The staff pick for this blog comes from Vickie Hedrick, NICERC’s Curriculum Editor.
As part of the Cyber Innovation Center’s (CIC) administrative team, one of my initial responsibilities was editing STEM EDA modules. I learned so much as I read through and edited NICERC’s middle school curriculum, and I saw the impact this type of learning would have on students. I felt my teenaged kids were basically cheated because they never had the opportunity to learn about electricity or catapults or cars in such a hands-on, cooperative, and creative way. STEM EDA has so many options to engage students; and all types of learners, whether kinesthetic, visual, auditory, or combination of these, benefit from this approach to science in the classroom.
Upon completion of STEM EDA, I moved on to one of NICERC’s oldest curricula and began editing Physics. I didn’t take Physics in high school, and I didn’t realize how much math factored into this subject. It surprised me when editing Trusses, Chapter 7 in the Work and Mechanics unit, that I had to re-learn trig. Seriously?! (It’s been such a long time. I think I had the original TI-30 in high school with its red, digital number display.) I now have a scientific calculator shortcut on my desktop, and I use it daily. I never knew all the math I took in high school could actually be applied to everything we do and to everything that moves and is around us. As someone who followed a liberal arts path through college, the importance of physics and all it encompasses was never apparent to me. But that connection is so sharp now – you can actually figure out so much by applying the objectives from the Physics curriculum! For instance, how much force was there at impact on my stationary vehicle when an inattentive driver in a vehicle with a gross weight of 4,200 pounds rear-ended me while traveling (over) 35 mph? With physics, there is a direct path to the answer.
In science, Physics is a direct path from STEM EDA. So many of the activities and formulas in STEM EDA are part of the learning objectives in Physics, but in Physics there are more difficult applications and a few more complications. The Curriculum Development Specialists have created a course filled with amusing problems involving rogue monkeys on the moon, mules pulling a rocket onto a barge, texting astronauts who become distracted, and so much more. Check out our Physics curriculum and encourage your students to take this course. Everything comes together in Physics – all the science and all the math up to that point.
The editing of NICERC’s Physics curriculum continues, and the edited, new look for the Work and Mechanics unit will be uploaded to Canvas soon. If you would like to request access to Physics or any of NICERC’s other curricula, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to give you access on your Canvas account!