Supporting STEM: Strategies That Engage Minds ®

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NC STEM e-Update (Sept. 6, 2018)

September 6th, 2018

NC STEM e-Update
Twice a month the NC STEM Center provides an e-update on what’s happening in STEM in North Carolina and beyond, and the latest edition is now available for you.

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A Conversation with author Liz Heinecke

August 30th, 2018

Connecting the Dots of Science and Art

Growing up Liz Heinecke was surrounded by science, nature, art, and the love of family.  You can see all of these things in her work now as an accomplished science communicator and educator.  As an undergraduate at Luther College she studied music and biology and then worked in research labs in Madison, Wisconsin.  She received a Master’s degree in bacteriology while working in Jon Woods’ lab at UW-Madison.  Note:  Dr. Woods received a New Investigator Award in Molecular Pathogenic Mycology from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, which founded the SMT Center.

In the early 2000s she found herself in front of a rapt audience of three young children.  She was intent on teaching them about science using items that were readily available in her kitchen and blogged about the experience in Kitchen Pantry Scientist.  This led to a connection to a morning news show in the Twin Cities where she talked about experiments parents can do with their children in their home.  This led to a NASA Tweetup at Kennedy Space Center for a space shuttle launch.

“My career has evolved from liking science as a kid to teaching science as an adult and embracing opportunities along the way,” Heinecke said.

Her first book, Kitchen Science Labs for Kids, came out in 2014 along with a smartphone app.  In 2016, she published the Outdoor Science Lab for Kids.  In May 2018, the SMT Center had a chance to chat with Ms. Heinecke to discuss her recent book, STEAM Lab for Kids.

Your books have a very cookbook style feel to them – what led you to that format?

It has always been important to me to make science accessible to everyone.  My mom had a cooking school at one point and most people are not afraid of tackling a recipe on a bag of chocolate chips and make cookies.    I thought that if I made my science books like cookbooks people would not be afraid to try the experiments in them.  I explain in my books that scientific protocols are just recipes for doing science.  All of my science books are like cookbooks.  I have step-by-step pictures of the experiments because I find that it’s encouraging to see what you’re doing.  It also provides the opportunity to use nice photography instead of black and white drawings.  I guess I take the Martha Stewart approach and try to make science look pretty.

I want parents to be able to go into their kitchen junk drawer or into their pantry and be able to pull things out for their kids to enjoy.  Science should never be too expensive or so hard that you’re not able to go to your cupboard and pull out some corn starch, baking soda, and vinegar so kids can experiment in the sink, driveway, or kitchen table. It gives kids a chance to really delve deeper into what they are exploring.  Our schools do a great job but there are limited time and resources.  Time is a very important aspect of scientific exploration.  I love the idea of families doing science at home where there are no time limits, no judgment, no grades. Just an opportunity to experiment.

They are very beautiful books.

I work with a great photographer named Amber Procaccini, who captures the beauty of the experiments and the excited faces of the kids doing them.  The art department at Quarry Books does a beautiful job with layout.

I do this to encourage kids and parents to do science at home.  What’s been so cool about this whole experience is that kids will look at something and try it.  Kids can flip through these books and try something.

What was the inspiration behind the STEAM book and how it differs from your others?

It differs quite a lot.  My other two books are definitely science books and there’s some math and engineering involved.  With this book I was very interested in making the projects art focused.  I tried to show kids that design is important and in anything you can do you can bring an artist’s eye to it.  There’s also some art history in the book.  I think kids want to find out more about certain artists or certain kinds of art or even mathematicians.  There’s so much art tangled in science and mathematics.  One thing I love about this new book is that I was able to incorporate quotes from really interesting people who use both STEM and art in their everyday jobs or their passions.  Besides the experiments, I’m hoping that kids read the text and become inspired by some of these STEAM role models.

How do you see Arts fitting into the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics?

Anyone who is passionate about STEM, whether they know it or not, is probably incorporating things they learned about other disciplines.  I think interdisciplinary learning creates extraordinary people in all fields.  A great engineer may have in the back of her mind images of the bridges she studied in art class.  Everything is inspired by the things in our past, which mold and shape the way we think and create.  I think that the more art a student is exposed to, the more she will be creative in the STEM fields.  One reason I love incorporating art and STEM is that you can get kids who are not naturally drawn to STEM interested in the fields by providing an approach through art.  I think interdisciplinary learning is so important – the stories we hear, the movies we see, the music we listen to all influence the way we create things in the future.

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Follow Liz on Twitter.
Try “Crystal Creatures” from STEAM Lab for KidsPDF

For information on STEM projects in North Carolina, visit ncstemcenter.org.

