Posts Tagged ‘field trip’

Highlights: Atomic Testing Museum

I have been so busy with end of school chaos that I haven’t blogged in ages. Therefore, to commemorate the end of  my first year, I’ll be writing about some highlights throughout the year.

My first field trip was a success!!!! I took my physics students to the Atomic Testing Museum and (aside from last minute chaperone cancellations, paperwork nightmares, and students missing the bus to the museum) it was amazing. I loved watching my kids learn and experience things outside of the classroom; there was much laughter :)

My kiddos - gonna miss this crazy bunch over the summer!

Guest Speaker: Accident Reconstruction

Today I had my first guest speaker (the cheaper alternative to a field trip!). Officer Michael Lemley of the Las Vegas Police Department came to speak to my physics students about accident reconstruction today. It was great for someone else to be in charge of the class and it was so fun to hear my students asking questions and thinking through this particular application of physics!

Officer Lemley was wonderful. He kept the kids laughing and made clear connections between the content and the real-world. One of my favorite parts of the day was Lemley’s insistence that he wishes he had paid more attention to his classes in high school because he had to relearn it all 20 years later. He told my students he never thought he would use his high school knowledge, but it always comes back.

He closed by talking about the cause of most fatal accidents he works on: distracted drivers. He illustrated several instances of people dying because they were texting or on the phone. He asked students why the United States is not willing to show gruesome commercials about drunk and distracted driving; the kids got into quite a debate over offending people v. being honest about consequences.

Since he was in the building for the whole day, he addressed my 9th grade general science classes for the last 20 minutes – I think it was the first time they had heard about applications of science in the “real world”. In my 5th period, I have a specific young gentleman who has the potential to be a lovely person, but has chosen bad friends and a worse attitude instead. When Officer Lemley began addressing the class, he asked the young man what career he would like to pursue. When my student answered the Army, Lemley told him that his attitude would not allow him to be successful. As the boy began to answer, “What attitude??!”, Lemley made him aware of the fact that he had been observing the class during our lecture time. The kid came up to me after class and whispered very softly, “Miss, I’ll never give you a hard time in class again!”. I then discovered that the kids thought Lemley was my personal friend and I had asked him to come in on account of their behavior – ha!

I am so glad I had Officer Lemley come to class – I am really looking forward to inviting more guest speakers soon!

Field Trip: Intrepid Museum of Sea, Air, & Space

If you’re interested in a fantastic field trip in New York City, check out the Intrepid Museum!

I’ve put together a power point about the museum as well as an educators guide for planning a trip. The educators guide has a sample middle school unit on aviation that can be used to prepare for an aviation tour.

This is an incredible museum that you should check out even if you are just passing through New York City.

Thomas Edison’s House and Laboratory

This weekend my husband and  I went to Thomas Edison’s estate Glenmont in West Orange, NJ. This was not his home when he invented electricity, but a massive laboratory sits at the bottom of the hill. The laboratory will reopen from renovations fall 2009. Here are some highlights of the afternoon, as well as a slide show of all our pictures at the end of the post.

Outside Edison's HouseOur picture just before the tour started.

Edison's House: GlenmontThe back of the house with the beautiful lawn.

Edisons Porch LightsThe large porch lined with lights.

Edison's LaboratoryEdison’s Laboratory. We couldn’t go inside because of renovations, but it opens again in the Fall 2009.

Edison's graveThomas Edison and his wife are both buried on the property.

To see other interesting parts of our visit (including a portrait of the Lord Kelvin), check out this slide show.

Field Trips Page!

I’ve gotten the Field Trips Page up and running! You’ll find lists of great field trip destinations by state and city along with notes about any blog posts I’ve written about those posts.

Please feel free to give feedback and suggestions!

More Science Games

Just found a great website with all sorts of online science games and “adventures”. The site also includes online and offline science experiments!!!

Check it out HERE!

Field Trips: Bodies Exhibit

It was quite a coincidence when I read the article about the Bodies Exhibition in Poland the other day, since I was already planning on visiting the New York Exhibition. I went with my husband (medical student who could tour us through the human body), sister (future occupational therapist or other medical occupation), and my parents. 

Husband and sister thoroughly enjoyed the journey through the human body. The rest of us were a bit queasy. It started with bones and skeletons and progressed through muscles, nervous system, circulatory system, respiration, other organs, reproductive system, and fetal development. 
The exhibits were incredible. The attention to detail was like a drawing in Grey’s Anatomy and every body part was labeled well. The plaques explaining what we were looking at were straight forward and satisfies those of us that weren’t looking for the gory details, as well as others who wanted to know everything!!
My favorite part was the circulatory system room. They painted the arteries red and veins blue and displayed them for various body parts and organs. I had no idea how complex and numerous the arteries were – there were so many arteries, you could tell exactly what body part you were looking at since it took the exact shape of a leg, arm, colon, etc.
There was also an intact nervous system (brain and eyes included) that was laid out on a table – a great way to understand more about nerves. Rooms such as respiration and reproduction (and others) held many specimens with interesting pathology: lung cancer, kidney stones, breast cancer, and goiters. There was even a box for smokers to trash their cigarettes after seeing the effects of their smoking!
However, I must add that things got very difficult for me once we hit the fetal development exhibit. My husband and I haven’t had children yet, but even still, the sight of fetuses from only a few weeks was almost too much to handle. One part even had a pregnant mother with a 24 week old baby. At this point, it was very hard to forget all of the exhibits were once alive.
If you’re teaching a biology or anatomy class, I would highly recommend taking a trip to the Bodies Exhibit. However, think carefully about who your students are. Sensitive students may not be able to handle the exhibit, especially considering each part once was alive (or part of a living human). This was undeniable when we notice finger and toe nails, lips, and hairy skin.
I am certainly glad I went to the Bodies Exhibition, but for me, that will probably my only trip there!!

