The staff pick for this blog comes from Dr. Krystal Corbett, NICERC’s Director of Curricula.
I have a lot of involvement in all of NICERC’s curricula, and so picking one of my favorites was both easy and difficult. It was easy because there is a lot of good content in our curricula to choose from, but difficult for the same reason. It’s hard to choose just one thing. I have decided to choose a module in our STEM: Explore, Discover, Apply (STEM EDA) middle school curriculum, Explore Electricity. This module is one of my favorites because it provides a great structure for teaching a complex topic like electricity while connecting to a cyber context and empowering the students to be truly creative.
The context starts with a fictional cyber-attack that has shut down the nation’s power grid. This context provides an opening to discuss cyber security, a very real topic that the middle school students might not have previously given much thought. It allows them to talk about the dangers of cyber in a safe classroom environment. A cool website we have found and use in this module is provided by Kapersky Lab at https://cybermap.kaspersky.com/, which shows real-time cyber-attacks.
The result of the fictional cyber-attack, the down power grid, provides the students with a purpose for learning about electricity. They have to build flashlights to help illuminate the area since they do not know when the power will be back up and running. Using the engineering design process as a guide, the students learn about electricity fundamentals and eventually design and build a working flashlight. This module is the ultimate in creativity, in that students use random objects like baby dolls, toy trucks, plungers, Pringles® cans, and other items as the housing for their flashlight. You can only imagine the unique, creative, and random flashlights that result. In addition to the foundation in electrical principles and cyber that the students gain from this module, a huge take-a-way for them is that they can create something amazing out of something ordinary if they just put their minds and creativity into it!
Explore Electricity is part of NICERC’s STEM Explore, Discover, Apply middle school curriculum. To gain access to this lesson along with a multitude of other great lessons for middle school and high school classes, click here.