Scientists At Work: Activities and Books to Promote Science Literacy

Promote Science Literacy - Scientists at WorkScience understanding is key to making our way in the world. Whether we are making decisions about our health care, attempting to understand currents events, or learning to perform a new job, science knowledge plays an important role.

The major goal of scientists is to develop current theories that explain bodies of data and predict outcomes of further investigations. Engineers use their knowledge to solve problems.

Modeling, critiquing, and communicating are equally important in STEM fields as are observing and conducing research, testing a hypothesis, and analyzing data.

Promote Science Literacy

Hands-on science instruction and experience in inquiry science is important for understanding STEM concepts. However, it is also important for students to develop an understanding of what scientists actually DO in their day-to-day work. Today, I share a few tips to improve your student’s science literacy.

Encourage students to read nonfiction during independent reading time. Consider reading aloud a biography of a scientist that corresponds with your current unit of study.

Give a book talk about a new nonfiction title. Invite students to share a short book talk on a title they have read.

Create book display to highlight scientists at work. Rotate themes on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Set up a display of the tools and equipment scientists use.

Ask students to interview a scientist in your community. Create posters to share what you’ve learned with others.

Take a field trip to visit with scientists in the field. Consider agricultural sciences, healthcare, and engineering related work.

hydrogeologyScientists at Work

Reading literature and non-fiction books that feature real-world scientists helps students to develop a greater understanding of the world of science. They realize that science isn’t just lab coats and goggles. Here are a few titles that detail the skills and varied experiences of STEM careers.

Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard
Citizen science is the study of the world by the people who live in it. In this title, Burns introduces readers to children and adults, scientists and nonscientists who study nature in an effort to learn more and save particular species of animals.

The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe
In 2006, a beekeeper discovered his hives were completely empty. What had happened to the 20 million bees? Soon, other beekeepers had the same story. This book describes how scientists worked alongside aviculturalists to discover what we now call colony collapse disorder.

Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion
Join oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeryer as he takes readers around the globe and shares his insight after years of tracking debris. With data of ocean currents he brings this concern to the public eye.

The Frog Scientist
Years ago, scientists had discovered that all around the globe, frogs were dying. The decline has many causes, including habitat loss and disease. Follow along with Tyrone, a young man passionate about frogs, who becomes an amphibian scientist and discovers that the most commonly used pesticide in the United States plays a role in the demise of his beloved frogs.

The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity 
Two rovers were sent to Mars in 2003 to discover whether water had ever existed there. See for yourself how the imagination drives scientists and engineers to overcome hurdles and ultimately build models and simulations.

Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon (Newbery Honor Book)
This multi-award winning title offers a thrilling story of the Manhattan Project. The author details how Oppenheimer recruited scientists from a variety of backgrounds to work on plans for an atomic bomb.

 

entomologycareersI encourage you to begin to explore science career options in more depth. Keep a notebook of what you’ve learned. I have shared two previous careers we have explored: Entomology and Hydrogeology.

Perfect Travel Gifts & Tips for Young Adventurists & Travelers

Traveling isn’t easy. There are frequent hiccups and unexpected delays that can lead to headaches and frustration. Over the years, we have learned a lot. We have become more savvy about what we need pack to assure we are comfortable and more flexible in how we pack to avoid potential catastrophes.

Today, I share a list of travel gifts for young adventurists and travelers – things you will find make travel with kids easier and more enjoyable.

Perfect Travel Gifts & Tips for Young Adventurists & Travelers

This post contains affiliate links which means I may receive a commission when products are purchased. Please see my disclosure policy for details.

Travel Gifts for Young Adventurists

We absolutely love to travel. Until recently, my hubby’s high pressure job necessitated that he decompress every six months. Even so, it would take him nearly a week before he could relax enough to enjoy himself while on vacation. While his work doesn’t permit us to world school on a full-time basis, we have become accustomed to traveling regularly for 2-3 week holidays at least once a year.

Build Excitement Prior Departure

Over the years, we have surprised the kids with a trip to Disneyland, slowly built anticipation for Florida with clue envelopes, and done all the planning ourselves. What we have found works best for us, however, is that everyone is involved in the planning.

When the kids were younger, we subscribed to a monthly travel adventure from Little Passports. It was a fun way to spark interest in travel and engage them in a great learning activity. They loved following along with Sam and Sofia, marking their new location on the world map and “stamp their passport book”.

Now that they are older, they take a more vested interest in our travel destinations. We generally discuss our next excursion concurrently while on vacation. This helps to make the long flight hours and delays more endurable.

Once we’ve settled on a destination, we are each expected to research the attractions and activities we would most like to take part. We make a list and share our ideas at a family meeting.

