"Tap into Learning" Cross-promoting Spigot online.

New National Standards to Align with Spigot!

The National Research Council must have had Spigot Science in mind when they developed their recently issued framework for new national standards in science education.  Citing concern for a lower than needed level of US students pursuing science as a career, the NRC has set an objective that by 12th grade  “all students have some appreciation for the beauty and wonder of science”. (Don’t you love how they put that?!).

This is good news particularly because the new standards will promote not only scientific inquiry but also the very important...read more

Valeria B. Girandola
MSEd, Publisher, Editor in Chief
Spigot Science

Drop It...

...A Word Game You Can Play Anywhere
At Spigot Science we not only teach, but we also have fun.  Check this out! 

Drop It ~ First read the word clue. Guess the word. Read the Drop It clue. Guess the shorter word. Do both words make sense? Example: A four-letter word meaning to get bigger. Drop it and it means something you do with an oar. Answer: GROW, ROW

Take turns finding the answers and then make up some of your own...read more

A Shaky, Teachable Moment

by Lyle Girandola
Where were you at 1:51 EST on August 23'rd? Were you setting up your classroom? Preparing a lesson plan? Getting in the last of your summer vacation?
Earthquake map of the VA epicenter on 8/23/11
Earthquake map of the VA epicenter on 8/23/11

If you were somewhere on the east coast–say East Windsor, NJ, like me–chances are you felt what I felt. It was about 20 seconds of pure bewilderment.

The earthquake of 2011!

I was in my car eating a hamburger. I thought someone, like the cholesterol police, came up behind me and started jumping on the rear bumper. I got out of my car and continued to watch with amazement while my haunted shiny vehicle did its own little dance right there in the lot!

I even opened my trunk. Did I accidentally lock someone inside it? (I hate when that happens!)...read more

Think Like a Scientist

Have you ever thought about how you think? Have you ever wondered how we can look at something that’s confusing and make sense out of it? Scientists do this all the time. Learning how scientists think can help us become better thinkers. The scientific inquiry process is an important part of discovering and learning how the world works. When reading Spigot, look for opportunities to Think Like a Scientist...read more

New Snub-Nosed Monkey Discovered in Northern Myanmar

Lifescience News - The New ‘Rhinopithecus Strykeri’ Species ‘Sneezes in the Rain.’
An international team of primatologists have discovered a new species of monkey in Northern Myanmar (formerly Burma.) The research, published in the American Journal of Primatology, reveals how Rhinopithecus Strykeri, a species of snub-nosed monkey, has an upturned nose which causes it to sneeze when it rains.

Field biologists led by Ngwe Lwin from the Myanmar Biodiversity And Nature Conservation Association and supported by an international team of primatologists from Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the People Resources and Biodiversity Foundation, discovered the new species during the nationwide Hoolock Gibbon Status Review in early 2010. Hunters reported the presence of a monkey species with prominent lips and wide upturned nostrils.

Sightings were reported from the eastern Himalayas to the northeastern Kachin state leading the team to conduct field surveys which led to the discovery of a small population of a new species which displays characteristics unlike any other snub nosed species previously described.

Thomas Geissmann, who is leading the taxonomic description, describes the monkey as having almost entirely blackish fur with white fur only on ear tufts, chin beard and perineal area. It also has a relatively long tail, approximately 140% of its body size.

The species has been named ‘Rhinopithecus Strykeri’ in honour of Jon Stryker, President and Founder of the Arcus Foundation who supported the project. However, in local dialects it is called mey nwoah, ‘monkey with an upturned face.’

While the species is new to science the local people know it well and claim that it is very easy to find when it is raining because the monkeys often get rainwater in their upturned noses causing them to sneeze. To avoid getting rainwater in their noses they spend rainy days sitting with their heads tucked between their knees.

Frank Momberg, FFI’s Regional Programme Development Coordinator, Asia Pacific, who interviewed local hunters during the field surveys suggests that the species is limited to the Maw River area. The distribution area is believed to be 270 km (squared) with an approximate population of 260-330 individuals, meaning that it is classified as Critically Endangered by IUCN.