Challenger Center for Space Science Education

Last fall I had the opportunity to visit New York City’s Challenger Center. It was an amazing experience. Students grades 4-12 get the chance to be involved in a simulation space mission as part of mission control as well as in the Space Station. Each student gets to play a role: commander/communicator, researchers, navigators, explorers, medics, etc. Every student in the space station has a counterpart in mission control who helps in completing their tasks. Teams of students are faced with emergencies and problems to solve. An excellent way to educate students about space.

The Center’s Mission:

Our vision is to create a scientifically literate population that can thrive in a world increasingly driven by information and technology. Our vision for the future is a global community where students command their own destinies by developing skills in decision making, teamwork, problem solving, and communication. This vision is based on a realistic assessment of the skills needed for success in the 21st century.


Perhaps at no other time in our nation’s history has the need for continuing excellence in education been as essential. A recent Gallup survey found that Americans overwhelmingly recognize the critical role science and technology play in our national security. And NASA has begun preparations for its ambitious return to manned missions to the Moon and possibly beyond.

However, research indicates that the United States is losing its worldwide dominance in critical areas of science and innovation. The National Science Foundation finds that there is a decrease in the number of students enrolling in undergraduate and graduate studies in engineering, physical sciences, and mathematics. The National Assessment of Educational Progress reports that 47 percent of twelfth graders scored “below basic” in science skills.

Offering Solutions

Throughout our history, Challenger Center has developed a kaleidoscope of education innovations that serve as a launch pad to learning. Our network of Challenger Learning Centers, diverse classroom programming, and community outreach programs, excite students’ natural curiosities and encourage them to learn.

Innovative teacher training workshops give instructors a deeper understanding of how to teach the subjects of science and mathematics, as well as confidence that the programs they are using are content-rich and consistent with current scientific understanding. All Challenger Center programs are developed by staff educators and space scientists to ensure accuracy in content and methods of instruction.


Vacation Science: NYC Intrepid Museum

Several years ago I went to the Intrepid Museum – the closest thing New York City has to a science museum. 

It was incredible.
We got to go on the aircraft carrier, which was loaded with planes, helicopters, and all sorts of other cool stuff! Shortly after, they took it away for renovations.
GUESS WHAT!? It’s back!!

Vacation Science: Hoover Dam

I was recently out in Las Vegas visiting my college roommate. My one tourism request was to see the Hoover Dam. My wish was granted and my friend and I hiked along Lake Mead all the way to the Dam. We went on the Power Plant Tour and saw the new bridge being built! It was very exciting :o)

The Power Plant Tour was excellent! We were privileged to see the generators at work as well as the massive pipes through which thousands of gallons of water flow through every day! We had excellent views of the Dam as well!! A new bridge is being built to allow the highway to bypass the Dam since the road passing over it winds through the mountains at 25 mph. The bridge was fascinating and promises to be one of the best views of the Dam!

The tour and museum were excellent educational resources. In the generator room, one of the generators was dissembled for maintenance – a phenomena that only occurs every 25 years! The rotor (the big wheel with large magnets attached all around) was just lying on the floor. It weighs almost 6 tons and took two huge cranes to move it from its normal location.
The museum also did an excellent job of explaining how the generators work! I have included pictures below to help explain:
This is a scale model of a generator. The water flows in the clear tube into the small dark green squares. These channels are openned and closed depending on the amount of water to be let in. As the water spins (sort of like a horizontal water wheel), the metal rod you can see in the middle of the picture begins to spin (this is the shaft). The shaft is connected to the rotor (the round part at the top which appears to have silver Lady Finger cookies attached) and the rotor spins as well. 
Surrounding the rotor is coils of copper wire. From Physics, we know that when we pass a magnet through a coil of copper wire (known as a solenoid) the magnet field changes. And where there’s a changing magnetic field, there’s current flowing.
So…to sum it up, the water makes the shaft and rotor turn, which causes the magnets to move past the coils of copper wire, causing a changing magnetic field, resulting in a current, or flow of electricity.
To top it all off — the Hoover Dam wasn’t even built to serve this purpose. It was created to aid farmers in irrigation and creating hydroelectricity was the only way to pay off such a massive project built during the Depression!!
I am seriously considering teaching Electricity & Magnetism units using the Hoover Dam so students can understand the real life applications!