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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…
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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 …

Are you ready for Pi?

Time to get ready fer Pi Day at RAFT me hearties!  Set yer compasses an’ sails fer FREE Pi Day activities on March 8thbetween 3:30 to 5:30 on th’ main poop deck (aye-aye in th’ “Kit Area”) at SJ RAFT!
RAFT’s very own notorious wench, Jeanne Lazzarini (RAFT Math Master Educator), prepared a boatload of Pi Day activities to share with yer classes fer Pi Day (celebrated on March 14th every year)! Pi, (also written as π; th’ ratio of th’ circumference of a circle to its diameter) be an irrational number that goes on forever without any repeating digits, starting with 3.14159… π is illustriously celebrated over land an’ high seas March 14th (get it? On 3.14…!).    Discover great “make-an’-take” Pi day activities that prepare ye fer real Pi day!  Here’s a RAFT idea sheet fer Pi Day you can use now: Pi Day Pin. Make sure X marks th’ spot on ye calendars this March 8th, or walk th’ plank me scallywags!   Shiver me timbers an’ yo-ho-ho!  ‘Tis a RAFTy life fer me, Bucko!!!  Arrrgggghhhhh!

Orchard Students Turn RAFT Materials into Safer Wind Turbines for Birds

Ten third graders and twelve fourth graders in Kathleen Gould’s class at Orchard School District know to turn to RAFT when making creative design solutions! They’ve been on a 17-day Design Challenge journey studying how wind turbines kill hundreds of thousands of birds each year in North America—making turbines the most menacing form of green energy! Using cardboard tubes, paper pinwheel blades, clay, tape, stickers, cotton balls, bubble wrap, and other RAFT materials, student teams were able to think about and design clever models of wind turbines that might be safer for birds to fly around or nest upon! It started when representatives from the WildLIFE Associates brought into the class rehabilitated falcons, owls, eagles, and other birds damaged by wind turbines. “We learned about Luna the owl, who is now blind in one eye, and Liberty, the bald eagle, who broke its wing from flying into a turbine,” says Gould. Seeing these beautiful wild creatures up close helped the students to emp…

Celebrating Black History Month with RAFT’s Makerspace in a Box

In honor of Black History Month, each week RAFT would like to pay tribute to African-American inventors, scientists, and engineers.
The list of African Americans who have invented a multitude of items in the course of their lives is endless! These inventions range from practical everyday devices to applications in diverse fields, including physics, biology, and mathematics. Just a few of these inventors and inventions include:
INVENTOR INVENTION Leonard C. Bailey Folding bed Janet Bashen First African-American woman to receive a patent for software Earl Bell Chair with sliding skin and the quantitative display apparatus Miriam Benjamin Second African-American woman to obtain a patent for the “Gong and Signal Chair” for hotels Henry Blair Seed/cotton planter; second African-American inventor to receive a patent Sarah Boone

Use the Winter Olympics to engage your students

The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics are right around the corner!
This worldwide event offers excellent opportunities to use the Olympics to inspire your students to learn about many mathematical concepts such as slope. How can the Olympics help students understand slope? Think of ski slopes! Ask students to watch the Olympics this year on TV and to look for sports that use steep paths (e.g., snowboarding, downhill skiing, alpine skiing, bobsleighing, etc.)! Back in class, have students recreate replica “ski slopes” using sections of white foam board. Place one end of a foam board against a wall with the opposite end touching the floor at an angle so that it forms the hypotenuse of a right triangle (the right angle is between the wall and the floor). Refer to the vertical distance (“rise”) from the floor to where the top edge of the board touches the wall as the y-intercept. Refer to the horizontal distance (“run”) starting at the wall and to the bottom of the board farthest away from t…