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STEM, Robots, Codes, and Maker’s Spaces

STEM, Robots, Codes, and Maker’s Spaces

Marilynn A. Andrews, M.A.

Technology within education continues to expand as the demand and interest levels of students and prospective students steadily increases.  Within various educational environments, the concepts evolving around STEAM, Robots, Codes, and Maker’s Spaces are integrated into curriculum as a means of technical exposure, proactive training, and differentiated instruction.  Present day, students are at an advantage, given that these concepts are already built within the curriculum.  Children as young as 3 years old are introduced to the basic concepts of technology education within preschool classrooms.  Each year, the concepts grow from hands-on, device free STEAM experiences to much more complex, technical instruction involving new and innovative technical equipment and software programs. 

While students travel from grade to grade acquiring technical knowledge, there are still pitfalls present within technology education. One of the most relevant pitfalls includes teachers not receiving adequate training in order to properly facilitate the technical content to students. To further understand the implications of educational technology, this article will explore the topics of STEAM, Robots, Codes, and Maker’s Spaces as a means of providing developments within the field.

STEM (STEAM)

The topic of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) within the field of early childhood education continues to expand as new discoveries are being made.  The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) seeks to provide resources for educators and parents with interests in working with children ages 0-5 with STEAM.  According to NAEYC, STEAM within early childhood education is considered as a part of inquiry education.  “Inquiry instruction encourages active (often hands-on) experiences that support building understanding and vocabulary, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and reflection. Educators and parents can facilitate inquiry experiences by creating opportunities for children to learn about the world through STEAM lenses and by asking high-quality, open-ended questions” (Eckhoff, 2020).  The processes of STEAM in early childhood education include ‘what’ to learn and ‘how’ to learn. 

Why is it significant?

As mentioned, the concepts of STEAM within early childhood education teach children to ask questions at a young age.  As children continue to acquire language and knowledge, the complexity of the questions should increase within context.  As an example, a teacher might ask students to locate where butterflies live? With this question, children ages 2 and 3 might point outside or at a tree nearby.  When asked this same question, students ages 4 and 5 might respond with a supplementary question relating to the weather and its impact on a butterfly’s home.  The educator would then explain the metamorphosis process of a butterfly and the climate best suited for the insect.

The significance of STEAM is in teaching children how to ask relevant questions as a means of problem solving.  While the butterfly’s climate and habitat are a more complex problem, young children can also learn how to solve simple day-to-day problems with inquiry based learning.  As an example, a Pre-K student may be assigned to pass out paper napkins to classmates during snack time.  The student will need to know how many students are at each table and how many napkins to organize to pass out to his peers.  The teacher can use this as a teaching moment and inquire how many paper napkins are left on the counter or how many students are in the classroom.  “This is a STEAM experience because the children use reasoning to decide on solutions and reflect on those solutions to settle on an overall strategy for passing out paper napkins during snack time” (Eckhoff, 2020). 

What are the downsides and/or barriers and how might these be overcome?

            The concept of STEAM within early childhood education faces many barriers relating to developmentally practices and appropriateness of the integrations.  Teachers new to the early childhood education field benefit from learning about developmentally appropriate practices as the content and materials issued to young children may not be suitable for development.  This topic has been on the forefront for many years, however, the COVID-19 pandemic brought light to this area with the increased use of remote learning with mobile devices.  One of the major concerns centers around screentime with young children and the long-term health implications.  Research suggests that children to which participate in too much screen time are more likely to suffer from educational problems, obesity, social anxiety, sleep issues, and violence (Korhonen, 2021). 

            The Academy of Pediatrics provides recommendations for screen time for children 0 through 12 years of age.  It is recommended that a young child ages 0 to18 months participate in 42 minutes maximum a day while a child aged 6 to 8 years of age can participate in almost 3 hours daily (Morin, 2020).  Parents and educators can monitor, and limit screen time based on the individual needs of the child.

Where is it going in the future?

            According to research, STEAM within early childhood education has been historically focused on building foundation numeracy skills and on understanding natural sciences. Over the years, the concepts have expanded to integrate and promote creativity and expression through technology and science (Cohrssen and Garvis, 2020).  Present day, STEAM allows for integrations into all subject areas in the form of “hands-on projects, books, discussions, experiments, art explorations, collaboration, games, and physical play” (Cohrssen and Garvis, 2020). 

