Flower

Students Discover STEM at New England Botfest and Botball

 

We all know by now that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is important for students, who need to build 21st-century skills to compete in today’s workforce. But STEM feels a bit like a prescription to eat more vegetables instead of birthday cake. Yes, STEM is nutritious, but the arts and humanities are so much more alluring, succulent, and enriching. At least that’s what I thought until a group of middle and high school students—and their robots—proved me wrong.

Botfest and Botball

At the 2016 New England Botfest Exhibition and Botball Tournament at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, students showed off their robotic creations. Lego pieces transformed into a walking pig, a butler, and a police station. LED lights adorned clothes and accessories. Several robots zoomed around to greet curious guests. And autonomous robots competed at Botball.

This annual event is the culmination of a STEM outreach partnership between the UMASS-Lowell Computer Science department and K-12 schools throughout Massachusetts and New England. According to the UMASS website, “Botball and Botfest provide fun, challenging, team-based, hands-on learning experiences for middle and high school students in computer science, robotics and technology. These efforts instill curiosity, knowledge and confidence to prepare students for college, career choices and the high tech workplace.” With the help of donations, this program provides teacher training and robotic classroom supplies.

Lessons Learned

While students explained how they built their creations (common materials: Lego pieces, motion sensors, motors, and computer software), I learned that my preconceptions about STEM were wildly inaccurate. STEM education encompasses so much more than science, technology, engineering, and math; it also includes teamwork, creativity, problem-solving, and—most shockingly—art.

Students from Brookside Elementary in Dracut, Massachusetts, worked together to design a walking pig, which they built with Lego pieces. They solved challenges such as programing their pig and using the appropriate motor to control its speed. Their labor resulted in a work of art. In fact, all of the creations I saw were indeed works of art.

STEM education, I realized, is not just about a bunch of abstract concepts. It is about creating things that have value in the real world, whether artistically, functionally, or both. Robots like NASA’s Valkyries, one of which recently arrived at UMASS-Lowell, are the future after all. Most importantly, though, when I asked the students if they had fun, each answered with an enthusiastic “yes!” So I guess STEM isn’t so bad.

How has your school integrated STEM into the curriculum?

Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @ProQuest or in the comments below.

YA Fiction Leading Issues Summer Reading List

YA Books Leading Issues

Reviewed YA Books Featured on the Teen Librarian Toolbox blog (School Library Journal)

Many students struggle to understand the more complicated emotional aspects of Leading Issues. A YA fiction summer reading list that humanizes controversial Leading Issues can help students consider and develop more nuanced, emotionally informed viewpoints. The Leading Issues feature in SIRS Issues Researcher provides students with viewpoints on leading controversial issues with Essential Questions, viewpoints, and supporting articles for evidence-based research.

But evidence-based logic isn’t the only factor that contributes to skilled argument writing. In his blog post, “Common Core Writing and ELLs,” Larry Ferlazzo states that logic should guide argument writing but emotion can have a pivotal role as well:

“Based on our own experience, we believe that emotion — for good or bad — is a key element of how many arguments are made in the world.”–Larry Ferlazzo

Including YA fiction on summer reading lists can offer perspectives that address the emotional aspects of controversial Leading Issues. After reading a compelling narrative over the summer, students will return to school better prepared for evidence-based research and argumentative writing.

Here are five YA fiction titles with a narrative related to a Leading Issue that may touch students’ emotions:

1. Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown
Natural Disasters Leading Issue

Drowned CityPublisher’s Description: “On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina’s monstrous winds and surging water overwhelmed the protective levees around low-lying New Orleans, Louisiana. Eighty percent of the city flooded, in some places under twenty feet of water. Property damages across the Gulf Coast topped $100 billion. One thousand eight hundred and thirty-three people lost their lives. The riveting tale of this historic storm and the drowning of an American city is one of selflessness, heroism, and courage—and also of incompetence, racism, and criminality. Don Brown’s kinetic art and as-it-happens narrative capture both the tragedy and triumph of one of the worst natural disasters in American history. A portion of the proceeds from this book has been donated to Habitat for Humanity New Orleans.”

