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Engineering Resources

 Posted by on April 27, 2020  Science Resources  Comments Off on Engineering Resources
Apr 272020

Right now, I am safe at home with my three-year-old and five-year-old.  Like many of you, I feel the challenge of balancing at-home work with full-time parenting.  I know many of your school districts are doing an amazing job of providing distance learning resources.  Yet, I wanted to share a few STEM resources you can put in your own personal toolbox for those times when you just need to get something done and your kids seem to be bouncing off the walls! 

The resources below can make you feel good about allowing your kids to use their devices, because they help kids develop their engineering skills.  Did you know STEM-related jobs are expected to grow at 17% compared to 9.8% for non-STEM jobs?  Projections indicate the United States will experience a shortage of engineers.  Some projections look like there may be as many as one million more engineers needed, than our education system will produce at its current rate.  So, letting your kids have fun with the engineering design challenges below will help you, help them and potentially help all of us!

Design different machines to help the ball reach its goal:


Put on your engineering hats to design a course to guide a ball to an ultimate goal:


Adjust the Rube Goldberg machine, so lunch can be served:


Design a structure to help the hamster reach its food:


Find the parts to complete each machine:


Use simple machines to design a solution to complete each task:


Join forces with the Fidgets to solve four engineering challenges:


Important Note:  Many of these resources require Flash, so make sure you have it enabled in your browser or you may not be able to see the resource.

Elizabeth Baldwin

 Posted by on April 20, 2020  Behind the Scenes of StarrMatica  Comments Off on Elizabeth Baldwin
Apr 202020

Hello!  My name is Elizabeth Baldwin and I am a life-long learner!  I love to read and research things that happened in the past, things happening right now and things that might happen in the future!  Whether it is in the field of history, science, fiction or nonfiction, I find our world very engaging.  At this moment, I have 5 books stacked on my night-stand next to my bed!  One is a fictional story set in the early 1800’s, one is a memoir, one is a biography, one is inspirational, one is to practice Spanish and I usually have a science fiction book lying around somewhere!

I have been married for 25 years and have two wonderful children, who are both in college.  I studied music and elementary education in college and have been a teacher for most of my adult life.  I love to sing and I play a few instruments. I am in the process of writing my first children’s novel.  When I first started writing for StarrMatica, I was studying reading in graduate school.  I wrote fiction and non-fiction reading texts for multiple grade levels.  One of my favorite texts was about truffles and why they are expensive.  At this moment, I am writing texts for social studies.  While I was researching plastic, I discovered how I could change my behavior to make a difference in the world.

We can learn so much from our world!  We can learn from animals and nature.  We can learn from history and try to be better for it.  The creativity of people is amazing!  What if we did this?  What if we tried that?  Those are some of the questions that keep me wanting to learn.  I hope with my writing, I can inspire kids to learn and ask questions for themselves.

Phenomenon for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) 3-PS2-2

 Posted by on April 7, 2020  Phenomenon Ideas  Comments Off on Phenomenon for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) 3-PS2-2
Apr 072020

3-PS2-2  Make observations and/or measurements of an object’s motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion.

If you are teaching the Next Generation Science Standards and are looking for phenomena ideas, you’ve come to the right place! I like to think about phenomena as lesson starters. They are photos or videos showing an observable event in the universe and are used to get kids thinking, asking questions, and discussing their prior knowledge. For more information about using phenomena, there is a handy printable guide and video here:

When you look at the stone in this photo, how do you think it got there? Has the stone been pushed by the wind or pulled by gravity? Has an animal or a person moved it forward without leaving any footprints? If you can’t seem to come up with an answer, you’re not alone! The mystery of this stone and many others like it has baffled scientists for almost 100 years!

This photo gives us a glimpse of a natural phenomenon called “sailing stones.” Sailing stones can be seen in a few locations in the U.S. The most famous can be found in Death Valley National Park. There, hundreds of stones, rock, and boulders dot the landscape. Their mysterious trails give evidence of their movement. No one has ever watched them move, and yet it is clear that somehow they do. They sit for years. Then suddenly a park ranger would find that they had drifted to new locations. Sometimes they move only a few inches and in other cases thousands of feet!

Scientists set up an experiment to figure out how these stones move, and here is what they found:  Every winter, several inches of rain freeze creating a pond of ice in an area of Death Valley known as the Racetrack Playa. Stones, rocks, and boulders dot the pond’s surface. As the sun warms the ice, it begins to crack. The thin sheet of ice covering the lake bed is only about the thickness of three quarters stacked on each other. As it breaks up under the sun, pieces of ice accumulate behind the rocks. Working together, the wind and ice gently push the rocks forward along the soft, moist ground.  Eventually, the water evaporates. The ground dries out. The trails are visible for all to see.


This information is from the text: Solving the Mystery of Sailing Stones by Michelle Negron Bueno.  Solving the Mystery of Sailing Stones is found in, StarrMatica Texts: Science Your Way, a collection of informational texts written specifically to address every K-5 NGSS Performance Expectation.  All texts in the collection begin with a phenomenon photo and are written at six different Lexile levels, so all students can read the same content at their reading level.  You can find out more about StarrMatica Texts:  Science Your Way here: http://www.starrmatica.com/index.php?/main/texts