Robotics

            STEM or STEAM have been a big deal in the education field.  However, according Schrum and Sumerfield (2018), there is more focus placed on robotics and coding in education during recent years.  Educational Robotics (ER) is a new learning approach that is known mainly for its effects on scientific academic subjects such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Recent studies suggests that ER can also affect cognitive development by improving critical reasoning and planning skills” (Di Lieto, Pecini, et al, 2020).  Research further suggests that ER can control the executive functioning of young children and results in positive long-term benefits.  

Why is it significant?

As mentioned, ER can enhance and control the executive functioning of the brain in children ages 5 and 6.  This discovery is significant as this is during foundational years of child development.  Research further shows that children engaged in activities to which incorporate robotics show enhanced skills in “reasoning, decision making, sequential thinking, memory functioning, problem-solving, and all of the executive functioning in the cognitive domains” (Di Lieto, Pecini, et al, 2020).  Since the executive functioning matures during the early teen years, it is suggested that young children engage in activities that enhances these abilities during their early stages of brain development.  Robotics have been viewed as a means of teaching basic life skills to children and adults.  Since robotics include many complex systems, students to which are engaged in these types of assignments will learn skills relating to personal development, team working, and cognitive development (Schrum and Sumerfield, 2018). It is suggested that all students participate in robotic activities and exercises, rather than a particular group of students.  Schools are seeking to integrate robotics into the curriculum, as a proactive means of training students. 

Within some school districts, entire schools have shifted to a STEM based curriculum, offering students the opportunity to learn hands-on technology lessons every day.  The largest school district within Tennessee, Memphis-Shelby County School District, seek to promote and enhance STEM education for students through varying programming.  One school, East High School, operates as a STEM and magnet school and seeks to grow the economic health of the city of Memphis through providing an enhanced curriculum in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math.  There is a focus in students becoming college and career ready post-graduation. 

What are the downsides and/or barriers and how might these be overcome?

            There are always barriers when seeking to integrate complex topics into curriculum.  One of the primary barriers is the lack of teacher training in the area of robotics.  While some schools are equipped with technology education teachers on staff, other districts may not be as fortunate.  In retrospect, the research is suggesting that robotics be taught within every subject area.  This poses another kind of downfall, as teachers of general education backgrounds may not be able to fully deliver the content. 

            Another pitfall relates to the underrepresentation of students with disabilities within robotic and coding courses.  “Children with disabilities are pervasively under-represented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education” (Kolne and Lindsay, 2019).  Children with disabilities face barriers within STEM classrooms, as teachers are not comfortable with providing accommodations to meet the student’s needs.  “Research shows that teacher interactions with children in a robotics course are important for supporting children in the building process, and for helping them to identify and solve problems” (Kolne and Lindsay, 2019).

Where is it going in the future?

            Robotics in education will continue present day and in the future. As mentioned, when integrated properly, the benefits of ER can have a profound effect on all students.  “During the last decade, robotics has attracted the highest interests of teachers and researchers as a valuable tool to develop cognitive and social skills for students from preschool to high school and to support learning in science, mathematics, technology, and informatics, and interdisciplinary learning” (Schrum and Sumerfield, 2018). 

Hour of Code (Coding in Education)

Coding in education has grown to become a fundamental skill for children from kindergarten to high school.  The coding industry has grown over the years and organizations have sought to provide training and supplementary support to school districts.  One program, The Knowledge House, located in the Bronx New York seeks to provide high schools students and beyond with the opportunity to gain technical skills relating to progressive web development, cyber security, web design, and computer programming.  While this is just one program, there are numerous non-profits and organizations to which have made it their mission to provide technical training to people within underserved communities. 

Another organization to which seeks to serve the community, more specifically women is Girls Who Code.  The mission of this organization is to close the gender gap present within the technology sector and provide coding opportunities to women.

Why is it significant?

Integrating coding into curriculum is significant for workforce development, starting with the youngest students.  “Robotics and coding instruction has provided statistically significant contributions to preschoolers’ problem-solving skills compared to the pen and paper activities” (Cakir, Korkmaz, and Idil, 2021).  Robotics and coding activities add much to problem-solving and creativity thinking skills as well as digital citizenship and ICT skills included as twenty-first century skills. These kinds of activities can contribute to preschoolers, as well. This is because coding itself is a problem-solving process” (Cakir, Korkmaz, and Idil, 2021).  Preschoolers can design and build robotics using manipulatives in their classroom.  When a piece does not fit into the manipulative, the preschooler will then use problem solving skills to rearrange the design or select a new piece to fit into the puzzle. 

What are the downsides and/or barriers and how might these be overcome?

