Friday, May 13, 2016

Reflections on Visioning STEM Learning

This podcast features recorded audio from a videoconference by Vinnie Vrotny (@vvrotny) on May 12, 2016. His presentation was part of a 4 hour workshop at Casady School in Oklahoma City on "Visioning the Future of Computer Science and STEM Education in K-12 Schools." Vinnie discussed his experiences as a teacher and director working in Chicago-area and Houston-area independent schools helping develop updated computer science / digital literacy courses, curricula, and STEM / MakerSpace learning spaces for students as well as teachers. The podcast concludes with an audio reflection recorded by participants at the end of the workshop, sharing some of the key takeaways and learning points from the day. In addition to teachers and staff from Casady School, we were also joined by several community representatives from higher education (Rose State) as well as a local software design company (iThemes) during this workshop. Many thanks to Vinnie for sharing his experiences, perspectives, and advice to assist our faculty and staff as we work to envision a future program of computer science and STEM learning at Casady School. This podcast was originally posted on and cross-posted to Refer to the podcast shownotes for referenced resources and links from the presentation.
(Click here to download this audio podcast)
  1. Vinnie Vrotny on Twitter: @vvrotny
  2. Shared Notes from our Visioning workshop (Google Doc)
  3. STEM at Casady website:
  4. STEMseeds (@STEMseeds)
  5. FABlab at Rose State
  6. iThemes of Edmond, Oklahoma
  7. The Div (OKC-area nonprofit promoting coding for kids)
  8. 15 May 2016: Scratch Day in OKC - sponsored by The Div
  9. 15 May 2016: Proposal deadline for EncycloMedia 2016
  10. 6-9 June 2016: STEM “Mission to Mars” Teacher Camp at Casady
  11. Cyber Security/Digital Forensics at Rose State (including KidCamps)
  12. 15 July 2016: Minecraft Challenge Day at Casady
  13. 26-28 July 2016: iPad Media Camp at Casady
  14. Aug 26 & 27, 2016 - iPadPalooza at OU (@iPadpaloozaOU)
  15. 4-5 October 2016 - EncycloMedia Conference (OKC)
  16. 4-5 November 2016 - Digital Sharing Conference at Casady (@digishare)
  17. Original Opinion Podcast created as a summative recording at the conclusion of the institute (a Spanish portion was edited out of the version.)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Launching Our Catapults

Yesterday in our Lower Division STEM Club students finished building their catapults and launched them for accuracy!

During the design and building process, students had lots of GREAT conversations about how they could refine and tweak their catapults to make them launch farther and with more accuracy. One student team used additional clothes pins to increase the angle of their catapult's platform to reduce the vertical trajectory and increase the horizontal trajectory. One of the best parts of STEM activities like catapult building is when students are faced with challenges like this, and get to come up with their own creative approaches and solutions!

Students came up with many different and creative designs for their catapults.

We did not have enough time to launch for distance this week, so we're going to keep the catapult prototypes in the classroom for now. After we spend a couple of weeks on MinecraftEDU building challenges, we will launch our catapults for distance and then let students decide (or figure out in a somewhat fair way, like "rock, paper, scissors" or a coin toss) who can take home the catapults.

More photos from this week's catapult launches are available in our Flickr photo set for this STEM unit.

Congratulations to the "Medieval Ladies" group who earned the most points in our catapult accuracy launch competition! All the students were truly winners in this STEM activity, however, because everyone successfully collaborated, designed, build, and tested their ideas!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Catapult Projects in LD STEM Club

Today in Lower Division STEM Club our students started building catapults! We watched and discussed several videos about catapults (both large and small) and discussed some of the physics of catapults, including potential and kinetic energy. Students were introduced to a variety of catapult building materials in our "STEM store" and filled out budget sheets before "going shopping" with teammates using $1000 "STEM store dollars." Then catapult construction began! We'll be continuing to build our catapults next week, and will be launching them for both distance and accuracy. An album of 23 photos from our catapult builds today are available on Flickr.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Engineering Design Builds

Today in Lower Division STEM Club students participated in two different "Engineering Design Builds:" a Cantilever Span Building Challenge and a Lego Tower Building Challenge. Check out 19 photos of students building in this Flickr set.

What to Expect in Lower Division STEM Club

Today is our first day of Lower Division STEM Club, and Mr. Lopez and I are excited to get started! We'll be sharing photos, links and videos about our activities in STEM Club on this website throughout the semester. We will be meeting eight times, and the time is probably going to fly by! Here are some of the projects we are planning to do together. These may change, but this is what we're planning at this point:

  1. Engineering Design Projects: Cantilever Spans and Lego Tower Build
  2. Catapults
  3. MinecraftEDU Collaborative Building Challenges
  4. Green Screen Videography (using iPads)
  5. Coding with Hopscotch (using iPads)

This video from my STEM class in Yukon last year features some students talking about their expectations of STEM class. I hope you're expecting great things from our STEM Club this year! We are going to have a fun and learn a lot about science, technology, engineering and math together!

posted by Dr. Fryer