STEM Fair News

STEM fair graphic

Our STEM Fair (Science Fair) is now in full swing. All grade levels have been hard at work thinking like scientists, asking questions, hypothesizing (predicting answers), researching, experimenting, collecting data and observations, analyzing results, drawing conclusions, and sharing their findings on project display boards. Kindergarten through Second Grade students are doing class projects with their teachers, Third Grade students are working on small group (2-5 people) projects in their classrooms, and 4th and 5th grade students are working on individual projects at home with guidance from their parents and teachers.

We will be showcasing our STEM Fair projects this year at our Ballard Family STEM Night at the Museum. This event will be held on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 from 6-8pm at the South Florida Museum downtown. This is a FREE night at the museum open to all Ballard families. Each grade level will have an activity table with a STEM challenge that students can participate in. The Ballard STEM Fair (Science Fair) Committee has been hard at work planning the event for our families, so we cannot say, just yet, what the activities are. Just know they will be fun! And there will be prizes, as well! Each student will receive a passport to use at each of the activity tables. Collect stickers at each of the tables, turn in your passport, and enter to win a cool STEM related prize, like maybe a stomp rocket, or magnetic slime.

STEM Fair Help

Parents looking to support their students with their individual STEM Fair (Science Fair) projects can find ideas, suggestions, and guidelines at the following places:

Must NOTs

Please, we ask for no projects on slime, volcanoes, or counting M&Ms (or Skittles). The days of the baking soda and vinegar erupting volcano kits are long gone, not to mention overdone. No new science comes from the home made volcano projects. Also, the DIY slime – everywhere you go has slime kits. I can’t even keep bottled glue in my classroom without it disappearing to would-be-slime enthusiasts. I don’t care how much glitter or essential oil you add to it, it’s not acceptable as a science fair project. The whole point of doing a science fair or STEM fair project is to learn something new about the world around you. Adding stuff to Elmer’s glue and making gooey putty out of it is not a new concept. Also, any of the Borax slime recipes should not be done as they are toxic. Borax contains boric acid which seeps into your skin through the pores in your hands if you are making and playing with that kind of slime. It can also burn your hands after prolong exposure to playing with the slime. (Read more about why making slime with Borax is so dangerous here.)

Due Dates

All 5th Grade STEM Fair (Science Fair) projects are now due! (Were due by Jan. 31) K-3rd Grade projects are due Feb. 7th, and 4th Grade projects are due Feb. 14th. We need time to judge them and notify the district of our winners that will be going to the all-county STEM (fair) Competition by Feb. 16th. (The district STEM Competition event will take place on Mar. 3rd at the South Florida Museum.)

STEM Fair Night Accouncement

Engineering the Holidays – Thanksgiving

Holidays, especially when there are limited days of school that week, are a perfect time to get in some engineering challenges. This week there is only two days of school, where I can get in a little fun and quick engineering design challenges, holiday style.

Kindergarten is learning about inertia as the students work together to design a turkey for the Great Turkey Race (balloon rockets on a string). One problem we encountered in our race was that our strings kept getting tangled and twisted. We need to find a better system for tying off our string.

First and Second grade students are working on an EDC “Leaf Gliders” where the objective is to design a glider from a paper leaf that can fly the furthest. This is a lesson I found on Teachers Pay Teachers, another one of my favorite sites! Students always love the opportunity to make something fly in my class, so this lesson was a hit!

Third and Fourth grade students are listening to a story read to them Balloons Over Broadway about the start of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC. Their challenge is to work together using pre-blown balloons to create a model of a balloon animal that could float above New York City in the parade.

Balloon animal engineering design challenge

Fifth grade students are learning about pulleys this week. Since simple machines were taken out of the science curriculum for elementary several years ago this is something that our students are not familiar with. They are reading the book How to Lift a Lion which is all about simple machines. Their challenge is to create a working elevator to move an apple 18 inches off of the table top. They are using ring stands as their base to attach the pulley and build their elevators using string, straw pieces, and craft sticks with tape. The lesson I had seen used the mini pumpkins, but the pumpkin patches and grocery stores are out of those now that we are in November. The apples are a bit wobbly and harder to get to stay on the platforms they are building for the elevators.

Science is… Motion!