            “Coding is about thinking and putting those thought processes into a particular code” (Schrum and Sumerfield, 2018).  However, with everything there are downsides.  Research shows that students engaged within coding courses are more likely to experience disconnection in their day-to-day lives relating to in-person social interaction.  While technology usage aids to the overall motivation of student learning, there needs to be a focused placed on both synchronous and asynchronous learning to further enhance the interpersonal skills of students (Tugun, Uzunboylu, & Ozdamli, 2017).

Where is it going in the future?

            Coding within education will continue to evolve the way students receive content.  Teachers are integrating this concept into their learning environments and creating more opportunities for students to be fully engaged in the curriculum.  Teachers are resulting to flipped classrooms as a means of reaching and teaching students coding curriculum. “It has been observed that the application of the flipped classroom education method increased the motivation of students. Programmers should develop a model related the integration of the flipped classroom education model by collaborating with the academics working in education technologies” (Tugun, Uzunboylu, & Ozdamli, 2017).

Maker’s Spaces

            Many schools are resulting in maker spaces in the area of STEM.  These spaces give children the opportunity to learn and grow in a ‘safe’ learning environment.  As an example, students may visit their school library during lunch time to play with Lego’s along with a computer programmed tutorial (Fasso & Knight, 2020).  Students within the gifted program benefit greatly from this opportunity to recharge their brains and feed their imaginations.  “Makerspace’ is a term that refers to a physical space in which individuals engage for the creative purpose of making artifacts.” (Fasso & Knight, 2020).  Research suggests that makerspaces enhance problem-solving skills and give way for students to engage in a meaningful project. 

Why is it significant?

Maker spaces can vary based on their environment.  Whether the space is in a museum, library, college, or after-school program, students have the opportunity to engage in their interests as a means of connection to self.  Research shows an increase in individual identity with the presence of maker spaces. “On a common day, people operate like professionals in the field, and through this genuine enterprise, gain a personal identity situated within the domain such as a STEM-identity, an engineering-identity, or a technology design-identity” (Fasso & Knight, 2020).  Rather than building a ‘one-size fits all’ model of students, the presence of maker spaces allows for individuality to take place. 

What are the downsides and/or barriers and how might these be overcome?

            There is controversy centering around whether maker spaces are the next fad in education. Also, there are also challenges relating to technology and teacher expertise along with how to effectively integrate maker spaces into teaching when the curriculum and daily schedule is full.  “There are concerns around creating and managing the school makerspace which requires expertise that ranges from being a technical expert, a programmer, a creative problem solver, and pedagogy and STEM expert” (Fasso and Knight, 2020). Educators are also seeking ways to locate the interests of students through providing a student-centered environment rather than a teacher centered one. Lastly, one of the primary downside’s centers around the costs of maker spaces, especially within underserved populations (Fasso and Knight, 2020). 

            While the potential pitfalls are not easy to solve, teachers are still urged to create simplified forms of maker spaces within their classrooms or schools.  This can be done using a quiet space within the classroom or school library.

Where is it going in the future?

            In previous years, maker spaces were equipped with non-technical materials such as sewing and crafting materials.  However, research is showing maker spaces heading into the direction of mobile technical devices and 3D printers within local libraries (Maceli, 2019).  Libraries are seeking to use this space as an innovative method to promote new technologies, enhance digital literacy skills, and provide technical access for all (Maceli, 2019). 

References

Cakir, R., Korkmaz, O., & Ugar Erdogmus, F. (2021). The effect of robotic coding

education on preschoolers’ problem solving and creative thinking skills. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 40, 100812.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tsc.2021.100812

Cohrssen, C., & Garvis , S. (2021). Embedding Steam Into Early Childhood Education

              and Care. Palgrave MacMillian.

Eckhoff, A. (2020, March). Breaking down steam for young children. NAEYC. Retrieved

January 29, 2022, from https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/tyc/feb2020/breaking-down-steam

Fasso, W., & Knight, B. A. (2020). Identity development in school makerspaces:

intentional design. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 30(2), 275-294. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10798-019-09501-z

Kolne, K., & Lindsay, S. (2019). Exploring Gender Differences in Teacher–Student

Interactions during an Adapted Robotics Program for Children with Disabilities. Social Sciences, 8(10), 285. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/socsci8100285

Korhonen, L. (2021). The good, the bad and the ugly of children´s screen time during the

COVID‐19 pandemic. Acta Paediatrica, 110(10), 2671–2672. https://doi.org/10.1111/apa.16012

Maceli, M. G. (2019). Making the future makers: Makerspace curriculum in library and

information science graduate programs and continuing education. Library Hi Tech, 37(4), 781-793.

https://doi.org/10.1108/LHT-01-2019-0005

Morin, A. (2020, September 17). How too much screen time can hurt kids and their

families. Verywell Family. Retrieved January 29, 2022, from https://www.verywellfamily.com/the-negative-effects-of-too-much-screen-time-1094877

Schrum, L., & Sumerfield, S. (2018). Learning supercharged: Digital age strategies and

insights from the edtech frontier. Ingram Publisher Services. ISBN: 9781564846860.

