs that can be used by students at home to demonstrate DNA replication, protein synthesis, and many biotechnology protocols such as PCR. These models will not only be used in the PLTW: Biomedical Science Program but also in other Biological Science courses. Using the Nucleotide Student Modeling Pack, students will have the opportunity to actively engage in the molecular world of the cell.

Kathy Lehto Digital Poster boards for STEAM fair

Students participate in a research project every year where they identify a question they want answered, design their research, and present their findings at a steam fair during the winter. Typically we use tri-fold poster boards. We would like to do digital poster boards instead. They're easier to manage for the students going back and forth to school. They will also be in the same format as traditional academic posters, which will give students a greater sense of scientific accomplishment. We would like these printed so each student can have a copy of their work. This grant would cover those printing costs.

Ted Snyder 3D Molecular Designs (3DMD) Nucleotide Student Modeling Pack

Teaching molecular biology based genetics can be challenging in person, as they cannot easily see nucleotides and amino acids, and it may be even more challenging when we have to teach remotely. However, 3D Molecular Designs kits allow students to visualize and manipulate genetic molecules. This grant application is for funding to buy multiple kits so that I can make lab packs that can be sent to each student’s home.

Since most of our learning will be over the computer, an additional concern is students become bored with online simulations and other computer based material. Thus, having a physical model to manipulate when we meet over Zoom will increase engagement. As an example, the Nucleotide Modeling Kit can be used for showing transcription into RNA (as intended), but they can also be grouped on a sheet of paper and a student can draw in the amino acids that tRNA assembles from each into codon. Another benefit of the 3D Molecular Designs kits is that I do not need a kit for each student – each kit has enough components to teach three students.

Jay Gullickson Nearpod and Kami subscriptions

I would like to incorporate Nearpod ($120/yr) and Kami ($99/yr) for the upcoming year to accommodate learners both virtually and face-to-face. The Nearpod subscription will allow students to access information asynchronously and complete short formative assessments, while the Kami subscription will allow my students the ability to annotate on .pdf files which are exclusively used in the Stanford SCALE curriculum we are piloting, as well as provide me a platform to easily give written feedback on their work. Both programs would greatly improve the online experience for my learners and me as their primary instructor.

Miranda Dahlke Junior Phenology Monitoring

I would like to purchase supplies to establish a Junior Phenology Monitoring Certification Program for middle school students in grades 5-8.

The work would be supported through the USA-National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) which hosts a website and app students will use to track their observations. Our school would join hundreds of organizations from around the USA already reporting data. The USA-NPN recommends that schools that envision starting this citizen science program should be committed to at least two years of data collection.

The way this project will allow students to continue to learn science at home is the flexibility of the location of their plant and animal studies. I can teach the certification course via online and model how to properly complete the observations and log this data on the website. Since the data for this project is ultimately housed online, students are able to complete the certification program from anywhere they have internet access.

The establishment of this program would also be an opportunity to expand the school’s partnership with a local organization. Gathering Ground is located just east of the school grounds, and the proposed school forest would meet this land. Our students have already connected with Gathering Ground by planting blueberries and fruit trees, grafting fruit trees, and tending to the grapes in the vineyard. This program would allow students to study and track changes that take place with potential plants they’ve planted.

Melissa Wimmler Generation Genius

Purchase classroom account for Generation Genius. This resource has NGSS aligned videos. Students can watch demonstrations, listen to explanations and then use the information to support their thinking or guide them to ask new questions.

Amy Workman Book Study: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot, provides a fantastic real world application of biotechnology (historically and in present day) as well as an investigation of social justice issues in science. I would like to purchase 20 copies of this book for use in my Biotechnology Applications and Biotechnology Careers classes.

Students will explore the following themes: Science as a Process; Science, Technology, and Society; and Institutional Racism in Healthcare. For each theme, students will provide written evidence (page numbers, quotes, notes, annotations, etc…) of how each of the three themes are represented in the book. Responses must include a description of the theme in the students' own words and evidence (at least one example) referenced in the book.

Students will upload their responses to an online platform where they can respond to each others' answers to questions and discussion prompts. Finally, students will fill out a KWL chart about specific aspects of the HeLa cancer cells.


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