Dr. Tone Rawlings, who started at Burke’s in August 2015, is keeping things interesting in the science lab for fifth and sixth graders.
The curriculum centers on the standard topics, like biology and engineering, but how many of us studied the principles of heat transfer by making s’mores in convection ovens constructed out of cardboard? Or learned about earth sciences by building pollution detectors from the circuits up?
Dr. Rawlings brought her innovative methodology to Burke’s after teaching science at the Art Institute of California in San Francisco and the Winsor School in Boston, as well as serving as an instructor with i2 Camp. That organization collaborates with prominent companies and institutions in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields to keep middle-school students occupied over the summer — but engaged and intrigued as well.
She holds a B.A. in Ecology and Systematics with a minor in Studio Art and Art History from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Marine and Estuarine Ecological Sciences from the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Rawlings has an extensive background in research, including a post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University’s Division of Infectious Diseases
And if you’re a fan of CBS Sunday Morning, you might have seen her in this piece, which aired on December 4, 2016. Dr. Rawlings is an active volunteer with GISHWHES, otherwise known as the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, which involves a set of tasks that are often artistic or charitable in nature.
Wind Turbine Design Challenge
Student Generated Infographics
For two months, the sixth grade picks a current area of technology, researches it, envisions what it might look like in 20 years, and describes the design-engineering steps, pros & cons, and breakthroughs that have to happen as a part of the ExploraVision Project. Part of a national competition, the project integrates science content with design thinking, engineering, technology, research, critical thinking, and creativity. You can imagine how challenging yet rewarding this project can be. In the process, students engage in deciphering some pretty complex science. This takes some patience, perseverance, and resilience on their part. They also need to apply these attributes to the spirit and realities of group work.
Here are a few examples of past projects (one asterisk indicates the honorable mentions and the regional winner has two asterisks)
*FastFinder : will decrease the number of kidnappings by tracking and monitoring health stats of the child and taking videos of the kidnapping event.
*Blood Clot Tracker : a device that travels through a person's veins using sound vibration to disintegrate blood clots.
**SDW (Speech Disorder Watch) : a technology that allows people with Apraxia to communicate with the world.
Brain Aid : a capsule that can heal parts of the brain after trauma.
Azalea 2.0 : a sustainable floating city that will replace land loss during sea level increase due to global warming.
*HydroBeetle : a car that powers itself using rain water.
*Seeing Drunk: a device that can tell if a driver is drunk or not by using an advanced form of biometrics to determine how fast or slow their eyes perceive light in order to prevent the driver from starting the car.
Hear With No Ear: a microchip connected to an application that allows fully deaf people of all ages to learn language skills and communicate clearly by typing on a phone.
SpineStrips: a technology to cure scoliosis without damaging the spine.
L.O.C.K.S (Lots of control keypads security): prevents criminals from escaping with valuables by locking down the home quietly and quickly.
Nano Chip: a technology implanted in the brain that monitors neurotransmitters to address the problems created in addict’s brains due to drug addiction.
Invision: lets the blind see their surroundings by using a microchip, a video camera, and a contact lens.