Singh, S., & Balhara, Y. (2021). “Screen-time” for children and adolescents in COVID-

19 times: needs to have contextually informed perspective. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 63(2), 198-195.

https://doi.org/10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_646_20

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The Rosy Boa

The rosy boa is a wonderful pet. It’s a small, hardy feeder that’s easy to breed, and rosy boas are normally very docile and handled well. This species thrives as a beginner pet with the right snake supplies and a focus on reptile conservation and wellbeing.

rosy boa

Care Requirement

When it comes to keeping rosy boas as pets, simple cages perform wonders. Most significantly, every cage must be escape proof; if a rosy boa sees even the tiniest opening in its enclosure, it will most likely escape. There are several (better) escape-proof cages on the market, and it’s a good idea to get one. As a suggestion, have an enclosure with a non-abrasive top, such as filtering.

Otherwise, due to rostral abrasion, the snake could need medical attention. Rosy boas are known for rubbing their snouts on cage surfaces in an attempt to avoid their confinement.

Hatchling rosy boas may be kept in deli cups or other small containers of equivalent scale. It’s important to provide enough airflow, which you can easily accomplish by punching tiny holes in the cup’s side or lid. Your rosy boa’s enclosure can expand as well. Shoebox-sized enclosures are ideal for medium-sized rosy boas. Make sure to keep adults in 10-gallon reptile terrariums. These enclosures are easy to clean and are great for setting up thermal regimes that are beneficial to the captive rosy boa.

Heat

Placing heat tape under one side of the cage is the simplest way to do this. A good pulse-proportional thermostat is needed to keep the heat tape at a steady temperature. Pulse-proportional thermostats keep the cage bottom at a steady temperature (plus or minus 1 degree Fahrenheit), protecting it from overheating.

A temperature gradient of 65 degrees at the cool end to 90 degrees at the warm end of the enclosure is a decent place to start. If your rosy boa is continually jumping around the cage, adjust the selection.

Light

Snake lighting isn’t needed for rosy boas unless you choose to use it to help you see your pet.

Humidity

Provide a humidity retreat, which uses a sealed jar with an entry hole lined with damp sphagnum moss or paper towels to provide moisture in a similar way (a water dish is still provided outside the retreat).

Make sure you have a good enough dish for your snake to soak in. During sheds, soaking is particularly necessary. Some owners choose to have a covered dish with a hole in the lid to provide protection for the snake and allow it to soak for longer if needed.

Substrate

Snake beddings such as newspaper, paper towels, and wood shavings may be used as rosy boa substrate. A substrate depth of 1 to 2 inches makes for quick upkeep and allows the snake to burrow, adding to its sense of protection. Spot clean at least twice a week, and adjust the whole substrate six to seven times a year with reptile cleaning materials.

A gallon of water mixed with a few tablespoons of soap and a few tablespoons of bleach makes an excellent cleaning solution.

rosy boa

Behavior

Rosy Boas are sluggish snakes who only emerge from their rock crevices on special occasions. They reach three feet in length and need little maintenance, making them ideal for beginners. Rosy Boas are shy snakes who seldom leave their burrows in the wild. As a result, much of their irrational action is understudied.

Most owners stated that they don’t bite. Instead if they feel threatened they release a foul smelling liquid from their vent or ball up and hide their heads.

Adults are docile, well-tolerated, and seldom bite. It’s possible the young Rosy Boas are afraid of humans and being treated. Allow at least two weeks for them to adapt to their new environment before treating them. Working with your Boa to socialize them because they love handling is a good idea. Keeping the snake for 10 to 15 minutes per day for two weeks will do this.

Health Treatment

Respiratory infections and scale rot are typically caused by poor substrates, incorrect humidity, or low enclosure temperatures. This allows for bacterial growth and is easily prevented with correct husbandry.

Internal parasites are typically diagnosed with a fecal exam by a vet. Some snakes may stop eating due to parasite overload. External parasites (e.g. mites) are often treated with increased cage cleaning and anti-mite products.

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Top 10 Most Interesting Foxes in the World

Foxes are adorable, amusing, and cunning little escape artists. You may know that some people already kept them as pets! They have a close attachment to their owners. They resemble domesticated dogs as part of the canine family. Their nature is more aloof than that of a cat. They are the only canine species that can climb trees with ease.

