Science News

Adventures in Customizing Textbooks

Our first book has hit the classrooms. This is a huge experiment in using open source text books. LKSD has implemented our first customized Biology Text district wide.  We customized a book using templates and tools made available through and their Flexbook platform.

My interest began as I struggled to use commercial books that were loaded with academic language and lengthy chapters filled with thousands of concepts at once. I was searching for books that would be ESL friendly, but still rich in content and rigorous. The books are arranged in concepts vs chapters which present a more digestible chunk of knowledge at one time. We can also edit the book and use our own analogies and local pictures and terms.  A team of teachers worked on customizing these books over the summer. Books are available in print and digital format.

KYUK recently did a news story about our efforts.


Paper Circuitry Engineering and Design: A Steam Project

I have made the Paper Circuit greeting card assignment an annual tradition in my Physical Science Class. This year we made the cards after learning about simple and parallel circuits in an Electricity Unit. I challenged my students to apply what they learned about electricity by designing greeting card that lights up with a paper circuit. It was a great opportunity for us to use the terms insulator, conductor, parallel circuit,  volts, amps, resistance (ohms) in concept. We also talked about the engineering design process and how this is a different from an inquiry investigation as we are applying what we know to create something.

This lesson is a work in progress. For next year, I plan to add a reflective writing piece that uses the strategies an engineering notebook would. We will also have nanometers next year and then we can analyze the current and resistance of our designs.

A big thanks to the folks at Nexmap And Chibtronics inspiring this projects. It’s one of our favorites.


Working towards better readers and Argument Driven Inquiry

Last year, I stumbled upon the Argument Driven Inquiry process with a little nudge from a great colleague. After struggling with the Learning Cycle Model and Inquiry Science for many years, it was a relief to find a process that gave me more direction and structure to support the development of the inquiry process with my students.

My district hired ADI to provide an introductory training in the ADI process. I feel like I have been given a life preserver at sea. The ADI structure is giving me the framework and the tools I need to develop my craft as an Inquiry Science teacher. I am beginning this journey and will share more as I develop my skills. Its so exciting to see my students start to get it.

What I like about the labs is they start with a short-targeted reading that gives students the background information they need to design an investigation and unravel meaning. The readings are relevant and purposeful. This really helps my students.  The folks at ADI have some great scaffolding materials too.

Here’s  a sample of student writing submitted after our first lab:

Student Group 1:


Some of my students are less verbal, but they are spot on:

Student Group 2


Happy Day!

I got the following email from a student today. Getting a message like this, is the best gift a teacher can receive. It shows my students are connecting what they learn in class. Here’s the note I found in m email:

I saw this in a magazine:


(The part where it mentions chlorophyll)


Physical Science A’s Feedback

Photo on 12-8-15 at 9.52 AMEach Semester, I ask my students to reflect and provide me with feedback by asking them four essay questions on their final exam.  You can see that paper circuitry made a huge impression along with the atom and Here are the responses for Physical Science Fall 2015

1. Name 3 of your favorite activities or lessons that we did in this class.


  • Paper circuitry, Labs, And kahoot 🙂
  • Kahoot , Paper Circuitry, some labs we did in class
  • my favorite activity is when it comes to projects and my other two is kahoot and experiments
  • liked the Chapter 2 lessons, the Chapter 3 lessons, and the Kahoot! Reviews
  • The paper circuitry, the periodic table and how the atom is like.
  • I like the the paper circuits, I like the paper circuits., I like the paper circuits.
  • Playing on kahoot it, learning about molecules, and metallic bonding.
  • it, notes, and paper circuitry+
  • My 3 favorite activities we did in this class was when were doing the paper circuitry. The first time doing my paper circuitry, i was surprised when the lights lit up. My second activities is when doing nearpods. Because we can tell what we learn from lessons that we did in the class. And my last favorite activity was Kahoot it. Because it is more fun than nearpod, we can reach to see got the question right and who’s at the leader board.
  • My favorite lessons was learning which group was more reactive. Another is what element is radeoactive. and one activity is were we did a lab with baking soda  water and chloride.

2. What else would you like to learn?

  • I would like to learn more about the elements, because it is cool when I seen how the elements exploded and learn more, which exploded and which ones doesn’t.
  • I would like to learn more about the periodic table. Because i would like to try name all the ones that i know and learn more of all the other names of the periodic table. And because i have never studied about the periodic table before.
  • i would like to learn how to make light from potato.
  • I would like to learn more about how to make bigger circuits with different types of lights.
  • I would like to learn how to do more chemistry
  • More about the Periodic table.
  • about more electrons that stick to each others.
  • I would like to learn what elements is deadly to humans.
  • more paper circuitry
  • I would like to learn more about the periodic table. Because i would like to try name all the ones that i know and learn more of all the other names of the periodic table. And because i have never studied about the periodic table before.
  • I would like to learn about the atmosphere, if that is a Physical Science topic.

3. What was the most difficult part of this class?

  • The most difficult is were we what to do the circut prodjucts.
  • I would say the most difficult parts of this class was doing the ITSI labs. But some of the ITSI labs were kind of fun and easy. When it comes to doing experiments i would think i wouldn’t finish them, but i would. And i think doing the labs are important part of our grades because this is physical science were we do labs, but not just labs. So i try to finish  the labs so i can get a good grade on it.
  • Remembering atoms
  • The most difficult part was trying to keep up with notes and quizzes. Also, the ITSI labs because the process is too long and we have to do so much in such little time.
  • taking the quizzes
  • The most difficult is were we what to do the circut prodjucts.
  • The most difficult part of this class is remembering the periodic table. And which element goes to where.
  • Doing the quiz on the molecules.
  • the most difficult part of this class is certain projects and cercutry
  • The most difficult part of this class was catching up on quizzes and notes. Not necessarily hard doing them but I fell behind a lot and had to do a lot.

4. Name the 3 topics that were your favorite to learn about in this class.

  • circuitry ,projects,and the space game
  • covalent bonding, introduction to molecules, metallic bonding.
  • Paper Circuitry, Periodic Table, and The World of Science.
  • I liked it when I learned how to used paper circuitry because I liked it when lights light up and how it is made. I also liked it when I learned the periodic table because I liked it how some of the elements reacted to water and how they exploded. I like when I learned about an atom and how it looks.
  • Kahoot, Atoms, And doing a Lab
  • 1) Alkaline metals, 2) Alkaline earth metals, 3) The noble gas
  • I liked the Scientific Research and Technology, Introduction to Matter, and the Periodic Table Lessons.
  • paper circuitry, periodic tables, chemical bonding I guess
  • circuits and temperature connecter, the balloon electricity thing
  • One of my 3 topics that were my favorite to learn were learning about molecules, that they are the smallest particles of the covalent compounds. And my second topic tat were my favorite to learn was identifying all the properties of the periodic table. Like if they conduct electricity, or if they are weak or strong, how many valence electrons they have, what their symbols is. And my last favorite topic that was my favorite was learning about another scientists in the past who first discovered atoms.