July first is usually when I start to lesson plan for the fall. I‘m relaxed, I’m happy, and I have time to think. The fall is going to be another transition. I’ll be working with four 8th grade math teachers, team teaching 90-minute blocks. We met in the spring and we have all our lessons sketched out but I want to try to make changes to integrate with the Language Arts and Reading teachers. I’ll start with the fun stuff.
I e-mailed two biomimicry experts and both agreed to Skype with my class in the fall. Frank Fish is a professor at the Liquid Life Laboratory in West Chester, PA. Dr. Fish studies how the biological design of flippers can be used to better understand how ocean creatures move in water. In addition, with the lift and drag data gathered in water tunnels, his data may have impact on the design of boats. Some of his papers are interesting in just the title!
Moored, K. W., Fish, F. E., Kemp, T. H. and Bart-Smith, H. 2011. Batoid fishes: inspiration for the next generation of underwater robots. Marine Technology Society Journal45(4): 99-109.
Fish, F. E., Weber, P. W. Murray, M. M. and Howle, L. E. 2011. Marine applications of the biomimetic humpback whale flipper. Marine Technology Society Journal 45(4): 198-207.
The second scientist is Tony Brennan. He works with the University of Florida at the Brennan Research Group. His research examines shark skin and how the biology of shark skin repels what is called bio-fouling. Essentially this is junk like barnacles but it is also bacteria. His studies help engineers design materials that can potentially turn off bacteria. There is a great NOVA program about his work. Sharklet Technologies: CBS Sunday Morning, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyfsuXGMG4Q.
I’m excited about having the kids talk to them both!
My first trimester is Robotics. I am hoping the LA/Rdg teachers will be willing to do a PLTW mini- research unit entitled Understanding of the Role of Robots in Society.
With the background information, the challenge for the kids will be to design a robot to solve a world problem. Students will build different gears using math to calculate gear ratios. The kids will build their designs and we will discuss how to write a program to automate their robots.
I have three weeks with about 40 minutes a day. Our periods are flexible so when kids are complete with the math lessons, they can come to STEM to work. I’m excited about it but the time crunch worries me. My experience in differentiation will be useful.