The First Great Awakening: A Secondary School Guide

The Great Awakening: A Secondary School Guide

During the mid 18th century, America witnessed a Christian revitalization movement, leaving a permanent impact on American religion. The First Great Awakening, known simply as the Great Awakening, swept across New England and the American Colonies giving “new birth” to crowds of believers by powerful preachers. It also showed effort to reach out to African-Americans and Native Americans by European colonialists. The following information, lessons and resources will provide readers with a thorough understanding of the ideas expressed as a result of the First Great Awakening.

The Great Awakening was not produced by a single individual or group, but by a series of preachers who wished to teach of religious experiences inspired by the word of God. A “new birth” could be achieved by individuals if they rejected their sinful past and devoted their life to Christianity. Enthusiastic faith rose in the Protestant cultures of Scotland, England and Germany as a result of rationalism during that period. During the Great Awakening, lead preachers included Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, William and Gilbert Tennent and Theodore Freylinghuysen.

Jonathan Edwards was the son in a large family consisting of eleven children. In 1728, he became a church pastor in Northampton, Massachusetts. Edwards published “A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God” in 1737, his experience of the religious revival that started in his own church in 1734. In 1746, Edwards introduced his initial major treatise known as “Religious Affections,” in which he defended the events of the Great Awakening. Edwards was let go from his position as Northampton pastor in 1750. He went on to supervise Indian boys at a boarding school while completing several theological works. Edwards died in 1758 from smallpox soon after becoming president of Princeton University. He is thought to be one of America’s most important philosophical theologians.

George Whitefield was a well-known evangelist during the Great Awakening. Whitefield was born in Gloucester, England in 1714 as the son of innkeepers. He left to Georgia in 1738 for the first of seven total trips. In 1739, Whitefield returned to London and became a minister at the Church of England before returning to Philadelphia. His farewell sermon was seen by an audience of more than 30,000 people. Whitefield spoke out in his sermons against established churches and encouraged colonists to seek Puritanism. He also encouraged slave owners to provide spiritual freedom to their slaves. Whitefield traveled throughout America, delivering more than 18,000 sermons during his lifetime. In 1770, George Whitefield died in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Activity 1: Introduction to Jonathan Edwards
The first activity will help readers obtain background information on lead preacher of the Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards. Analyze a sermon written by Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and determine the primary themes from the text.

  • Read background information on the First Great Awakening, as well as on Jonathan Edwards. Follow with a reading of the sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Keep in mind that the sermon may contain material that is contrary to your beliefs.

  • Keep the following questions in mind when reading through the mentioned material:
    1. At what place and time, and in what context, did Edwards give the sermon?
    2. What type of audience would Edwards’ sermon have reached?
    3. What message did Edwards convey to his audience in the sermon?
    4. What reactions did Edwards’ sermon attempt to evoke?
    5. Did the sermon contain vocabulary unfamiliar to you? If so, look up the unfamiliar terms in a dictionary.

  • Complete this chart asking you to identify major images conveyed in Edwards’ sermon and what the images conveyed. Compare and contrast answers from the chart with other students to determine the significance of the sermon.

Activity 2: Introduction to George Whitefield
The second activity will provide a background on another lead preacher of the Great Awakening, George Whitefield. This activity will give an understanding of how colonial Americans reacted to preachers of the time. Analyze a diary account of a colonial farmer who will describe his reaction to the news of Whitefield approaching his hometown in Connecticut.

  • Read a primary document, “Great Awakening Comes to Weathersfield,” from the point of view of a Connecticut farmer reacting to his encounter with preacher George Whitefield.

  • Take the time to conduct background research on George Whitefield and his involvement in the Great Awakening.

  • Complete this chart for activity 2 and respond to the following questions:
    1. Why do you feel that farmers, such as Nathaniel Cole, took the time to travel far distances to hear George Whitefield speak?
    2. From reading the document, what can you conclude about beliefs and religious practices that occurred during the time of the Great Awakening?

Activity 3: Introduction to Samsom Occom
This activity will provide a look at a brief autobiography of Indian Minister, Samsom Occom and the indecent treatment that he suffered due to religious establishment. Occom (also spelled Occum) is one of the most significant Native American men of the Great Awakening. Occom met Eleazar Wheelock in 1740. He went to live with Wheelock, a Congregational preacher and missionary, at age twenty. Four years later, Occom began work as a Christian missionary to New England Indians. In 1759, he became an official Presbyterian minister. In 1769, Wheelock began Dartmouth College with help financially from Occom. The initial charter of the college declared its primary purpose to be an education of young Indian Tribes, English youth and others.

  • Read the preface to Samsom Occom’s autobiography titled “I Am a Poor Indian.”

  • Categorize the autobiography according to Major Events, Religious Influences and Occom’s Personal Reflections. Compete this chart for activity 3 to better aid in the understanding of the three primary time periods discussed in the autobiography:
    1. Birth until Christian Religion
    2. Time of Reformation until departure from Mr. Wheelocks
    3. Departure from Mr. Wheelocks to Europe

  • Answer the following questions about Samsom Occom and his involvement in the Great Awakening:
    1. What are some questions that you would ask Occom about his professional and personal experiences?
    2. What information would help you better understanding Occam’s religious practices compared to other ministers of the time?
    3. Do you think that Occam’s status as a “poor Indian” poorly influenced religious superiors and the general Indian population? Use evidence from the text to support your answer. 
    4. Many would agree that Occom is a historic figure in the religious movement as few Native Americans turned to Christianity. What do you think the reason for this is?

