RAFT Activity Kit: Static Merry-go-Round

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

RAFT SAN JOSE CELEBRATES PI (π) DAY – 3.14, WITH A BOATLOAD OF FREE ACTIVITIES!

Come meet RAFT’s Math Activity Developer, Jeanne Lazzarini, at RAFT San Jose who has a treasure chest of Pi-Day activities to share!  Not only will she be dressed as a Pirate (because Pi rates!), she’ll also offer you delicious pie to eat while showing you great Pi-Day Math activities to make and take, to use in your classroom to celebrate Pi day! The Pi-Day activities include RAFT Math Idea Sheet activities like Finding Pi, Wearable Pi and Pi Day Pin.

Irrational number Pi, also written as π, is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, and is celebrated all over the world on March 14th because π is a number that begins as 3.14!  With the use of computers, Pi has been calculated trillions of digits past the decimal point! Pi is an irrational and transcendental number, and its digits continue infinitely without any repeating patterns of digits!  Pi has been used in many applications for over 4000 years!

π rate activity days at RAFT!
Join us at RAFT, San Jose in celebrating (π) day on these π rate focused days…and all the events are free!
Thursday, March 1st (from 4:30pm to 6pm) – Classroom A
Thursday, March 8th (from 4:30pm to 6pm) – Green Room
Saturday, March 10th (from 1:30 to 3:30) – Clasroom A

Make Math a fun and interesting subject for your students with our bounty of hands on activities that align with the state standards. Download more than 240 Math Idea Sheets here. Do you have a π rate activity idea you would like to share with us? Click here to send us an email or add your comments below! Go to www.raft.net for more information.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Shortino Family Foundation helps RAFT & YSI reach professional development on hands-on teaching techniques to educators in the ARUSD


Ocala Cluster teachers having fun
with the RAFT Activity Kits
Resource Area For Teaching recently held a professional development workshop on hands-on teaching techniques for elementary and middle school educators across the Ocala Cluster in the Alum Rock Unified School District (ARUSD). The workshop is part of the ongoing science program conducted by RAFT in collaboration with the Youth Science Institute (YSI) and ARUSD.

RAFT and YSI have partnered together to support the teachers from the District’s Ocala Cluster of Caselle, Ryan and Rogers Elementary Schools and Ocala Middle School, with the tools and techniques required to spark imaginations and fuel minds. “It's great to be part of this partnership that's bringing RAFT Activity Kits and YSI programs into Ocala Cluster classrooms with lessons that complement each other,” says Ken Sakoi, Education Director at YSI.
The RAFT Breadboard circuit

These professional development tools and hands on techniques which include a package of classroom materials for each educator, teacher training and, student programs linking RAFT training and materials with YSI student programs, have been made possible by the generous contribution from the Shortino Family Foundation.

At one of the recent teacher training workshops held at RAFT, the RAFT Education team demonstrated various RAFT Activity Kits including Owl Pellets, Evolution by Natural Selection (for 7th grade), Mini Magnet Wands, Floating Compass, Breadboard Circuits (for 4th grade) and Breaking it Down, Still Water (for 6th grade) at the workshop. These Activity Kits are mostly based on repurposed materials that are very affordable and easily accessible like aluminum foil, plastic pipette tips, coffee stirrer straws, pony beads, clothespins, and even plastic forks and spoons!

Jennifer Greenbaum, a school teacher from Ryan Elementary who participated in the workshop was very enthusiastic about her first experience at RAFT. “I had heard about RAFT before but didn’t really understand what it was all about. When I entered and I saw M.C. Escher design tiles, I thought this was a creative, whimsical kind of place…a fun place where creative people worked! I was really engaged in the workshop…gave us a feel of how the kids would experience learning through these hands on materials. Loved all the activities especially dissecting owl pellets…it was fun!”

Educators like Jennifer will be doing these RAFT hands-on activities with their students in the classrooms before and after taking part in the YSI programs. The RAFT Activity Kits will help teachers reinforce educational concepts in their students.

Do you want to have some fun getting creative with education? Do you want to inspire and engage your students with hands on methods of teaching? Join RAFT and start your hands on learning today!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Generous donor supports RAFT’s mission – to inspire the joy and discovery of learning through hands-on activities

Flextronics Foundation recently donated $10,000 dollars in support of the core component of RAFT’s Education program – creatively repurposing materials donated by local businesses into pre-packaged Activity Kits that facilitate hands-on learning of Math and Science.

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RAFT’s mission is to transform teaching by creating engaging hands-on educational activities that inspire the joy and discovery of learning. RAFT works with more than 10,000 educators in the classroom, home-school settings and, after-school and community based programs. RAFT's products (Idea Sheets and Activity Kits), professional development services including mentoring and educational workshops, and low-cost teaching supplies enrich and improve the education of over 825,000 young people each year.

RAFT Activity Kits are based on over 650 curriculum-aligned RAFT Idea Sheets that cover a range of grade levels and subjects. The Flextronics Foundation has awarded a total of $25,000 in grants to RAFT since 2008.

Mary Simon, Executive Director, RAFT spoke on this occasion, “We are grateful to Flextronics support of hands on education and RAFT.”

