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How Kids Teaching Kids Works in My Classroom

Author: ; Published: Oct 18, 2012; Category: Classroom materials, Energy Education; Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ; Comments: Comments Off

 

Guest blog by Jeannine Huffman, CTE Energy & Design Instructor, San Joaquin County Office of Education – Stockton, CA. Courtesy of The NEED Project.

How did Jeannine Huffman convince her students to not only want to learn about energy content, but remember it as well? Her strategy was kids teaching kids… read more in this fascinating blog post!

At the end of the school year my high school students know energy transformations, energy sources, and electricity generation by heart. In fact, when Pacific Gas and Electric sent a team to help students conduct an energy audit, the professionals said that our students were the only students they had ever worked with who could name every form and source of energy, each transformation, and how electricity was generated.

How did I accomplish this? I first had to convince my students at the beginning of each year to want to learn and remember the energy content.  I did this by introducing them to the Learning Pyramid. I have known about the Learning Pyramid, but have not had an opportunity to fully put its method into action until I began using NEED curriculum. I have grown more and more convinced that the Pyramid is representative of the belief that when Kids Teach Kids they retain and apply the content more effectively.

How does it work in my classroom?  I post the Learning Pyramid Chart and refer to it during class, reminding the students that our goal is to reach the top. At the bottom of the chart is Lecture 5%, so I say to my students, “If I stand up here and lecture, you will only remember 5%. In fact, you probably wonder how you are ever going to remember everything.” Student buy-in is critical and right away they see on the chart that they will only remember 10% if they read along with my lecture. As students move up the chart, adding visuals to reading and lecture, the retention increases to 20%. This affords the students a chance to tap into their meta-cognitive skills which means they are thinking about their own learning and taking personal responsibility to examine how they learn.

Demonstrations help students remember a concept but it has been suggested that they will only remember 30%.   How do I know this? When asked to explain energy transformations, or energy flow from the sun, most cannot explain the concept completely. Allowing students to discuss in groups and as a class may increase their retained knowledge up to 50%.  As a teacher you will reap rewards, and they will too, by allowing them to discuss and collaborate.  It is OK for a classroom to be noisy.  Science and technology aren’t silent.   After demonstrations and discussion about half the class can explain the energy flow well.

When students practice by doing, the retention can increase to 75%.  Through repetition, most students are able to easily explain the energy transformation. Let your students experiment, explore and work in teams. It is more work for you to set up multiple labs, but the return on the investment of teacher time is significant.  NEED’s hands-on kits (wind, solar, Science of Energy and more) come with equipment for demonstrations and experiments like the Hand Generated Flashlight that students use to see how motion energy transforms to electrical energy.  Hands-on learning always requires more investment of time in the classroom, but it pays off in student performance and classroom success.

The biggest return on the investment is when students are afforded the opportunity to teach others. This is not a surprise to NEED teachers. For example, once you became a teacher, your first lecture on electrons made much more sense and led to more personal understanding.  The same holds true for your students. Unless they can explain each step accurately, they do not really understand the concept. What a perfect way to assess your students on the spot! The work that goes into preparing to teach a class prepares students for energy presentations and other academic presentations they will give throughout the year. It is an effective, and fun, way to bring important concepts about energy out of the classroom and into the community.  Teach each other, teach others.

What is the gain by taking extra classroom time for every student to teach each other? A whopping 90%.  I believe it! There is a great deal of satisfaction in observing them as they teach and as I assess them informally.  Once students are trained in this method, they know they do not leave the classroom until they have taught others. By the time the student teams have practiced and presented lessons, they have heard the concepts better than they ever expected.  Moreover, students seem to compete with one another to see who can give the best presentation! The classroom becomes a truly cooperative learning space and students all pay better attention, are more engaged and accountability and responsibility for learning skyrockets.  One freshman, who was struggling to grasp a concept after several attempts to explain, finally had an AH HA! moment and said, “I will never forget this!” This is what a teacher lives for!

To embed this knowledge, I reinforce regularly in a playful way. Out of the blue I will say, “I just heard a noise outside who can trace that energy flow from the sun?” Hands shoot up as students have become very aware of energy around them.

This about this:  I was talking with my niece about teaching electrolytes in my chemistry class. My niece said, “I memorized what the definition of an electrolyte was and passed my chemistry class last year, but I can’t even tell you what it is now.” This statement disturbed me. How many of us are good at memorizing facts but still don’t know how to apply that knowledge? Teach them to teach and they will never forget!