Discuss the significance of Jonathan Edward’s sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Provide answers to the following questions: Why did people listen to sermons given by Edwards? Why do you feel his preaching got such powerful responses?

To help better understand the thought process of Nathan Cole and his reaction to the approach of George Whitefield to Connecticut, consider setting up a role-playing exercise. Students should separate into groups of two. One member of the group will take on the role of Nathan Cole while the other takes the role as the farmer who did not hear the sermon given by Whitefield. Conduct a conversation in which Cole tries to convince the farmer to attend the sermon.

The Great Awakening brought everlasting changes. It left a legacy between its divisions, “New Lights” and their opponents, “Old Lights.” The spirit of the Great Awakening was spread to the southern colonies in the 1760s and the Methodist and Baptist churches were among its products.

Ask What You Can Do For Your Economy Not What Your Economy Can Do For You

Ask What You Can Do For Your Economy Not What Your Economy Can Do For You

     The United States of America is in economic turmoil. Facing what some say is the largest recession since the 1930′s, the job market is becoming increasingly tough to break into. Having a college degree is one way you can stay ahead of other job seekers . According to a 2009 survey only 70.1% of all high school graduates enrolled in college and 19.5% of those students dropped out of college and never received a degree. Since 2001 job openings have dropped 1.4% giving people with college degrees a better advantage at being hired for the same job as someone who only has a high school education. The job market in becoming fiercely competitive and employers want to hire the most prepared and educated person for the job.

  Unfortunately with the economy in the state it is in, when you do get hired to work for a company it can be just as competitive to keep your job as it was to get it in the first place. Layoffs are at a high percentage. Competition in the work place is something that is present in every work situation. It’s important to be ahead of your coworkers and stand out in some way. Some do this with an incredible work ethic and an understanding of what needs to be done in order to achieve a level of excellence. Others do this by continuing their education and receiving a higher degree such as a masters. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics “workers with a Master’s degree held their jobs through layoffs” versus people holding bachelor’s degrees. 

  Although it is important to get your degree in this economy, it is also important to make sure it is the right decision for you to continue your education. If you decide to go to school and realize half way through that it is not for you, you may not only lose your ability to get a higher paying job but you will also now have loan debt to pay off. For example, minimum wage in New York State is $7.25 per hour. If you work full-time that is $290.00 per week before taxes. If you have student loans and other living expenses it can become incredibly stressful to manage your money and keep some sort of quality of life. It is important to research cost of living in your area and how much minimum wage is. Not every job out there will only pay minimum wage if you do not have a college degree but it is important to figure out what job you can /want to get and how it will affect you financially. Money isn’t everything in life but it is important.

   Due to the economy, another problem we face is poverty. According to the Census, the rate of poverty has risen three years in a row. In 2010 alone there were 46.2 million people living in poverty in the United States. The 2011 United States Hunger and Poverty Facts states that 1 in 7 households do not have a sufficient amount of food to feed the amount of people in that home. In other words at least one person goes hungry in 1 in 7 households in this country. It’s important for not only yourself, but for your future family and the family you have now to plan your finances carefully. If that includes going to college or not it’s important to consider every possible road that can be taken to insure that the poverty rate in this country does not increase and we make an effort to help it decrease. 

  The economy of the Unites States today is sometimes compared to the economy of the Great Depression. Thankfully back then the Government had the opportunity and resources to figure out a plan that could help this country regain financial stability. Unfortunately the same can not be said about today. Today our country is in a huge amount of debt nationally and internationally. Also due to some “disastrous trade policies” most of the products that once were made in the United States are now being manufactured in other countries leaving us with very little ability to create wealth through manufacturing. It is important to realize this “economic crisis” may not have a solution that will resolve this problem any time soon. Some are concerned that as joblessness continues to be a problem we may never feel a “normal” standard of living again. It is our jobs as Americans to create the best possible outcome we can from this by bettering ourselves in hopes of bettering our future.

School Resources: Art History

School Resources: Art History

If cave drawings in southern France are any indication, Man has had the desire to create art since the dawn of time. This creative side of mankind has been responsible for some of the most profound and influential artistic, musical, and even social movements in history.

In order to fully understand the modern implications and intricacies of art, you have to have a grasp on what it has meant in history. Studying art history is one of the most creatively and intellectually rewarding experiences a student can ask for. The fact is, most people can look at something and deem it beautiful or not, but they have little understanding of what informed their decision. The thing in question, be it a painting, a sculpture, a building, anything, either exhibits or does not exhibit something that made another thing beautiful. The art history student, however, can look at a work of art and make an informed decision as to its aesthetic worth. Of course, there is still an element of subjectivity, of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but to the art enthusiast, being able to interpret a visual work is well worth the price of tuition (whether time, money, or both).

The art historian, though, is not simply a keeper of tradition, an encyclopedia within which can be found rehashed information, but is rather a vessel containing both past and future. The art historian possesses through his or her knowledge of the past a unique ability to influence and inspire the future of art by fostering an interest in the past.  Connecting with, for instance, works from the Italian Renaissance can cause a budding artist to consider what about that art caused him or her to be inspired, and include that message in a piece of his or her own.