If you adore foxes and believe they look better in the wild than on a person’s neck, you’ll love seeing all of these fox photographs.

Top 10 Most Interesting Foxes in the World

1. Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda)

Fennec fox

The big ears of fennec foxes, which are native to North Africa and the Sahara desert, help to dissipate their body heat. They have such excellent hearing thanks to these ears that they can detect their prey running under the sand. Their cream-colored hair helps them keep warm at night and deflect heat during the day.

Fennec foxes are privately bred throughout the United States and can be purchased for several thousand dollars. It’s a smart pick for a pet fox because of its compact size, long lifespan, and friendly personality. It may not be ideal for families with young children or other pets, since they can be nippy. It is fragile and needs to be protected from other pets as the world’s smallest fox breed.

2. Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Red fox

The red fox is the largest, most widespread, and therefore most diverse of all the fox species. They can be found all over the Northern Hemisphere, as well as in Australia. They are nimble hunters who have been able to leap over fences as long as 2 meters. They are not domesticated and have a few drawbacks. Perhaps their worst offense is that they have the smelliest urine of the fox breeds.

3. Silver Fox

Silver fox

The silver fox is the same breed as the red fox; the only difference is in their pigmentation. The silver fox was one of the most desirable fur foxes available at the time. This foxes are a domesticated red fox breed that has only been bred in Russia. The foxes’ urine odor has been minimized, and their general disposition has changed, thanks to this domesticated fox initiative.

These foxes have a dog-like behavior and emit very little odor. Tail-wagging while pleased, shouting and vocalization, and ear floppiness were among adorable dog habits bred into silver foxes.

4. Arctic Fox (Vulpes lagopus)

Arctic fox

Throughout the Arctic Circle, the arctic fox can be found. In temperatures as cold as -70 degrees Celsius, their dense fur prevents them from shivering (-94 Fahrenheit). These foxes have small legs and snouts, which helps them save heat by reducing their surface area. Arctic foxes are overbred in the United States due to a limited breeding population, and others have genetic issues.

5. Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)

Gray fox

The grey fox has a “salt-and-pepper” upper coat and a black-tipped tail. It can be seen all over North America. One of the only canids capable of climbing trees is this fox. Human encroachment and deforestation have caused red foxes to become the most dominant species over the centuries. Gray foxes are the friendliest and calmest of all the fox species. Usually, most foxes are wary of strangers, however, gray foxes are amiable and affectionate with most people. 

6. Marble Fox

Marble fox

The coloration of the “arctic marble fox,” which is also a red fox breed, is not natural; it was bred for its fur by humans between red fox and silver fox. Marble fox coats are mainly white with delicate stripes of grey, black, or tan artistically arranged throughout, as their name indicates. Their coloration is a genetic alteration known as a “color process” in scientific terms. Usually, the highlight color runs down the neck and over the forehead. All of them seem to be wearing vintage burglar masks.

7. Cross Fox 

Cross fox

A long dark line runs down the back of the cross fox, intersecting another stripe to create a cross across the shoulders. It is more common in northern Canada than in the rest of the country, and it is rarer than the common red fox, but more common than the much darker silver fox.

They may be a little bigger, with a bushier tail and more fur under their paws. The vertical dark band running down the back intersects with another horizontal band around the shoulders, giving the cross fox its name. The back and sides are yellowish rufous, with the flanks and sides of the neck becoming more vibrant.

8. Bengal Fox (Vulpes bengalensis)

Bengal fox

The Bengal fox, also known as the Indian fox, is a fox that is native to the Indian subcontinent, ranging from Nepal’s Himalayan foothills and Terai to southern India, as well as southern and eastern Pakistan to eastern India and southeastern Bangladesh.

The Bengal Fox has a more delicate build than the red fox, and its bushy, black-tipped tail, which is about 50–60 percent of the length of the head and neck, is easily distinguishable. The insides of the ears are white and the tails are dark brown with a black border. The ears are the same color as the nape, or even darker, but they don’t have a dark spot like red foxes. It has a nude rhinarium and black lips.

9. Simien Fox (Canis simensis)

Simien fox

The Ethiopian Highlands’ Simien fox is a canine endemic to Ethiopia. Its size and build are comparable to those of a coyote, but it is characterized by its long and thin skull and red and white hair. The Ethiopian wolf is an extremely specialized feeder of Afroalpine rodents with very particular habitat needs, unlike most large canids, which are widespread generalist feeders. It is Africa’s most endangered carnivore and one of the world’s rarest canids.

