Revolutionary STEM

Every other year, I teach Our Nation’s Foundations in the Library, building a giant meme on the wall representing Constitutional principles of our great Republic. (My lesson plan recently won first prize in the Best Teacher Lesson Plan for 2016, from Constituting America.)

Since Sue Crouch has become a dynamic STEM Academy campus, I’ve been researching the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math applications to the topic of the American Revolution.

For example, did you know that during this time period, The Enlightenment that began in Europe was transforming how people thought about everything?

Science was replacing superstition to explain nature.

Technology was replacing manual labor, making life easier.

Engineering followed discoveries, encouraging wide-ranging curiosity and invention.

Math was used to solve practical problems of a rapidly expanding population.

I’m so excited for the opportunity to learn and teach STEM applications regarding my American History lessons that supplement 5th grade Social Studies!

It’ll be Revolutionary!



STEM Social

Let’s get together and talk about Science! Mr. Michler will get us started. Geeky fun!

Science is the study of everything! What could be more exciting than that?

On March 2, parents and teachers got together to shmooze about STEM opportunities at Sue Crouch Intermediate.

Our program is thriving, and growth is highly anticipated! (There are rumors of adding a whole other team of STEM teachers to our campus next year!) Currently, we have Mr. Birmingham, Mrs. Grothe, Mrs. Joe, and Mr. Kelly (pictured below), as well as Mr. Michler, Mrs. Alvine and Mrs. Iihara.




With the surprise news that our own Jesse Rutherford, who came in third at the recent Fort Worth Regional Science and Technology Fair, is invited to compete at the State level at the end of this month, our school district is determined to reward the successes made evident in our dynamic STEM program.


So far, in a short time, STEM has become a rousing success at Sue Crouch!

Turning Hobbies into Careers


image6.JPGThe 66th Fort Worth Regional Science and Engineering Fair invited hundreds of North Texas science students to present their experiments for judging.

See local CBS story and video here that features three sixth grade STEM students from Sue Crouch Intermediate.

Bryan Michler, a science teacher at Sue Crouch Intermediate school in Crowley ISD, was one of the educators on hand to chaperone students.

“Just seeing how a hobby that you are interested in can turn into a career in science and engineering is a really big deal,” he said.

One of Mr. Michler’s female STEM students won the Bronze Medal for her presentation about the molecular biology comparing the DNA of reptiles and birds!


Congratulations, Jesse Rutherford!

Constituting America

On February 1, 2017, I was surprised and incredibly honored to receive an email from Janine Turner and Cathy Gillespie, founders of  Constituting America.

It was an announcement informing me that I had won their “Best Teacher Lesson Plan” contest for 2016. (Scroll down on this page for full details:

“Our Nation’s Foundations”, the lessons I developed to use at Sue Crouch to supplement Civics studies, will be offered and promoted to other educators throughout the nation.

I am so proud to be associated with the important work that Constituting America is doing to inspire and teach the next generation to take ownership of their Republic, so that they learn to keep the system of government designed to protect their unalienable rights. Students of all ages are encouraged to study the Constitution and then create a media vehicle to share that learning with others, from songs and videos to essays and artwork.

Janine Turner (actress, political activist) and her daughter, Juliette (author of Our Constitution Rocks! and Our Presidents Rock!), in Colleyville, Texas, make personal visits to schools and other youth groups, encouraging the commitment to become engaged and effective citizens.

Every student in my school visits the Library every other week with his or her class. On the years that I present Our Nation’s Foundations, they receive lessons that help them visualize how our country’s founders and framers of the Constitution built our nation on the firm foundations of Natural Law, Rule of Just Laws, Pillars of Principles, and the Separate but Balanced Three Branches of Government. As the lesson grows, so does our “meme”- a graphic describing our Republic as a large federal building taking up much of the space on a free wall in the Library.

By the end of the school year, the wall looks like this:


Here is a video presentation of the same material:

Just When I Thought I’d Seen It All…

I tell my students that, as a school Librarian, I’ve seen it all, and I don’t want to see it in or on the books they return to me. Ew.

So, imagine my surprise when the school Secretary informed me that one of our students had reported, that, as a result of a freakishly strong and erratic gust of wind, the book she had borrowed from the school Library was blown down into a curb drain as she sat on the sidewalk awaiting her ride home!



A popular book from a series written by six individual authors in collaboration, under the pseudonym, “Erin Hunter”, the fantasy book detailing a complex feline society is a beloved story by many Intermediate students.