While the art historian in years past would have had to visit each piece of art him or herself or buy extremely expensive books in order to see paintings in exhibits around the world, the Internet makes the art historian’s life, if not easier, less expensive. Of course the best way to appreciate a piece is by seeing it in person, but on the off chance that the student does not have enough money to fly to France or even to another state, the Internet is an invaluable resource.

So, what does the study of art entail? What will you have to do? The art history student studies artistic elements such as line, color, texture, value, and shape. It is something like studying the alphabet before writing words, and writing words before sentences. It is only through the complete comprehension of what comprises a work of art that the art historian can have any concept of the artistic worth of a piece. With this knowledge, the art historian compares and contrasts the work of different artists. The ways and varieties with which an artist can employ these fundamentals of visual art are endless, and as such the ways and varieties in which art can be interpreted are also endless.

Here are some links about the various artistic movements and periods throughout history. Through them you will find scholarly articles, general information, and even entirely digital collections of art, entirely free and not requiring plane tickets or gas money.

General Art

Ancient Art

Medieval Art

Renaissance and Baroque

Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Art

American Art

Modern and Contemporary Art

Asian Art


Top 11 English Texts for High School Students

Top 11 English Texts for High School Students

Many high school students have the opportunity to read a number of literary classics. Some of these literary works have endured through decades and even centuries. Oftentimes, these beloved classics contain timeless themes that a young reader can readily identify with. Ideally, by reading these classics a high school student will develop an enthusiastic interest in reading. High school students can learn a lot from reading a collection of these classics. The following further explains how these classic texts can serve teachers and parents as well as students.   

By assigning classic works of literature, English instructors can teach their students about various periods in history. For instance, by reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald high school students learn about the decade of the 1920s. The music, fashions, and tone of this time period, also known as the Jazz Age, are conveyed through the characters as well as the story. Also, by reading several classics written by the same author, a teacher can instruct high school students on themes and writing style. For example, after assigning four plays by Shakespeare a teacher can ask students to point out the similarities and differences between them. In short, these eleven classic texts serve a number of purposes in teaching high school students about great literature.

Parents looking at their child’s high school English syllabus will likely remember many of the book titles and authors from their own days in school. Perhaps a parent will even remember being introduced to a classic in an English class that subsequently became a longtime favorite. By rereading the books, parents have the opportunity to discuss these works with their children. Parents may discover some significant elements of a story that they missed on their first reading. In addition, parents and children can compare perspectives as well as opinions of these timeless writings. The student and his or her parents may want to delve into the biographical information of the author. In some cases, the life of an author is just as interesting as some of the works he or she creates. A shared reading experience can also demonstrate to a high school student the importance of reading as well as the enjoyment of it. Finally, if a high school student is enthusiastic about an author’s writing, parents can take a trip to the library with the child to find more books by that author. Reading a classic in an English class may be a high school student’s introduction to a lifelong love of great books.    

Lord of the Flies (1954), Golding

Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare

Macbeth, Shakespeare

Hamlet, Shakespeare

Julius Cesar, Shakespeare

The Great Gatsby (1925), Fitzgerald

To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), Lee

The Scarlet Letter, (1850), Hawthorne

Of Mice and Men (1937), Steinbeck

The Odyssey (translation published 1614), Homer

The Catcher in the Rye (1951), Salinger

School Resources: Public Speaking Guide

Public speaking is when a person has to make a speech in front of an audience of people. Most people find themselves in a nervous state when they have to speak in front of a group of people. There are studies out there that show that public speaking is a big fear amongst many people. Experienced public speakers even feel a bought of nervousness before getting up in front of the group of people. A lot of people have different methods for practicing their speech, and delivering it in front of the audience without having to stall during the speech. To be successful in public speaking, one should learn how to reduce anxiety, create a tailored, well-thought out speech and execute a confident delivery.

Reducing Anxiety

  • Speaking will become easier as you gain confidence through your speech. The more you speak through your nervousness, the easier it is going to be to continue the speech with less anxiety.
  • Look at your surroundings before you give your speech if possible. Once you become more comfortable with the environment that you have to deliver your speech, the more you will feel less nervous.
  • Utilize positive visuals. A lot of people might visualize themselves flunking out of their speech or doing a bad job overall at delivering it. This type of negative thinking will increase your anxiety. Try to visualize yourself repeatedly giving the speech in a confident and strong manner. If you can visualize yourself doing well, then you most likely will.
  • Try not to think about the speech that you’re going to give right before you give it. This will make you feel more nervous. Try to think about good thoughts that are not related to your speech.
  • Be as prepared for the speech as possible. Understand the topic you’re about to present, the more you do, the more your audience will follow along with you.
  • Concentrate on breathing during the speech. Make sure to be relaxed and tall while speaking.
  • Sound confident and project your voice out for all to hear. You do not want to be afraid of speaking loud. Make sure that those in the back of the room can hear you.
  • Concentrate mostly on getting your message across to the audience. You have to work hard for those to understand your message, and this will keep your mind off your nervousness.