 

2. Violent Ends by Multiple Authors
School Shootings Leading Issue

Violent EndsPublisher’s Description:“In a one-of-a-kind collaboration, seventeen of the most recognizable YA writers—including Shaun David Hutchinson, Neal and Brendan Shusterman, and Beth Revis—come together to share the viewpoints of a group of students affected by a school shooting….Each chapter is told from a different victim’s viewpoint, giving insight into who Kirby was and who he’d become. Some are sweet, some are dark; some are seemingly unrelated, about fights or first kisses or late-night parties. This is a book of perspectives—with one character and one event drawing them all together—from the minds of some of YA’s most recognizable names.”

 

3. The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith
Dating Violence/Date Rape Leading Issue

Used to BePublisher’s Description: “In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel shares the unforgettable story of a young woman as she struggles to find strength in the aftermath of an assault. Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes….Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.”

 

4. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Gender Identity Leading Issue

Your GirlPublisher’s Description: “A new kind of big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are. Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone. But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart….Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love? Meredith Russo’s If I Was Your Girl is a universal story about feeling different―and a love story that everyone will root for.”

 

5. The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
Depression Leading Issue

memory lightPublisher’s Description: “When Vicky Cruz wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn’t be alive. But then she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had….Inspired in part by the author’s own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one — about living when life doesn’t seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.”

All titles are linked to reviews by the Teen Librarian Toolbox blog (School Library Journal).

This Day in History–May 24, 1607: Welcome to Jamestown!

On May 24, 1607, about 100 men and boys disembarked their ships and established Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the New World.

By Source of picture not given, publisher is J. B. Lippincot Company, Philadelphia and London [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Founders of the Jamestown, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, right off the bat we need a couple of explanations. First off, the date of the establishment of Jamestown is a bit confusing because of the differences between the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Many sources cite the date as May 14, and this is what the colonists recorded because they were using the Julian calendar. However, today we use the Gregorian calendar, which offsets the date by ten days, making the the date May 24 in today’s terms. (After much searching around online for a definitive answer to this question, it is still murky, with some actually going the other direction, placing the date at May 4. In his writings, George Percy wrote, “The fourteenth day [of May], we landed all our men …”. Since England did not adopt the new calendar until 1752, it makes sense to me that the corrected date is May 24. And, it looks like the Library of Congress agrees. (See note number 1.) Let this be a lesson that history is sometimes messy, and you should get your information from multiple and reliable sources.)

Secondly, you’ll note that I said “permanent” settlement. There were a couple of settlements that predate Jamestown–the most famous being Roanoke–but they failed fairly quickly. So, Jamestown wasn’t the first, but it was the first to endure.

And now, back to our story.

Arriving under the charter of the Virginia Company of London, the colonists’ three ships had spent some time sailing up the James River (which they named after King James I) looking for a suitable location, and they chose a spot on a peninsula that they determined would be defendable against attack. Fortunately, it was not inhabited by natives; unfortunately, the swampy area was a terrible place to grow crops.

Jamestown Fort

Jamestown Fort, from the Jamestown Research Topic page, via ProQuest eLibrary

After building a fort, the colonists began suffering great losses due to disease and food shortages. The Powhatan Indians helped with gifts of food until a supply ship arrived in 1608. The settlement was nearly wiped out again in the 1609-1610 winter’s “starving time,” during which two-thirds of the colonists died from starvation and attacks by the Powhatan, whose relationship with the settlers had turned sour. It was during this period that, archaeologists say, some inhabitants of the fort resorted to cannibalism. Relief finally arrived in May of 1610, when a much-delayed ship brought more provisions. Later that year, the decision was made to give up on Jamestown, but the abandonment was short-lived, as a fleet of ships arrived, bringing more supplies and settlers.

A number of industries were attempted at Jamestown, including glassmaking and wood production, but fortunes improved only after John Rolfe began growing tobacco, which became America’s first cash crop.

Rolfe married the Chief Powhatan’s daughter, Pocahontas, bringing about a period of peace with the Indians. The relationship became strained once again after the deaths of both Pocahontas and her father and the continued encroachment of farms onto native land. Intending to undo the colonists once and for all, the natives attacked and killed more than 300 in what became known as the Indian Massacre of 1622.