This week we are learning about force and motion, and changes in matter. Kindergarten and first grade students love lots of motion, and sometimes need other forces to help them stop, or come to rest. These little scientists are busy exploring centers about movement and motion and changing positions (something they seem to very adept at). They love rolling the balls and cars and finding out ways in which they can move. They really love the pull back cars where we can explore inertia and opposing forces. These cars are a great way to get in Newton’s 3rd law of motion, equal and opposite reactions. The students also love using the dancing scarves and the motion cards and copying to motions shown on the cards with the scarves. These are new to our classroom this year, and the students love using them.

motion and movement scarves2nd Grade

Second grade is having fun exploring Newton’s 3rd law through bowling. We are using one of Mystery Science’s lessons on Force Olympics. This was a Kindergarten lesson, but easily adaptable for 2nd grade. It’s a read along mystery, so the students are reading the story that goes along with the activity. Visitors to the lab are watching their step as they step over large pink pool noodle bumpers for our bowling alleys. We are using plastic Solo cups as the pins, and tennis balls to bowl with. The students take turns trying to knock down all 10 pins and resetting the pins. We talk about the amount of force needed knock over all of the pins (hard or soft force).

learning about motion through a bumper bowling mystery

3rd Grade

This week Third Grade students are learning all about the properties of different materials. They are doing another Mystery Science lesson about why people wear clothes (for protection). Students explore the properties of common lunch packing materials (paper towel, piece of aluminum foil, a brown paper bag, and a paper plate) as they are presented with an EDC to design and construct a hat made from these materials to wear on a deserted island. The hat must be able to keep the sun out of their eyes, be absorbent enough to whisk away sweat, and must stay on their head. This is one of the many fun engineering design challenges that Mystery Science does in their lessons.

4th Grade

This week our Fourth Graders are continuing to learn about changes in matter. They are using Eric Carle’s Pancake, Pancake! story and identifying the physical and chemical changes as Jack goes through the long process of having his grandmother make him pancakes. I am certainly glad it does not take us that much work or time to make the pancakes. This is a perfect example of how we can take a simple picture book and turn it into a lesson for our intermediate students.

5th Grade

This week Fifth grade is exploring motion and force through marble coasters in another Mystery Science lesson. The students are helping to design a miniature golf course with bumper coasters. The students are using foam pipe insulation cut in half for their coaster and marbles as their bumper cars. They are learning about kinetic and potential energy and how to place the peaks of the coaster for maximum potential energy to carry the bumper cars through the whole track without getting stuck. There is a trick to this challenge. They are (pretending) to build their bumper coaster course right next to a swamp. So if the coasters go too fast, they end up becoming alligator chow, or the marbles go into the cup.

learning about motion through bumper coasters

It’s all in how you arrange the thing… the careful balance of the design is the motion. ~Andrew Wyeth


Glowing Bones

Make no bones about it! As a STEM teacher, one of my favorite sites is Mystery Science! I’m so glad a fellow colleague and good friend introduced me to this site last year. I did my free trial last year and loved it so much I paid for the subscription to use with my students this year. Their lessons are fun and exciting, and the activities are full of engineering design challenges. This week’s lesson isn’t an EDC but it is a fun and creative activity that focuses on Life Science, bones in particular! Just in time for Halloween decorating!

This week’s activity is something new this year, one of their seasonal activities that was posted last week. In this lesson the students consider what we would be like if we didn’t have our bones. Then, as a fun activity, the students can draw their hand and arm adding in their bones. We are making a picture that looks sort of like an x-ray. We start by tracing our hand, wrist, and arm. Then Doug shows us how to draw our bones and color it in with a dark crayon, leaving the bones open. It looks better if you draw on a lighter background color of paper and press somewhat hard with the crayon really building up that wax. Next we dipped cotton swabs into a little bit of vegetable oil and brushed it into the bones. Letting our pictures dry bit. When you hold them up to the light or sun, the bones seem to glow. We can take them home and hang them in the window. I can’t wait to hang my picture up at home!

glowing bones

Glowing bones in the window

This activity was a hit with the students! They had so much fun painting with the oil and were so pleased with the results. This was a big boost to their confidence when they saw the finished product.


STEM Training in Boston

Museum of Science in Boston

This week’s post comes to you from the wonderful city of Boston! I’m so excited and happy to have had this opportunity to go for STEM training at the Museum of Science, here in Boston, through a scholarship from Engineering is Elementary (EiE). I got a take a break from teaching this week and be a student myself learning new things to bring back to my classroom. I met some amazing teachers from all over the country and in different school settings. But our goal is the same, to bring hands-on science-based engineering challenges to our students.