“Education is one of our primary funding initiatives because it has such a significant, residual impact on our communities, both locally and worldwide. We fully support the work RAFT does toward Science and Math education, and we are proud to support such an important cause,” says Thomas Ezrin, Senior Vice President, human resources at Flextronics.

The Flextronics Foundation supports a range of community development efforts including initiatives that improve education.  The Foundation was established in 2002 and serves as a catalyst for positive change in communities around the world.  Click here for more information on Flextronics Foundation.

Photo: L-R - Natalie Lavorato, Development Associate at RAFT; Greg Brown, Director of Education at RAFT; Mary Simon, Executive Director & Founder at RAFT; Thomas Ezrin, Senior Vice President, Human Resources at Flextronics; Dennis Isaac, Director, Human Resources at Flextronics; Lori Kenepp, Marketing Communications Manager at Flextronics

Thursday, February 16, 2012

RAFT member’s innovative repurposing creates a fun filled take home activity

Here is a creative idea from Arlene Brown, a science teacher at St. Mary's School in Los Gatos:

"Each year I teach my first-graders about weather, and this year I decided to have them build their own rain gauges. I came to RAFT in search of rain gauges, and what I found were giant syringes (with no needles) that turned out to be perfect for this project!  At 17 cents apiece, I was able to have all 36 students create rain gauges for less than 7 dollars.

In class, the students took one look at my sample and knew exactly what to do.  They were very excited about this project! They put a pointed stick in the small end of the syringe to plug the hole and keep the gauge vertical. Now all we needed was rain... thankfully, Mother Nature cooperated by providing a rare rainstorm at just the right time! That night, parents had a great time helping their children set up their rain gauges.  The students could not wait to go out in the morning to see how much water they collected! They eagerly compared their rain readings when they came to school. 

There were many opportunities for learning in this project - the students learned about weather, about measurement, and about how to creatively use everyday objects for a different purposes. The first-graders were curious why rain is measured in "inches" and not by volume.  They learned that we want to know how much rain falls over a large area, and that's why we use inches. If this same project were done with older students, they could determine how many marks on the side of the syringe equal one inch - a practical application of fractions!"

Thanks for sharing your great story, Arlene. You demonstrated what happens so often at RAFT - educators come in with specific needs, and leave with creative, low-cost solutions that make learning fun and memorable.

RAFT invites all teachers to share their stories with us!  Add your comments below:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Go green this Valentine's Day!

Great hands-on teaching activities for Valentine's Day!
Do your students want to give something special to their parents on this Valentine’s Day? Send home a sweet surprise with RAFT’s ‘Bouquet of Flowers’, a hands-on activity where your students can design and make their own flower bouquets with just cardstock, flower images and scissors! These flowers are sure to last forever!

Or you can help your pupils create unique DIY valentine hearts with RAFT’s ‘Foil Art’. With just foil and adhesive cardstock their foil art creation can melt their parents’ heart!

Valentine’s Day can also be a great day to teach Science by focusing on flowers, one of the most gifted V Day present! With The RAFT’s ‘Preserving the Petals’ hands-on activity , elementary and middle school students can learn about plant structures and functions. This activity creatively repurposes materials like pipette holders and paper towels! With RAFT Idea Sheets and materials, you can go green this Valentine's Day!

For many more great ideas go to http://www.raft.net/. Have you tried these great RAFT Activities in your classroom? Do you have great hands-on activity ideas for Valentine’s Day? Share your experiences and ideas with us by commenting below!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Plastic to art that’s fantastic!

With Valentine’s Day round the corner, one of RAFT’s upcoming weekend workshops – ‘Shrink Art Fun’ shows you how to recycle plastic into awesome shrink art! This year learn how to make some meaningful gifts using donated plastic material, available at RAFT in the form of trays and take-out containers, thus preventing them from ending up in a landfill. 

Shrink plastics encourage creativity, and can be used to supplement a variety of classroom activities.  Students can create models, manipulatives, and displays. They can make maps, pins, book report characters, and even cards! 

But there is also a science behind this hands on art form! Says Instructor Georgina Patterson, who has been in the education field for 40 years, “The science behind the shrinkage process is a chemistry lesson in itself, and the excitement young children get when they watch the plastic change size in the oven is worth the effort!”

The base material consists of thin, flexible polystyrene plastic (#6) sheets.  Prior to heating, the plastic sheets can be colored with felt-tip pens, acrylic paint, colored pencils and cut into shapes.  When heated in an oven or with a heat gun, the plastic shrinks by about two-thirds and becomes thicker and more rigid while retaining the colored design.


The commercial version of this creative art (Shrinky Dinks) was invented in 1973 by two Wisconsin housewives as a Cub Scout project, and it has continued to be popular with one and all ever since. Recently, Professor Michelle Khine of UC Irvine used Shrinky Dinks to create tiny structures in the area of medical research!

Want to create Shrink Art magic?

