Art Crafting, Book Review, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Zoological Society, Great Lakes Science Center, Museums, STEM Resources, STEM toys

S.T.E.A.M. Themed Easter Basket Gifts

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links in this post at no additional cost to you.

Also, be sure to measure the size of your Easter basket and compare it to the items listed below to ensure proper fit. All items would fit in a large size Easter basket.

With Easter (and probably many birthday parties) quickly approaching, you might be left wondering, what to get for your kids. Here’s a list to help those looking for S.T.E.A.M. themed (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) gifts that could fit inside of an Easter basket.

Memberships to Local Museums, Centers and Parks: My kids love going to the local Zoo, Science Center, History Museum, MetroParks, Aquarium, etc. These would be perfect gifts to explore and appreciate S.T.E.A.M. Membership cards or registration forms fit perfectly inside an Easter basket.

Paid S.T.E.A.M. Classes / Courses / Camps: Check around at your local centers for classes and courses that allow your child to explore and appreciate S.T.E.A.M. You could add a pamphlet or certificate to their basket indicating their enrollment. In Northeast Ohio some great places to look for S.T.E.A.M. activities, events and camps would be Cleveland MetroParks Zoo, Great Lakes Science Center, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Lake MetroParks, Geauga Park District, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Akron Art Museum, Fine Arts Association, Center for Arts-Inspired Learning and Art House, Inc.. Also, check out the 2019 Northeast Ohio Summer Camp Guide provided by Northeast Ohio Family Fun or the 2019 Summer Camp Guide provided by Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine.

Make a Tinker Basket: Fill a basket with all kinds of items that kids can create with like pipe cleaners, buttons, pom pom’s, glue, tape, card stock, crayons (check out these fun confetti crayons!), colored pencils, markers, popsicle sticks, clay, play-doh, ribbon, ruler, scissors, feathers, stickers, stencils, stamps and stamp pads, yarn, fake flowers, cardboard pieces (from all those deliveries you get at your door), glitter, etc.

Membership to Mail Delivery Activities or Magazines that specialize in STEAM:

We hold two memberships through Kiwi Co. They ship age appropriate hands on science and art projects each month. My girls love them! Click here to get 60% off your first crate!

(Disclaimer: I earn $10 off a future order for every Kiwi Co. crate ordered through my link above.)

Other subscription ideas to check out include: ToucanBox, Highlights for Children Magazine, National Geographic for Kids, National Geographic for Little Kids, Muse Magazine, Ranger Rick, Ranger Rick Jr. and Ask.

(Disclaimer: I have not personally reviewed all of the subscriptions above but I have researched the reviews of others, so please be sure to complete your own research before purchase to ensure they are appropriate for your child. My children have personally enjoyed Highlights and National Geographic.)

My Recommended S.T.E.A.M. Toys: Check out my list below as well as my Complete List of STEM Buy for Kids Under 12 that I posted right before Christmas for additional ideas.

The Original Buddha Board: Relaxing Water Drawing, Painting & Writing Board with Bamboo Brush & StandKids can paint with water to create an image. The image dries and then they can paint again. My kids love this so much, I had to purchase two of them. It’s great for learning how to use a brush, it keeps messes down, it’s great for fine motor skill development and creativity.

Dicfeos Shatterproof 3.5X Magnifying Glass for Reading and Hobbies, 75mm Non-Scratch Glass Lens, Thickened Rubbery Frame, 4.3oz Lightweight, Perfect for Seniors & KidsMagnifying glasses will always be on my top list of favorite gifts for kids. My children bring them outside on warmer days and examine nature – fallen leaves, flowers, grass, tree nuts, bark, insects, etc. They also uses it inside, for example, to examine clothes, books, toys and the floor. They pretend to be a detectives too. We’ve pretended to be underwater divers looking for “treasure” with it also. If you get one of these, watch your child’s imagination take over.

