Share it! Science

Friday, February 15, 2019

Confidently Include More STEM in Your Homeschool

You know what I enjoy almost as much as teaching kids science? Teaching and empowering others to teach kids science! The STEM disciplines are important and relevant. Unfortunately, a lot of people do not believe they have the skills to teach science, technology, engineering or math. I don't believe this is true. I think there is something for everyone in the STEM disciplines and even if you weren't the strongest student in one of these subjects that does not mean you cannot inspire kids to love and excel.

If you are someone who would love to become more confident as a STEM teacher, especially if you are a homeschooler, I have an exciting resource and opportunity for you! The 2019 Homeschool STEM Conference - Online is coming up in March. I'm thrilled to be speaking in three of the 30+ sessions participants will have lifetime access to. In this blog post I'll give you the scoop on what I'll be talking about as well as other details about this extremely affordable resource for homeschoolers and others who want to improve their STEM teaching skills.

Homeschool STEM Conference Online

This post includes affiliate links meaning that I receive a small commission from purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. Please see disclosures for more information.

STEM Resources

During the conference I'll be giving three talks. Below are the descriptions of each as well as some specifics about what you'll come away with. You'll also find more information and how to register here.

Best Resources for Developing Your Own Science Curriculum

Session description:
Interested in developing your own science curriculum but are unsure where to start? Maybe you are worried about your own science knowledge. Let’s explore some tried and true resources for confidently creating a custom curriculum. Tips on determining which concepts are skill-level appropriate for your learners, how to develop a unit and choosing resources to make your lesson planning stress-free regardless of your own science background! Will include tons of examples and resources.

Over 20 resources for developing science curriculum, tips and activities, encouragement and a 2-page handout.

Using Picture Books to Teach Elementary STEM

Session description:
STEM does not have to be limited to equations, experiments and gadgets. Engage your children in STEM after a trip to the local library! A step-by-step guide on developing a lesson based on a favorite picture book. We’ll outline the benefits of integrating literacy and STEM as well as share lesson ideas to accompany several recently published award-winning children’s books. Tons of resources for building your library of children’s books and repertoire of STEM lessons.

Over 35 STEM activity ideas, book list, 20 resources for finding STEM lessons that integrate children's books, and a handout.  

STEM picture books and activities

Engaging Hands and Minds with the 5E Inquiry Model

Session description:
The best (and possibly the most fun) way to learn science is through inquiry. The 5E Inquiry Model is a method of teaching science that allows learning to be driven by a child’s own wonder, curiosity and interest. Learn the 5 parts of the inquiry model along with many examples and prompts to help you develop your own science inquiry lessons. Will also include great resources that provide easy-to-follow inquiry activities and lessons to try in your homeschooling practice.

Lesson ideas and planning template handout, over 15 resources, ready-to-use ideas.  

Homeschool STEM Conference Sessions

Here are just a few more titles of the 30+ sessions that you'll have lifetime access to.

  • STEAMSDay: How to Devote a Day a Week to Hands-On, Real-Life Learning
  • STEM for Everyone
  • What is STEM & Why is it Important?
  • How to be a Marine Biologist
  • Scratch for Elementary and Middle Schoolers
  • A Hands on Method for Learning Math Facts
  • Hands-on examples of Simple Machines
  • High School Chemistry Can Be Fun
  • Block-Based Programming Basics, Resources, and Insider Secrets
  • STEM Success for Poets & Other Non-Science People
  • Integrating Art into Math & Science
...and many, many more!

Register for the Homeschool STEM Conference

You can learn more and register for the STEM conference through this link. I hope that you can join us! It's going to be great!

Have more questions? Feel free to e-mail me:, or connect through social media:



Saturday, August 4, 2018

Teach about Cold-blooded Animals with Color Changing Dough

If you have ever taught a lesson on the characteristics of reptiles then you have probably found that young elementary students often struggle with the idea of warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals. The term "cold-blooded" is misleading, cold-blooded animals are not always cold!

This science activity will help you model the concept of being ectothermic, or cold-blooded, by using temperature sensitive color changing play dough! It will help your science students or your kids at home better understand what happens when a turtle, snake or lizard sits in the sun or under a heat lamp. If you are looking to include STEM or STEAM elements in your curriculum, this activity includes art and design, as well as opportunities for including technology.

Color changing dough Cold Blooded Reptiles Science STEM STEAM Lesson

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you make a purchase after clicking a product link. Please see disclosures for more information. 

Cold-blooded vs. Warm-blooded

Students often believe that warm-blooded animals are always warm inside and cold-blooded animals are always cold inside. Warm-blooded animals, like mammals and birds, can regulate their own body temperature and maintain a consistent body temperature unless ill. Cold-blooded animals, like reptiles, amphibians and fish have a body temperature that adapts to the ambient temperature. If conditions are cold, the animal will be cold, and likewise if conditions are warm the animal will be warm.

Ectotherm (cold-blooded) and Endotherm (warm-blooded) are more accurate terms, but also can be confusing words for young students. The activity below will help model why cold-blooded animals must move locations to adjust their body temperature.

Cold-blooded Creatures Experiment

For this science lesson you will need the following:

cold-blooded animal model science experiment

Create Color Changing Creatures


To make our temperature sensitive color changing play dough, I used the recipe found in the STEAM Kids e-book (the print version available on Amazon). The secret sauce to temperature sensitive dough is thermochromic pigment. This pigment powder is the same stuff that causes mood rings to change color and makes the magic happen in other color-change products like nail polish.
Color changing reptiles science experiment

If you are using the recipe from the STEAM Kids book (which I highly recommend for tons of little projects as well as ideas like this one that can be incorporated into other lessons) you will want to double, or maybe even triple the recipe when working with a large group of children.

When the dough is heated, it will change color. In this experiment, the color change is the indication that the "body temperature" of the dough creature is changing.

color changing heat sensitive play dough

Experiment with Color Changing Cold-blooded Creatures! 

Have students make a hypothesis about the outcome of shining the light on the dough animals. Will they heat up? How long will it take for the animal to change color?

Determine how you will run the experiment. How often will you check on the play dough animals? Will you be taking their surface temperature? How will you collect data?

cold-blooded color changing play dough science experiment

Once the kids have designed and built their their reptiles, amphibians or fish, place them in the terrarium. Be sure everyone is on the same page on how the experiment will be run.

Clip the light to the side of the aquarium. Be sure everyone involved understands this lamp will get hot! Use the necessary precautions and adult supervision.

We found that in our experimental set-up the color change occurred very quickly when heated, then changed back very slowly when cooled. We decided to make a time-lapse video of the process to capture the changes. This brief video is comprised of many still photos of the changes that took place over several minutes.

Once the students have observed and collected data, wrap up with a discussion. Here are some potential discussion questions:

  • What was realistic about this model? 
  • What was unrealistic?  
  • How hot did the surface of the cold-blooded creatures in the experiment get?
  • Why do cold-blooded animals sun themselves? 
  • How do cold-blooded animals survive the winter months in climates with freezing temperatures?

cold-blooded animal science experiment STEAM activity