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STEM Modules

There is no better way for students to learn a subject than to get their hands involved during the learning experience. Pitsco Education's innovative STEM curriculum allows students to interact with the topic they are learning while being surrounded by technology, educational instruments, software, and experiments.

STEM Modules follow a unique framework in which collaborative learning is interwoven. Every title includes multimedia-delivered instruction, hands-on experiences, and three authentic performance assessments completed by the teacher.

Curriculum Titles

OVERVIEW
In Alternative Energy, students explore the basic concepts of energy as well as the law of conservation of energy. Information is presented about renewable and nonrenewable energy sources and how these resource types are important for meeting global energy demands. The advantages and disadvantages of alternative energy forms such as solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and hydropower are presented. Hands-on experiences include experiments with a wind turbine, solar cells, and hydrogen fuel cells.

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

  • Learn the characteristics of renewable and nonrenewable energy resources.
  • Explore traditional and nontraditional, or alternative, forms of energy.
  • Gain an understanding of the scientific law of conservation of energy.
  • Learn about the use of wind energy and perform an efficiency experiment using a wind turbine.
  • Learn the important role the Sun plays in the production of energy on Earth.
  • Explore hydropower and geothermal power.
  • Complete a fermentation experiment to explore biomass energy.
  • Perform an experiment to simulate hydrogen fuel cell technology.
  • Evaluate various energy resources and draw conclusions based upon statistical data.
ACTIVITIES
Students complete three performance assessments: 1) Energy – investigate various energy resources and their classifications; 2) Solar Energy – name characteristics of solar energy and explain how a solar cell works; and 3) Fuel Cell Energy – understand and explain how fuel cell technology functions.

 

OVERVIEW
In Animals, students learn classification systems and the place of animals (including humans) within them. Students explore physical and lifestyle characteristics of invertebrates and vertebrates through hands-on activities. They compare organisms in terms of adaptations such as symmetry, movement, and organ systems. They explore the transition to land and temperature regulation. They are introduced to concepts of evolution and the fossil record.

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

  • Review the current three-domain, six-kingdom classification system.
  • Design and use a dichotomous key to classify organisms.
  • Explore the characteristics of eight invertebrate phyla.
  • Compare body symmetry, movement, and organ systems in various animals.
  • Learn the major characteristics of chordates and vertebrates.
  • Compare the characteristics of the five classes of vertebrates.
  • Consider some causes and effects of variation in the animal kingdom.
  • Relate structural and behavioral adaptations to natural selection and evolution.
  • Complete a fossil activity to illustrate the history of animal life on Earth.
ACTIVITIES
Students complete three performance assessments: 1) Classifying Invertebrates – identify invertebrate specimens to phylum and point out characteristics, including symmetry; 2) Vertebrates – list vertebrate adaptations for land, reproduction, and parental care and identify vertebrates by class; and 3) Adaptation and Evolution – explain genetic changes that occur during natural selection, show and explain layering of fossils, distinguish between relative and absolute fossil age, and explain half-life.

 

OVERVIEW
In Applied Physics, students learn about the wonderful forces of nature that they must control and learn to live with to make their lives more enjoyable. Using an air track, students learn about motion by calculating the velocity and acceleration of air track cars using a photogate timer. Students study data transmission using a laser. Students also learn about radio waves, light, and heat and do experiments using mathematics.

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

  • Define and calculate velocity and acceleration.
  • Explain the relationship between gravity and acceleration.
  • Define the relationships among frequency, pitch, amplitude, and loudness.
  • Experiment with different sound waves and list the steps necessary to hear sound.
  • Define hypothesis and make and test a hypothesis regarding heat transfer.
  • List the steps of the scientific method.
  • Differentiate between an insulator and a conductor.
  • Discover how light waves travel.
  • Explore various uses of lasers.

ACTIVITIES
Students complete three performance assessments: 1) Heat Experiment – explain a hypothesis,
list the steps of the scientific method, and set up and complete an experiment; 2) Light Filter
Experiments – set up and conduct light experiments and verbalize how tinted sunglasses filter
light; and 3) Laser Experiments – demonstrate the proper care and use of a laser and utilize one
or more mirrors in the transfer of sound through a laser and photocell.

 

OVERVIEW
In Aquaculture, students learn fish biology, care, and management by maintaining their own goldfish tank. After an introduction to the history of aquaculture, they conduct chemical tests of tank water, learn fish anatomy and metabolism, calculate fish growth and productivity, and maintain records of their activities. Along the way, they learn the processes involved in a large-scale aquaculture operation and consider environmental impacts of aquaculture.

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

  • Use a spreadsheet to practice record keeping for an aquaculture operation.
  • Conduct tests of tank water and learn appropriate levels for each chemical.
  • Identify internal and external structures of fish.
  • Understand fish life cycles and measure fish length and weight.
  • Analyze fish growth curves and calculate appropriate stocking rates.
  • Explore fish metabolic rates and calculate nutritional needs and productivity.
  • Explore environmental impacts of aquaculture.
  • Graph and analyze data from the classroom aquaculture tank.

