STEMtube: An Online Warehouse for Student ProjectsMay 24, 2010 | Dr. Katie Klinger
A resource like STEMtube would have been fantastic for our family when my son, Philip, was in middle school. He did his science fair project on "Extracting Iron from Cereals" because he realized that in reading the labels on cereal boxes, it was not clear to him what "kind" of iron was inside of them.
He was intensely curious as to whether elemental iron could actually be seen inside the cereals during his experiment; he also wanted to physically touch, with his fingertip, any traces of iron he discovered and be able to examine it up close.
He proved his hypothesis that it was possible to observe and measure the amount of elemental iron in different brands of cereal. His instrumentation included a very strong set of iridium magnets with a one-centimeter diameter that we were lucky to borrow from the science department at a local community college. The independent variables were the different cereals; the dependent variables were the distilled water and the strength of the magnets he put on the side of the blender to pull the wet iron fillings to the glass.
He also researched iron bioavailability in its two forms: haem and non-haem, giving our family the opportunity to discuss nutrition. As he took photos of his experiment, he began to think about what might be the implications for further research. The result was that my son discovered six new ways to "redo" his experiment. His project resource at that time was the Mad Scientist Archives.
However, as Philip is primarily an auditory and kinesthetic learner, viewing a student video would have addressed his preferred learning styles, and lessened the tension in our family that it need be done right the first time because of our limited financial resources.
For more than a decade, I have brainstormed and collaborated with family groups wanting science fair topics aligned to their children's interests, skill sets, and "level of patience" so that the projects are truly positive learning experiences -- and not just rote activities mandated for a grade. The families also express interest in putting the excitement back into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, by creating rich learning experiences around discovery and exploration strategies.
It is my hope that STEMtube will become a valued repository of student-generated videos that visually connect interested students around the world to challenging topics that can be replicated and expanded (from service-based learning activities, to classroom projects, to ideas for science fairs).
Families continue to tell me that they struggle to find STEM topics for projects that interest their child, meet their child's educational level and learning style, and are unique enough to be different from other projects in the same school district. Affordability and a project with a realistic timeline are also issues for parents when assisting their children. The goal is that STEMtube will provide families with new ideas on how to make STEM come alive for their children and community.
How might STEMtube be useful to your students, or your own children? Please share your thoughts and ideas with us!