I love the NEED curriculum.  But it is only recently that I have come to realize the importance of the motto, “Kids Teaching Kids.” It was not until I had firsthand experience with the Learning Pyramid that see and know how well it works.

Learn more about the NEED project at www.NEED.org

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Why Petroleum Engineering? Better Job Opportunities!

Author: ; Published: Apr 12, 2012; Category: Energy Education, Engineering Careers; Tags: , , , , , ; Comments: Comments Off

Looking to cash in on some of the opportunities the shale gas industry now affords, students are taking up a major in petroleum engineering. A petroleum engineer “understands the drilling aspects, he understands the reservoir management. Whereas the oil and gas industry used to rely on a patchwork of skills from civil, chemical and mechanical engineers, companies are increasingly in search of trained petroleum engineers who specialize in oil field operations,” said Steve Benson, chairman of the North Dakota University Department of Petroleum Engineering. “They’re just equipped well.”

When students in the major are not available, oil and gas firms will look to recruit from other engineering disciplines, but petroleum engineering is quickly becoming a requirement in the field.

“There are a few exceptions where other engineering disciplines such as chemical, mechanical or civil might be considered with training, but by and large, a petroleum engineering degree is preferred,” said Steve Woodhead, manager of university affairs for Chevron Corp.

To meet industry needs, many of the nation’s existing engineering programs are expanding their course offerings, faculty numbers and class sizes. After graduating, petroleum engineering students are well-positioned to earn a starting salary between $80,000 and $100,000, depending on the company. According to Pay Scale on 6 April 2012, the national salary data information tells us Petroleum Engineers total pay range is from 61,559- $199,961. Currently, 92% of petroleum engineers are males and females make up 8%.

What do you think about this assessment? Let’s discuss on Facebook www.Facebook.com/Energy4me or on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/Energy4me

Sources: Pamela King, E&E reporter

Published: Monday, March 19, 2012

Pay Scale Research; Petroleum Engineer Salary, Updated: 6 Apr 2012

Is Technology Changing our Brains?

Author: ; Published: Mar 22, 2012; Category: Classroom materials, Energy Education, Science; Tags: , , , , , ; Comments: Comments Off

By Marva Morrow

For better or worse, technology is here to stay! Everything we do causes changes in the brain and the things we do a lot are most likely to cause long term changes. What is unclear is how modern technology influences the brain and the consequences this has.

According to an article published in guardian.co.uk, brain researcher Susan Greenfield claims, “’mind change’ as a result of using modern technology is one of humanity’s greatest threats. I haven’t met one parent or teacher who doesn’t think we should be talking about this. Just restricting children’s access to the internet isn’t very helpful. Instead, I would ask: What can we offer children that is even more compelling, fulfilling, exciting? We should be planning a 3D environment for our children [to enjoy] instead of putting them in front of a 2D one.” *1

Energy4me lesson plans support the 5E constructivist learning cycle, helping students build their own understanding from experiences and new ideas.

Through many studies based on brain research, educators have explored links between classroom teaching and emerging theories about how people learn. Exciting discoveries in neuroscience and continued developments in cognitive psychology have presented new ways of thinking about the brain-the human neurological structure and the attendant perceptions and emotions that contribute to learning. *2

Based on brain research, technology provides opportunities to use such important science of learning principles as pre-existing knowledge, active learning, mental models, transfer, and learning for understanding. A list of disconnected facts doesn’t lead to deep understanding or to easy transfer of knowledge from one situation to another. However, knowledge that is organized and connected around important concepts and mastery, which includes being able to visualize a concept, does lead to transfer and deeper, longer understanding.

“Because many new technologies are interactive, it is now easier to create environments in which students can learn by doing, receive feedback, and continually refine their understanding and build new knowledge,” according to How People Learn. The new technologies can also help people visualize difficult-to-understand concepts.

The verdict is in: The Brain can and does change! Technology is and will continue to have changing effects on our brains. Educators are understanding the importance of being able to transfer knowledge from one context to another and that it is “better to ‘broadly educate’ people than simply ‘train’ them to perform particular tasks.” Students cannot achieve high levels of performance without access to skilled professional teachers, adequate classroom time, a rich array of learning materials and the resources of the the communities surrounding their schools. Learning science is something that students must do through “hands-on” and “minds on” activities.