Tailoring Your Speech to Your Audience

  • You want to think about your audience, and the setting that you’re going to be giving the speech at. You do not want to be funny while at a funeral, and you want to be more playful with your words at a party.
  • What is the context that you’re using to give the speech in, a dinner? A wedding? A Banquet? Informal meeting? Funeral? The place you’re going to give the speech at is a large part of what you will say, and how you will say it.
  • Think about your audience. You want to match the speech to the age, race, religion, and cultural background of your audience. Everything you say could be taken offensive by the wrong person if you do not watch what you say.
  • Are you talking to children? If your speech is to children than you want to think about simplifying what you want to say so the children can understand. You would not give an in depth, technical speech to a group of kindergartners.
  • Think about how much your audience knows about the topic that you’re doing the speech on. You need to make sure to explain in detail parts and words that your audience might not be familiar with. If your audience already knows a great deal about the topic than you do not want to keep explaining parts and words that they already know. They might take this offensively.
  • Organize your speech to your audience. You want to make sure the audience knows the language you’re using. Make sure that you put together the introduction, support, examples, statistics, visual aids if you’re using any, and the conclusion.

Outlining and Organizing Your Speech

  • Write down the exact purpose of you speech, and why you’re about to give it. Try to start your sentence off positively and choose a reason besides because I have to, such as “I would like to inform…”
  • Make sure you write down who your audience is going to be. You want to make sure that they know you’re speaking to them, and that you know you are as well.
  • Narrow down the points of discussion with your audience. You want to just focus on the key points of your speech, and that is about it. This will give you a chance to limit the statements to the main goal that you want to accomplish through your speech.
  • Ask yourself a few questions about your speech. Some of the questions include, but are not limited to: is your purpose for your speech too vague? Is the purpose for the speech relevant to the type of audience? Can you accomplish the speech and your goal in the amount of time given? Is the purpose of the speech too simple or perhaps too difficult to understand?
  • Write your thesis statement down on the piece of paper. This should explain, in detail what your specific purpose is for the speech. You should write down the five major points of the thesis. Basically ask yourself a question, and then answer it five different times.
  • Create an outline based on your thesis statement. You want to use the main points as bulleted sections and go in depth with them. This will organize the whole speech for you.

Practicing Your Speech

  • Use a mirror to practice your speech if you’re the most comfortable this way. Sometimes this raises anxiety in people, and this might not be the best solution for them.
  • Practice in front of family or friends that will give you their opinions and feedback. This allows you to have a live audience that can actually share their thoughts on the speech and help you become better at presenting it.
  • Practice the speech on your own when you have spare time without anyone watching. You can do so in the shower, in your room, on your way to work or class. Make sure to go over the key points, and emphasize the areas you think need improving.
  • Record your speech as you say it out loud either with a video camera or audio tape. This allows you to play it back to yourself to find out the key areas that need improving, while also giving you an idea of your strong points in public speaking.
  • If one of these choices does not suit what you need, try to find one that tailors to your likes and needs. You want to make sure you practice before hand so you have an idea of what to expect and the areas that you should work on.

Delivering Your Speech

  • Always keep and hold good eye contact with your audience. Scan over the audience and hold eye contact with one of the members. You do not want to blur the audience out. Your creditability comes with being able to hold the audience with your eyes.
  • If you hold notes in your hands during your speech, you want to think about cutting them down if there are a lot. You also want to be organized so you’re not shuffling them during your speech or trying to find your place.
  • Use visual aids if at all possible. They can help you get some of the attention off of you and onto the aids. This can help lessen your anxiety during the speech. It can also help you get your point across by showing the audience instead of just telling them.
  • Deliver your speech in a calm, confident manner that is not too slow or too fast for your audience. You also want to pay attention to the tone and volume of your voice. You want to speak out loud so those in the back of the room are able to hear you, and you want to make sure you do not sound like you’re yelling sternly in them so watch your tone. You want to reach out to all of the audience, so you have to have your voice work for you and not against you during the speech.
  • Try to move a little bit during your speech. You want to be loose and comfortable with the speech. You can use hand gestures and move about. Try not to have jerky uncertain gestures however. You can distract the audience by using these gestures and make yourself feel more comfortable talking.
  • Try use humor as freely as your audience and setting allows you too. You want to loosen the audience up at the same time you’re doing so to yourself. Having some jokes or ice breakers can help you feel more at ease, and also hold your audience’s attention longer. 

