Elementary engineering
posted on April 8, 2020


This house design is an engineering marvel created by two 11-year-old students without any adult input whatsoever!

The structure was created in two parts – base and top.

Congratulations to these two budding engineers!


CONSTRUCTING CREATIVITY – intooba construction kits

Housing base
Housing top
Complete house
posted on April 3, 2020

From my years of teaching elementary school, a few ideas come to mind on what are essential skills for young people to learn. They are presented here, in no particular order:

  • the ability to substantiate and articulate your thinking and viewpoint
  • the ability to negotiate and work within a group
  • the ability to take information from one place and use it in another
  • the ability and fortitude to try something and rework it to make it better
  • the ability to try something new
  • the capacity and interest to learn about the world
  • the interest in connecting in-school learning to the ‘real world’
  • the opportunity to be both teacher and learner

Finding few engaging manipulatives attached to curriculum to achieve these goals, I have co-developed several products for hands-on collaborative learning in a variety of settings: the classroom, in after-school activities, in homeschooling, and in summer camps. These products offer open-ended opportunities for students to experiment with curriculum supported ideas and creative-free-thinking. They offer the possibility for students to teach and learn from each other, taking time to listen and contribute while using visually stimulating hands-on materials.

The first, the intooba construction kit for K-6, (www.intooba.com) is designed for hands-on collaborative learning in STEM/STEAM engineering and math. Rods and connectors are used to solve over 25 engineering challenges, each with several levels of complexity. A math manual is provided to support common core concepts such as shapes, measurement, and estimation.

Our challenging engineering projects encourage collaborative learning in designing, constructing, and budgeting.

diskii math (http://www.diskii.com) is a hands-on math manipulative for grades 1-5. Our instructor manual offers ideas on learning such topics as algebra, logic, fractions, and decimals, and is based on common core standards. Students may learn both as teacher and student when working collaboratively with diskii tokens. Each token is associated with a unique name, color, and face offering three variables for problem creators.  Users can vary the complexity of the product by assigning an age-appropriate value to each token when creating challenges. We have developed both physical and downloadable token sets.

At Ozzla, Inc. (http://www.ozzla.com), we have created a series of Ozzla Sparks for English Language Arts (ELA) and advanced English Language Learners (ELL) educators, tutors, and homeschool learners. Ozzla Sparks combine professional international images with many lesson ideas reflecting common core standards. We have divided Ozzla Sparks into two offerings. Pre-made lesson units are one to two week units on a specific topic. Ozzla Sparks Collections offer users the opportunity to explore many topics in more open-ended and creative ways. Each Ozzla Spark Collection offers 36 unique image cards which are numbered and bordered for individual, paired/sibling and group/family activities. These may be downloaded, and/or viewed on our website.

All of our materials require minimal instruction to set-up and use. No professional development is required for these easy-to-understand products which are supported by instructor and student manuals where appropriate.

posted on March 3, 2020

NOAA SOS Explorer is an amazing visual interactive tool to help teachers explore and explain topics of scientific interest to the K-12 community. Adding a powerful and vibrant visual component to student learning brings such topics as the oceans, bird migration, marine sanctuaries, coral reefs, and transportation to life. This offering could well complement the movement within K-12 schools to convert traditional libraries into media learning centers.

The Boulder Center for Interactive Learning at Dawson (BCILD) has, in collaboration with the educator team at NOAA SOS Explorer, developed a set of questions and internet resources for educators to complement the visual datasets:


posted on August 10, 2019

As elementary school teachers, we developed an entrepreneurial after-school program for grades 3-5.

We felt that it was important for younger students to develop a solid understanding of business and the economy. Our program consisted of three components:
(a) visiting local businesses, noting physical positioning, product, and range of service;
(b) playing a virtual stock market game: GAME HERE;and
(c) creating a product from concept to design to packaging and marketing.

I have not seen many programs on this topic. Recently, however, I met an elementary educator who has developed an extensive curriculum in business development ideas for elementary and middle school students. Eva Foxwell’s materials include curriculum material on entrepreneurship, business skills, and career development: CLICK HERE

We do not know where students’ interests and passions will lead them later in life, but it is certainly advantageous to offer early insight in careers, entrepreneurship, business, and economics.

posted on August 8, 2019

I am always thrilled to share really interesting products, both recently introduced and longstanding favorites. I particularly favor products offering children hands-on learning opportunities.

The products I can share after attending an education convention in Palm Springs, CA are:

(1) KEVA Planks from Keva Education. Keva offers teacher lessons and activities with their single size Keva Planks made from fine hardwood maple. Students can innovate and problem solve collaboratively using the materials. Using your hands to work through problems with classmates can only benefit students as they prepare for other STEM/STEAM topics. Website HERE

(2) Learning Wrap Ups. This company offers many hands-on classroom and after-school curriculum supported manipulatives for students to reinforce learning in math and reading topics. Offering very creative ways to check and practice topics. Website HERE

(3) Insect Lore. To get hands-on learning about caterpillars, ladybugs, butterflies and more, this company offers an excellent opportunity to do just that! Children should know about all aspects of our fragile eco-system, and what better place to start than with insects? Website HERE

posted on April 22, 2019

For K- 8 Colorado schools considering bringing in an education program in STEM, consider STEMpunk. Here is their program catalog: PROGRAMS HERE

It is not easy to find an extremely well researched and presented roll-in STEM experience.

One truly never knows where that spark of inspiration comes from engendering a passion for learning!

Engaging students in programs brought to schools enriches students’ experiences and interests.

posted on March 7, 2019

Teachers spend many hours of their own time each week searching for images and articles to complement their curriculum materials promoting essential understanding and providing teachable moments in their classrooms. These searches are often complicated by copyright use issues and time constraints.

We have formed OZZLA, Inc. to develop and provide comprehensive yet concise lesson units across grade levels. OZZLA SPARKS, as we have called our lessons, offer professional photographic images and engaging text to teachers for classroom use. OZZLA SPARKS target a specific learning objective such as “Compare and Contrast”, or “Descriptive Writing”. In this way, images and corresponding text are tightly bound together to form a teachable moment.

OZZLA SPARKS provide immediately accessible and low-priced teaching material to teachers.

These lessons are tied to, and reference, the ELA Common Core curriculum guidelines.

We are building a selection of OZZLA SPARKS – click HERE

posted on January 28, 2019

All institutions, by their very nature, contain a finite amount of knowledge representing the communal skills and learning of their employees. Well funded institutions who find skills or knowledge lacking hire more employees or outside consultants. Many K-12 entities lack the financial resources to exercise this option. That is why it is vitally important for local communities to participate in K-12 education either through on-campus interactions, or by offering opportunities in their own spaces.

Universities, with an abundance of professional educators, students, and meeting spaces, are perfectly positioned to offer enrichment to the K-12 community. Two examples that come to mind are the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) Wizards program: HERE and The Rockefeller University Science Saturday: HERE

Both offer incredible learning opportunities to young learners by carefully crafting how to present complicated topics to this audience.

The Boulder Center for Interactive Learning at Dawson (BCILD) hopes to learn about, and share, information on other such opportunities within K-12 communities.

Photos taken at CU Wizard event Boulder,CO, Saturday 01/26/2019