An Op Ed on Improving a City’s Walk Score DSC00015.JPGDSCN0412

Greenville Early College Eagles! Yeah, you! Aren’t you tired of having your parents drag you around?  Wouldn’t you like to have quicker access to more services without needing someone to drive you?  Don’t you want to take off on your own to the movies, skate rink, or where ever?  If you’re like me, you spend too much time in a car or bus because that’s the only way to get around!  Each day, our vehicles contribute a little more CO2 to the atmosphere, and we know there’s a lot less muscle to be had this way.  I’d walk a lot more if our streets were friendlier, unlike Woodruff Rd near my home.  I’ll bet you have a big four-lane road with fast cars, no sidewalks, and SMOG near you too!!!  It seems our streets are made only for machines today.  This is a problem, not just in Greenville, but throughout many cities.

What if you could improve your home turf’s Walk Score, and give you access to where you want to go?  What if you could design a bridge to make it possible, as would a civil engineer?  Could these be used to connect you to your favorite places?  Bridges for human mobility, that’s the idea!  Dump the cars and move your feet!  Bridges can be freedom!

Could you start by analyzing a bridge design, then build on that?  What type of bridge would you design?  How would you make use of simple machines to add durability, stability, and take into account safety in your design?  Can you incorporate simple machines in a creative way to add a special feature to your bride design?  Could you participate in an Engineering Design Review to defend your plans, while others analyze your design for flaws you may have missed?  Would you be prepared to go back to the drawing board for improvements, prior to building a prototype and testing it?

We’ll build a prototype and participate in a design review to analyze it for simple machine parts, find weaknesses in this prototype, then to the drawing board you will go!  Redesign, followed by another design review for more analysis to showcase your potential improvements.  A civil engineer will provide you a real-world view through some authentic feedback.  Let’s get started!


Imagine 6


Following My RET – Lemon’s Lab

Microelectronics & Lemon’s Lab – A place to Imagine, Inquire, and Innovate!

The theme for science lab this year has been “Microelectronics in the Lab”.  This theme is evident in several projects, originally planned at the Tuskegee University Microelectronics Lab, under Dr. Korivi, and executed at Greenville Early College (GEC) with my sixth-graders in Greenville, SC.  Grow lights, Little Bits, and Weather Tools were all designed with microelectronics components intended to make life easier and safer in class during our experiments.  This theme has been infused in the projects this year!  Here’s more…More

We launched the Smarter House Project, in which kids were excited to share the results of their home electrical surveys as an entry event.  They discovered how series and parallel circuits work using trial and error computer simulations, followed by more virtual simulations on making connections between different forms of energy to generate power:  wind, water, corn (ethanol plants), solar, and nuclear.  Guest-speakers, from the Oconee Nuclear Power Station, provided an opportunity for responses to some “Need to Knows” not yet answered, or discovered, through student research and inquiry-based scaffolding activities I had assigned.

With this background, students were now ready to work on their miniature houses as a culminating activity.  Students completed a blue-print design of what they felt were essential rooms to be defined in the house and how the home would be wired per a set of criteria or evidence: series circuit, parallel circuits, LED lights, door bell, motor, fan, and a limited number of wires. Students presented their wired house in a multimedia presentation focusing on what more could be done to make the home more energy efficient.  This presentation allowed students to communicating their solutions to the problem, a part of our inquiry-based approach and a 21st Century STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skill.

Why a project-based approach?  This approach allows students to solve problems through exploration and imagination!  Inquiry-based, problem solving projects require that students design, develop, and manipulate science to achieve the goal of learning scientific concepts and principles.  This is best done when students have the opportunity to be imaginative and playful.  This allows them to use their intuition; and in doing so, students have more control of the science activities in order to take ownership of their learning.

Following my research experience through SCIAN at Tuskegee University, I began working on some exciting projects for students such as The Smarter House Project.  This project is the result of what I learned at Tuskegee University this past summer on microelectronics.  High level stuff, indeed, at this lab, but how would I incorporate this new information on microelectronics into my classroom to benefit my students? How would I incorporate this while taking into consideration the age group?