10. Darwin’s Fox (Lycalopex fulvipes)

Darwin's Fox

The Darwin’s fox is an endangered canid belonging to the Lycalopex family. It lives in Nahuelbuta National Park (Araucana Region), the Valdivian Coastal Range (Los Ros Region) in mainland Chile, and Chiloé Island, and is also known as the zorro chilote or zorro de Darwin in Spanish.

The Darwin’s fox is darker, has shorter legs, a wider, narrower skull, smaller auditory bullae, a more sturdy dentition, and a distinct jaw shape and type of premolar occlusion than the grey fox.

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All About The Fennec Fox

The fennec fox is the smallest fox in the world!

The average height of a fennec fox is about 8 inches for a full grown adult. This is in addition to a length span of about 12-16 inches for an adult without the tail included in the measurement. The fennec fox can weigh between 1.5-3.5 pounds. The fennec fox has distinctive features as this small creature is known for their small statue, smaller heads, and large ears. Most fennec foxes have a long black tipped tail that takes about 3/4 of their body length.

Native to desert regions, the fennec fox descends from sandy deserts in Northern Africa ranging from Western Sahara and Mauritania to northern Sinai. Fennec fox can thrive in desert environments as it is capable of inhabiting the remotest sand seas. While foxes are normally solitary creatures, the Fennec Fox forms groups. These small communities consist of around 10 individuals. Stable sand dunes are believed to be ideal habitat for this fox. This fox may share a burrow system with up to 10-12 other fox individuals. This fox has experienced a decline, population wise. However, they are most common throughout the Sahara.

These foxes are nocturnal.

The fennec fox hide from heat in sand burrows during the day. At night, expect this fox to roam.

The fennec fox coat of fur provides camouflage and protection from cold desert nights. The hair on the soles of their feet protect them from hot sand. To communicate with one another, the fennec fox project a high pitched yelp and quiet growl.

Facts About Fennec Foxes

  • The Fennec Fox has uncharacteristic behaviours compared to other foxes.
  • Fennec fox have amazing hearing and use this ability to hear animals underground even small insects.
  • Their ears are about 4 to 6 inches long are used to dissipate heat on hot days.
  • This fox consumes a diet of rodents, birds, eggs, lizards and insects.
  • Fennec fox reach maturation age at 9 months and can reach a full life span of 14 years old under human care.
  • The fennec fox appears to be the only carnivore in the Sahara Desert able to live without freely available water. Their kidneys are specifically adapted to conserve water. They can obtain moisture from the food they eat and by licking the dew that forms in their dens.
  • Fennec Foxes have sharp, curved claws which help them dig their burrows.
  • Their fur reflects the sun during the day and conserves heat at night.

Pet Ownership of the Fennec Fox

Photo provided by Kids Feed

Fennec foxes behave a bit like active, playful little dogs. However, it’s important to for owners to remember these are still animals with wild instincts, even if they were bred in captivity. Fennec fox love to roam. Pet owners are advised to give this animal enough space to explore and behave as though it were still in the wild. Since this animal is nocturnal, pet owners are advised that it may be difficult to manage their high energy during sleeping hours. The combination of a proper diet along with enough space for activities can keep your fennec fox happy and well maintained.

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Different Types of Rain

Did you know that there are different types of rain?

Rain

Drops larger than drizzle (0.02 inch / 0.5 mm or more) are considered rain. Rain is liquid water that falls from a cloud in the form of droplets. Rain is one of the six main types of precipitation. One droplet of water spends on average around eight days in suspension before falling back to Earth as rain.

Drizzle

Drizzle is light rain falling in very small droplets. Drizzle drops have a diameter of usually less than 0.5 mm. The drops appear almost to float, and so make even slight movements of the air visible. The clouds that produce drizzle have low bases, usually less than 1,000 feet in altitude.

Ice Pellets or Sleet

Ice pellets form when a layer of above-freezing air is located between 1,500 and 3,000 meters (5,000 and 10,000 ft) above the ground, with sub-freezing air both above and below it. Ice pellets are a form of precipitation consisting of small, translucent balls of ice. Ice pellets originate as raindrops or snowflakes (less common) that generally fall from Altostratus or Nimbostratus. They fall into a subcloud layer of warm air where the snowflakes melt or partially melt, and then fall into a cold layer of air (below 0 °C) where they freeze and reach the ground as frozen precipitation.