Jiusion 40 to 1000x Magnification Endoscope, 8 LED USB 2.0 Digital Microscope, Mini Camera with OTG Adapter and Metal Stand, Compatible with Mac Window 7 8 10 Android Linux – If you already have a magnifying glass for your child, I recommend this miniature microscope that is easy to transport and hooks up for your phone so your child can view items up-close. It’s fun for adults too. Don’t forget the carrying case for protection too.

Bee-Bot (AA Battery Powered with Batteries Included)Bee-Bot’s are robot’s designed to introduce the concepts of coding and problem solving to young children. Children use the arrows to code the robot to move and turn, then press GO and they watch it move. Children and adults can set up obstacle courses and allow kids to determine how to code the Bee-Bot. We do not have one of these at home, but we’ve played with them at our local science center and love them. A similar toy that we have at home is the Code-a-Pillar.

Awesome Science Experiments for Kids: 100+ Fun STEM / STEAM Projects and Why They WorkThis book is filled with many easy to do home science experiments. We received this book as a gift for my daughter’s birthday and we’ve tried out many of the experiments. The experiments are easy to follow, use common household items and give great explanations to the science behind the experiment for kids and adults to understand easily.

Learning Resources LER2779 Jumbo Eyedroppers, Set of 6 with StandThese eyedroppers are fun for use in the bath tub. We’ve also used them for our home science experiments. They are great for fine motor skill development and when pretending to be a scientist!

Melissa & Doug Scratch Art Box of Rainbow Mini Notes, Arts & Crafts, Wooden Stylus, 125 Count, 3.75” H x 3.75” W x 1.75” L – These scratch pads are fun for children, help with motor skills and are fun for adults too.

Play-Doh Party Bag Dough, 15 Count (Assorted Colors) – Play-Doh is a great tactile toy that allows for endless hours of exploration, design and creativity. I picked this party pack because the size of the play-doh containers are definitely small enough to fit into an Easter basket.

Bug Viewer Box – Bug Jar for Children – Plastic Transparent Insect Catcher Kit with 3X Magnifying Lens, 2.5 x 3.1 x 2.5 Inches, Red and GreenIf you children enjoy being outside and exploring, a bug viewer magnifying jar may be perfect for them to explore nature more closely. This jar is transparent and the lid has a magnifying lens for closer viewing.

Summer Gardening Tools – What is better in Spring time than getting outside and working in the garden. My children LOVE working in our garden. They love digging for worms and planting seeds and plants. Gardening is an excellent way to teach your children and immerse them in nature.

STEM Careers, STEM Resources

Meet Dr. Sean, Pediatric Anesthesiologist

Does your child say that they would like to be a doctor someday? The careers in the medical field are endless, as there are so many types of specialty fields. Recently, I interviewed a close friend, Dr. Sean, who is a Pediatric Anesthesiologist.

Pediatric Anesthesiologist, Dr. Sean

There are many types of physicians. Dr. Sean works in pediatrics as an anesthesiologist. A doctor who works in pediatrics, may see anyone that is age 21 or younger. They may also see patients with special needs beyond that age as well. They provide medical care for infants, children and adolescents. An anesthesiologist is a doctor that specializes in medicines that need to be administered to keep a patient comfortable during procedures that would likely cause intolerable pain.

Here’s a glimpse into Dr. Sean’s profession as a Pediatric Anesthesiologist:

Q: What kind of physician are you and how would you describe your profession?

A: I’m currently a pediatric anesthesiologist, as well as an attending on our acute pain and regional anesthesia service. I provide anesthesia care for pediatric patients undergoing procedures or surgeries in which they need to be asleep for. Ultimately my job is to give children the best naps of their lives.

Q: In your own words, how would you describe your job to a child?

A: My job is to keep you asleep, comfortable, and safe during your procedure. I’ll be watching you the entire time, while you nap. 

Q: Growing up, what was / were your favorite subject(s) and why?

A: My favorite subjects were always math and science because they came easy to me. Also, I found the information extremely interesting and was able to ask many questions in search of answers. 