Working with Dr. Korivi and his graduate students led to the development of this project. I’ve been able to infuse all I have learned this summer throughout the school year in a manner that benefits middle-schoolers. The lab recognized the age group I would be working with.  Dr. Korivi allowed me to focus on what would best benefit my students and to take away knowledge, from the lab, that would result in focused learning for the students.  We explored together on the potential take-aways from the Tuskegee Microelectronics Lab for my sixth-graders.  Dr. Korivi, his team, and I agreed to focus on the use of microelectronics in my projects for students, such as in The Smarter House Project, the Agritecture Project, and the Weather scopes Project. Microelectronics, specifically LEDs, became the theme for this school year, in my classroom, where kids take ownership of their learning through inquiry.

Project 3

The graduate students were so much a part of this for me.  As “Lamont” worked on his capacitors, I shared with students our discussions on the use of capacitors in clothing to charge phones for the future.  As “JP” worked on his 3D printing research, we printed the cubes and other objects for our density labs.  “Nabila and Alexis”, female engineering majors, added value in video-taped interviews on clean-rooms and women engineers, a valuable point of view for my female students, as I attempt to bridge the gap between boys and girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) careers.  A microbiology and microelectronics discussion by “Steven” added a point of interest for students during our Plant Unit and Agritecture Project.  Dr. Korivi evaluated my plans along the way, providing his expertise on specific instruments, or microelectronics components, for the activities planned.  He guided my research on how to make many aspects of the lab relevant to our microelectronics theme this year.  The expertise in the lab enabled me to stretch my ingenuity to develop the year’s projects, while incorporating the use of microelectronics in ways that are appropriate for the age group.  We discussed “Little Bits” and solar components of microelectronics for the Smarter House Project; LED lights for our Agritecture Project on hydroponics in the classroom; a consideration of microelectronics in heaters for animal shelter in our Design-A-Zoo Habitat project, and weather instruments designed with microelectronic components that would enable students to work more efficiently during our final project, Weatherscopes.

This ownership of one’s own learning results in actual growth of the concepts, but can also be confusing for some students.  This is evident when results of the experiments, or activities, vary from group to group, are incomplete, or when students struggle to get new results.  Some frustration is good, and this is when inquiry is further guided with “breadcrumbs”, or hints, nods, and a little direction from teacher to keep things going.  The smiles, the “oohs”, “…and I knew that…”, all keep the kids motivated to continue their quest for answers to the activities, experiments, or projects that result in solving an actual real-world problem tied to a question, a “Need to Know” that they have.

This was the approach for the Smarter House Project in our third quarter during our Electricity and Magnetism Unit.  In using an inquiry-based problem solving approach in my classroom, collaborative groups proceed this way:

Entry Event – Knows & Need to Knows – Problem Statements

Research – Guided Scaffolding & Inquiry Activities to solve their Problem Statements

I set up collaborative groups, which change with each new project.  Students were provided with an Entry Event that introduced them to a topic and potential problem to solve.  The Entry Event for the Smarter House Project was a letter to students’ parents asking that they take and electrical survey of their homes with their student, on the electrical safety of their home.  They were to go on a personal quest, checking for frayed wires, number of appliances on one circuit, type of energy used, and more.  Students were to bring back the survey assignment along with questions that developed as they proceeded with the survey.  Upon their return, students collaborated on a list of “Need to Knows”.

Collaboration 5.PNG

Students dissected the entry event to decipher what, if any, they already Knew about the topic and problem, followed by recording what they Needed to Know from the entry event.  In guiding this process, students placed their need to know questions on the board under pre-defined categories, or State Standards and Objectives.  This was crucial to manage student questions and kept the project focused on the Standards.  For example:  a sticky-note on “Why do some bulbs flicker?”  would be placed under “Circuits”, or “How does Duke Power make electricity?” would be place under types of Energy sources.  The letter, or entry event, was written with “breadcrumbs”, or topics students needed to research in order to proceed with the project.

Students were then ready to develop Problem Statements to begin their inquiry.  Collaborative groups began with various problem statements:

  • “How can we as GEC architects design a smarter home to reduce our carbon footprint?”
  • “How can we as 6th graders figure out a way to wire a house so that it is more energy efficient?”
  • “How can we as electricians come up with a house that uses less energy so that it costs less to keep up with?”
  • “How can we as home designers wire a house so that it uses less energy?”