For More Information

  • Speaking: Various tips and links that show you (the speaker) how to deliver your speech to your audience. The notes and aids were taken by a professor at MIT that delivered a speech about public speaking.
  • Outreach Training: The US Department of Labor thought it would be helpful to give in depth details and tips on how to present a speech, while also making use of visual aids. They help you organize your thoughts onto paper.
  • Guidance: In order to fully understand how to deliver effective oral speeches, look into the information and protocols that they show you on their website. Not only can you become more organized, but you will be able to talk your anxiety down.
  • Speaking: Dave Finley, the author of this web page gives do’s and don’ts of public speaking. You can learn what to say, and what not to say, as well as what not to do, and what you should do.
  • PowerPoint Tips: If the speech that you have to give comes along with PowerPoint slides than you need to know the most effective way to organize them. They show you exactly where to put each slide, what each slide represents, and what should be on each of the slides.
  • Speaking Guide: Informative speeches are more technical in nature, and might need a bit more planning to perfect. Help comes in these links provided on the website. They can help the public speaker go over their notes and present a wonderful speech.
  • Delivering Information Face to Face: For technical speeches, it is always good to look at tips and hints to get you through the speech. In depth information shown here provides the public speaker with a lot of information to make the best of their technical speech.
  • Delivering an Oral Presentation: Step by step, bulleted, simple, and easy to follow list of the tips a public speaker should keep in mind. Quick start guide to getting the best information.
  • Oral Communication: Not only do you need to learn about preparing and presenting oral speeches, but you should also know more about oral communication. This will prepare you for what is ahead of you in your oral presentation through communication.
  • Oral Presentations: If giving your speech in the class setting, you should know how to present properly. Tips and hints are on this page to show the speaker what should be done to hold their class’s attention.
  • Oral Presentation Skills (PDF): A practical guide to presenting an oral speech to an audience. It is very in depth and has many pages to learn from depending on your weak areas that need to be boosted up more for your speech.
  • How to Deliver an Oral Presentation: Learn different hints and tips to presenting a presentation in front of an audience. There is also an easy to follow outline for constructing your speech.
  • Making Oral Presentations: Presenting the oral presentation is one thing. You need to know how to make the oral presentation. Providing public speakers with outlines and tips to make the best speech possible.
  • Oral Presentations: A lot of other websites provide information on what to do for the speech and when the speech comes. This website shows what to do much before the speaker has to give the speech and how to prepare.
  • Oral Presentation Outline Format: The in depth look into the format that the outline for an oral speech has to be in. Organize your thoughts onto paper using this format for delivering an effective speech.
  • Oral Presentation Advice: Advice on the different forms of speeches out there. Depending on the type of speech that you have to give, advice is always good to have.
  • Guidelines for Oral Presentations: Different in depth guidelines on presenting oral speeches to audiences. No matter how large your audience is, you should know the general guidelines for giving a speech and what is expected of you.
  • Oral Presentations: Different side links for the different sections of an oral presentation. Learn how to effectively write down your ideas and thoughts, and turn them into a speech that works.
  • Oral Presentation: Different questions and answers on how to prepare and deliver an effective speech. If you had questions about what you should do for the speech or during the speech, this is where to go.
  • Information About Oral Presentations: Learn more about oral presentations before actually giving one. You can find out the different types of presentations out there, and what is usually expected of the speaker for each one. 

School Room Library: Science Fair Projects

What is a Science Fair Project?

A science fair project is a submitted project that visibly shows the attempt to answer a scientific question by research, planning, and the application of the scientific method. Scientists use the scientific method as the process for conducting the steps between problem recognition and arriving at a conclusion. Sometimes the conclusions turn out to negate the hypothesis, but this can be good. Science is more that proving what is, it is also about proving what is not. A negative conclusion to a science fair project does not mean a failed project. Don’t get discouraged if this is the case. Remember, Galileo proved the earth was not flat. The process of the scientific method includes identifying a problem, formulating a hypothesis, conducting research, performing experiments, and arriving at a conclusion.

Choose your science category, such as physical science, or earth science, biology, astronomy – whatever! Then pick a topic within that category and do some investigating. What question do you have that you’d like to find an answer? If you do not have any ideas, start doing some research. Judges are more impressed by original projects so if you find a project you really like, add your own unique twist.

What’s the Problem?

The problem is…the question your experiment will attempt to answer! 

Your concept of what will happen prior to experimenting is your hypothesis. Then you get to experiment. First, further research will help you to design and plan the actual experiments, as well as the actual testing. Be sure every action you make is documented! Others need to be able to see and understand what you’ve done, so use charts and graphs to plot all of your activities and the outcomes. Taking photos to show each stage of your experiment is a good idea, too, and makes a great addition to your display.

The variables are what can influence your experiment. The independent variable is the one that YOU intentionally change. The dependent variable is the one that you are observing, which may or may not change in response to the changes you make to your independent variable.

So, what have you learned from this experiment? That’s your conclusion. Was your hypothesis correct? Is additional work necessary? What additional work would you do?

In time, you’ll need to give your project a name, and try to be a little clever, if you can. A title in the form of a question can also raise interest.

How to Choose your Science Fair project:

  1. Make a list of your favorite things to study in science class, like biology, or nuclear energy, or agriculture, etc. Then after investigation and research, determine your project topic. 
  2. Decide what materials will you need for your experiment, and do you have those materials at home? It will be helpful to you and to your parents if the materials you need are inexpensive and can be found easily.
  3. If you need more information to finish your project, check out your school’s library or community’s public library.

Creating a Winning Display

Your school may have established certain limitations regarding the size of science fair displays, so check with your teacher or fair representative. Are there any guidelines as to the shape or style of displays? That’s also a good question to ask, BEFORE you begin to put your together. Ask if you will have access to electricity, just in case you end up incorporating some sort of lighting, or other component that requires electrical power, into your display.

The simpler a display, the easier it will be to transport it to and from the location of the science fair.

Let the headlines tell the story – Try to be concise in your descriptions and let the headlines of the different stages of your experimentation tell the story for you. Check your spelling! There’s nothing worse than a science project you’ve worked hard on, only to discover there’s a word misspelled within your display.

Using visual aids, like charts, diagrams, and graphs will help draw people to your project. Photos and drawings can help to illustrate your activities.

Be neat! A computer is a great tool for making those charts, graphs, and diagrams, but if you don’t have access to one, try a ruler and stencils that could be effective as alternatives. If using a pencil, be sure to go over any lines with a marker that will be dark enough for people to easily see.

