Posts tagged STEM
Big-Brained Superheroes FTW! etc.

Big-Brain Squishy Circuit

Exciting news here at The Big-Brained Superheroes Club.  We entered our big electric play dough brain in the Squishy Circuits Store Photo Contest, and we won we won we won we won! The contest prize means that The BBSC will now have a squishy circuits kit of its very own to have and to hold and to burn out LEDs to its brain’s content.  Yay us!

Now that the bragging is over, let’s talk a bit about squishy circuits…Or rather, if you want to know about squishy circuits, how they work, how to use them, etc, go to the squishy circuits website…if you want to know how we got our grubby brains around them, stay here.

We learned about squishy circuits through the folks at Jigsaw Renaissance when a couple of us volunteered at their Mini Maker Faire soldering booth.  At that point, The Big-Brained Superheroes Club was little more than a gleam in our occipital lobes, but we quickly grasped the potential of the concept.  Nonetheless, we tarried.  Even the small cost of these kits is a big consideration for an organization of our size.  So, we finally conceded to purchasing one for personal use and to lend it to the club for special projects.

When we eventually got around to ordering the kit (after checking out competitive pricing and determining that the kit at the Squishy Circuits Store offered the best deal at the time), we thought for sure that the brain lesson for which we wanted to use it was going to have to wait until the next week in order to give the kit enough time to arrive.  But we were thrilled to find the kit at our door within a couple of days of purchasing it online.  Opening it up, we were even more thrilled with what we saw inside and quickly dubbed the squishy circuits kit, “The best electronics kit ever!” (we’re suckers for well-designed packaging and nice handwritten notes).  The contents were perfect for our needs; all the components were nicely labeled on the key; and our tests proved everything in good working order. Yay squishy circuits!

So, we sallied forth.  We made the conductive and insulating play doughs using the included recipes and both leftover and new ingredients (kindly donated to us by some incredibly generous folks, including our neighborhood PCC natural foods market).  The brain construction was a joint effort, and after a bit of minor brain surgery to address some conductivity challenges, we were aglow!  The lesson went forward as planned, and immediately after the brain discussion was over, the electronics discussion began.  The Big Brains enjoyed getting their hands on the doughy brain and pulling LEDs in and out.  And while this was The Big-Brained Superheroes Club’s first foray into these subjects, it certainly won’t be the last.  Of course, now that The BBSC has its own squishy circuits kit, our Creativity superpowers are going to be getting a lot of exercise!

One Way to Reduce the Achievement Gap in Science

Sounds promising:

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics instructors have been charged with improving the performance and retention of students from diverse backgrounds. To date, programs that close the achievement gap between students from disadvantaged versus nondisadvantaged educational backgrounds have required extensive extramural funding. We show that a highly structured course design, based on daily and weekly practice with problem-solving, data analysis, and other higher-order cognitive skills, improved the performance of all students in a college-level introductory biology class and reduced the achievement gap between disadvantaged and nondisadvantaged students—without increased expenditures. These results support the Carnegie Hall hypothesis: Intensive practice, via active-learning exercises, has a disproportionate benefit for capable but poorly prepared students.