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Posts from the ‘Glass’ Category

STEMbite: Dealing with Friction

July 24th, 2013


Friction is an essential part of everyday life. From walking down the street to playing cards, friction makes it possible.

Check out this STEMbite video that explores just how amazing this incredibly ordinary force can be.


What plants can teach us about engaging kids.

July 16th, 2013


As a science teacher, I’m always trying to keep my students engaged and motivated to learn. When I look at the natural world, I see a fascinating analogy between how plants engage animals and how teachers engage their students.

There are lots of ways that teachers can entice their students to want to learn (besides smelling nice and having treats in the front of class). I like the strategies outlined in Dan Pink’s book Drive.

Pink argues that intrinsic motivation comes in three situations: When we have autonomy, when we’re allowed to master a new skill, and when we work toward some larger purpose.

Watch this awesome animated talk in which Pink makes his point clear.

I can’t help but wonder what change we would see in education if every student (and every teacher and principal) had the opportunity to work with autonomy, toward mastery, and with meaningful purpose.

Frankly, I think we would see a lot of problems disappear.

For more STEMbite videos, visit and subscribe.


STEM and The Simple Mysteries of Life

July 14th, 2013


Everywhere I look, I see math and science – even in the most ordinary places, like pouring a glass of soda or taking a shower.

That’s precisely what makes the STEM disciplines so amazingly awesome. Even the simplest situations can give rise to incredible complexity and surprising conclusions. Moreover, the exact same math and science that describes a simple situation (like why the curtain keeps creeping into your shower) can also apply to a really complex situation (like why supersonic jets can skim along the upper reaches of our atmosphere). In both cases, Bernoulli’s Principle is at work.

Over 400 years ago, Isaac Newton showed that the laws of nature which govern the sun, moon, and stars (the complex stuff) also govern apples, baseballs, and bullets (the simple stuff) here on earth. The universality of the laws of nature should continue to surprise and amaze us every day.

One of the reasons that I love making STEMbite videos is that we can examine the science and math of simple, everyday situations. But that doesn’t make our conclusions simple. Instead, the concepts learned in these deceivingly simple videos give insights into the profound nature of the universe itself. Trust me, I know – I have a masters degree in astrophysics!

When you want to see the complexity of the distant universe, look for something simple and familiar nearby.

For more STEMbite videos, visit and subscribe.


STEMbite Careers

June 19th, 2013


STEMbite continues to grow and flourish. In the past week, there have been a number of new references to STEMbite in the blogosphere – on edudemic, edutopia, and more.

Perhaps most exciting, though, is the first ever “STEMbite Careers” video that was recorded this week with a pharmacist friend at my local community hospital.

I’m super excited to use STEMbite to illustrate that math and science is everywhere around us – even at work! Keep your eyes for more STEMbite Career videos in the future…

For more STEMbite videos, visit and subscribe.


Teaching with Glass

June 10th, 2013


Cross-Posted on Kyle Pace’s Blog. Thanks, Kyle!

I’ve had Google Glass for about two months now – one of the only teachers in the world to have the futuristic device. If you’re jealous, don’t be. There isn’t all that much Glass can do yet. You can take pictures/videos, search, get navigation, or check your messages, but you can already do all that with your smart phone. So, when it comes to Google Glass, we have to wonder: What good can it really do for us in education?

When I applied to Google’s #ifihadglass contest, I only had a vague notion that I would try to use Glass to capture science in everyday life and share that with my students.

I work extensively in the world of online and blended learning where video content is an essential element of every course. I’m often frustrated, frankly, by video lessons that are long, dry, and boring. Sure, the videos contain all the content, but they don’t make learning interesting or fun. To me, Google Glass offers a unique opportunity to bring a new perspective (quite literally) to online video lessons.

Using Glass, I have created a video series called “STEMbite.” These engaging bite-size videos show the science and math that can be found in everyday life, all from a unique first-person perspective. As students ride along in my head (scary, I know), they can start to see the world as I do – a place full of amazing applications of math and science. Rather than try to explain all of the content, my goal is to motivate and inspire students to learn more and pursue science and math in their own time through books, documentaries, or even blogs like Here’s a favorite example:

Through these videos I hope to bring back the enthusiasm and excitement that math and science deserve, all the while training our students’ minds to start wondering about the crazy science that surrounds them in everyday life.

To see more STEMbite videos, visit


STEMbite Live Success!

June 6th, 2013


I am happy to report that our very first STEMbite Live broadcast was a complete success. Many thanks to Bill Van Loo, Brad Waid, and Drew Minock who shared their time and students with me for this proof-of-concept event. Check out the brief teaser below, which shows what the broadcast was like.

I hope to continue with more STEMbite Live events in the year ahead, perhaps even visiting some STEM businesses or research facilities along the way. Stay tuned for more fun with STEM!


Five Physics Lessons

May 30th, 2013


Since becoming one of the first Google Glass Explorers, I’ve had a ton of fun creating bite-size physics lessons through Glass. Check out my top five physics favorites below, or explore the entire STEMbite YouTube Channel.

Entropy of the Playroom

Conservation of Angular Momentum


Energy Conversion

Charles’ Law


STEMbite at Brookside

May 29th, 2013


Yesterday, I visited the second graders at Cranbrook’s Brookside Lower School. I was invited by one of their teachers, Erin Klein. Erin is a fabulous teacher and a queen-bee education blogger. I had so much fun visiting her students, sharing Glass with them, and answering all of their awesome questions.

The students even helped me created a new STEMbite video – it was awesome!

Hopefully this was the first of many opportunities to create STEMbite videos with students and new friends!


STEMbite Live!

May 23rd, 2013


I’ve been having tons of fun making a bunch of STEMbite videos, but I wish I could interact directly with students while exploring the amazing science of everyday life. Well, here’s my solution…

Join me on Wednesday, May 29 at 1:00 p EST. I’ll be broadcasting live from my kitchen through Google Glass while we explore a science mystery in the refrigerator.

The whole broadcast will only last 10-15 minutes, with the majority of that time devoted to student questions and ideas. Our session will be targeted to a broad age-range, so everyone is welcome to come.

To join us, simply follow this link to Google+ at the appropriate time, and you’ll see a post that looks like this:


Click “Join Hangout” and you’ll be in (you will need to be logged into your Google account). I can’t wait to see you there!


Duck Pond Weirdness

May 16th, 2013


Just the other day, I was walking by the ‘Duck Pond’ – a place I frequented as a child. I noticed a really unusual effect in the fountain at the middle of the pond. Fortunately, I had my glass on and was able to capture it to share with my students. I’m still not 100% sure what was going on, but I’ll see if my students can figure it out.

I’ve been having tons of fun creating STEMbite videos using glass, and I’m eager to keep making a new video each week. I find that I keep my eyes more open each day as I look for opportunities to demonstrate math or science concepts in the world around me. I can tell that I’m refining the ‘habit of the mind’ to see STEM wherever I look.

It makes me think – “looking for STEM” would be an interesting assignment for my students… maybe a good spring break assignment: “During spring break, find 5 examples of science or math from everyday life. Write them down and come back to class ready to share.”

Actually, maybe spring break is a bad idea. They could find themselves “Looking for STEM in all the wrong places… ”