New Partnership With the deCordova Museum

I now have a partnership with the deCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA!

I am working with Julie Bernson, who reached out to me at the Wheelock College STEM Weekend. She is the Deputy Director for Learning and Engagement at the museum. Julie and I are working together to develop curriculum that builds on the existing Boston Public Schools science curriculum for Kindergarten and Grade 1. Students and their families from the EEC will be visiting the museum as well. The field trip for Kindergarten will focus on physical science. This is based on a unit that I am developing for kindergarten students. It is not a part of the Boston science curriculum, but will align with school and district goals. These goals are to to increase student engagement and involve students in cognitively demanding tasks that are developmentally appropriate.

There’s an app that you can use with you child to help them discover aicon350x350nd explore physics in daily life, such as on the playground. Using Playground Physics, you can record a video of yourself or your friends, tap points along the way to trace a path of motion and discover the motion, forces and energy involved. Users enter measurements (height of object, mass of object being tracked) to understand how a person’s potential or kinetic energy changes as he or she moves.

Grade 1

The current unit for Grade 1 science curriculum is focused on weather.



The Weather Wheel game on the Sid The Science Kid site is a great way to engage your child in weather-related STEM activities at home.


Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 10.27.07 AM.pngThomas Edison’s Secret Lab is a STEM based animation series for children ages 5-9. Thomas Edison is brought back to life as a hologram and guides students through STEM related activities. It engages students in physical science, life science, earth science and space science, as well as other subjects. The site also introduces children to other famous scientists. The site has printable activities and games. TV episodes are available on Netflix.

9 places in the Boston area that will unleash your kids’ STEAM creativity

Looking for creative and educational activities for your young child?  Here is an article reposted from The Boston Globe.  Thank you, Jessica!

Fun activities for the whole family, no matter the forecast.


Over the past month, the weather has been warm and then cold, spring-y and then snowy. Literally. It’s not ideal for planning fun family adventures. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel and plop your kids in front of a TV. From painting and sewing to cooking and slime-ing, here are nine not-weather-dependent spots in the Boston area where your children can create, explore, and imagine—and maybe even discover a new talent or two.

1. They can get crafty at Muckykids Art Studio

The cozy studio’s wide variety of tactile, arts and crafts, and painting projects changes weekly. Think: glittery puppets, laminated backpack charms, and even homemade slime. While instructions are provided and staff members are available to offer guidance, the beauty of Muckykids’s drop-in hours is letting your child experiment with the materials and use them as they wish—so be prepared for lots of messy fun. Classes are also available for kids between the ages of 18 months and 7 years. (1776 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; drop in Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; $15 per child/per hour, no pre-registration necessary)

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2. Break out the tools at Home Depot and Lowe’s

Let your children explore their inner do-it-yourselfers at local Home Depot and Lowe’s stores. Each month, both chains offer free workshops and clinics especially designed for kids, inviting them to experiment with tools as they build wooden toy boxes, birdhouses, castles, and much more. Projects are generally aimed at kids between the ages of 5 to 12. Both programs fill up quickly, so advance registration is strongly recommended and can be done online. (Home Depot free kids workshops at select Home Depot stores nationwide; first Saturday of the month from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.;  free; register online) (Lowe’s Build and Grow clinics at select Lowe’s stores nationwide; select Saturday mornings; free; register online)

3. Discover their inner Picasso at Palette’s

You may have attended a paint bar with your friends; Palette’s Sunday afternoon family paint event is one of the best for your little Picassos. A resident artist will walk you and your children through the selected painting of the day, which could be anything from penguins to bumblebees to the beloved Make Way for Ducklings statue. It’s a blast to see how everyone in the class—parents and kids alike—interprets the same painting in completely different ways. Paintings are available to take home that day, so be prepared to create a gallery at home to display your masterpieces. Healthy munchies, as well as cupcakes, cookies, and other treats, are available for purchase. (29 Main St., Natick; Family Paint on Sundays at 1:30 p.m.; $25 per person, including supplies; online registration required)

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4. Explore the sciences at Parts and Crafts

