In order for us, educators, to be true to our message of heightening the value of what we include in our respective curricula, we must subject ourselves to what we assign our students. I have always liked the idea of assigning STEAM projects in all my classes. But, this belief of mine in the value of such projects must be practiced, not just preached to my students. So, I began a tradition of forcing myself to complete a project whenever I assign one to my own students. This way I would put myself in their shoes and experience what they go through to some extent on one hand and make them realize that I myself do value what I assign them on the other hand.
In this summer's Physical Science for Elementary Teachers course, which I teach at Central Michigan University (CMU) center in Traverse City, I assigned each student a specific chapter from the course eTextbook. The students have to complete a STEAM project that must center on the main concepts and ideas of their respective assigned chapter. They choose to invent a device (I call TinkerVention), write a piece of code, or create an art piece that encapsulates what they have understood and learned from the assigned chapter. Some students paint, others build gadgets, and yet others submit creative writing pieces. I chose to complete a creative writing piece, which is centered on the concepts of bonds in chemistry because this was the subject of the chapter that was my assignment. In addition, I wanted to impress upon my students the fact that as a student I always like the idea of being a bit of an overachiever. So, I assigned myself yet another chapter (while they had to produce a STEAM project for only one chapter) and I chose to write an acrostic poem and a couple of aphorisms and the subject of radioactivity. Below is my STEAM projects and in another future blog I shall share some of my students'. Enjoy but keep in mind that my command of the English language is that of someone whose English is a third language.
Tale of Three Love Cities
by Mr. Le Nadj!
Long before time was a concept, and long before space was an abode, and long before Linus and Lewis became household names, there were three cities. They were cities where love was the law, passion was the creed, and science was the lingua franca of the land. Unlike your typical human cities, theses cities bore names that were exquisite in nature and fascinating in type. There was ionic city, covalent city, and metallic city.
They were cities where bonds thrive, kisses fly, and above all electric live reigns supreme. The dwellers of these cities of love were strange creatures! They were not human yet all humans were made of them. They certainly were not objects yet all objects contained them. They had no limbs and they had no body parts, instead they had swarms of particles around them, dots everywhere! Whenever one tries to spot them, they diffuse into nothingness as matter waves. Instead of having bodies, like you and me, these quantum creatures have emptiness that is eerily yet so beautifully adorned with miniscule hearts that throb positivity and breath neutrality.
Ionic love city is the epitome of bilateralism. Half of its population consists of generous givers and the other half is but a band of selfish takers. This binary nature of the dwellers of this city made it a prime example of what a love city ought to look like. The takers love the givers and the givers could not resist being too far out of sight of their donated dots. Thus, just as every Juliet long for her Romeo, does every Io in IoNic city long for her Nic! Sodium loves Chlorine and from their love bond springs crystals of exceeding beauty and of very salty attitude.
Covalent love city is the utopian communist metropolis. Her dwellers share their dots a bit too equitably for my capitalist taste. Of course, they do this Kumbaya type of sharing with their chosen loved ones while keeping others at bay lest if they wish to form a commune. Their dots tend to comingle and co-tangle as if they are all players in a tiny game of twister. The love amongst these commies is mutual, the bond is strong, and for every Co, you can bet your life, there is a Valent partner or more in this red Bolshevik of all love cities. Dihydrogen monoxide is the Kremlin family.
Metallic is the grooviest and the hippiest of them all. The patriots of this hardy city decreed long time ago that everyone’s dots are the property of everyone else around them! Talk about Uber communism with a dash of hippy laissez faire! Heaven help us, the sixties are back in full swing, literally! There’s no monogamous love or polygamous love, rather it is an all for all touchy-feely kind of love. The dots are everywhere and the hearts within the sea of emptiness grab their fill of dots up and down and right and left to quench their insatiable appetite for love and sensual longing.
I, for one, am an old fashioned fellow; I’d go for Ionic city’s code of conduct and choose it as my favorite city overall. This is bourn by the fact that I have no interest in too much sharing of partners nor of their parts. This covalent business and this metallic way of love-life sicken me and may even induce polar feelings within me at times. But since I am a person who loves to love, I have great admiration for these three cities that built their very existence around the notion of celebrating bonds of love. One never can get enough of a lot of love and friendship going around the world, especially in these sad days of bickering, hatred, and establishing too many othernesses.
The Nuclear Play
Acrostic Poem by Mr. Le Nadj
Radical in all its craziest of senses,
Atoms shattered, and hopes
Dashed, and strangely
It is as describable as
One can easily
Add two and two to get 3.9!
Crazy, isn’t it? Why not four? You might ask.
Too many neutrons, mon ami, induce
Instability that shakes the
Very foundation of many a nucleus.
It sheds protons, neutrons, and yes, even electrons!
Talk about awesome energies held at bay!
You and I, my friend, are but actors in this radical nuclear play.
Alpha, Beta, Gamma Rays
Poem by Mr. Le Nadj
Alpha is lame.
Beta is a serious game.
Gamma is the radiation queen, The Dame!
If we unleash these radioactivity dogs, we have only ourselves to blame!
Fission & Fusion Inspired Aphorisms
by Mr. Le Nadj
If fission is the anticupid of matter, fusion has to be its cupid.
Love and fuse hearts so that you’d never have to fuse fissured family parts.
Being a physics instructor, writing creative writing pieces that deal with chemistry was a bit of a challenge but I hope I gave chemistry its fair share of accurate attention.
Thank you for reading this post and I hope it would inspire you and your students to seek out pathways that fuse the sciences and the arts through STEAM projects. Any comments, questions, or suggestions are very welcomed in the comments section of this blog.