Interview conducted and edited by Russ Campbell

NC STEM e-Update (Aug. 23, 2018)

August 23rd, 2018

NC STEM e-Update
Twice a month the NC STEM Center provides an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and their latest edition is now available for you.

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NC STEM e-Update (Aug. 9, 2018)

August 9th, 2018

NC STEM e-Update
Twice a month NC STEM provides an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and their latest edition is now available for you.

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NC STEM e-Update (July 27, 2018)

July 27th, 2018

NC STEM e-Update
Twice a month the NC STEM Center provides an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and the latest edition is now available for you.

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NC STEM e-Update (July 12, 2018)

July 12th, 2018

NC STEM e-Update
Twice a month the NC STEM Center provides an e-update on what’s happening in STEM in North Carolina, and the latest edition is now available for you.

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NC STEM e-Update (June 28, 2018)

June 28th, 2018

NC STEM e-Update
Twice a month the NC STEM Center provides an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and the latest edition is now available for you.

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NC STEM e-Update (June 14, 2018)

June 14th, 2018

NC STEM e-Update
Twice a month the NC STEM Center provides an e-update on what’s happening in STEM in North Carolina, and the latest edition is now available for you.

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NC STEM e-Update (May 24, 2018)

May 24th, 2018

NC STEM e-Update
Twice a month the NC STEM Center provides an e-update on what’s happening in STEM education in North Carolina and beyond, and the latest edition is now available for you.

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NC STEM e-Update (May 10, 2018)

May 10th, 2018

NC STEM e-Update
Twice a month the NC STEM Center provides an e-update on what’s happening in STEM throughout North Carolina and beyond, and the latest edition is now available for you.

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2018 SMT Celebration Video Playlist

April 28th, 2018

Thank you for joining us this year at the annual SMT Celebration.  Here is a playlist of the videos shown at the celebration.

NC STEM e-Update (April 26, 2018)

April 26th, 2018

NC STEM e-Update
Twice a month the NC STEM Center provides an e-update on what’s happening in STEM in North Carolina, and our latest edition is now available for you.

View our e-Update in your browser by clicking here.

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NC STEM e-Update (April 12, 2018)

April 12th, 2018

NC STEM e-Update
Twice a month the NC STEM Center provides an e-update on what’s happening in STEM in North Carolina, and the latest edition is now available for you.

View our e-Update in your browser by clicking here.

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2018 Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition Underway

March 26th, 2018

This week the student finalists of the North Carolina International Science Challenge traveled to Beijing to present their research. A part of the ongoing partnership with the Beijing Association of Science and Technology (BAST) since 2006, the high school researchers are taking part in the Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition. More than 50 North Carolina students have participated in the international program.

Photo courtesy of Fran Nolan

Blogging for the SMT Center from the competition, Ritvik Bodducherla, a student from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics wrote about language barriers in presenting his research on ellagic acid.

Today was especially interesting, because it was the day for the public to view our projects. I saw lots of young Chinese students interested in science. The day was especially challenging because many of the students and visitors had some knowledge of English, but they were not completely fluent. This meant I had to break my research down to kindergarten vocabulary, which was incredibly challenging. However, I really enjoyed seeing all these people who wanted to know what my research was about, despite the obvious language barrier.

Michelle Gan from Enloe High School wrote about the interactive science displays:

We then took a bus to the West Campus, where interactive science displays were set up. We used 3D printing pens to design masks, but there were also stations with make-your-own catapults, robots, virtual reality, and more.

Elizabeth Farmer from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics was in awe of other research projects:

After all of my judges came around I got a chance to explore the competition and go to the mini maker fair. I met some of the people from the delegations from Australia and Israel and talked to them for a while as well. The mini maker fair was really cool and had some very creative and impressive projects. I was also blown away by some of the other research projects there. For example, one group had come up with a method to help detect silent heart attacks.

Marti Skold Jordan, a chaperone and delegate on the trip was a judge for part of the competition and summed up the collaborative nature of the event:

A promising young scientist, a middle school student from Macao summed it up perfectly at the end of his presentation this afternoon about the need for importance of scientific innovation and discovery.

“Science is the key to unlock the gates to a new era and to a brighter future”

To view all posts from Beijing, visit http://www.ncsciencecompetition.org/?cat=128

NC STEM e-Update (March 22, 2018)

March 22nd, 2018


Twice a month the NC STEM Center provides an e-update on what’s happening in STEM in North Carolina, and the latest edition is now available for you.

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