Women’s History Month: The Women Who Smashed Stereotypes in STEM

As part of our celebration of Women’s History Month, we will be running a series of articles about some of the many historical female scientists who have made their mark—and smashed stereotypes—with their inspiring and important contributions to science history.  

Click on the links to read each of our Women’s History Month scientists’ stories.

Eunice Foote

The Almost Forgotten “Mother of Climate Change”

American scientist, inventor, and women’s rights campaigner.

Read more…

Dorothy Vaughan

NASA’s “Human Computer” and First Black Female Supervisor

American mathematician and computer programmer, and first African-American to receive a promotion at NASA.

Read more…

Chien-Shiung Wu

The “First Lady of Physics”

Chinese-American particle and experimental physicist who made significant contributions to the field of nuclear physics and beta decay.

Read more…

Stephanie Kwolek

Inventor of Kevlar

Polish-American chemist, best known for inventing Kevlar.

Read more…

Grace Hopper

The Amazing Grace, “Mother of Computing”

American mathematician who wrote the first compiler and coined the term “de-bugging.”

Read more…

Read more about Twig Education’s commitment to access and equity for all students in our white paper, “A Mission to Increase Equity and Inclusion in STEM Education.”

5 New Years Resolutions for Teachers

As the new year rolls around, it’s natural that we all start thinking about our New Year’s resolutions. A chance for a fresh start and revitalized energy. Unfortunately, we can all be guilty of setting resolutions that aren’t quite realistic, and while dreams of grand changes for the year ahead can feel inspiring, we can’t always follow through. To help make this year different, here are some more realistic New Year’s resolutions for 2022…

1. Declutter, refresh, and reorganize.

When is there a better time to refresh the classroom, if not in January? You could donate some of your old stuff and get rid of anything broken or completely worn out. Reorganize your files and ask yourself what you really need to keep. You don’t need to do it all in a day—try to set yourself a task one week, another the next, and perhaps take advantage of the post-holiday sales to buy some new storage. You’ll be surprised at how much an organized space can positively affect your mindset.

2. Drink enough water, and make time for a proper lunch!

We commend teachers for always putting their students’ needs first, but to be at your best you also need to take care of your own needs. We know that you’re busy, and some days it can be hard to find time to even go to the toilet, but staying hydrated keeps us healthy and helps your body work better.

It’s recommended that adults drink 2 (yes, 2!) liters of water per day. To help you get closer to this goal, why not set an alarm or buy a bottle with time markings to remind you to take a few extra sips of water than you usually would.

You also need fuel in your tank for it to run, so if you struggle to make time for a hearty lunch during your working day, why not set the goal of starting your day with a good breakfast and make sure you have your favorite snacks at hand for when you do get the chance to take a break.

3. Silence the inner critic.

That little voice at the back of your head nitpicking at everything you do… tell it to be quiet. We criticize ourselves far too easily and often expect absolute perfection, but it just isn’t realistic. You don’t need to be perfect all of the time (or even any of the time)—you’re allowed to make mistakes or have a bad day and know that you’re still a great teacher. Be kind to yourself!

4. Celebrate the little moments.

Celebrating the little moments—yours and your students—is so important. Sure, it’s great when we have an important observation, and it goes spectacularly, but what about those every day aha! moments? A student understands that tricky concept they’ve been struggling with, or—and it really can be as small as this—you managed to finish your morning coffee while it was still hot! Celebrate all of those moments because they’re all worthy of celebration.

5. Remind yourself often why you became a teacher.

It’s easy to get caught up in all of the stress of being a teacher and lose the passion and drive that motivated you to teach in the first place. Why not try writing down all of the reasons you became a teacher in the first place or make a note of things that make you smile in the classroom. Find any way to remind yourself why you started and what inspires you to keep going.

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Climate Change Resources for Schools

To help you support positive actions towards climate change, we’ve put together a selection of handy resources to use in your classroom.

1. The Problem with Cow Farts

Did you know that cow farts contribute to climate change? Today, why not learn about the environmental impact of cattle farming.

2. Fracking

There are a variety of different energy sources, some of which are controversial. Why not watch this video about fracking, a process of using high-pressure fluid to fracture underground rock to release natural gas, and explore both sides of the debate with your students.