Hail

Hail is pellets of frozen rain which fall in showers from cumulonimbus clouds. Hail is a form of solid precipitation. It is distinct from ice pellets, though the two are often confused. It consists of balls or irregular lumps of ice, each of which is called a hailstone. Certain parts of the world receive more hail than others. China and Midwestern United States experiences frequent hail storms. In fact, the Great Plains region of the United States and Canada is called “Hail Alley.” Hailstones can cause extreme damage to buildings, vehicles, and crops.

Snow

Snow is precipitation in the form of ice crystals. Once an ice crystal has formed, it absorbs and freezes additional water vapor from the surrounding air, growing into a snow crystal or snow pellet, which then falls to Earth. Snowflakes are clusters of ice crystals that fall from a cloud. Snow may also crunch and creak. A layer of snow is made up of many tiny ice grains surrounded by air and when you step on it, you compress the grains.

Snow Grains

Snow grains are a form of precipitation. Snow grains are characterized as very small, white, opaque grains of ice that are fairly flat or elongated. Their diameter is generally less than 1 mm. Snow grains fall mostly from Stratus or from fog. Snow grains usually fall in small quantities in the mountains.

Ice Crystals

In very cold regions, they are falling crystals of ice in the form of needles, columns, or plates. Ice crystals are solid ice exhibiting atomic ordering on various length scales and include hexagonal columns, hexagonal plates, dendritic crystals, and diamond dust.

Animal Facts, Clever Kids Corner, Virtual Learning

Meerkat Facts- The Small and Mysterious Animal

Small and mysterious meerkats

Environment

  • Meerkats are specially adapted to living in the harsh desert environment.
  • Meerkats can live in pretty much any dessert. However, Meerkats live in all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, Namib Desert in Namibia and south-western Angola and in South Africa.
  • Their social cooperation within a large group and their extensively burrowed tunnels helps them to survive in arid African deserts.
  • Meerkats will also share their burrows with beetles.
  • Despite living in the desert unbelievably meerkats do not need extra water in their diets. They get all the moisture they need from the insects and grubs they eat.

Diets

  • Meerkats are insectivores, which means most of their diet is made up of insects.
  • However, they are also known to eat small mammals, snakes and snake eggs, birds and bird eggs, grubs (an insect’s wormlike larva) and even poisonous scorpions.
  • Meetkats also enjoy eating fruits and vegetables.

Body Structure

  • Very small catlike carnivores, their faces often have a curious look, seemingly taking in everything in their surroundings.
  • They have long bodies and short flat ears and are able to stand on their hind legs.
  • The color of their coat can be gold, silver, brown or orange, with dark patches around the eyes.
  • They can dig their own body weight of dirt within a few seconds and their high endurance enables them to build elaborate tunnels.
  • Meerats can live up to eight years in the wild.
  • Meerkats are immune to venom and can handle a bite from a poisonous snake.
EdTech, Media Tools, Professional Development, Teachers, Virtual Learning

What is E-Learning and Instructional Design?

E-learning is the use of computer technologies to explore learning opportunities.

E-learning is not a one-package deal.  There are multiple ways to explore e-learning.

E-learning is not one particular tool or management system.

E-learning centers around providing accessibility and the integration of technology to meet the needs of the varying learning styles of its learners.

“Effective e-learning starts with great instructional design.“

Instructional design requires selecting, organizing, and specifying the learning materials to create an online course.

Instructional design translates high-level objectives to choices for technology and content

Instructional design provides insight on online tools, management systems, and other technologies

Together, we work as a TEAM!

There are numerous instructional design models:

ADDIE Model

Merrills Principles

Multimedia Principle Model

Gagne’s Nine Principles

And many more!

Course Design: Addie Model

Step #1 Analysis — Why is the training/course needed? We collect information and profile target learners, and understanding the needs and expectations of the organization. Analysis drives design and the development process.

Step #2 Design —In this phase, IDs select the instructional strategy to follow, write objectives, choose appropriate media and delivery methods.

Step #3 Development — IDs utilize agreed expectations from the Design phase to develop the course materials.

Step #4 Implementation — The course is released/rolled-out, delivered, to the learners, and its impact is monitored.

Step # 5 Evaluation — Is the course providing the expected results? IDs collaborate with the client and evaluate the impact of the course based on learner feedback, surveys, and even analytics. 

Course Design: Merrill’s Principles

Learning is promoted when learners are engaged in solving real-world problems 

Learning is promoted when prior knowledge is activated as a foundation for new knowledge

Learning is promoted when new knowledge is demonstrated to the learner — they are shown, rather than just being told.

Learning is promoted when new knowledge is applied by the learner — they are required to use their new knowledge or skill to solve problems.

Learning is promoted when new knowledge is integrated into the learner’s world — they are able to demonstrate improvement in their newly acquired skills and to modify it for use in their daily work.