Not only does this help to build their excitement, they learn a lot about geography and budgeting as they help to plan our excursions and are more invested upon our arrival.

Perfect Travel Gifts for Young Adventurists & TravelersTravel Gifts & Tips for Packing

When we first traveled abroad to Scandinavia, our luggage was delayed and we arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark with just one suitcase. The kids had their clothing but hubby and I had only our carry-on bags. Fortunately, our bags arrived the next day but we certainly learned a lot in regards to packing on that first trip.

We now split our things between our four suitcases – a few days of clothing in each suitcase. We use Eagle Creek packing cubes to keep everything nicely organized and to take the stress out of packing for these extended holidays

Hubby and I have two large garment folders each. Each one holds several days of clothes. The kids use the medium cubes and the small cubes are perfect catch alls for outlet adapters, chargers, batteries, our first aid kit, etc.

What I love best about the packing cubes is that they come in a variety of colors. We can easily identify whose cube is whose. Eagle Creek now has a lighter weight fabric and a wider range of color options in their new line of Specter Cubes.

One quick and inexpensive way to distinguish your luggage from another traveler is to use tassels or pom poms on the luggage handle. Alternatively, luggage belts work well to secure the contents in case a zipper breaks in transport.  

I love the green color of our Eagle Creek luggage (pictured above), making it more visible on the luggage carousel in baggage claim. Though we have not yet invested in new suitcases for the kids, when we do, I know it will be Eagle Creek. They stand behind their lifetime guarantee. When the zipper on one of our green suitcases broke, we simple dropped it off at an Eagle Creek retailer, and they repaired it and shipped it back to us FREE of charge! How’s that for customer service!?

Another product we love are the colorful daypacks and gear by Cotopaxi. Lightweight and versatile, the daypacks are perfect for carry-on luggage as they fit under the seat nicely and have ample space for a change of clothing, your shaving kit or vanity bag, a jacket, and a few incidentals to keep you busy en route.

Use this link for a $20 Cotopaxi discount

Cotopaxi is making a difference in the global community, creating innovative outdoor products that fund sustainable poverty alleviation, move people to do good, and inspire adventure. Their products are guaranteed to last 61 years. If there’s a problem with your product, they’ll gladly exchange it, get you a replacement, or repair it. I love a company that stands behind their products!

Lastly, we have a set of TSA-approved luggage locks to secure our baggage – comforting when we have late departures and need to store our luggage with the hotel prior to our departure. The TSA logo on these special locks alerts inspectors that they can unlock the luggage without cutting the lock or damaging the bag.

We have had our locks for several years. The resettable 3-dial combination is easy to set and alleviates the stress of having to carry another set of keys.

Travel Gifts & Tips for the Departure

To keep the kids busy en route, we generally bring along the iPad and their Mandarin schoolwork. Often they are expected to journal about their trip in Chinese. They also bring along a puzzle book and a paperback book or two that they will discard along the way when they finish with it.Fun Travel Gifts for Young Travelers

My son is now twelve years old. Unlike his sister, he is not an avid reader so it is rare to catch him reading quietly. He has always been fascinated with airplanes however, and will generally content himself with watching the planes take-off and land while at the airport. Once we are underway, he makes quick friends with the stewards for soda refills as we watches the inflight movie.

One thing we’ve found that works well for him is to carry a Lego mini-fig or two in his carry-on. His grandmother also gifted him with a small digital camera a year ago and he uses it to digitally journal his trip from the perspective of his mini-fig. It is so fun to watch him as he carefully poses his pocket size toy and carefully words captions and anecdotes in his journal.The Puzzling Impact of Erno Rubik @EvaVarga.netMy son has recently developed an interest in speed cubing. He thereby carries a puzzle with him everywhere. Even if your child is not a speed cuber, learning the algorithms to solve even the original Rubik’s Cube 3x3x3 takes time. It’s thereby the perfect activity for teens to occupy themselves during long flights and car drives.

Tips for Improving Your Experiences Upon Arrival

As I eluded to earlier, teens have a more vested interest in the trip when they have been given the chance to help plan the destination and the excursions you take part in upon arrival. This was never more evident than during our recent trip to the East Coast.

Our advance research and planning paid off. While in New York, we purchased a CityPASS as the majority of the sights we wanted to see were included. We thereby saved money on admission fees and avoided long lines at the ticketing window. It was well worth our time.

My daughter loves to visit art museums while my son enjoys air and space museums. We thereby did our best to alternate visits so everyone was happy. Keep in mind, however, that you don’t always have to do everything together.