3. Can Shrimp Shells Replace Plastic Bags?

It’s important to try to reduce how much plastic we are using! Did you know that plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to decompose? A team of researchers has come up with an innovative solution: shrimp shells!

4. Vanishing Glaciers

Climate change is having a dramatic effect on glaciers as the Earth’s temperature is rising. This week, why not learn about the Glacier National Park and see what we can do to protect glaciers?

5. Eco-cities: Food Waste

Did you know that across the world, around one-third of all food produced is wasted? Learn how some cities are finding ways to reduce food waste and turn it into a valuable resource!

6. Eco-cities: Transportation

In most urban areas, traffic congestion is one of the biggest causes of air pollution. But recently, some cities have been tackling this problem by introducing new electric and driverless cars!

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4 Reasons You Should Practice Student-Centered Learning in Your Classroom

Did you know that after listening to a lecture for 10–15 minutes, students start to disengage from a lesson?1 Student-centered learning is a pedagogical approach that moves away from this more traditional method of teaching—where teacher instruction is the focus—to putting student interests first. Let’s take a closer look at some key reasons you should integrate student-centered learning into your classroom…

1. Student-centered classrooms foster student autonomy

In student-centered classrooms, students take ownership of their own learning—taking an active role in decision making, goal setting, and lesson planning. Of course, this doesn’t mean that students can choose not to participate in math or geography if they don’t find those subjects interesting. Instead, teachers should find ways to intertwine individual interests with the key learning points of a lesson. In essence, the educator is no longer a lecturer but a facilitator, constantly assessing how they can better create learning opportunities.2

In practice, it can be as simple as giving your students a few options on how a topic could be taught and taking a class vote. Alternatively, where possible, plan a few different activities that approach the topic from different angles and ask your students which they would like to take part in. Give them the choice and autonomy to let you know how they learn best.

2. Students learn to communicate and collaborate

Communication and collaboration is at the core of all student-centered classrooms. As students are encouraged to voice their needs, they are learning how to effectively communicate with their teachers and peers. The classroom becomes a space for problem-solving and working together—students aren’t reprimanded for asking questions, they’re encouraged to.

3. Student-centered learning approaches can increase positive attitudes in the classroom

It’s much easier to absorb information and even find learning fun when the relevance of what is being taught is clear. How can we expect young people to stay positive and focused in the classroom if, frankly, they’re bored and disengaged? Student-centered learning encourages students to be intrinsically motivated, explore real-world problems that relate to their own lives and recognize that their ideas are worthy of respect.3 The result is a classroom full of students who are excited to learn, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

4. Students develop better resilience

It can be remarkably unmotivating to feel as though we aren’t succeeding, even as adults. Now, imagine how this must feel to a young person, in an environment where they know they’re supposed to be learning, watching their peers excel while perceiving themselves to be a failure. Unfortunately, this is commonplace in today’s classrooms—where the emphasis on summative assessment strategies can result in pupils comparing themselves with one another.4

Feedback in student-centered classrooms centers around formative assessment—for example, ongoing feedback and goal-setting—enabling students to identify gaps in their own knowledge and understand where they need to develop. An abundance of evidence has shown that this type of assessment cultivates long-term resilience as the students learn that, whether or not their work is correct, it is part of their learning process.5

  1. https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/The_Routledge_International_Handbook_of/MujyDwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=child+centered+learning&printsec=frontcover
  2. https://potatopirates.game/blogs/learning/why-student-centered-learning-matters-and-how-to-apply-it
  3. https://stemeducationjournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40594-018-0131-6
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/241465214_Student-centred_learning_What_does_it_mean_for_students_and_lecturers
  5. https://suitable-education.uk/systematic-review-confirms-that-assessment-damages-motivation-to-learn/

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Win a One-Year Subscription to a Twig Education Product

For a chance to win a one-year subscription to a Twig Education product, just take part in our social media competition. All we want you to do is share the following activity with your students – either individually or in a group – and snap some photos to share on social media, tagging us @twigeducation on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Entry closes on October 15th.

We’ll notify five winners by October 18th, and they’ll be able to choose a Twig Education product (excluding Twig Science) for a free one-year subscription.

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