In 1624, King James revoked the Virginia Company’s charter and made Virginia a royal colony. After Jamestown was burned down during Bacon’s Rebellion, the capital of the colony was moved from Jamestown to Williamsburg.

Efforts to preserve find and preserve aspects of Jamestown’s history began in the late 1800s, and in 1994 archaeologists began rediscovering the original settlement, which had been thought to have been claimed by the James River.

Follow the links in the text above, do your own searches in eLibrary and browse our massive list of Research Topics to discover more about Jamestown and other pieces of American history.

CultureGrams Regional Quiz: South America

South America Quiz


  1. Which South American country contains the world’s largest tropical rainforest?
  2. Brazil
    Argentina
    Ecuador

  3. Which country’s people have traditionally eaten more beef per capita than any other country?
  4. Bolivia
    Chile
    Argentina

  5. How many nations in South America do not list Spanish as an official language?
  6. Two: Brazil and French Guiana
    Three: Suriname, Uruguay, and Paraguy
    Four: Brazil, Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana

  7. Which South American country has two capitals?
  8. Chile
    Bolivia
    Argentina

  9. Which country’s population is concentrated along South America’s Atlantic coast?
  10. Suriname
    Brazil
    Chile

  11. What is the most ethnically homogeneous country in South America?
  12. Uruguay
    Paraguay
    Colombia

  13. Charles Darwin developed his theories of evolution based on observations in which country?
  14. Bolivia
    Ecuador
    Peru

  15. Which two countries share the world’s highest navigable body of water, Lake Titicaca?
  16. Ecuador and Chile
    Colombia and Venezuela
    Peru and Bolivia

  17. Around half of Guyana’s population is made up of descendants of emigrants from which country?
  18. Ghana
    India
    Japan

  19. The president of which country is currently facing impeachment?
  20. Venezuela
    Argentina
    Brazil

ProQuest eLibrary Science: Man in Space

ELIBSCI2016

Learn about the many exciting and incredible things we’ve learned from our outreach into space, both manned and unmanned.  We’ve overcome and dealt with major challenges, obstacles, and tragedies like the loss of Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia, the Apollo 13 mission, and the required space repairs of the Hubble Telescope and our very first space station, Skylab.  We’ve also seen great success walking on the moon, and with our space probes deep into our own solar system and beyond, as well as our Mars rovers.  We’ve done a lot and come through a lot, and yet we haven’t even scratched the surface.  Is there a career waiting for you in space?  Maybe in one of the other areas of science?  If you think so, or if you just like to learn interesting facts and theories about our world and worlds beyond, you can find all kinds of information in ProQuest eLibrary Science. ProQuest eLibrary Science will introduce you to topics in health, biology, earth science, mathematics, physical sciences, technology, science projects, and much, much more!

Learn all about ProQuest eLibrary Science, or any of our other extensive ProQuest resource collections by joining the ProQuest Training and Consulting team in a free public webinar. If we haven’t listed the class you’re interested in, just contact us and we’ll be happy to make arrangements to meet with you directly.

May Space Milestones

Launch of Space Shuttle Columbia

Launch of Space Shuttle Columbia (Public Domain) via Flickr

There are many space accomplishments that we celebrate each year. Some are remembered more than others, but they are all an important part of exploring other planets in our solar system and the galaxy beyond. Here is a list of space milestones that land during the month of May to share with your students:

May 5, 1961: Astronaut Alan Shepard was launched into space aboard the Freedom 7 capsule, part of the Mercury mission. He became the second person (and the first U.S. astronaut) to enter outer space.

May 24, 1962: Astronaut Scott Carpenter was launched into outer space aboard the Aurora 7 space capsule, part of the Mercury mission. The capsule orbited earth three times.

May 15, 1963: Launch of the Faith 7 spacecraft, which was manned by Gordon Cooper who spent 34 hours in space.

May 18, 1969: Launch of Apollo 10 lunar module which orbited the moon. The module was manned by two astronauts.

May 19 and 28, 1971: Launch of the Mars 2 and Mars 3 Landers by Russia. Mars 2 arrived on Mars in November 1971 but crash-landed on the surface. It was the first object to reach Mars’ surface. Mars 3 arrived on Mars in December of 1971 and transmitted data back to Earth for 20 seconds.