National Portrait Gallery: Must See Art Museums Around the World @EvaVarga.netIn Washington DC, the boys spent an afternoon at the International Spy Museum while Geneva and I took our time at the Smithsonian American Art Museum which were conveniently located next to each other. We were able to take our time to explore the exhibits without feeling rushed by those who were less interested. 

Even with an itinerary and well-thought out plans, things do not always go as planned. When things go awry, we have learned it is critical to sit down each evening and reflect on what did go well in addition to that which fell apart. We also discuss what we each could have done to make the day better.

These vacation debriefs, as we have come to call them, are easy to implement and have opened valuable dialogue. We learn more about one another’s expectations and how we can improve our communication skills when we are in stressful situations.

christmas-gift-guides-23894

Looking for more gift ideas? Hop over to the iHomeschool Network linkup for many more Christmas Gift Guides.

Keeping Teens Challenged and Engaged with Video Presentations

Many teens dread giving a speech in front of their peers. They have difficulty capturing – and keeping – the attention of their audience. They struggle to structure and communicate their ideas successfully.

Integrating a variety of technology into your courses – whether it’s history, science, language arts, or a foreign language – will provide teens with a range of  multimedia and design tools. In doing so, teens are more engaged and thereby develop a range of skills related to production and video presentations. Best of all, they learn to communicate more clearly and more compellingly with their audience.

mysimpleshow video presentations

I was compensated for my time writing this review. All opinions expressed are true and completely our own. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

Tips For Keeping Teens Engaged

Teens get bored easily – especially when instruction is delivered the same way or when asked to give yet another speech to demonstrate what they have learned. Keep teens engaged by designing lessons that include novelty, variety, and fun.

When teens use short and friendly video, they can awake interest for almost any topic. Creating explainer videos with mysimpleshow, for example, is easy and exciting, and it also trains users regarding the application of creative technology resources.

Focus student attention by incorporating demonstrations, role playing, hands-on activities, storytelling, and multimedia presentations to enhance instruction. Requesting students create explainer videos with mysimpleshow is a great means to structure content, provide guidance, and give an overview.

Did you know?

The great Roman orator, Cicero, recommended the use of images as part of memory training. He also used visuals, in the form of props, in his speeches. For this reason, he is considered one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists.

Many teens love to socialize and do projects with their peers. Cooperative learning opportunities are highly effective in keeping students engaged and participating in lessons. With mysimpleshow, students can work in teams (either in small groups or with a partner) on video scripts and visualizations to aid in their collaboration skills.

Our Favorite Resource for Video Presentations

While there are many interactive presentation and slide show apps, mysimpleshow is our favorite resource for video presentations. It is the perfect medium your students need to make their project fun, engaging, and interesting.

mysimpleshow is an online tool that enables anyone to create concise and engaging explainer videos in just a few minutes. It is also a great option for teachers to create lessons and presentations with multimedia and interactive elements such as video, audio, and embedded assessments.

Writing the video script native to the mysimpleshow platform, enhances writing skills, as students need to use transition phrases and must only include the most relevant information to align with the storyline template’s character limits.

mysimpleshow video presentations

The screenshot visible above is excerpted from a video I put together for our Scout troop detailing the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse. On the left side, you can see two highlighted words – these are the words that are illustrated with graphics from the available gallery or images the user can upload.

I love that the user has the freedom to select the words to animate. As the slideshow plays, the selected image will appear as the narrator reads the highlighted word. The user will thereby need to make small adjustments to their script to assure the graphics appear in a timely manner – a great problem solving opportunity.

My daughter used mysimpleshow to create a fabulous explainer video for Ranger requirement #2g, “Make a presentation for your crew on communications equipment used in the outdoors with emphasis on how this equipment would help in a wilderness survival situation.”

 

She loved the flexibility of the program and looks forward to making another video to teach her Venturing Crew about Leave No Trace principles.

Science and Technology Resources from the Homeschool Buyers Co-op

When it comes to high school, science is the one subject that puts fear into most homeschool parents. And technology progresses so fast, it’s hard to keep up. What’s a homeschool parent to do?

Dissections?! Balancing scientific equations?! Yikes!! 

Have no fear! Finding affordable, award winning, science and technology curriculum that aligns with your teaching style and comfort level need NOT be difficult.

science & technology resources

In fact, the Homeschool Buyers Co-op has an award-winning selection of excellent science and technology products, including core science curriculum and supplements, coding and programming courses, hands-on experiments, and much more.

I am being compensated for my time to write this advertorial post. There are affiliate links below which means I may receive a commission when products are purchased. The information being shared is provided for informational purposes.

