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National Arbor Day is Coming… Hug A Tree!

“The cultivation of flowers and trees is the cultivation of the good, the beautiful and the ennobling in man, and for one, I wish to see this culture become universal.”
Those words, from J. Sterling Morton, the founder of Arbor Day, got me thinking about how caring for trees and respecting all living things greatly impact future generations. National Arbor Day (held this year on April 27th) is an annual observance celebrating the role of trees in our lives and promoting tree planting and care. This holiday was first observed in 1872, in Nebraska, but tree planting festivals are as old as civilization. Trees have appeared throughout history as the symbol of life and hope. As teachers, we can encourage students to appreciate trees, nature, and all living things for future generations to enjoy! Here are a few STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) ideas to help you spread agricultural information and enthusiasm for trees on Arbor Day with your students: SCIENCE: Explore t…
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Earth Day 2018 - End Plastic Pollution!

I just watched a fascinating PBS video on how much plastic is in the ocean. Counting down to this year’s Earth Day on April 22nd, the video got me thinking about how teachers can help students become responsible consumers as well as future caretakers of our earth!
Take plastic waste, for instance. Do you realize that plastics are one of the worst pollutants in our world today? From poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our waste streams and landfills, the exponential growth of plastics is now threatening the very survival of our planet!
In response, this year’s Earth Day is devoted to educating people about the problem of plastic pollution! As teachers, we can use this opportunity to inspire student interest in this problem and hopefully effect fundamental changes in human attitudes and behaviors about plastics!
Where to begin? I suggest you check out the main site about Earth Day: Earth Day Network (EDN) …

As the End of School Approaches, What’s Keeping You Afloat?

Do you ever get that sinking feeling that you have so much yet to do with your class, but you are running out of time? Feel like you are about to hit an iceberg around the corner with the end of school activities approaching? Can you survive without a life jacket? Believe it or not, the 106th anniversary this year of the sinking of the Titanic on April 15th got me thinking about how it might feel to be a stressed-out teacher at this time of year! It occurred to me: you don’t have to crash and fall apart! Just like a raft carrying you home to safety (here goes another analogy), let the Resource Area For Teaching (RAFT) help you with a shipload of supportive ideas to point you back on course! Ahem… Ok, I know, I know… enough already with the Titanic puns…. But, really, when you think about all the testing, lessons, assessments, end of school plans, and so forth, it can sometimes feel like time’s shrinking faster than ever, leaving you little to offer besides prescribed lessons and stand…

Campbell STEAM Showcase 2018

The enthusiasm was infectious March 28th on the grounds of Monroe Middle School!  Everywhere parents, students, and teachers from Campbell Union School District explored and celebrated student innovation and creativity in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) at this year’s STEAM Showcase 2018!   Hosted by Campbell Union School District, over 47 exhibits highlighted maker projects and products from TK to 8th-grade students, RAFT, local libraries, and other groups. Those who visited our RAFT table received kits made with the generous support from employees at ON Semiconductor. Over 200 kits (each serving 10 students) were handed out for free to teachers and students, impacting a total of 2,000 students with creative hands-on STEAM activities! The RAFT table was constantly full of curious folks, including students eager to investigate and ask questions about the array of exhibits and kits we offered, which included the following: Motorized Shake Table
Wind at W…

Women’s History Month: Women in Chemistry! Marie Skłodowska Curie, “Madame Curie”

Marie Skłodowska Curie, “Madame Curie,” was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person, and only woman to win twice, the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences, and was part of the Curie family legacy of five Nobel Prizes. She was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris, and in 1995 became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon in Paris. She studied at Warsaw's concealed Flying University and began her practical scientific training in Warsaw. In 1891, aged 24, she followed her older sister to study in Paris, where she earned her higher degrees and conducted her subsequent scientific work. She shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics with her husband Pierre Curie and with physicist Henri Becquerel. She won the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. During World War I, Marie Curie recognized that…

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Women in Biology Meet Barbara McClintock

In honor of Women's History Month, it is fitting to pay tribute to the woman who is considered one of the greatest biologists of the twentieth century! Barbara McClintock (1902–1992) was an American scientist and cytogeneticist who focused on color mosaicism in maize, or corn, during the 1940s. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1983 for her groundbreaking work describing the ability of DNA to move between locations within the genome (she is the only woman to receive an unshared Nobel Prize in that category).
She created the first genetic map for corn and also discovered transposons—mobile genetic elements that tend to move (or “jump”) between locations in the genome. Her work with corn introduced the scientific world to some radical new ideas has had a significant impact on our modern-day understanding of genetics, and paved the way for our understanding of the genome! McClintock’s work with corn demonstrated that transposable elements in our DNA could na…

Turn Daylight Savings Time into a Teachable Moment

Don’t lose sleep over this, but Daylight Savings Time (DST) is here!

On March 11th it's time to set your clocks forward and say goodbye to one hour of sleep!
There’s no time to waste! Make this year’s Daylight Savings Time an engaging and meaningful experience for you and your students.
RAFT has plenty of ideas to help you and your students get ready for DST:
 “Time for Shadows” shows you how to quickly assemble an equatorial sundial that you can quickly adjust for daylight savings time! Learn about sun positions and shadows with drinking straws, a protractor, a compass, and a CD!Use a view binder cover, a watch, a paperclip, straws, the compass, and other easily accessible resources to create a “View Binder Sundial” similar to the one our forefathers used to tell time before clocks were invented!Create a sand timer (based on the concept of an hourglass), and learn how to measure time with “Sand Timer Primer.”
Why do we have Daylight Savings Time? It is because many people want to …