May 30, 1971: An unmanned spacecraft, Mariner 9, was launched and began orbiting Mars in November 1971.

May 14, 1973: Launch of the Skylab station, by a Saturn 5 rocket, which became the first orbiting laboratory in space.

May 25, 1973: A group of three astronauts were launched into space to board the Skylab station orbiting laboratory for testing.

May 20, 1978: Launch of Pioneer Venus I orbiter. It began orbiting Venus in December 1978.

May 4, 1989: Launch of space shuttle Atlantis by NASA to deploy the Magellan spacecraft, which was sent to observe the planet Venus.

May 13, 1992: First time three astronauts space walked simultaneously from the Endeavour space shuttle.

May 26, 2008: Phoenix spacecraft landed on Mars. It analyzed Mars soil and took photos.

May 22, 2012: The SpaceX company launches its first capsule, called Dragon, into space. The capsule delivered food and other supplies to the International Space Station.

Teachers, direct your students to SIRS Discoverer to learn more about outer space exploration.

6 Magnificent Museums Around the World in 2016

Did you know every year since 1977, people around the world celebrate International Museum Day on and around May 18? Each year the event centers on a theme, and for 2016, it is Museums and Cultural Landscapes. The celebration of International Museum Day is growing with more than 35,000 museums participating in 2015.

International Museum Day was created back in 1977 during the International Council of Museums General Assembly in Moscow, “with the aim of further unifying the creative aspirations and efforts of museums and drawing the attention of the world public to their activity.” To honor this culturally historic day, I’d like to highlight six beautiful museums around the globe.

More information can be found on International Museum Day here and information about the International Council of Museums can be found here.

1. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain houses modern and contemporary art and remains an architectural beauty. American architect Frank Gehry designed the building with Bilbao’s urban landscape in mind.

Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain

“Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain” Photo credit: Arch_Sam via Foter.com / CC BY

2. The main entrance to the Louvre Museum in Paris, France is the grand Louvre Pyramid which reflects light splendidly during the day and glows magically at night. This museum is one of the world’s largest and its iconic Louvre Pyramid entrance was designed by Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei.

"Entrance to Louvre Museum in Paris, France" Photo credit: Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ via Foter.com / CC BY

“Louvre Museum in Paris, France” Photo credit: Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ via Foter.com / CC BY

3. The National Museum of Art, Osaka in Japan continues to grow with over 6,000 works as of March 2011. The museum’s objective aims to preserve Japanese art and the relationship Japanese art has with the world.

"National Museum of Art in Osaka -- Japan" Photo credit: mith17 via Foter.com / CC BY

“National Museum of Art in Osaka — Japan” Photo credit: mith17 via Foter.com / CC BY

4. The Auckland War Memorial Museum in New Zealand is a special museum for its historical offerings, especially in natural history and military history. The museum has undergone multiple renovations over the last two decades. There are parts of this museum which also serve as a war memorial, honoring those who died in both World Wars.

"Auckland War Memorial Museum in New Zealand" Photo credit: AdamSelwood via Foter.com / CC BY

“Auckland War Memorial Museum in New Zealand” Photo credit: AdamSelwood via Foter.com / CC BY

5. The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar showcases Islamic art from three continents and spans 1,400 years of work. This museum aims to safeguard Islamic culture through opening minds with Islamic art. The museum houses prayer rooms though it is not a religious institution.

"Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar" Photo credit: jikatu via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

“Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar” Photo credit: jikatu via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

6. The Hangar 7 Aircraft Museum in Salzburg, Austria owned by Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz has a futuristic design and houses more than just the aircraft museum. There is also a restaurant and bar where visitors can enjoy. This multipurpose building has a collection of airplanes, helicopters, and racing cars.

"Hangar 7 Aircraft Museum in Salzburg, Austria" Photo credit: heatheronhertravels via Foter.com / CC BY

“Hangar 7 Aircraft Museum in Salzburg, Austria” Photo credit: heatheronhertravels via Foter.com / CC BY

Are you planning to visit your local museum soon or an iconic museum far from home? Remember you can research museums and their countries in eLibrary and CultureGrams. Tell us about it in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

Recording Offers Sneak Peek of New SIRS Issues Researcher

Sneak Peek Webinar

The SIRS Knowledge Source portal, including the SIRS Issues Researcher product, is getting a makeover! The new interface moves forward our ongoing efforts to unify the research experience across all of the SIRS products.