Every Saturday afternoon, Parts and Crafts’s “family hackerspace” provides the real tools, gadgets, and materials (think 3-D printers, a wood shop, saws, craft supplies, and lots of LEDs) to create, collaborate, and even take stuff apart. The best part? Participation is free, although donations are welcome. (577 Somerville Ave., Somerville; Open Shop is on Saturdays from 12-2 p.m.; free/by donation)

5. Learn to sew at J.P. Knit & Stitch

This sunny yarn and fabric store in the heart of Jamaica Plain offers kids’ knitting and sewing clubs for new sewers and knitters (ages 8 to 13) so they can learn the basics in a relaxing, no-pressure environment. Their next four-session-long Friday Kids’ Sewing Club kicks off on April 1 at 4 p.m. (461 Centre St., Jamaica Plain; $100 plus materials; register online)

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6. Sketch away at the Museum of Fine Arts

Did you know families can stop by the Sharf Visitor Center at the Museum of Fine Arts and ask for a tote bag with drawing materials and activities? Then, as you go through the galleries, ask your kids to sketch their favorite works and see how they interpret some of the museum’s masterpieces. Or, try playing games like “I Spy,” or finding all the things that are blue in a particular gallery. Little details that may have been overlooked could spark your children’s imagination. Pick up the MFA’s Art Connections Card for other ways your kids can engage with the art during your visit. (465 Huntington Ave., Boston; see full schedule here; kids 6 and under are free; kids 7 to 17 are free during non-school hours; adults cost $25)

7. Paint their own pottery at Made by Me

Kids can drop by, select an unfinished (yet functional) piece of pottery—a vase, an ornament, a plate, a mug, a flower pot, a piggy bank—gather as many colors as they’d like, then get to work. The finished masterpiece is glazed, fired in the kiln, and becomes available for pick-up in six days. (1685 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday from 12-6 p.m.; cost dependent on piece chosen plus $4 per half-hour per painter)

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8. Cook up a storm at Whole Foods Dedham

Your little chefs (ages 9 to 12) can learn basic skills in the kitchen while they create healthy snacks and fun desserts…and even expand their sandwich repertoire. And at $5 a session, it’s quite the steal. The next class is scheduled for Sunday, April 24. Private cooking classes for kids ages 5 to 12 are also available. (Kids in the Kitchen program at Whole Foods Dedham, 300 Legacy Pl., Dedham; hours vary; $5; private kids’ cooking lessons are $40/hr; registration required)

9. String up some jewelry at Bead + Fiber

Beading is an easy skill for kids of all ages to master, yet still gets their creative juices flowing as they string together beads of varying colors, shapes, sizes, and textures. Over in the South End, Bead + Fiber’s introductory classes for kids include Stringing 101 and Kumihimo, or finger-loop braiding. (460 Harrison Ave., Boston; days, hours, and fees vary; register online)

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A Growth Mindset

“A connected teacher with a growth-mindset is more important than any robotic device.”

~ Amy Westman

“If the mind of a student isn’t engaged, understanding and content mastery don’t stand a chance; If the mind and heart together aren’t engaged, long-term retention and transfer of understanding and content mastery are unlikely as well.”

~ Read in an Edutopia article

img_5199.jpgKindergarten Wood and Paper Unit

The Kindergarten Scientists have been introduced to a variety of wood (and paper later on in the unit) in a systematic way. They’re observing properties of wood and discovering what happens when they test and interact with pine, plywood, partial board and basswood. Young scientists are learning that wood can be recycled to create new forms that have different properties. They’re making comparisons between different types of wood and the concept of trees as an important resource.

Quotations From Students:

Adam and Samuel – “We built a birdhouse out of wood from a tree that lived in a forest.”

Nasir – “I’m building a tree house with pine wood.”

Mateo – “I’m building a tree house 8 stories high.”

Imani, Cela, and Aaron – “We are still working on a door to go into spaces. Imani is building a backyard that you can get to through the door.  Then, we are going to make a big house.”

Juancamilo – “There is a slide – the watch-out slide!  There are lasers [and] a knife machine that cuts. Superman destroyed the watch-“

Olive – “We are building a structure and we are working together. Everyone has a job but I’m the boss.”