Q: How and why did you choose to be a doctor and specifically, why did you choose to specialize in anesthesiology?  Do you have a specific memory or event that happened in your life that helped you choose your career path?

A: There was no single moment when I realized I wanted to be a doctor, it was a slow evolution over time with my interests and the idea of helping people. Ultimately I chose anesthesiology because I enjoyed the physiology and pharmacology aspects. Many think anesthesiologists do not like patient contact but I disagree. It’s extremely challenging to gain the trust of patients (and their parents), within minutes of meeting me. Patient’s do not get to choose me, like they do their surgeon. Therefore, I must work hard to make them comfortable.Q

Q: What did you study in college? Do you feel that your studies in college are helpful to you in your career now?  How or why?  Did you have a favorite class and why?

A: I received my bachelors of science in zoology from Miami University. At that time, Miami did not offer a basic biology degree, so this was the next best thing. Their rationale was it made you competitive for medical school because it was a “different” major. Afterwards, I attended medical school at the University of Cincinnati

Overall my studies helped me to get where I am today. All of the classes were valuable as they provided a foundation for medical school. My favorite classes were actually the humanities where I learned more about society and people. These classes continue to help me today when interacting with patients. 

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the most important attributes or characteristics that a doctor and / or more specifically an anesthesiologist, must have to be successful?

A: I think the most important attribute is the ability to listen. Medicine is challenging due to time constraints and production pressure. Ultimately, the patient doesn’t care where you went to medical school or trained, they care how compassionate you are when you are with them. 

Q: What is or has been the most rewarding part of your job?

A: Everyday, I enjoy being able to interact with children to calm their fears and to safely deliver them back to their parents when the operation is over. 


Q: What is or has been the most challenging part of your job?

A: In pediatrics I have two “customers”, the patient and their parents. Figuring out how to manage both groups expectations can be challenging. 

Q: What was the most fascinating part of your medical school experience? 

A: Working in the cadaver lab and actually being able to touch and learn about every part of the body. To know someone gave up their body for my learning is remarkable. 

Q: What is one of your most fun, exciting or even embarrassing memories in your profession that has happened to you?

A: My favorite part is being able to play at work on a daily basis just to make a child smile.

Q: What would be your advice to a child that has aspirations to become a doctor someday?

A: You will miss out on a lot of fun experiences your other friends will have, but ultimately it’s worth it. Work hard but still have fun along the way. 

Q: What would your advice be to parents and educators to encourage children that are interested in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines? 

A: A great doctor is always questioning things and ideas. Foster this in your children. 

Thank you so much to Dr. Sean for allowing me to interview him for my blog!

Readers, please let me know what you think of these STEM career interviews and if you have a specific profession in mind that you would like to learn more about! You can leave me a note here, on my social media pages or email me at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

Experiments, Holiday, Tips and Tricks

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Science

On Valentines Day, we made chocolate covered strawberries. I decided to turn it into a science project to teach my kids about phase transformations and melting points. (This was also a great project for gross and fine motor skill development as well as learning to follow instructions.)

Ingredients:

Approximately 1 pound Strawberries (washed and dried) with the leaves, water (enough to boil in a small pot or double broiler), 16 ounces of melting chocolate (I used milk chocolate chips), and 4 ounces of white melting chocolate (I also used white chocolate chips).

Supplies:

1 Double Broiler (or you can use a metal or glass mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water), a mixing spoon to mix the chocolate as it melts, wax paper to place the strawberries after they are dipped in chocolate.

Step 1: Washing and drying the strawberries:

I place my strawberries in my sink to soak with cold water and about a 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1/2 cup of baking soda for about 15 – 20 minutes. Then I gently scrub them with a cloth or scrub brush and rinse well. Next, I lay the strawberries out on a towel to dry completely (about 4 hours). 

Measuring the ingredients:

We didn’t measure our strawberries, but one idea would be to use a kitchen scale for measuring out the strawberries and the chocolate. For older children, this would be a great a way to introduce conversions to various measurement scales. (We personally relied on the package quantities.)