Do you want to dabble in this ‘magical’ hands on activity that changes plastic to art? Are you a science educator interested in combining Chemistry and Art for a fun filled educative classroom session?  Do you want to experiment and ‘play’ with your peers in a workshop-setting? Sign up today for the ‘Shrink Art Fun’ workshop. Click here for more information.

Experienced in Shrink Art? Share your ideas and inputs with fellow educators here. Click on ‘comment’ below to share your thoughts!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Have your own classroom science fair today with RAFT hands on Activity Kits!

Can’t make it to the White House Science Fair today? Here are some great hands on ideas for your own local Science Fair!

Resource Area For Teaching (RAFT) has over 600 Idea Sheets with more than 400 focused on Sciences – Life Science, Earth/Space Science and Physical Science. These idea sheets can lead to a myriad of possibilities! Here are a few RAFT hands on Science activity ideas that you can even conduct as a classroom science project!

Colors of Light
A Student enjoying the color patterns
in the easily built spectroscope.
Make your own with the
RAFT Colors of Light Activity Kit!
  • White light is actually a combination of different colors. This easily built spectroscope allows students to separate the incoming light into its component colors, forming a light spectrum (rainbow). Besides creating interesting color patterns it can be used to identify different sources of light.
  • Grade Range: K - 12
  • Download Idea Sheet
  • Buy Activity Kit
Hovercraft
Floating Garden of Magnets (physics)
Gravity Defying Frog (physics/art)
The RAFT Gravity Defying Frog Activity Kit
  • Students will investigate cause and effect, center of mass, balance, and stable equilibrium while they create this fascinating, scientific toy!
  • Grade Range: K - 8 
  • Download Idea Sheet
  • Buy Activity Kit


You can also find STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) related hands on RAFT Idea Sheets and Activity Kits that conform to curriculum standards at www.raft.net.

Have you tried out any of these kits? Give us your feedback! Do you have more innovative hands on ideas to teach science or STEM subjects? Share it with us!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Experience the union between Math & Art in a RAFT workshop!


While Geometry often describes and measures shapes like a cone, sphere or triangle, does it define the shape of a cloud, a mountain, a coastline, or a tree?

Starfish and Broccoli
are a few examples of fractal patterns in nature!
It does! Most patterns in nature, called “fractals” describe curves, surfaces and objects that have some very peculiar properties so irregular and fragmented, that it takes more than spheres, cones, circles, triangles, smooth or straight lines to describe them!

These fractals might resemble arteries, coral, a heart, a brain, tree branches and other such ‘designs’ that have symmetry, ‘self-similarity’ and are scale-free!
Fern fractals - with symmetry
and self -similarity!

 Look around you – Fractals are everywhere!  Have fun with us and discover everyday Fractals at the upcoming RAFT workshop ‘Fractals and Beyond’ on Feb 9th, at RAFT San Jose. This workshop will demonstrate how fractals can be related to Sierpinski's gasket, to patterns, to equations, to graphing, and to even a broccoli! 

Break off a branch of the whole broccoli and what do you see?  The smaller branch looks just like a miniature copy of the whole broccoli!  Now think of self-similarity in ferns, the formation of shells, mountains, lightening, river estuaries, fault patterns, galaxies, musical compositions, and other nature’s designs. 

A fractal’s dimension indicates its degree of detail, or crinkliness.  Simple curves, such as lines, have one dimension.  Squares, rectangles, circles, polygons and others have two dimensions, while solid objects such as cubes, spheres, and other polyhedra have three dimensions. 

All those dimensions are integers: 1, 2, 3… But a fractal could have a non-integer dimension of 1.4332.   By understanding fractal dimension, mathematicians can now measure shapes such as coastlines that once were thought to be immeasurable.

If you want to explore the world of Fractals, a science that marries Art with Math, join us for the upcoming workshop this week.
Discover your own fractal designs with RAFT’s Hands on Activity Kit ‘Freaky Fractals’!
Share your experiences with everyday Fractal patterns in nature here! Add your comments below.

Jeanne Lazzarini, RAFT Math Education Activity Developer

Friday, February 3, 2012

Brighten your students’ learning with RAFT’s electrical workshop!

Want to teach your students about basic electric circuits using hands on methods? Then the “Battery Science -  Light and Power Up the Learning!” RAFT workshop is just the thing for you! The hands on workshop at San Jose RAFT is held tomorrow (February 4th) from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

The workshop incorporates newly developed and simplified electrical activities including the redesigned breadboard circuit Activity Kit! Kids will love to tap into these activities to make things light up, move, and buzz and the learning will build as they make the ‘connections’!

The workshop supply bag will include sets of motors, buzzers, bulbs, batteries, wire, and more RAFT Materials so that you can duplicate the activities with your students. The materials can enhance 4th grade lessons on electricity, or be used for enrichment, after school, or summer programs.

The workshop is conducted by Michael Pollock who has taught hands on science to elementary students for 25 years. He currently works at RAFT helping to produce educational kits.

There is an Early Bird Special of $5 off EVERY Spring Workshop, if registered by February 4th. If you have any questions about our workshop program, please contact Deborah at workshops@raft.net or (408)451-1473.

Come and learn about electrical circuits using hands on learning methods. Click here to register!