Grade 1 Liquids and Solids

The first grade scientists are investigating the similarities and differences in a variety of common solids and liquids like syrup, soap, glue, and water. First, they observed, described and compared a collection of solid objects located in the science/library. Next they are focusing on color, shape, texture, and hardness. They’re experimenting with objects rolling, stacking, floating, sinking as well as whether the objects are attracted to a magnet.

We will move on to the investigation of liquids after February break. Scientists will investigate how various liquids look and feel, their fluidity, how they mix water, and their degree of absorption.

Quotations From Students:

Carlos – “We are predicting what will happen to the solid metal ball when we blow the air from the straw.”

Angel – “I’m testing which solids move slow or quickly. If it’s heavier it’s going to move slower and if it’s lighter it will move faster. Some solids like the metal ball can spin if you pinch it with your finger.”

Science Talk: Student Voices

“Play is the highest form of research.” -Albert Einstein

As Albert Einstein observed, play is how children learn. When they play, children are exploring how materials work, how they interact with each other and what they are capable of. I have been documenting what students have to say about their work and their learning. Several of their quotes are featured below:

“I noticed the problem with building the dog. The whole dog. I need to rebuild it because the tail needs to be behind the blue curve. So I’m taking The dog apart to fix the problem.”


“We are creating.”

-Ms. Sarah’s class

“First I built the roof but that didn’t work because the house was falling over because it was too heavy. I came up with another idea. I’m building a box first and making that strong and then building the roof.”


“Can we have team work here!?!


“My robot is cool. I first started imagined that I could build it. Then I made the body, the hands, the eyes ears knees wheels, the feet and the arms last. On the chest a put a button for it to come alive. Then I tested it out because it was shaking. It kept falling apart so I fixed it with my friend. Now it’s stable and that’s that.”


“We built a farm and a house with a horse. Tomorrow we are going to come back and add a playhouse for the horse. Engineers build and make changes when they want to.” (About the Tinker Toys created for girl engineers)

-Isabella and Melanie

“We are engineers and we know how to put our ideas to work. We can imagine a picture in our head, like a dream in m mind. Then I plan what I want to do and then I test out if it works. I don’t get upset if it doesn’t work out the first time. I just keep testing until I build it the way I want it.”


“I’m building a tree house that is in the branches. This is all the people sitting around the table and eating. Inside the tree house there is a couch and bedroom. Nothing more.”


“I built a sand timer that is the same as the plastic sand timer.”

-Cristian (while using Unifex building cubes)

“I built a car. It was a challenge. I had help from Ms. Kelsey. We worked together. We had to fix the wheels because the wheels were wobbly at first. We had to figure out how to fix it. I looked at the paper and got some ideas. We tested it out by rolling it on a track, on the rug and on the floor in the hallway. We put some wood blocks in the car to see if the car would move faster or slower with more weight. The heavy blocks slowed it down so we took them out because we wanted to build a fast car. I’m an engineer just like the ones that design and build real race cars. Race cars have to be light to move fast.”

-Jonathan and Ms. Kelsey-Designing and Building a Race Car

“We read the book called Animals Build and I’m building a beaver dam just like the Beavers do. I have to make it stable. I put two square orange toothpicks together to make it strong. I put the little beaver in the dam because I wanted to know if it would break it. Yeah! It works! I can build as good as a beaver.”

-Vanessa S.

“I built a giraffe. It was hard because It had a lot of steps to build it with the cubes.  I’m glad I didn’t give up.”


“I’m building a swimming pool and a person to swim in it. I’m going to draw my idea on this paper first and then get to work. I’m going to use cubes to build everything. You can build people with cubes. Later on I’ll ask my friends for feedback. Right now I want to add details to my drawing.”


“Me and Ryan worked really hard to build this airplane. We worked hard to put the wings on the body of the airplane. We are going to build a run ways for the airplanes to take off. We made a plane like the airplanes at the airport near the school. Ryan is starting the runway. We had to read, follow each step like one, two, three and make sure we did it right. It took us three science classes to finish. Some other kids helped us to build other buildings at the airport. Some parents at our school work at the airport.”

-Ryan and Julian

“I built a bridge taking people to South America. I used triangles and a tooth pick across the top to make it sturdy. It took at least five times to get it right. I had to keep redesigning my bridge. Other kids asked me how did I come up with this idea. I told them that I have a smart brain and my own ideas.”