Resources:  Merrill, M.D. (2002). First principles of instructionEducational Technology, Research and Development, 50(3), pp43-59.

Course design:
Alignment of Goals and Objectives

Consider a wide range of goals

Identify real goals through research

Objectives are clear, precise, and worthy

Identify prerequisites

Identify what each objective needs

Identify high value objectives and eliminate unnecessary objectives

Learning Styles

Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.

Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.

Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.

Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.

Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.

Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.

Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

Resources:  https://www.learning-styles-online.com/overview/

Types of Online Learning

Synchronous Learning-
In synchronous learning activities, all students are involved at the same time. Formats include online chats, instant messaging, video or audio conferences, live webcasting and virtual classrooms. 

Asynchronous Learning-
With asynchronous learning, students set their own schedules. An entirely self-paced curriculum fits this model. Courses that have both synchronous and asynchronous components might include discussion forums, email, blogs, videos, webcasting, simulations, and games.

ADA Accessibility

“Establish requirements for making the goods, services, facilities, privileges, accommodations, or advantages offered by public accommodations via the Internet, specifically at sites on the World Wide Web (Web), accessible to individuals with disabilities.”

5 Steps to Creating Accessible Online Content for People with Disabilities

Hyperlinks

Text Design

Images/Graphics

Audio/Visuals

Documents

10 Steps to Designing
a Wildly Successful Online Course 

1. Choose perfect course topic

2.  Ensure course is in high demand

3. Create magnetic and compelling learning outcomes

4. Select and gather course content ¡5. Structure modules and course plan

6. Determine most effective and delivery methods for each lesson

7. Filming, editing and recording online course (i.e. including visuals)

8. Setting up online school through LMS or other platform

9. Ensure pricing is in tact

10. Develop marketing strategy

Resources: https://www.thinkific.com/blog/10-steps-creating-successful-online-course/

“Design is thinking made visual.” – Saul Bass

Marilynn Andrews, M. A.

EdTech, Media Tools, Parenting, Teachers, Virtual Learning

Using Your Skillset to Deliver Quality Virtual Lessons to Students.

Photo credit: Metro West Daily News

This past year, teachers found themselves in a dilemma. There was a common question of how do we deliver the same education to our students when we cannot see one another face-to-face?

For some, the term “virtual learning” has been a humdrum phrase, overused this past year- in the face of adversity (better known as COVID-19).

For others, the term “virtual learning” has opened an entirely new world of platforms for delivering and receiving education.

For perspective, veteran educators may have found it a bit difficult to adapt to the virtual platform settings, in comparison to traditional teaching in a physical classroom setting. In retrospect, novice educators may have adapted to varying online platforms, but lacked the preparation, enthusiasm, or experience to maintain each lesson.

Photo credit: Kaplan Early Learning

There is no clear cut resolution to the individual experiences of educators while teaching remotely. However, one thing is for certain, the use of one’s own skillset set the standard for remote learning this past year.

The previously mentioned novice and experienced educators may have utilized their skills regarding Google platforms, Apple products, Zoom, Android, Facebook video conferencing tools, and Microsoft Teams to reach students. The background knowledge of video conferencing mixed with educational experiences and knowledge created welcoming, learning/virtual environments. Teachers were able to adapt to the ever changing virtual environments through technology platforms, along with the individual needs of their children and families, throughout the entire remote year. However, much consideration had to be taken, regarding day-to-day activities, as virtual learning did not leave much room for lack of preparation and planning.

For some experienced and novice educators, transitioning to a 100% virtual platform presented a different challenge. The concept of spending an entire career within a classroom setting and moving to a remote setting resulted in another level of passion, patience, and perseverance. Hours of preparation along with high levels of energy to deliver these same lessons, were the result of the same descriptive statements mentioned above. For some Teachers, learning how to navigate virtual platforms and then turning around to teach families how to navigate these same tools became a day-to-day reality.

For engagement, Teachers hopped around, sung songs, danced in the camera, scheduled Zoom’s with small children, conducted Parent Teacher Conferences remotely, and even participated in virtual field trips.

Amongst the daily lessons, it became extremely usual to witness a Teacher high-fiving her students through the computer screen. Teachers prepared packets for families and students to take home and possibly return. An unlimited number of phone calls, texts, emails, online professional developments, along with teaching were the result of the 2020 Covid-19 virtual lessons. It’s safe to say, that educators alike utilized their individual skill sets in order to deliver quality virtual lessons to students.

These skills are all things we can continue to take along the journey of teaching and learning.

Marilynn Andrews, M.A.