Science & Technology Resources from Homeschool Buyers Co-op

Homeschool Buyers Co-op has an award-winning selection of science and technology products including core curriculum, supplemental and practice programs, and online streaming of quality documentaries. With the advantage of GroupBuys and special offers for homeschool curriculum, you’ll discover science and technology curriculum with a savings of up to 67% off.

I spent some time searching through the science and technology programs available at Homeschool Buyers Co-op and found five I wanted to highlight that you can use to teach high school science as well as a  favorite tech tool for you, the homeschool parent.

Science Resources

Discovery Education Techbook

discoveryedtextbookWith engaging videos, audio, numerous interactive activities, Discovery Education Techbook is an all-in-one resource designed to encourage to students to think like scientists.

Discovery Education Techbook is exclusive to Co-op members; a 1 year subscription for 1 student is just $55.

The award winning science techbook provides access to content for ALL subjects (Biology, Earth & Space, Chemistry, and Physics) taught in high school science. It utilizes the 5E model of instruction: engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate.

The interactive curriculum integrates exclusive video, interactive text, digital explorations, and STEM resources.

science & technology resourcesHolt McDougal High School Science Textbooks

If digital is not your style, then be sure to check out Holt McDougal’s High School Science textbooks. Focused on making science relevant for students grades 9 thru 12, Holt McDougal engages students through intriguing questions and extensive examples showing science in action.

As a member of the Co-op, the high school science texts are available for just $89.14 each — a 25% discount!

In addition to the printed student textbook, you will also receive access to the online resources which include:

  • Interactive Online Student Edition and Teacher Edition
  • Reading, Vocabulary, and Concept Mapping Worksheets
  • Animated Biology, Virtual Investigations, Video-Based Inquiry, Smart Grapher, and Review Games
  • Interactive Reader
  • Open-Inquiry Labs, STEM Labs, Virtual Labs, and Video Labs
  • Printable Assessments
  • Teacher Resources

Discovery Education Streaming Plus

A subscription to Discovery Education Streaming Plus is the perfect complement to any science curriculum. It is like having the entire DVD selection of your local public library available to you from the convenience of your home – accessible at any time!

As a Co-op member you can get this award-winning service for 1 year for only $150 — a 60% savings!

With Discovery Education Streaming, you can take your students beyond the classroom walls and into some of the world’s most iconic locations for rich and immersive learning experiences. You’ll also receive membership to the Discovery Educator Network where you can connect with other passionate educators.

The subscription package includes exclusive Discovery programming such as Young Scientist ChallengeFrozen Planet, Into the Universe, and Mythbusters. You will also have access to hundreds of lesson plans, games, skill builders, and online interactive activities.

Ultimate Guide to Teaching with Minecraft @EvaVarga.netTechnology Resources

Programing with Youth Digital

Ultimate Guide to Teaching with Minecraft @EvaVarga.netIf your child is as passionate about Minecraft as my son, you won’t want to miss the GroupBuy savings from Youth Digital. These online programming courses for grades 3-8 gives students everything they need to create their own computer games, apps, animations, and more from start to finish.

As a Co-op member, a 1 year subscription to your choice of courses is currently just $149 — a savings of 40%.

Youth Digital provides several courses to choose from, here are just a few that were of interest to my son:

  • Mod Design 1: Create your own Mods for Minecraft while learning the fundamentals of Java
  • Server Design 1: Create your own custom Minecraft server and play with friends.
  • 3D Game Development 1: Learn the fundamentals of coding in C#.
  • 3D Animation 1: Make your own 3D animated movie.

JASON Learning Curriculum

JasonLearningAnother favorite science and technology resource available through the Homeschool Co-op is JASON Learning, a non-profit that connects students in grades K-12 to real science and exploration through innovative Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curricula.

As a Co-op member, enjoy a 1-year subscription to ALL of JASON’s curricular units for $79.99 — a 36% savings.

They offer an incredible array of teaching resources – including a LIVE interactive webcast series where students can pose questions to scientists and researchers engaged in science around the world!

Finding Our Groove with Homeschool Planet @EvaVarga.netHomeschool Planet Online Planner

Tech is not just for kids. Lesson planning, calculating grades, and oh – the transcripts! If you struggle to stay organized, you won’t want to miss the digital homeschool planner offered exclusively at Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op, The Homeschool Planet. It is the best digital planner available and sure to help keep everything together in one place.

Homeschool Planet costs $65 for a 1 year subscription or just $6.95/month.

New to Homeschool Buyers Co-op?  

Homeschool Buyers Co-op is the worlds’ largest buyers club for homeschooling families. That means that their purchasing power allows co-op members the ability to find the most affordable deals anywhere for homeschool curriculum.