“I made a pattern structure. I’m going to add something to the top of my structure. I spread the gumdrops out and used the strong, colored and plain tooth picks. Some tooth picks are thicker and have more wood so they’re really strong. I had to test it out so I put a heavy small book on it but it collapsed. So I made some changes after I figured out the problem. My friends at the table gave me some feedback. Then I put the book back on the structure and it didn’t fall. It was hard but it was fun.”


K2 Science Talk

  • “OMG! This idea is so cool.”
  • “Let’s work together and figure it out.”
  • “It’s okay, I can help you.”
  • “I’m thinking so hard that I have ice cream brain freeze.”
  • “My structure measures eight cups tall.”
  • “You destroyed my structure but it’s okay. We can rebuild it together.”
  • “Ms. Alicia can Rosita’s robot build a tower that reaches to the sky or to our library ceiling? I want to try and build one and then test it out.”
  • “Robots make work easier for lazy people.”
  • “I disagree with that because robots help make work easier for all of us.”
  • “We build and program robots so we must be pretty smart kids.”
  • “I wrote my own code and it was big fun!”
  • “That was the best thing ever” 
  • “We are building a house. We are making a door in the front and back. We made a path that goes to the big part of the house. We are building it taller and taller.We are putting some cups up and some cups down. We have to make sure we balance each cup carefully or it will all come crashing down. Sometimes we keep bumping into the house and knocking it down. It’s hard to balance the cups when they’re pointed up. We are sharing the cups. I want to call the structure the Character Structure, says Kevin. The cups can be used as grass too. You can put the double cups on the bottom. We have to make the door wider because we keep knocking over the cups. Don’t put your mouth on it. We should all try and sit down in the castle to see if we can fit. We can’t so we need to make the wall wider. See what I’m talking about,” says Alexandra. “Now we have a bigger space and have more cups to use.” “Oh Kevin,” says Diana. “I’m going to start the path,” says Maria. “But I noticed the walls are crooked. We have to fix that part of the wall. When we finish, let’s test out if it’s really strong.”
  • “We are building together.” 
  • “I’m starting with a square and building a house.”

Kayke: Science Artist in Residence

Kayke is our Science Artist in Residence! Check out some of his drawings and my interview with Kayke about his science writings and drawings below:

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Don’t his drawings look amazing?  Here’s what Kayke had to say:

     I’m a first grader in Ms. Sarah’s class. I like my class and the kids think I’m a great artist.

What do you want us to know about your family?

      My family is from Brazil. We speak two different languages in my house, which is Portuguese and English. I have a baby sister named Alice. She smiles a lot and I like to play with her.

When did you “know” that you were an artist?

      When I drew the feathered dragon. I was six years old and liked to draw with markers and black pens. Dragons are dinosaurs that have wings (in my book).

What is your favorite food?

     My favorite food is hamburgers with ketchup.

What inspires you as an artist?

      Every time I see a different dragon I want to draw it. I also like to come up with the ideas in my brain. It’s like my brain takes a picture and the hand starts drawing. Kids ask me to draw things for them now, but I want to teach them how to do it and then I will help them. I taught Michael how to draw dragons. 


Did you ever think that you would become a famous classroom and science artist?

     Well, I keep practicing my drawings in class and at home. I keep getting better. I know draw pictures for science posters and I have a journal you gave me. Maybe one day I can have a show at the school.

Ms. Alicia: Kayke, you are a talented artist and you keep practicing. You draw more than dragons. You recently drew “The Enchanted Tree” puppet for me. I showed the K2 students and they loved it. (Kayke gives me a big smile.)

     Well, I can draw all sorts of things. I’m glad the younger kids liked it. I can teach them too.

Have you ever used other art materials in your work?

     I like to use pens with black ink. I also used coloring pens. They’re pens with different colored inks. I like to use paint. I have drawn on different types of paper and wood. I now draw in the journal you gave me.

Is there anything you want people to know about you?

     I like Minecraft and when I grow up I want to be one of the best artists in the world.

Ms. Alicia – I’m sure you will.