So it was like you were you there…

I know quite a few members of my cohort were interested in the picnic that I took my STARS team on, on Thursday. For their sake, and yours too, I have placed a video demonstration of the digestive system. It was actually my inspiration for the picnic and that lesson.

1. To embed the video above, I clicked on the “Add Media” button above the toolbar when making a new post on WordPress.Multimodal!


2.  A pop-up screen will appear and you’ll need to click “Insert from URL”.

3. Copy and paste the URL of the YouTube video into the box with “http://”.

4. Then click on “Insert into post”. Viola, you’re done!


Hopefully, that was helpful to someone!

The First STAR(S) in a Constellation

This week marked the first official meeting of my STARS team. I had a turnout of about 4 STARS on Wednesday and 5 on Thursday. Half the STARS on my team had been in STARS in a prior year which was a blessing because they were use to the structure of the program and understood the general expectations. There is also a variety of talents amongst the members; we have a cheerleader, an artist, an athlete, and a debater, oh my!  I’m really excited about the cool possibilities that we can end up doing with the topic of developing habits for a healthy body.

To start that off, on Wednesday, the team developed their skills in arts ‘n crafts by modeling an arm, complete with the ability to flex and extend. They were asked to make the arm out of the following materials: bamboo skewers, tape, toothpicks, construction paper, rubber bands, yarn, and glue.  I made sure to join in with them by making my own arm, which was promptly “stolen” by one of the girls about halfway during the activity. I tasked her with completing the arm by labeling the components, something that her and her partner did a wonderful job with. They used the small post-its that I provided and labeled everything with minimal input from myself. This arm model idea was given to me by someone special and I’ve decided to share the love. You can find the arm model protocol here.

On Thursday, we were able to reexamine the arm model and started thinking about what happens inside the bicep and triceps to generate movement. I provided the girls with a few handouts which were probably useless for the goal of going over sliding filament theory and getting to the idea that muscle contractions require energy (in the form of ATP). Some of the handouts helped with the concept of sliding filament theory, while others expanded the concept of the model (“the tape between the yarn and stick represents a tendon”). I didn’t do a great job of combining these ideas and should have focused solely on the sliding filament theory and more fundamentally, “muscles use energy.” There wasn’t enough time to handle both.

Mentioning ATP did spark interest from the team as most of them had taken Living Environment and associated ATP with sugar, mentioning glucose and even lipids. Moving forward, I feel confident that my team will be able to handle the concept of metabolism as the ways that our bodies synthesize components with energy and break down components for energy.

Collecting STARS

For about the week prior to recruitment I had been at my observation. Throughout the week it was difficult to give feedback about my CT’s practice, unless I noticed that the students had issues with an activity. Even in those cases my CT would have already picked up on that. It wasn’t until recruitment, which took me into a period of 6 different classes, that I would have points of comparison. I think this was a very useful part of recruitment, being in the classroom of other teachers and seeing how they teach, being able to interact with the students in those classes and seeing how they reacted to my presence.  I met quite a number of bright, friendly, and interesting students, and was excited to see them at the STARS Expo.

The success of my recruitment demo (it consisted of using a character creator to determine the body type of certain athletes for the purpose of showing a variety of ideal body types and how their form is related to function), is hard to determine. I definitely passed along quite a few of my lab’s cards, but the engagement levels of the students varied between classes. Thanks to some good advice, I included a dancer body type following my first session in order to attract female engagement in the group discussion. This was successful in generating discussion amongst more students, but it also lead to discussions on who can dance and what’s the optimal dancing body type. It was hard to get 2 classes back on track after this.

In one class, I felt comfortable enough to move around the room and talk with each student about what they were doing and I even memorized some of their names. This made it easier to refer to students when presenting my demo and I think that they definitely paid more attention because I spent that time with them. This was a special case because the teacher wasn’t actively teaching throughout the period and left breathing room for students to work amongst themselves. Their assignment was to draw science being done, something that was in my wheelhouse from my camp APK. This coalescence of events made that space an easy one to integrate myself in. This was my high for the day.

In the last class I visited, the energy of the room was really high and it was difficult to get a handle on it. During my demo, a student told me that I was going to “get eaten alive” by students when I started. That was a good starting point for the amount of back and forth yelling occurring. I wasn’t able to maintain control and the teacher tried to help but it was to no avail. I handed out as many cards afterwards as I could, but that was certainly my low of the day.