Melting the chocolate:

When we melted the chocolate, we used a double broiler. I showed my daughters what the chips looked like (they are very familiar with them but I stressed that they were hard and cool) and, of course, I allowed them to taste them. I told them that this was the ‘solid’ form for chocolate and it felt cool at room temperature.

My 4 year old then poured them into the double broiler. I let her guess what would happen, “it’s going to melt, Mommy”, she said very confidently.

As we stirred the chocolate chips in the double broiler, she became more and more excited to see the chocolate melting before our eyes. I explained that the chocolate had reached it’s ‘melting point’. It was melting to a soft liquid and that this transition was called a ‘phase transformation’. My daughter easily recognized the liquid was hot when I allowed her to put chocolate on one strawberry felt the heat from the pot.

WARNING: The chocolate will be HOT. Be sure that your child is ready to do this on their own without burning themselves.

If you have a cooking thermometer, you may want to consider placing it into the chocolate as it melts and let your child look at or record the temperature of the chocolate as it melts.

We continued to dip the strawberries in the double broiler (until all sides were covered in chocolate), then laid them on wax paper lined pans to cool. I asked my daughter what she thought might happen as they cool. She agreed that the chocolate would harden around the strawberries into a solid again (another phase transformation).

White Chocolate Drizzle:

I melted the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave. (If you do this, do it gradually and stir it between heating cycles to prevent the chocolate from burning.) I allowed my 4 year old to experiment with the technique on this. This also helps with fine and gross motor development.

Let me know if you try this out! We had a lot of fun with this one. It is a very simple project and more lessons can be added depending on the age of your children. Let me know what you think in the comments below or at MomgineeringtheFuture@gmail.com.


Animals, Experiments, Germs, Great Things about Space, STEM Resources, TV Shows

My Current Top 7 Favorite Kid and Family Friendly STEM Shows

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links in this post at no additional cost to you.


Here’s a list of my favorite educational STEM shows that I watch or have watched with my kids (in no particular order):

Brainchild on NetFlix: This NetFlix original series is incredibly educational and addicting to watch with my children because it makes science relatable.  It was launched in 2018 and it is currently in it’s first season. Each episode covers various scientific topics like Space, Forces, Thinking, Oceans, Germs, etc.  It stars Sahana Srinivasan, Alie Ward and Ben Seidman.  I hope that it gets approved for a second season! They also have free resources on their website for teachers!

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Hey, 90s kids, do you remember this guy?  This show made science cool with its crafty scientific humor and its easy and fun to understand experiments and real life examples of science in action. You can find some episodes on NetFlix, purchase episodes on Amazon or search YouTube.

Image from Amazon.com

The Magic School Bus:  Mrs. Frizzle is still cool with kids these days.  You can get these from the library, order the series on Amazon or watch some episodes on NetFlix. To order from Amazon, click here.

Sid the Science Kid on PBS:  The main character, Sid, is incredibly inquisitive about the world around him and explores, with his classmates, why things work the way that they do.  It introduces the very basic principles of science to a young child in a comedic and educational way.  You can catch episodes on PBS or on the PBS app.

Curious George on PBS: While these episodes aren’t all extremely scientific, what I personally love about them is the lesson they teach about being curious and experimenting in a big open world just like a scientist.  I feel and have seen in my own children that being exposed to that type of thinking as a young child develops and improves their creativity, critical thinking, cognitive and problem solving skills which are all essential skills in STEM fields.

Crickey! It’s the Irwins on the Animal Planet:  This show was just renewed for it’s second season.  If you used to watch The Crocodile Hunter with Steve Irwin, you’ll love the families new series on Animal Planet.  The Irwin Family carries on his legacy for animal conservation and public education.  His wife, Terri, and their children, Bindi and Robert, run the Australia Zoo which cares for over 1200 animals.  These episodes have extraordinary educational video of zoologists and veterinarians in action as they care for these animals at the zoo and their conservation efforts worldwide.  Check your local TV listings for viewing schedule.