This week’s lesson that I’m learning focuses on Life Science. In my search for engineering design challenges to do with my students, the hardest domain to find challenges on is Life Science. I was so pleased to see that EiE was offering this workshop on a Life Science topic. In this unit, we take a look at the muscles and bones of the human body as we work our way up to designing a knee brace from classroom consumable materials. One that would stabilize an injured knee and offer support to the knee that allowed the knee to move in a natural way. We even had a model knee to test our designs on that was constructed from ordinary items such as shipping tubes (like the kind used for posters), a Whiffle ball, panty hose (to give it that natural skin tone, and to help keep everything together), rubberbands, pipe cleaner, paper fasteners, and cardboard.

model of a knee for the knee brace

We began by discussing what technology was as we did an activity with items in a brown bag. Working in small groups of three, we had to think about the technology of the item, the materials it was made of, what it is used for, and alternative uses for the item. My group had a plastic spoon. We decided that besides the fact that we use plastic spoons in so many of our engineering design challenges in our classrooms (catapults being one of our favorites), we could also use the spoon to dig with. One item that surprised me and made me stop and think was a laminated recipe. I never thought about recipes being a piece of technology. However, when I think about it, a process is something that is man-made that meets a need or solves a problem, making life easier.

As we went through each of the activities in the professional development workshop, we were able to “wear” teacher hats and student hats. So sometimes we got to think like our students would think about a challenge or activity. One fun activity we did along the way was to take a look at, sort, and compare everyone’s foot print. We did this by spraying the bottom of each other’s foot and then stepping onto a piece of construction paper. Then we used a marker to trace the outline of the footprint. We compared the foot prints as we posted them all on a wall and sorted through all of the footprints. Our challenge was to give a shoe manufacturer suggestions for its design of a new sneaker. In order to meet this challenge, we needed to gather information about people’s feet. One thing that stood out right away as we were doing this activity is that everyone has different arches.

comparing footprints activity

A fun team building activity we did was a tower challenge using 100 index cards to build a pedestal for a pig. It had to be at least 24 inches high and had to stand for at least 10 seconds with the pig on the top. My team’s structure did not make the 10 count.

index card tower

A pedestal fit for a pig

While we were here in Boston we got a do some sight seeing. The weather was absolutely perfect for sight seeing the Bostonian way – walking. Everything in this great city is so close you can walk everywhere. And, walk we did! (If you go to Boston, I recommend bringing comfortable shoes. Yesterday I walked so much, I got a blister.) If you get tired of walking, or get a blister like I did, you can take the T (subway train). The passes are very reasonable. The first night we were in town we all walked downtown to the harbor and hung out in a garden designed for adults. There we got to socialize and get acquainted with everyone’s background. Our class was small – only 13 of us teachers. After this, a small group of us ladies walked along the harbor and found a seafood place to eat. I mean, while in Boston… Wednesday was a full moon (flying into Boston on the evening of a full moon and seeing the full moon over the harbor from the air was one of the highlights of my trip. Simply breath taking!) so we saw the full moon over the harbor as we dined. I even got to watch a bit of the Red Sox play on a TV that was there in the restaurant. (Sadly, they lost to the Astros.)

Yesterday was our last day of a workshop. We had our final challenge, constructing a knee brace that stabilized an injured knee, like the boy’s knee in the story that accompanied this unit. Each of the EiE units come with a story about someone in need of an engineering solution. Each story contains a character that is the specific type of engineer needed for the task. In No Bones About It the characters are camping when one of the kids injures his knee. The main character’s mother is a biomedical engineer, so he uses what he learned from her to come up with the solution, a knee brace. We all got to wear our student hats to ask, imagine, plan, create, and we talked about improvements to our knee brace designs. It was fun to go “shopping” for the materials for our design.

One of the knee brace designs

One of the best designs of the class was one that used Velcro so that was removable, and a hinge that allowed the knee to bend naturally.

At the end of the PD session we were able to check out other units to help us decide which kit we would like for our kit. They will send us the kits for free. We just have to agree to teach the unit this year and report back to EiE about how our lessons went. The instructors encouraged us to select a unit that had materials that were harder to acquire on our own. I think I am going to select the maglev unit because of the magnets involved. Although I really want the knee brace kit, I feel I would be able to use their list to create my own kit.

This is my last day in Boston. Last night, after touring the Museum of Science, I walked all over the Commons and Back Bay, where I was staying. I hiked up Beacon Hill on a street called Joy Street. I think it is only a Joy if you are walking downhill! This is where my blister came from. Well, it didn’t help that I walked to the Museum yesterday morning. On my walk last night I visited Cheers (had to) and spent a couple of hours in the Public Garden until after the sun went down. As I found my way  back to my hotel I discovered this wonderful old castle in the middle of the city that is now a steak house restaurant. I want to go and check it out this morning before I leave. Turns out, it is just a few blocks away from my hotel.