Your materials should be safe, and durable to withstand being set up and taken down possibly several times. All materials that you use for your display must meet the safety standards of your school.

Other materials that can have visual appeal for your display is magazine or newspaper articles on information related to your experiment. Brochures and other print materials can be added to the area surrounding your display.

Refer to these links for ideas, resources, and other information to help you with your science fair project. Good luck!

What is a good science fair project – Here, students will learn that a science fair project is his/her experiment that proves their hypothesis. This also tells parents, teachers, and science fair judges what to look for. 

The Scientific Method vs. Engineering Design Process  - This site helps serious students decipher which method is the better one for the intended project.

What are YOU doing for the Science Fair? – Loads of links to science fair project ideas!

I don’t have a clue! – Then take a look at this site for tons of ideas for your science fair project.

Planning Your Project – This link provides a nearly endless list of reference sources for planning your Science Fair project.

Need some ideas? – Take a look at this website for some ideas and how-to’s for possible science fair experiments.

Think yours is a winner? – Visit this site to sign up for the 2012 Google Science Fair, and info on the winning projects and students in 2011.

For Science Fair First-Timers – This site will lead students to pages and pages of links that give all sorts of ideas for science fair projects.

Spin to Find a Topic – No gambling here with a ho-hum science fair project. Spin the computer wheel until you hit an idea you like, then press the button for the how-to information.

Science News – This is a USA Today site of science news written by professional science reporters.

Where Do I Start? – Have a look at this site for some ideas and resources for creating a great science project.

Experimenting in Psychology – Teachers will find this site to be a resource when their students choose to compete in science fairs (locally, regionally, and nationally) on the topic of psychology.

Just DO it! – This link provides teachers, parents, and kids with activities for science class and at home…and even at a restaurant table while waiting for your order!

How to Survive your Science Fair – Help, advice, and plenty of ideas, plus a look at some of the more popular science fair projects.

Q & A – Do any of these questions entice you to make them your science fair project?

Good and Plenty – Hundreds of science fair project ideas in several student age ranges.

Hundreds of Ideas – Check out this site for cool, fun, winning science fair project ideas!

Only for the Movers and Shakers – Great ideas for science fair projects from US Geological Survey.

A Taste for Science? – Ideas for science projects with an agricultural flavor.

Kids’ Projects – Demos and ideas for science fair projects, from low to high difficulty.

A Project That Will Make You a Star – Visit this site for science fair projects on the solar system and the universe.

Munch on These Ideas – All kinds of links to “Science Snacks” worth considering for your science fair project.

Give This a Try – Choose your area of interest then check out all the ideas for possible science fair projects.

Be Green at Your Science Fair – Lots of links to energy-related project ideas.

Environment-Friendly – Find lots of links here to all kinds of environment-related projects for your science fair project.

Facts About Nuclear Energy – Animated pals Newt, Enrico, and their friends help you learn about nuclear energy, and give you some experiments to try.

Helpful Tools – Teachers and students will find a wealth of resources here, as well as links to other sites for science fair project ideas.

Experimentation Nation! – Pick a science category and then see which questions interest you. Teachers and parents will find information here, too.

Adventures in Science – Find a project of interest in this alphabetized list of ideas.

Ideas, Ideas, Ideas! – Here’s a site where you can buy and then print the directions for conducting all kinds of age-appropriate experiments.

Gold Mine – An incredible number of links, connecting you with possibly several hundred science fair project ideas.

Holocaust Resources for School Teachers

Teachers are often apprehensive when faced with the task of creating Holocaust lesson plans as many educators feel overwhelmed with the enormity of the subject. Fortunately, with proper preparation teachers should be able to appropriately approach the Holocaust with confidence. It is important to not make sweeping generalizations or to just gloss over the historical and personal impacts the Holocaust had on those affected, which still resonates today.

Middle school students could be introduced to the Holocaust by exploring the harmful effects of prejudices. At this age, they should begin questioning the Holocaust and react to the information. Students will also begin to notice the difference between humane and inhumane behaviors within society. Important themes that should be addressed at this age include confronting loss and change. Middle school students should also be taught about resourcefulness, courage and the difference between what is fair or unfair. At the middle school age, students should be able to use technology to analyze human to environment relationships. Ethics should also be discussed, including the differences between responsible versus unethical use of power.

By the time high school students are reintroduced to the Holocaust, they should have a solid understanding of responsibility and be more developmentally capable of thinking beyond their own life experiences than their former middle school selves. From personal obligations to the reliability of groups and dependability of communities, responsibility should be addressed in regards to anti-Semitism and discrimination. Here, ethics should also be highlighted throughout the course structure. High school students should be able to identify unethical power and determine ways of promoting tolerance.

  • A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust- An overview of the people and events of the Holocaust through photographs, documents, art, music, movies, and literature. Geared for a secondary audience. 

  • Teaching Children About the Holocaust Through Literature- A collection of Holocaust-related texts are summarized and a selection of poems, as well as artwork, are featured on this site.

  • Holocaust Interviews- Documented interviews of different Holocaust survivors. Many include the transcription of the original video or audio interview. Because the content of the interviews can be a difficult to watch, this is geared towards a high school audience.

  • USC Shoah Foundation Institute- Educates with the purpose to overcome intolerance through the use of the Institute’s visual historic testimonies.