All problem statements include a real-world role for students, problem to solve, the reason for the inquiry.  Once kids had their problem statements, research followed, along with scaffolding activities to teach skills in circuits, magnetism, electromagnetism. Students then moved towards solving the problem, thus the Smarter House Project!  In this project, students applied architecture skills to plan a smarter home, wire the house in series and parallel circuits, used the motor to power the fan, and research more on what makes a home “smart” in 2016.  This project may have been the main focus of my CIAN/RET at Tuskegee University, but it went much further, as one may imagine, resulting in several projects for the year – Microelectronics in Lemon’s Lab!Imagine 6


3D Printing & Lesson Revival

3D Printing & Lesson Revival

In this lesson students will see models of the inner framework of cubes, which are more complex than a water molecule.  Students will need to think about the size and mass of the atoms that make up the cubes and observe how they are arranged. DSC00166

In this way, students do more than just proceed with the lab to eventually calculate Density.  They will tie in volume and weight to clarify their own misconceptions.

Two misconceptions around the teaching of Density as a concept are:

1.  Confusion between Weight & Volume (Piaget, 1930, p. 165) :  Weight is the reason for water displacement and not volume

2.  The amount of water and object is immersed in (Duckworth (2001) :  More water will allow an object to float

Printing the cubes, in a Tuskegee Microelectronics Lab; under Dr. Korivi and research student, Jean-Pierre Papouloute, gives me a chance to revive this old lesson to teach this concept to students this year, in hopes of chipping away at some of these misconceptions DSC00156.

Students need to not only experiment with the cubes, but see the inside.  What is inside?  How does this impact water displacement?  How can three identical cubes of the same volume displace different amount of water?

Adding 3D Printing technology and bringing this idea to class exposes students to this technology and allows me tie in STEM jobs for their future.  After all, we are now printing shoes, jewelry, and more.  Now, we are ready to proceed with our Density Lab using the Water Displacement Method and incorporate other cubes of different materials – Lesson Revival!

My RET @ Tuskegee

Why a summer at Tuskegee?

I am a 6th grade middle school science teacher from Greenville, South Carolina, at Greenville Early College, “Home of the Eagles”.  I wanted to be here at Tuskegee Universitiy; to observe and learn from Dr. Korivi and Dr. Jiang’s Microelectronics’ lab, in hopes of engaging my students this year.  My goal is to infuse aspects of the lab’s research in my projects planned for this school year.  What an experience thus far!

This lab has been full of invigorating activities and I have been absorbing ideas from the professors and engineering lab students.  One might conclude that 6th grade is too young to benefit from such an experience.  To the contrary..

  • Designing wave guides to control an optical path, which will result in my students’ use of diodes for their projects this yearDSC00082.a.wave
  • New materials for capacitors, where my students can look to the future for outerwear to charge their cellphones and iPodsDSC00101.circuit board
  • Innovations from the use of 3-D printers to fabricate materials for lab testing, giving my students a glimpse of STEM jobs they can look forward toDSC00086.print

My experience was enhanced by an INTEL outreach visit, confirming and validating the semiconductor research going on here in the lab.  I’d like to add, as perceived by me, to be identical to some of the INTEL research in Oregon.  Visiting high school students participating in the lab outreach programs provide me with a fresh perspective on my old ideas for my younger students.

Some of my planned integrated science and math  projects this year for my 6th graders:

  1. Wire a house using LEDs and the use of alternative sources of energy (solar cells, salt water, fruit juice).  Data gathered to be used in math lessons.
  2. Agritecture – Hydroponics, Vertical farming, and Virtual sun (LEDs) to germinate and grow plants.  Data, to be tracked with the use of soil sensors, can be analyzed during math lessons.
  3. Design a Zoo – Research sources of heat (microelectronics) and measurements for habitat studies and animal classification graphics.
  4. Weather Scope – A study of weather and climate with real-time data projects and application of microelectronics, where data is to be analyzed in math class.

Why a summer at Tuskegee for an educator?  Why not! CIAN, RET Program makes this possible. Thank you to the following:  CIAN, Dr. Korivi, Dr. Jiang, Jean-Pierre, Lamont, Steven, and Nabila!  Eagles, here I come!