I’m sad to be leaving but so thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to visit this beautiful city, meet new friends, and learn new things for my class. I’m looking forward to receiving my kit and teaching the unit. I would love to come back to this city soon for another visit. I will definitely have to plan to fly in again on the evening of the full moon, and definitely in fall when the leaves  have changed. I didn’t see as many of the changed leaves as I thought I would this trip.

My next stop is Orlando, in a couple of weeks, for the FAST conference where I will be presenting an engineering design challenge in Life Science with a fellow IE2 teacher.



The Science of Baseball

The Science of BaseballThis week as we continue with the nature of science, 5th grade is learning the steps of the scientific method by taking a close look at an experiment that has already been done. An experiment, sports fans, that was done on the subject of baseball. The science of baseball, you say? Why Newton, himself, would be all over this game! Think motion, action, and reaction. Even The Magic School Bus did an episode centered around baseball, in their episode about friction.

I looked around online and found an experiment centered on baseball. In this experiment the question they were testing was How does temperature affect how far a baseball travels. This was similar in design to other experiments using balls in which they wanted to know how temperature affected the balls’ bounce. In this experiment, they tested 30 baseballs heating some of them up, putting some in the freezer, and leaving others alone, as they bounced them against a wall. Their hypothesis was that heated balls would bounce further off the wall than the room temperature and cooled baseballs. They thought that the baseballs that were heated had more energy so they would move faster.

The students were given a copy of this experiment and had to go through and pick out each of the steps of the scientific method in the experiment.  After this, the students then worked together in teams to develop a rubric for judging science fair projects. Then had to use this rubric to judge sample science fair projects and assign each project a grade based off a hundred point system. This activity also helps students prepare for their own science fair project and know what makes a good presentation of the experiment, and what doesn’t.

Next week, maybe I’ll get a chance to take in a Red Sox game. Or at least watch it on TV from their home town. I’m going to Boston for STEM training!

Willie “Pops” Stargell said, “To me, baseball has always been a reflection of life. Like life, it adjusts. It survives everything.” This is kind of like science. Science adjusts, but always survives.

science baseball diamond

Science is … Experiments!

This week, after returning from Hurricane Irma, it’s business as usual. Or at least science as usual. And this means experiments! This time of year in elementary school science is like spring training, teaching the basics – nature of science, that is. And in my book, the only way to learn science is to do science! Learn the scientific method by actually performing the scientific method on experiments. Practicing our experimentation makes perfect.

At home, a good place to start learning about science (and math) is in a mini-science lab, more commonly known as, the kitchen. Why not start with something that is close to our hearts, like food?! So this week, most of our experiments deal with food especially candy. We have gummy worm experiments, candy melt experiments, sink or float experiments, and before Irma we had color changing milk, and the gingerbread man in milk experiments. Science doesn’t get any sweeter than this!

One of our experiments was a gingerbread man cookie in milkA couple of weeks ago, Kindergarten heard the story of the Gingerbread Man. Then we talked about why the Gingerbread Man was afraid of the river. We did an experiment to see how things that are liquid affects gingerbread cookies. The results were devastating, at least for the Gingerbread Man. Our gingerbread men got all soggy in the river (milk) and felt apart in the current (tilting of the bowl). Next, we recorded our observations from the experiment by drawing before and after pictures of our gingerbread men cookies.


This week, our Kindergarten students started with “Who Sank the Boat?” by Pamela Allen where we talked about buoyancy. Then we continued our discussion as we read “What Floats in a Moat?” by Lynne Berry. We read a poem about sinking and floating objects and decided to put some of the objects to the test. Then, we used a craft stick, a crayon, a straw, a penny, a button, a styrofoam ball, a paper clip, a plastic jewel, a plastic animal, and a wooden domino to test to see which objects would float and which would sink. We also added in a K’Nex stick, a golf ball, a ping pong ball, a pop bead, and a binder clip. But first we predicted which objects would float. We were surprised by the button. We thought that since it was little and flat that it would float. It did float for a few, but then when the holes filled up with water, and it sank. We were also surprised by the crayon that is made of wax. Our thinking was that candles float in water, so we thought the crayon would, too. It didn’t float.