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Sources:

*1 Oxford scientist calls for research on technology ‘mind change’ guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 14 September 2010.*2 Edutopia, Brain-Based Research Prompts Innovative Teaching Techniques in the Classroom Educators explore nontraditional methods of teaching and receive positive results. By Diane Curtis.* 3  How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. First published in 1999 and written by a  committee of scholars established by the National Research Council

One Great Day, Two Exciting Events

Author: ; Published: Mar 15, 2012; Category: Classroom materials, Energy Education; Tags: , , , ; Comments: Comments Off

This year, Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) and the U.S. National Energy Education Development Project (NEED) will offer two free educational events on Thursday, 3 May 2012 in Houston, Texas. Educators can choose to apply to attend a professional development workshop for science teachers grades 5-12 or accompany high school students to a STEM workshop ages 15 and older.

 

The High School STEM Event

The full-day workshop will introduce up to 200 Houston-area students to careers and technology within the offshore oil and gas industry. The high school STEM event provides a unique learning experience for student ages 15 and older. Students will get to take an exhibition tour led by industry professionals. This allows students to get to know and ask questions of professionals working in the industry making for a personal interactive learning experience. Teachers can prepare students for the event by downloading pre-lessons to the event. The high school STEM event is free to attend thanks to a very generous sponsorship from British Petroleum!

 

Science Teacher Energy Education Workshop

Houston-area educators of grades 4-12 are invited to attend a free one-day energy education teacher development workshop during OTC. Educators will receive comprehensive, objective information about the scientific concepts of energy and its global significance while discovering the world of oil and natural gas exploration and production. A variety of free instructional materials will be available to take back to the classroom. Instructors from the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED), the US’s leading provider of energy education programs and materials to schools, lead this part of the workshop. All NEED learning activities are correlated to the Texas science objectives and other disciplines. Teachers will learn age-appropriate energy curriculum through hands-on activities. Teachers will also be briefed on Oil and Gas Exploration and Production through a dynamic presentation from an energy education ambassador on the energy outlook for the next 20 years and beyond. The teachers will also participate in the technology tour and have the opportunity to view amazing high-tech tools, software, and equipment used by the offshore industry to find and produce energy resources around the world. Tours are led by industry professionals. The science teacher energy education workshop is FREE thanks to the generous sponsorship from ExxonMobil!

Please share this information with schools and teachers you may know in the Houston area!

Visit the Energy Education Institute for additional event details and find more hands on classroom activities here!

Going From STEM to STEAM — The Arts Have a Role in America’s Future, Too

Author: ; Published: Feb 16, 2012; Category: Energy, Math, Science, Technology; Tags: , , , , , ; Comments: Comments Off

Joseph Piro, Education Week

In education circles, STEM—the teaching of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—has been gathering, for want of a better descriptor, “alpha” status. Not only has President Barack Obama announced a $250 million public-private initiative to recruit and train more STEM teachers, but also the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top Fund grants competition is giving bonus points for applications that stress STEM instruction.

This funding is on top of the nearly $700 million the federal government already spends on science and math education programs within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies. Factor in what’s earmarked by individual states for STEM and a picture emerges of where a lot of tax money is rightfully going.

This generous support is being allocated in the belief (or fear) that the United States is becoming less competitive and secure, that we are losing our global-leader status in STEM fields and being eclipsed by other countries, mostly in Asia.

Yet, in the midst of all the STEM frenzy, we may want to do something riskier, and more imaginative, to save the country: turn STEM funding into STEAM funding. Inserting the letter A, for the arts, into the acronym could afford us even greater global advantage.

Many may be puzzled by this statement, considering that the arts have held a traditionally marginalized place in both American society and the school curriculum. And, in the eyes of some, support for the arts has a dubious payback, especially in areas of national concern such as defense, homeland security, and technology. The arts are something we do when we stop being serious. Friday afternoons spent drawing turkeys, pumpkins, and valentines in more classrooms than one might think can attest to this.

But just consider the following. A 2008 study from the National Endowment for the Arts, “Artists in the Workforce,” showed that individuals involved in the arts represent a sizable branch of the labor force, only slightly smaller than the total number of active-duty and reserve personnel in the U.S. military. What may also be surprising to some is that artists make up a larger occupational group than lawyers, medical doctors, or agricultural workers. The size of the artistic community gives it an astonishing $70 billion aggregate annual income. The country’s $316 billion communication and entertainment business employs a diverse range of artists, including musicians, actors, filmmakers, videographers, and architects. It is probably safe to say that most of these people prepared for their careers by participating in some sort of arts education program…

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Joseph Piro is an associate professor of curriculum and instruction in the school of education at Long Island University’s C.W. Post campus, in Brookville, N.Y.

Teachers, what do you think?