The Florida Center for Research (FCR) STEM Conference was held this past weekend in St. Petersburg, Florida. I had the pleasure of attending with a few faculty members from the middle school that I teach in. I must say that I really enjoyed the conference and learned several things, many of which can be easily implemented in the classroom or in after school settings.
My favorite speakers were Lee Meadows from the University of Alabama (check out his book, “The Missing Link”), who discussed Inquiry and Evolution Education, and Dr. Robert Devaney from Boston University who taught us all about “The Chaos Game”. I also enjoyed hearing from the presenters from the different workshops. I came away with an arsenal full of STEM activities that I can’t wait to try.
In one workshop, we constructed a rocket out of an index card, a straw, and putty. We launched our rockets using a rocket launcher and had to aim them at a bulls eye that was taped to the wall.
In another workshop, we built a dugout out of clay that had to float and support the weight of 20 pennies.
Here we worked with mealworms. We were to conduct a “mood test” to see what mealworms enjoyed or didn’t enjoy. We used feathers, apple slices, different colored sheets of paper, paper clips, and cardboard. Mealworms LOVE apples…lol
You could make this a STEM investigation by challenging students to develop a habitat for the mealworm that he/she would enjoy the most.
Here we were challenged to design a windmill that would put out the highest voltage of energy. The center clear piece is the center part of a cd and the blades are constructed out of a manila folder. I believe we came in 2nd place.
The conference was held at the Bay Front Hilton Hotel in downtown St. Petersburg. It was a nice hotel and all of the staff members I encountered were very friendly and professional. There were several restaurants within walking distance and the food was excellent! On Saturday, there was a Farmers’ Market being held across the street from the hotel. I quickly found a Cuban-food vendor and boy was I happy. I ordered a Cuban sandwich, black beans and rise with cheese…DELICIOUS. It was so good that I went back to order a second Cuban sandwich!!! YUMMY!
All in all, the conference was great. Again, I learned a ton, got a lot of new ideas, and made new friends! If you ever get the opportunity to go, I’d definitely recommend it!