1st Grade

A couple of weeks ago, before all of the Hurricane Irma disruption, our First Graders were experimenting with colors in milk. We were wondering what would happen to the food coloring colors we dropped into a pan of milk if we touch the surface of the milk with a sotton swab dipped in dish washing liquid. The results were spectacular! This was also a lesson in Science Lab Safety for the students, as they learned one very important safety rule – NO Tasting! Although I do experiments with food items, I make it clear right from the start that we will never do any tasting. This prevents any confusion about whether it is okay to taste or not.

Color Changing Milk Experiment

2nd Grade

Our Second Grade students are having some wiggly, jiggly candy fun with the Dancing Gummy Worms experiment. They are testing to see which liquid would make the gummy worms dance the most. The students have three different liquids, vinegar, club soda, and Alka Seltzer. The worms were soaking in a solution of baking soda and water. When the students placed the worms in the solutions they would dance a little. The solution that made the gummy worms dance the most, we discovered, was vinegar. Although, club soda showed a slight reaction with bubbles and movement from the worms. After this, we tested the pH of the solutions by dipping a piece of litmus paper into all of the solutions including the baking soda. We discovered the baking soda solution was a base as was the Alka Seltzer. Vinegar was a strong acid, which is why it reacted so to the gummy worms soaked in baking soda.

sink or float experiment photo2sink or float experiment photo1

3rd Grade

Third Grade is learning about the scientific method by doing a candy fun experiment. They are testing to see which hard-coated candy dissolves the fastest in water. The candies they are testing are: Gobstoppers, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, and Skittles. The majority of the students thought that since M&Ms were made of chocolate that those would be the first to dissolve. However we discovered later that the chocolate part have a layer of wax covering them and keeping the chocolate from mixing with the water. The clear winner every single time was Skittles. It was really cool to watch the S pop up off the Skittle. The M&Ms did this too, but not like the Skittles. We found out later after doing some research that Skittles is made up of almost all sugar. The others do not have as high of a percentage of sugar in them. So sugar dissolves in water.
The Great Candy Dissolve Experiment

Ralph Emerson Waldo said, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” What if we approached everything as if it were an experiment. Oh, the questions we could ask!

Science is … a Mystery!

In my last post, I said science is curiosity. Science IS curiosity. Science is also wonder, intrigue, and a mystery. That’s right, science is a mystery! It’s a puzzle, an enigma that must be investigated. Clues need to be found, like pieces to a puzzle, and evidence to support the claim must be gathered. These are things scientists do when they perform experiments. No hocus pocus potion magic. No crystal ball or magic 8-ball. It’s all very methodical like unfolding a mystery. Although, to see some of my students this week, one would think they were shaking a magic 8-ball and listening to it speak to them.

This week as we dive into unpacking the scientific method, we are checking out mystery boxes and trying to discover what is inside them without opening the boxes. The students are using some of their senses and looking for clues to help them find out what is inside 6 little metal boxes. They are shaking and listening to these little containers and recording what they think it sounds like. Using their sense of touch, they are weighing the boxes and using what they know about things to get a sense of what it could be inside the box. And, yes, some are even smelling the boxes to see if there could possibly be food or candy in there. Although, I’ve told them there isn’t anything of the sort in there, that could spoil and go bad, or even worse, attract creepy crawlies. Then they are working together having a mock scientific conference to discuss their thoughts about what could be inside the boxes. They must support their claims with evidence and reasoning. They must come up with their best idea based on their evidence. The students work in groups ruling out ideas that couldn’t be in the boxes and establishing one group answer per box. These answers, then, are written on sticky notes and posted on a chart to be shared with the rest of the class.

Mystery Boxes consensus grid

Each group is given a different color sticky note pad to post their answers to the mystery on.

Each group is given a chance to go and look at all of the possible answers from all of the groups in the chart. Then, another conference is held in which we come to a class consensus about what could be in each of the boxes. All leading up to the big question, when do we open the boxes to see what is really inside? The answer is, never. Absolute silence for about half a second as they ponder the meaning of this statement. Next comes the yelling and disappointment – What?! Why?! I tell them this was a lesson in discovery. And have them stop and think, and write down all the skills and approaches they used to work out what was inside the boxes. This represents how scientists work. Then, I’m asked the question, again, now can we open to boxes to see what’s inside? And, again, the answer is, we don’t. The boxes are to remained sealed and never opened. No one will find out what is really inside. It will remain an unsolved mystery.

This is like the work a scientist does. Scientist never come up with definitive answers to life’s mysteries. Instead, they come up with theories based on the evidence they have at the time. All scientific theories are open to future revision or possible rejection as technology and understanding improves. From this, students learn that science is ever changing and waiting for new discoveries. Until then, science is a mystery.