  • Holocaust and Resistance- A lesson geared towards grades 9-12, it teaches about the people who actively resisted the Nazi regime and persecution. Provides accounts of the the many different rebellions among the concentration camps that happened during that time.

  • Concentration Camps- Provides an interactive map of the camps and also photos and a virtual tour of Auschwitz.

  • Guidelines for Teaching About the Holocaust- Based on information from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, these are guidelines for the best way to teach new students about the Holocaust.

  • Curricula For Teachers- Based on information from the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the site provides many different examples of curriculum for teachers meant to be used before or after visiting the museum. Geared from elementary to high school.

  • America and the Holocaust Teaching Guide- Provides suggestions for the classroom regarding the Holocaust film that is geared primarily towards students. Includes activities and discussion questions. 

Post-secondary students are offered the most complex, sophisticated and often times, the most graphic Holocaust material. Unsuitable for younger students, these lesson plans offer a more in-depth analysis of the events, government and overall history of the time. Lesson plans are geared toward racial prejudices and anti-Semitism analysis, often featuring other genocides for comparison purposes. As students at this time are often a part of the general adult community, the effort of these courses is to promote more informed and humane citizens.

The Holocaust was an incredibly tragic event in world history. As such, it is important to remember to be sensitive when teaching the historical events to audiences of all ages. Educating about the Holocaust must be done tactfully, so tread lightly. Ensure proper delivery of conveyed information by providing well-organized and well-researched lesson plans.

School Peer Mediation Counseling Resources

Bullying is a serious problem in many schools around the world. In bullying, the targeted person becomes the constant recipient of abusive actions, which can be physical or mental. Bullying can be as innocuous as being called names to being socially shunned at school or the playgroup. It can also be dangerous and forceful such as being pushed, shoved, and hit, sometimes fatally. Cyberbullying is a new form of bullying in which the victim is smeared with gossip or worse. Bullying may start unintentionally up to the point where the bully starts to enjoy the dominance over others, taking delight in watching others suffer. Extreme bullies can be mentally ill and they have no feelings about others and their predicaments.

Bullying at school is a problem that is on the rise in the American society. No school kid should have to go through the torment of being bullied but sadly, the danger is always there. While there are legislations and laws to protect the victims, every day, some kid in the US will have to go through the ordeal of being physically or mentally taunted, harassed, or even abused by stronger and bigger peers. In a study, it’s found that that 20 percent of the respondents have been made fun of by a bully, 18 percent have been target of rumors and gossiping, 11 percent have been physically bullied, 6 percent have been threatened, and so on. Victims of bullying are also found to be 2 to 9 times more prone to commit suicide in comparison to non-victims. No matter what forms it may take, bullying can leave a lasting impression on the victim, sometimes, even physically. It’s a psychological ordeal which makes the victim fearful.

Peer mediation is an effort to allow middle school and high school students to find solutions to the problems of bullying at their schools in a non violent way. This approach can help to promote problem solving and conflict resolution. Though peer mediation uses a number of methods and processes to affect a conflict-solving methodology, it is not intended to reduce bullying. Rather, the whole idea is to ensure that the children are more capable to cope with the effects of bullying so that they always have their self esteem and dignity intact.

Peer mediation is effective in only a limited number of situations where there are non violent methods of bullying, such as being shunned from a playgroup, non-cooperation, being called names, and teasing. In such circumstances, the peer mediators who are young people just like the victim will help the victim to tackle the situation. In other circumstances such as violent pushing, shoving, hitting, death threats, attempted personal injury, and other acts of criminal nature, the peer mediators cannot help. In these circumstances, adult mediation is imperative.

To ensure the effectiveness of peer mediation, proper training is given to the children. Although some organizations tend to give mediation training to all children, mediators are often selected by popular vote. In the self-nomination approach, volunteers will come forward and fill up a nomination form to be considered.

Peer mediation is not a way to reduce or eradicate bullying. It’s an effective process to ensure that the cultural and religious differences and the basic differences among people are understood and respected. Thus, it can go a long way in eradicating the environment that fuels bullying.

Follow these links to learn more about peer mediation counseling for students.

Understanding Student Health: Assistive and Adaptive Techologies in the Classroom

Before the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) became a U.S. statute in 1975, only about 1 in 5 children with a disability were educated in a public school. Many state laws denied public school attendance to children with disabilities, including vision and hearing impairments.

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), amended most recently in 2004, directs how states and public agencies provide special education and related services to children with disabilities, from preschool through age 18 or 21. The Act defines a list of 13 disabilities that can no longer disallow a child from receiving educational services.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 2008 more than 95 percent of all students with disabilities between the ages of 6 and 21 were educated in mainstream public school classrooms. Thanks to enhancements to current classroom technology, called assistive or adaptive technology devices (also known as AT’s), children with disabilities can access classroom computer software and be educated aside their non-disabled peers.

For instance, “alternative” keyboards allow children with reduced hand function to use a computer. Some of these keyboards are larger or smaller than traditional ones. They may have larger or smaller keys, non-traditional key configurations, and even customized or pre-packaged overlays that are placed on top of the keyboard keys. Other keyboards are made for use with one hand. The computer mouse also is available in various configurations for ease of use with limited hand function. Users with impaired vision may employ software that enlarges images on the screen, while other programs, which utilize a computer-generated voice to read text on a screen, enable blind students to work with computers. Children with speech disabilities may use a device that, with a computer-generated voice, “speaks” the text entered on the keyboard. And the list goes on. As with all devices that are plugged into a computer, including assistive devices, it is important to be sure the products, computer system, and programs are compatible.