Wild Kratts on PBS: Chris and Martin Kratt created this live action and animation show that educates children on biology, zoology and ecology. Each episode has some sort of plot with a villain or a problem that needs to be solved. As the episode progresses, it educates children about wild life.

What favorites would you add to this list? Let me know on my social media pages, in the comments to this blog post or at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

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Engineer, STEM Careers, STEM Resources

STEM Careers: Chemical and Materials Engineer Gabi

This is a photo of Gabi at one of the Paint Shops!

Have you ever wondered what an engineer is or what they do?

Meet my friend and former co-worker, Gabi Patrick.  She is a Chemical and Materials Engineer and works as a New Material Technology Project Manager at Toyota Motor North America.  

I recently interviewed her for my blog. Here’s a glimpse into her engineering profession in the automotive industry.

Q: When and how did you become interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)? Do you have a specific memory or event that happened in your life that helped you choose your career path?

A: I have this vivid memory of me asking my Mom about empty space (air). I kept asking my Mom: “Mom, what is this?” <while making circular motions with my hands in the bathroom>. She couldn’t understand what I meant. I think of that question often… and how far it has gotten me. 

Q: Growing up, what were your favorite subject(s)? 

A: I loved math, physics and chemistry. Math to me was like a puzzle to be solved. Physics was more like a hands on game, and chemistry was magic!

Q: In your own words, how would you describe engineering to a child?

A: Engineering is like a big puzzle with nuts, bolts, legos, rubber bands, and a pinch of pixie dust!

Q: What did you study in college and how / why did you choose it/them? 

A: Chemical Engineering & Materials Engineering

When I was in elementary school, my aunt who worked in the polymers industry brought me a bag of plastic pellets. I was fascinated by them, so I decided to follow chemicals the rest of my middle school and high school years. Finally, when it was time to decide a major, I decided on Chemical Engineering. Once I was deep in my college years, I took a class on materials (metals, ceramics and plastics) and decided to focus on materials for my graduate degree, specifically ceramic coatings.

Q: Are your college studies helpful to you in your career now?  How or why?

A: Absolutely. College studies are the backbone to my career and the understanding of my daily responsibilities.  Some days are more technical than others, some days we think about costs, other days we really think about efficiency, or productivity, but without understanding the science behind it, it would be really difficult to get my job done. 

Q: What roles / job titles have you had in the engineering profession and how would you describe them?

A: Storm water engineer: I analyzed how much rain we got and decided the best ways to avoid flooding around the city. Paint Process Engineer: I managed a very long process that coated a vehicle with a rust proof paint. Materials Engineer: I tested new paints to make sure they were the same color by changing how they were applied.  New Materials Technology Project Manager: I collaborate with designers, production engineers and suppliers on the material development before it goes on the vehicle. 

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the most important attributes or characteristics that an engineer must have to be successful?

A: Patience, haha… Focus, be a good listener, learn something new every single day, take constructive criticism, and have fun!

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

A: I get to work with people who have one goal: make the best cars in the world. My job has taught me patience, perseverance, humility, and respect. 

Q: What has been the most challenging part of your career?

A: Learning to accept mistakes and acknowledging failures.  

Q: What is one of your most fun, exciting or even embarrassing memories in your career?

A: My most embarrassing moment, and funny, has been the day I broke a stress toy at work. I had just had a difficult conversation with a superior and became really upset. My coworker handed me a very special stress toy donkey and I broke it in half. Sorry Larry! I’ll buy you a new one. 

Q: What would your advice be to parents and educators to help their children build confidence and interest in the STEM?  

A: Make it fun. Expose kids to different sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, math, etc.). Use daily, living examples, because in the end, we engineers work on daily living problems. Teach them how to think and solve, instead of ‘copy and repeat’. Focus on project-based learning, ask them to research, go look and understand. 

Q: In conclusion, what else would you like to add for parents reading this?