Albert Einstein once said, “The important thing is to never stop questioning.”

Never stop trying to solve the mystery.


Science is … Curiosity!

This week in STEM Science we have been learning about what science is. More than learning, we have been trying to describe what science is and what exactly scientists do. When asked what a scientist does, often the response is something volatile and explosive. Visions of mad scientists working in a labor-a-tory making potions and blowing things up come to mind. My younger scientists are often surprised to learn that scientists are ordinary people just like them who see the world and wonder about it. The students beam with pride when I tell them scientists are curious just like they are. They ask a lot of questions. About everything. Scientists use their senses to observe things. They ask questions about how things work or why things happen the way they do.

A quick look through the Online Etymology Dictionary tells us that science comes from Latin scientia meaning knowledge, from sciens meaning intelligent, skilled, and from scire, a verb, meaning to know. In the 14th century scientists were known for “book learning” and “collective human knowledge”, especially that gained by systematic observation, experiment, and reasoning. A far cry from the common thought of old school alchemists. Systematic observation, experiment, and reasoning – this sounds like the scientific method! And the first part of the scientific method begins with asking questions about something observed. So, scientists are curious. After all, curiosity is defined as a strong desire to know or learn something.

We read a poem about what science is, and then pulled out the descriptive words from the poem about what science is. After discussing it some more, we made a circle map about what they thought science is.
Science is circle map

I like how some of the students included engineers into the map along with solving problems. In STEM, the students are taught that an engineer is a special kind of scientist that uses math and technology to design things that solve problems.

Next, we talked about how scientists observed the natural world using their five senses. The students were able to use hand lenses to explore different items such as fossils, rocks, birds’ nests, cattails, snake skins, feathers, old bee hives, and a cotton blossom. The students talked about the different textures, describing them, as well as the difference it made when using a hand lens to examine the items. They also came up with questions that might help them explore the items more in depth.

Boys looking at cotton blossom in science class

Curiosity at work on cotton blossom during a lesson in the nature of science

When asked what I teach, I often say, “I inspire curiosity.” Children have a natural curiosity about the world around them. This curiosity leads to asking questions, lots of questions, which helps them think like a scientist.

Sally Ride said, “Science is fun. Science is curiosity. We all have natural curiosity. Science is a process of investigating. It’s posing questions and coming up with a method. It’s delving in.”

You can’t spell success without failure!

As we enter a new school year, let’s think about ways in which we learn. One of the ways we learn is through failure. Failing is a big part of learning. It is something we should embrace rather than fear. Without failures we cannot grow. Think about a little baby creeping on the floor beginning to take his first steps. He will most likely fall a few dozen times, yet he continues to get back up and try again. Yes, he may even get hurt and cry when he falls and bangs something. But that doesn’t stop him from trying again. Each time he falls he learns a little bit more about how to walk. His brain is learning what works and what doesn’t work. In time he will have succeeded to walk through all those failed attempts.

Often we are afraid to try because we are afraid we will fail. We receive an F on a paper and think, “That’s it! I’m no good at this!” And this stops us from wanting to try again. However, its moments like this when we need to think of that little baby trying to walk, dust our proverbial pants off, and try again. We should ask ourselves, or our teacher, why we received the F. What did we do wrong, and how can we get better? This is not to say that you may not get an F again. If you did, then try to see if there was an improvement, any improvement. Focus on what was right, and go from there.

Albert Einstein, one of my heroes, failed at least 7 times when he was developing his E=mc2 equation. He also failed many times while coming up with his Theory of Relativity and many other failures in his work as a mathematician and scientist. In fact, 1905 was said to be Einstein’s annus mirabilis, his year of miracles. He wrote a series of papers that year including his particle theory on light. However, that year also contained at least 6 major failures for him, including his first proof of his famous equation. Are you surprised? I’m not. Failure is practically built in to the scientific method, and the engineering design process. Without failures, there would not be any improvements.

Einstein was not the only scientist who experienced failure. Marie Curie, Nikola Tesla, Sir Isaac Newton, and Galileo all experienced failure. However they did not let that stop them. They continued on to do the great things we know them for today. In fact, if we really were to examine any great from history, we would be able to find their failures, along with their successes. Failure is a part of life, a part of growing. We should not let it stop us from learning.

There’s a motivational baseball quote that I love, “Never give up. The last swing could win the game.” So true.

Never give up. The last swing could win the game. Failure is a part of the game.