First of all, “Thank you” to Taylar for reporting the incident, and an even bigger “THANK YOU!” to the Crowley ISD Maintenance department for fishing that sucker out of the sewer!

The Library gods must have been in a good mood, because the book suffered only a light dusting of dirt!

Do I dare say, “Now, I’ve seen it all!”?


Lockheed Martin Engineers Visit


On February 6, the STEM Academy was able to participate in the Engineers in the Classroom program with Lockheed Martin. Students learned about a typical day as an engineer and the many different types of engineers that work at Lockheed Martin.

They also learned about different types of energy before constructing a wind turbine. Finally, they were able to see how sound frequencies travel by observing the movement of grains of sand.


The Big One

This is my favorite presentation for my students. It’s all about how I wouldn’t be here if my grandfather hadn’t survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake when he was 10 years old. Californians call it “The Big One”.

At 5:12 in the morning of April 18, 1906, my grandfather was thrown out of his bed. His mother also suffered the same fate in her bedroom. She yelled at her young son, “Albert! Say your prayers!”, for surely the world was coming to an end, she thought. He yelled back, advising her to crawl out the windows, now collapsed to ground level, and meet him on the sidewalk for morning prayers!

My great-grandfather was already at work in his bakery.

The 8.0 earthquake caused massive damage to the young city, but nothing compared to the fires that raged for days afterward. In a city fueled by natural gas, the friction of an earthquake ignites explosions and blazes that are hard to manage.

The San Francisco City Council thought they were prepared for this quake (tectonic collisions were not infrequent on the San Andreas Fault!), but they didn’t foresee that the councilman appointed to pay tax funds to a contractor to connect underground pipes from the Bay to the fire hydrants just “never got around to it”.

Fire fighters set fire breaks to try to save yet undamaged blocks, unaware that the water supply remained severely limited. Their efforts did more damage than good and they watched their beloved city burn to the ground. I tell my students: never underestimate the importance of a job someone gives you!

The Army set up a tent city in Golden Gate park and hired my great-grandfather to bake bread 24/7 for over a year while permanent shelters could be built. My grandfather used the time out of school to find money-making opportunities, including delivering that freshly baked bread by bicycle. As the city quickly rebuilt, my grandfather found many other ways to earn a buck (some on the shady side) and invested in high rise apartment buildings. He lived his whole life in the City by the Bay that he loved.

I tell this story as part of my How We See in 3D series. Students are able to view 1906 stereographs through a 1901 stereoscope in order to “step into” history.


What is Steampunk?

Steampunk is a science fiction genre that has a historical or futuristic setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology. The setting often takes place in the far future after some catastrophic disaster has disabled present technology like electricity and computer applications. It usually involves high drama and physical challenges.

Some TV shows have Steampunk elements. According to, in 1965, The Wild Wild West was popular and “The Infinite Worlds of H. G. Wells is a four-hour miniseries that first aired on Hallmark Channel in August of 2001.” More recently, Warehouse 13   invited viewers into the world of Steampunk.

Steampunk is also a style of jewelry, reflecting the anachronisms of Victorian fashion and mechanical elements.

Steampunk is just the latest incarnation of what Jules Verne began with his fantastical adventures found in Around the World in 80 Days and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

This genre invites the reader to imagine life without the modern technological advantages.

The Sue Crouch Library has numerous Steampunk novels: Airborn and Skybreaker, by Kenneth Oppel, The Lost Kingdom, by Matthew Kirby, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick, The Fog Diver and The Lost Compass, by Joe Ross, Fever Crumb and Web of Air, by Philip Reeve, and Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld.


Leviathan takes on the herculean task of developing a novel based on the premise that World War I was fought by children with steampunk machinery. It presents an alternate history adventure.

While the Steampunk trilogies by authors Philip Reeve and Scott Westerfeld are fascinating, the final episodes have adult themes that are not appropriate for Intermediate School students.

It’s Like a Dance With Paper!

Mrs. Grothe, our 6th Grade STEM Language Arts teacher, is teaching her students how to teach with paper “slides”.

After reading about, learning and assimilating information about our solar system and it’s planets, she showed them how to share that learning with others by retelling the information from their written scripts as they slide simple paper drawings in and out of screen view.

It could be described as a 2 dimensional puppet show! I was most impressed with how her students are able to express the information in such a flowing manner while seamlessly sliding the pieces of paper into and out of view.