A: Don’t force a child into liking something specific. Expose them at a young age to all subjects but teach them how to think and solve problems. This is essential for any career, life problem, and eventually success… and please, have fun at it!

If you would like to connect with Gabi, you can find her on LinkedIn under her full name, Gabriela Patrick.

Did you enjoy this interview? Did it give you a better understanding of engineering? Does it help you with teaching your child? Would you like to see more like it?

Let me know at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com or commenting on my social media sites.

Engineer, STEM Resources

It’s time to celebrate National Engineer’s Week or E-Week!

If you aren’t an engineer, you probably wouldn’t know that the 3rd week in February every year is known as “E-Week” or National Engineers Week. The celebration of E-Week began in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers. The purpose is to raise awareness to the contributions to society that engineers make.

FUN FACT: Did you know that George Washington was considered the countries first engineer for his survey work? His birthday is February 22 and E-Week is also that same week.

The National Engineers Week Foundation formed DiscoverE in 1990 to engage engineering volunteers to participate in K-12 programs and partly as a response to a government survey that showed a future shortage of engineering talent. They provide various educational resources to the community for engineering outreach. You can check them out at www.discovere.org.

So, what is an engineer? Many people have trouble defining engineering because it is such a diverse career field! Engineers design, problem solve, improve, fix, research, inspect, etc. to make the world better (think of words like efficiency & optimization).

Most don’t sit at work solving math problems all day. They often work in teams to make the world that we live in better. Engineers are needed in almost every industry. Engineers must have excellent problem solving and critical thinking skills because they use their knowledge, skills and experiences to solve complex problems.

To get some ideas as to what an engineer does, I decided to share my experiences in engineering. I have worked in both automotive and medical industries.

In automotive, I was a Material Quality Engineer and Corrosion Field Quality Engineer.

In my Material Quality Engineer role, I ensured that the raw materials (like paint, adhesives, sealers and raw plastic pellets used to make things like bumpers or instrument panels) supplied to the automotive facilities met design and quality requirements from suppliers. I audited suppliers manufacturing facilities and quality systems, I issued quality standards, developed quality test methods, tested and evaluated test results in a lab and performed analysis with highly technical equipment to determine why a material failed.

Simply, I made sure materials from our suppliers worked in manufacturing and met customer requirements.

As a Corrosion Field Quality Engineer, I evaluated customer complaints and the corrosion on vehicles in the field using data analysis and performing surveys on customer vehicles at dealerships. I worked on teams to solve very complex design and manufacturing flaws to prevent early corrosion on vehicles.

Simply, I looked for rusty parts on cars to determine if they got rusty too early.

When I worked in the medical field, I was a Supplier Quality Engineer. In that role, I ensured that the parts supplied met design requirements. I audited suppliers quality systems and also evaluated parts that did not meet design requirements to determine if they could be remade to meet the requirements. I also was audited by other agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on my work to create a safe and quality product for public use.

Simply, I made sure that parts from suppliers were safe to use in our final medical device.

In all of those roles, I often times worked in teams, I wrote reports and I had to think creatively, quickly and methodically. My complex experiences in math and science (notice I said complex experiences not necessarily that I was good at all math and all science) helped give me the confidence and ability to think creatively when solving various problems that needed to be solved.

I plan to introduce more engineers and also share additional resources that may help you understand engineering and how to introduce it to your child(ren).

If you know an engineer, take the time this week to talk to them about what they do. Ask them about how they became interested in their chosen field and what they enjoy about their job. Also, tell them thank you for their contributions to our society. And most importantly, encourage your child to learn more about engineering with you. Tell your child’s school about National Engineers Week and ask if they have plans to celebrate it with your child’s class and how. Encourage them to check out the DiscoverE website above.

To all of my fellow engineering family and friends, thank you so much for all that you do.

And to my Dad who is an engineer and helped me find my path to engineering, thank you for encouraging me and always believing in me.

Happy National Engineers Week!

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The featured image above was provided by the DiscoverE Organization.