ACTIVITIES
Students complete three performance assessments: 1) Water Chemistry – conduct water chemistry tests, define and explain expected values, and understand tank filtration; 2) Fish Biology – identify fish structures and properly manipulate live fish, including taking length and volume measurements; and 3) Fish Productivity – measure gill-opening rates, understand metabolism, and complete productivity calculations.

 

OVERVIEW
In Astronomy, students learn about the solar system and their relationship to it from a mathematical perspective. They investigate the Sun-Moon-Earth system and the characteristics, sizes, and distances of planets in the solar system. They construct a small refracting telescope and learn how it functions. They explore gravity and orbits, distinguish between weight and mass, and relate the kinetic energy equation to crater impacts.

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

  • Use a planetarium model to investigate Sun-Moon-Earth movements.
  • Relate gravity to orbits and distinguish between circular and elliptical orbits.
  • Distinguish between weight and mass.
  • Use the equation F = ma to calculate force, given mass.
  • Learn the characteristics of the Sun and planets.
  • Develop scale models comparing sizes and distances in the solar system.
  • Explain the differences between reflecting and refracting optical telescopes and calculate magnification.
  • Understand the kinetic energy equation KE = 1/2 mv² and relate it to crater impacts.
  • Express solar system distances in scientific notation.

ACTIVITIES
Students complete three performance assessments: 1) Planetary Motions – use the planetarium model to explain Earth’s rotation and revolution, day-night cycles, seasons, and tides; 2) Planetary Distance – develop a scale model of solar system distances and calculate distances using both scientific notation and astronomical units; and 3) Telescopes – identify the parts of a refracting telescope, explain functions of its lenses, define focal length, and explain its relationship to magnification.


 

OVERVIEW
In BioEngineering, students explore topics related to kinesiology and sports performance. They cover mathematical concepts including measuring and classifying angles, absolute values, positive and negative rational numbers, data collection, and simple algebra. Students perform flexibility tests, take digital images of the tests, and use the computer to analyze their flexibility.

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

  • Practice absolute value, number lines, and positive and negative numbers.
  • Measure, classify, and identify angles using a protractor, a goniometer, a digital camera, and imaging software.
  • Gather, graph, and interpret data on projectiles, relating angle size to distance achieved.
  • Relate angle measurement to physical therapy, physical fitness, and sports performance.

ACTIVITIES

Students complete three performance assessments: 1) Projectile Data – estimate and justify the best angle from which to release a projectile in order to achieve a maximum distance; 2) Measure Body Angles – demonstrate and explain how to measure a joint angle using both a goniometer and a protractor; and 3) Angle Analysis – explain how angles apply to the function of the flexibility tester and identify the angle of joint ROM required in order to achieve maximum reach.

 

OVERVIEW
In Biotechnology, students explore the past, present, and future of biotechnology. Through hands-on activities, computer simulations, and laboratory experiments, they investigate the structure of the DNA molecule and learn how it can be changed through genetic engineering, including recombinant DNA, gene splicing, and transgenic biotechnology. They consider some implications of using biotechnology in medicine, agriculture, and other fields.

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

  • Define terms relating to genetics and biotechnology.
  • Identify important historical events in the development of biotechnology.
  • Construct and explain a model of a DNA molecule.
  • Use pop-bead models to illustrate the processes of gene splicing and recombinant DNA.
  • Complete a DNA extraction.
  • Complete an enzyme experiment and analyze data from the experiment.
  • Use multimedia and simulations to understand transgenic biotechnology.
  • Learn about important applications of biotechnology in medicine and agriculture.
  • Consider ethical problems related to biotechnology.

ACTIVITIES
Students complete three performance assessments: 1) Biotechnology and DNA – define biotechnology, explain areas in which biotechnology is used, and explain the structure of DNA; 2) Gene Splicing – use models to demonstrate and explain the structure of DNA and the process of gene splicing; and 3) Data Analysis – document experimental data, explain differences between experimental and control groups, and explain why careful analysis of any type of genetic engineering is mandatory.

 

OVERVIEW
In Body Systems, students explore the structure and functions of the 11 body systems. They measure functions and characteristics of their own bodies including respiration rate, CO2 production, binocular vision, length of the digestive tract, and pulse rate. Students learn the hierarchy of organization within their own bodies and how body systems work together to maintain homeostasis.

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

  • Explore the importance of vital signs in emergency medical situations.
  • Learn the anatomical position and explain how it is used to locate organs.
  • Locate major body organs and systems on a human torso model.
  • Explore the major structures and functions of the 11 body systems.
  • Observe and identify specialized tissues making up each body system.
  • Consider levels of organization and relate levels to the human body as a system.
  • Define homeostasis and explain how body systems work together to maintain it.
  • Do hands-on activities to illustrate important aspects and functions in body systems including the digestive, circulatory, and integumentary systems.

ACTIVITIES
Students complete three performance assessments: 1) Digestion – identify the components of the alimentary canal, explain the process of digestion, and explain how nutrients enter the bloodstream; 2) Respiration and Skin – name and define structures of the two systems and show how respiration affects carbon dioxide production; and 3) Movement – explain how muscles and bones work together to move the
body and demonstrate the movement of three types of joints.

 

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