  • It’s FREE to join, and you instantly get access to amazing homeschool curriculum deals.
  • They offer lots of free services and resources for homeschooling families. Even a homeschool ID card – how cool is that?!
  • The best deals on the best homeschool curriculum. I’ve purchased Cover Story, Mapping the World by Heart, and so much more through the co-op.

 

Creating a Student Resume with Basic Invite: Stationery That Pops

My daughter turns 15 this autumn and is now in the process of putting together her first resume. She would like to get  job at our local community pool as a life guard because she knows the staff and the hours are flexible. Its the perfect first job for her.

Yet, how does one write a resume when your work experience is so very little? Even when confining her skills and experience to a single page, there is a lot of white space. How does a teen make her resume stand out?

I was compensated for my time writing this product review.

A Unique Student Resume with Basic Invite

I shared with her the idea of using Basic Invite to create a resume. Among their offerings of baby shower invitations  and elegant birth announcements, they also have a fabulous selection of stationery. I explained to her that each template is fully customizable – both the text and the graphics.

“As the card is smaller than a traditional resume printed on paper, your text will fill the space. Thereby, your skills and volunteer experience will pop.” In just a few minutes I drafted a sample for her by customizing a birth announcement.

basic invite graphic

“That’s cool!” she exclaimed. “I want to try.”

Fully Customizable Stationery

Creating an elegant resume took only a few minutes and it was all so easy. Best of all, everything is customizable. If desired, you can even build your own color theme!

Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options. Once you select a design you can change the color of each element on the card to over 180 different color options so you can make sure the card is exactly how you want it down to the littlest detail.

In addition, color photos can quickly be changed to black and white or sepia. Each change that you make is instantly previewed for you and you can move text boxes around easily by simply dragging your mouse until your card is just right.

Through the development of unique technology, they’re able to provide you with limitless options that allow you to instantly create a card that is truly unique.

Basic Invite also allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their actual invitation so they can see exactly how it will print as well as the paer quality before they ever have to place their final order.

Customers can choose from over 40 different colors when it comes to their envelopes so that they can make their invitation stand out even before it is opened. All of our envelopes are peel and seal so the envelopes can be quickly and securely closed.

Based in Saint George, Utah, their passionate team has been creating the perfect card for every event since 2006.

basic invite grad stationeryMany Stationery Categories to Choose From

Check out the many options at Basic Invite. In addition to the elegant birth announcements that I customized, they also have hundreds of options for other occasions such as:

I love the diverse collection of stationery they offer. I know in just a few years I will be using Basic Invite to order graduation announcements and thank you cards.

Unbeatable prices and value, plus innovative products found nowhere else – Basic Invite is now my go-to resource for personalized stationery products.

They often have a sale – look at the top of this page for the discount code and follow Basic Invite on social media Facebook and Twitter).

Mandarin Resources for On-the-Go: “Miao Mi” App Now Available

My daughter is preparing to take the AP exam in Chinese Culture and Language in May. My son will follow her example a couple years later. I am thereby always searching for quality Mandarin resources that provide practice in her second language as well as keep her interest.

A few months ago, I shared a delightful Mandarin resource for families learning Chinese, Miao Mi Educational Programs, a subscription service available through Amazon Prime Video. It has provided a fun way to integrate Mandarin language into our home – even for my teens!

miao miI am happy to announce that Celestial Tiger Entertainment has also launched a Miao Mi app. Now parents can easily immerse their young children in Mandarin language-learning just by using their tablets – perfect for an on-the-go lifestyle like ours.

The Miao Mi app features award-winning shows and games that reinforce language learning. It provides access to more than 500 videos including “Star Babies” and “Pleasant Goat” – popular children’s programs in Asia.

Children and parents with no prior exposure to Mandarin can easily pick up the unique sounds of Chinese just as well as those from Chinese-speaking backgrounds. The programs on the Miao Mi app offer an immersive experience for children at different stages of Mandarin language learning.

“We created ‘Miao Mi’ to give parents a wide range of entertaining and educational programs and games to help give their pre-schoolers a head start learning this increasingly vital global language.” ~ Todd Miller, CEO of Celestial Tiger Entertainment

Available on the App Store and Google Play, the Miao Mi app is free to download, and $5.99 per month to subscribe. A 7-day free trial is available.

To download the “Miao Mi” app, visit the App Store for iOS.  “Miao Mi” is also available in the United States through Amazon Prime Video on Amazon Channels for $5.99 per month. A 7-day free trial is available. For more information, visit www.miaomi-tv.com.