Learn all the details on this recorded webinar from Product Manager Larry Wilkner on what you can expect from the new design including:

SIRS Issues Researcher Preview

Mobile-Friendly:
The new design is intuitive and easy to navigate on any device, from Chromebooks to smartphones.

Improved Homepage and Leading Issues:
The fresh, clean interface includes Essential Questions to frame each issue, overview for background and context, viewpoints with supporting articles, and full results set for deeper research and analysis.

The Same Great Content:
One thing that isn’t changing is the comprehensive, editorially-selected content that sets SIRS apart.

Learn More

Comment at #ProQuest or let us know your feedback by commenting below.

Immigration and the Emergency Quota Act of 1921

Emergency Quota Act of 1921 Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Emergency Quota Act of 1921 Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Immigration has been a part of American history … well, since the beginning of American history. America is a nation of immigrants. The Spanish were the first to settle in America with the first permanent European settlement at St. Augustine, Florida. Forty-two years later in 1607, the first English settlement began in Jamestown, Virginia with the first African slaves arriving in 1619. The Dutch, Germans, French and Irish soon followed and since then people from all over the world have immigrated to America.

As the number of immigrants to the United States began to swell year after year calls for restricting the influx came.  The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first piece of legislation to “narrow the opening through which immigrants came.”  The turning point in immigration restriction occurred in 1921 with the passage of the Emergency Quota Act.  Expected to be a temporary measure, the Act set the quota at 3% annually for new immigrants based on their country’s population in the United States as counted in the 1910 census.  These restrictions became known as the National Origins Formula.  Revisions would take place in 1924 with a drop in quota to 2%.  Quota restrictions based on this formula remained in place for the next 40 years until 1965.  During this time, there was a significant reduction in the number of immigrants to the United States.  In addition, historians believe these restrictions led to the first cases of illegal immigration.

Once again immigration, legal and illegal, quotas and restrictions, is prominent in the American political landscape.  As the 2016 Presidential campaign and election unfolds, use eLibrary to keep up with the latest news regarding immigration policy and candidate stances, and to study the history, impact and legacy of immigration and American immigration policy and legislation.

CultureGrams Activity: Create Your Own Flag

Students of all ages love creative projects where they can use their imaginations to create something that is both fun to make and is a reflection of their personalities. So if you’d like to find a creative educational project for your class, we have just the thing for you. This activity from our CultureGrams Teaching Activities PDF provides an opportunity for students to learn about national flags and how they represent a country’s culture and values. Students will also have a chance to draw upon what they learn in studying national flags to create flags that represent their own values, interests, and culture.

AntiguaandBarbuda_flag_lg

Flag of Antigua and Barbuda via CultureGrams

Flag Creation

Objective Students will discuss the symbolism and meaning of various national flags and then create flags to represent themselves.

Grade level K–5

Time requirement

Preparation: 40 minutes

In-class: 50 hours

Materials

  • Art materials—construction paper, scissors, glue, pens, etc.
  • Various international flags (all are available in the CultureGrams Flag Gallery)

Instructions

  1. Introduce the concept of flags as works of art that use color, design, and symbols to convey meaning.
  2. Show students the international flags you have selected and explain the symbols used on them. (If you have a subscription to CultureGrams, each country’s flag image and interpretation is available on its landing page.) For example, in the flag of South Africa, the colors symbolize the unity of the nation’s races. In the flag of the United Kingdom, the crosses represent England, Scotland, and Ireland. In the flag of Greece, the cross symbolizes the Greek Orthodox Church.
  3. Assign students to create a unique flag representing themselves, their family, or their city, state, or country of birth. Encourage them to find colors and symbols that stand for something important to them.
  4. Have students display their flags for the class and explain their use of color, symbolism, and design

CultureGrams has a Flag Gallery for both the World and Kids editions as well as for the States and Provinces editions. So there are plenty of flags for students to look at as examples.