Category Archives: Full STEAM Ahead

Full STEAM Ahead #14: Four New Elements Added to the Periodic Table!!

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 9.28.03 AM22 milligrams is equal to about 7 ten-thousandths of an ounce.  That’s how much of a synthetic (man-made) material was used in the discovery of 2 new chemical elements that will help fill out the seventh row of the periodic table.

That synthetic material, berkelium-249, was produced in a project at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  That product was separated and processed during a 3-month period at the Oak Ridge Lab’s Radiochemical Engineering Development Center.  The berkelium-249 was then shipped to the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR), in Dubna, Russia, where it was bombarded with calcium-48 ions, creating six atoms of element 117 – one of the new elements!

What are ions?  Ions are atoms with extra electrons or missing electrons. When you are missing an electron or two, you have a positive charge. When you have an extra electron or two, you have a negative charge.

The other three elements that have also been officially verified by the International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) are elements 113, 115, and 118.  Element 115 is produced when element 117 decays.  The four new elements fill out the seventh row, or period, of the periodic table. The last time new elements were added to the periodic table was in 2011, when elements 114 (flerovium, or Fl) and element 116 (livermorium or Lv) were added.

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have been invited to submit names and symbols for the new elements.

Jim Roberto, ORNL associate lab director for science and technology partnerships, says “The discovery of new elements is actually very exciting on a number of different levels, and what we have done with our partners is change the periodic table, and we have changed every high school chemistry book.”

We have a lucky connection to this discovery! Mrs. Sindt, EY teacher at Rockbrook and Hillside, has a brother who is the Isotope Production Manager at Oak Ridge National Lab.  His name is John Krueger and he is an alum of Hillside Elementary and Westside High School! 

Think of a question you have about this discovery, or about science in general, that you’d like to ask him.  E-mail your question to your EY coordinator and she will make sure it gets to Mr. Krueger, who will then e-mail you back through Mrs. Sindt. 

Videos to watch for further explanation:

Some of my Rockbrook 5th graders asked John Krueger questions and received some very detailed, interesting responses.

See the questions and responses here.

Full STEAM Ahead #13: Cubes in Space!

Have you ever wondered what would happen to an everyday item when it travels to space?  With the help of the Cubes in Space program, you no longer just have to wonder!  This unique opportunity provides students ages 11-18 a chance to send their experiment into the realms of space via the Sounding Rocket or Space Balloon.

Ok, so you’ve just found out that you get a cube and have the chance to take your experiment to new heights.  What would your experiment be?  What would you be testing?  What materials would you use?  What impact would this have on our lives here on Planet Earth?  Leave a comment with your idea!  Stumped?  Check out the student videos below that showcase ideas that got selected and launched into space!

For more information about the Cubes in Space program, check out their website at this link!

Full STEAM Ahead #12: Reflect On Your Hour Of Code


Hundreds of students across the 10 Westside elementary schools  (and millions around the world) took part in last week’s Hour Of Code challenge.  If you happened to be one of those students, why not take a few minutes to reflect on your experience as a coder?  Check out this timeline website for questions to get your brain into full reflection mode.   Challenge yourself to answer at least 3 parts of the timeline, but feel free to do more!  Email them to your EY Coordinator, or leave them as comments to this post.

If you didn’t have the opportunity to participate in the Hour Of Code, fear not!  Check out the website and begin your coding adventure today!   Don’t forget to come back and reflect on your experience once your hour is complete!


Hour Of Code Coming Soon!



Well, since the “T” in STEAM stands for technology, it seemed only right that a post goes up about the Hour Of Code event happening worldwide next week (Dec. 7th – 13th).  Head over to to get in on the coding fun and who knows, maybe even begin your career in the computer sciences!

While you are anxiously waiting for to begin, why not dig into information on coding and all things computer?  Perhaps you find yourself wondering how the internet works?  Or maybe you’ve always dreamed of sitting down with Mark Zuckerberg to learn a few programming tips and tricks.  Now you can!  Here is a link to videos that will get your brain wrapped around those intriguing topics and more!

Leave a comment about something new you learned or something that wowed you through your Hour Of Code experience or from watching the videos.

Happy Coding!

Full STEAM Ahead #10: Forest Fire in Nebraska


Image taken from:

Why would anyone want to start a forest fire on purpose?  How can you conduct a controlled burn?  What is a restoration biologist?  What components of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) are important to the controlled burn process?

Find the answers to these questions and more by doing a little research (start with the links below).  We would LOVE to take a few interested students to the forest to learn more about this process.  Your ticket?  Read on!

Research Links:

Watch a video and read about the controlled burn here:

Here is another news source:

Fontenelle Forest Website:

Article-Reducing catastrophic wildfires through managed burns:

When you are finished researching, display your learning somehow.  Push yourself to try a new app or a new way of showing your learning.  Here are some examples:

  • Write a letter Fontenelle Forest
  • If you could interview a restoration biologist, what questions would you ask?
  • Make a picture book or an A-Z book about the topic (an A-Z book has something related to the topic for every letter in the alphabet)

Email your finished product to the EY coordinator.

Full STEAM Ahead #9: Experimentation!


Are you someone who loves to figure out why things work the way they do?  Do you like to take on the challenge of solving mysteries?  Then these science videos might just be what you are looking for to make the most of your E/I time, or anytime!  Check out the link below that will lead you into a world of experimentation.  Choose a video and try to solve the mystery of what scientific event occurred?  Try creating  your own science video with a question at the end for others to solve.  Share this video with your EY Coordinator.

Sick Science Video Collection

Happy Experimenting!




# 8 Full Steam Ahead

Have you wanted to create your own video game?

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YES??? Well, “Floors” is the app for you

Watch this video that shows you what the app will do.

Watch this video that introduces how to start your own game and a little information about each of the buttons and what they do.

Use this Pixel Press guide to get started

Get started creating!

  1. Go to the app store and download Floors (Pixel Press) Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 10.02.30 AM
  2.  Open app, type in your code and click “allow microphone”

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3. To get to the area where you will create click “Create”


4.  After spending time learning and creating, you can share your video game with your   teacher or the EY coordinator in your building. Create a post below telling us what you like about this app. Include your first name and your school with your post.

5. If you want to take this a step further and create a drawing and convert it to a video game, read this article and download this special graph paper at  to get started.

This is a tutorial for how to create your drawing on paper or game using the draw in app feature

This is a link to more video tutorials


#7 Full STEAM Ahead: Binary Code Name


Computer coding seems to be everywhere these days.  But what exactly is computer coding?  Well, it’s a little bit like teaching a dog tricks.  You have to teach a computer what to do by speaking its “language.”  One such language, or code, is binary.  It works by using a system of 2 symbols, base 2, often made up of 0’s and 1’s.  Check out this article on binary code and take on the challenges below.

Here are a few tasks for you to take on while reading the article:

*Write your name using UTF-8 binary code

*Write something in binary code using a symbol, object, or color that exists in two forms or states (ex:  coin, shapes, up/down arrows, etc…)

*Take the “Bit Groups” challenge at the end of the article

We would love to see the binary work you have done!  Leave a comment or email your EY coordinator.  Happy coding!