The following devices are for users with visual or speech disabilities:

  • Touch-screens - Rather than using a mouse or keyboard keys, a computer can be used by simply touching the screen. Touch-screens can be built into a computer monitor or a device can be added to it for touch-screen operation.

  • Screen enlargers or screen magnifiers - For visually-impaired students, these devices enlarge a portion of the screen to increase readability.

  • Screen readers – using a computerized voice, this device “speaks” what is on the screen, from text, to graphics, to control buttons.

  • Braille Embosser – Translation programs convert text scanned-in or generated through word processing software into Braille, which then can be printed by this device.

  • Refreshable Braille displays – Braille characters are formed by rounded metal or plastic pins that are raised mechanically for the user to “read,” and then he or she refreshes the display to read the another line.

  • Reading tools and learning disabilities programs – Including those that read text aloud, these help make text-based materials more accessible for students who have difficulty seeing or manipulating print material.

  • Talking processors – These use speech synthesizers to give auditory feedback of text that is entered.

  • Large-print word processors – This device allows the user to see everything on the screen in larger-size print, without the need for a larger computer screen.

What are hearing assistive technology systems (HATS)?

Hearing assistive technology systems (HATS) are used with or without cochlear implants or hearing aids. They can be helpful in such common communication situations as listening to an address over a loud speaker or to a lecture presentation in an amphitheater.

With assistive listening devices, audio is sent wirelessly over FM waves; a receiver captures the sound, and volume can be adjusted.

The farther away from the presenter or lecturer, the more difficult it may be to hear the message. Often, a speaker may compete with background noise, such as ventilation systems, extraneous conversations, activities in neighboring rooms, and even traffic or construction outside. A child with average hearing, who suffers from frequent ear infections or who has an auditory processing disorder, is at a severe disadvantage when seated in a classroom with poor acoustics and excessive background noise.

Sound can reflect off of hard wall and floor surfaces, like those found in many classrooms, and create distortion. These devices can help maintain hearing ability in these kinds of conditions.

  • Infrared system - Infrared light waves transmit sound to a receiver; volume in the receiver can usually be adjusted.

  • Induction loop systems – these work with hearing aids. An induction wire is connected to a microphone; the presenter’s voice generates a current that creates an electromagnetic field in the room that a hearing aid, switched to the telecoil/telephone setting, can then pick up. Signal volume is adjusted through the hearing aid.

Other types of devices interpret the user’s voice and transcribe the spoken text onto a word processing page. Some of those devices require some amount of training for the product to put the student at his or her best advantage.

  • TTY/TDD conversion modems – These devices connect computers and phones; users enter a typed message that is sent to the TTY/TDD device and can then be read by the recipient.

  • Light signaler alerts – Computer sounds are monitored and the user is alerted visually. Users unable to hear computer notifications or are away from the screen, a light will flash to alert the user of, for example, a new e-mail message.

For students with limited finger or hand movement, or complete loss of mobility of the hands or arms, use of a computer is still possible with devices for those specific needs.

  • On-screen keyboards – This is like having a keyboard on the computer screen. With any one of a number of cursor-controlling instruments (trackball-type mouse, touch screen, joystick, or electronic pointer), the user chooses the keyboard keys. Often there is a scanning option which will highlights keys that the user can then select.

  • Keyboard filters – These instruments utilize word prediction programs and add-on spell checkers to reduce the number of keystrokes. This can also help prevent hitting keys inadvertently.

  • Electronic pointing devices –These devices can use infrared beams, eye movements, and brain waves to control the position and movement of a cursor on the computer screen without the use of hands.

  • Sip-and-puff systems - Inhaling and exhaling activate these systems.

  • Wands and sticks – These are worn on the head, held in the mouth, or strapped to the chin and used to press keyboard keys.

  • Joysticks – These are devices manipulated by the hand, chin, or the feet and control the position and movement of a cursor on a screen.

  • Trackballs – This is a variation of the standard mouse. A similarly-sized base has a protruding ball that can be rolled with the thumb, fingers, or the palm of the hand to change the position of a cursor.

  • Speech or voice recognition software – These allow the user to give commands and enter data with their voice instead of by manipulating a mouse or keyboard. These types of computer programs use a microphone attachment and thus, text documents including letters and e-mail messages, and a host of other commands, can be relayed.

  • Page Turners – With these devices, the child presses a switch to mechanically turn pages in a book, which allows him or her to focus on reading and absorbing the material.

Students with speech impairments or disabilities have a way to initiate or respond to conversation with portable communication devices.

  • Text-to-Speech (TTS)  – receives characters, digits, and punctuation marks that travel to it from the computer screen. The system then transforms that information into computerized speech.

It is vitally important that AT assessments take place where the AT will be used. Understanding the child’s abilities and learning barriers, then examining the curriculum and daily tasks, will help parents and teachers find the AT solutions that will work best for the child.

With assistive devices in the classroom, children with hearing, speech, and a host of other disabilities are realizing academic achievements that were once beyond their physical capability.