As this new species of snub-nosed monkey inhabits the Kachin State in northeastern Myanmar it is geographically isolated from other species by two major barriers, the Mekong and the Salween Rivers, which may explain why the species has not been discovered earlier.

According to local hunters the monkeys spend the summer months, between May and October, at higher altitudes in mixed temperate forests. In winter they descend closer to villages when snowfall makes food scarcer.

Species of snub-nosed monkeys are found in parts of China and Vietnam. Presently all species are considered endangered. Until now no species have been reported in Myanmar. However, this latest addition to the snub-nosed family is already critically endangered due to increasing hunting pressure resulting from the building of logging roads by Chinese companies beginning to invade the previously isolated distribution area of this newly discovered monkey.

Mark Rose, Chief Executive of Fauna & Flora International said, “We are committed to taking immediate conservation action to safeguard the survival of this important new species together with our partners and local communities in Myanmar.”

Images are credited to; Dr Thomas Geissmann.

Summer is for Collecting

Scientists are great collectors.  So much can be learned by gathering specimens, observing the similarities and differences and recording them in a journal.  Journals are great for illustrating and putting down when, where, why, and any interesting facts that tell the story.  And, summer is a great time to start collecting.  All the trees are full of green leaves, beaches are filled with seashells, and dirt is everywhere you might go.
Collect a leaf from trees in your yard, or park, or street.  Record in your journal and press them between the pages of a phone book or use a stack of old newspapers...read more 
Valeria B. Girandola
MSEd, Publisher, Editor in Chief
Spigot Science Magazine

Teaching Science Through Reading

Much of science should be taught as reading.  There are strange new vocabulary words on just about every page in the science book.  There are new connections.  There are inferences needed to be made.  It’s like a strange new world out there to many students.
Vocabulary IS very important.  Only by pronouncing, spelling, and understanding terms like photosynthesis, evaporation, joules, ichthyologist, carnivorous…and on and on—can students begin to understand the concepts and then think about them, question, and apply this new knowledge.
It’s like learning the notes on a musical scale.  How could anyone compose or play great music without knowing how to read music and put the notes together?
I think we might be losing something important in the learning process if we don’t emphasize, even better—teach—vocabulary and other comprehensions skills right in the beginning of a chapter, or unit, or project.  Otherwise, how can students get to the place where they are applying science concepts easily?  Discussing them easily? Learning to love science easily?
What do you think?

Valeria B. Girandola
MSEd, Publisher, Editor in Chief
Spigot Science Magazine

The Artificial Leaf

Picture of an artificial leaf used to generate electricity
Scientists have learned many lessons from studying nature, and this latest news shows how the science of photosynthesis is being used to generate a unique form of electricity.  This activity focuses on the clues that a common leaf has in the generation of solar energy, which may someday provide light to people, instead of only shade.

Check out the rest of the article on Spigot Science - Science in the News

Toys and Games Build Skills as Kids Head Back-to-School

The long, lazy days of summer are coming to an end and that can only mean one thing for kids and parents – it’s time to gear up for the new school year. Getting back into classroom-mode will be easy with the assistance of a fun crop of educational toys and games that span every subject, enhance creativity and sharpen memory, retention and strategic thinking skills.

“Toys, games and play are the tools that keep imaginations active and get young brains back in focus after summer vacation,” says Adrienne Appell, spokesperson for the Toy Industry Association (TIA). 

TIA’s top “Back to School” picks include products that were spotted at the Association’s annual Toy Fair in February 2011 and illustrate the “Camouflage learning” trend – educational toys that are so engaging kids don’t even realize they’re learning.   Examples include: 

Kindergarten to Grade 3:  Kids in the younger grades learn core subjects mainly through rote and repetition; memory games are an excellent way to exercise a child’s ability to retain information. Games that specifically teach young learners about language, spatial properties or math are also great ways to prep little ones for school.        

  • Colorama (Ravensburger) teaches kids about shapes and colors and offers three levels of play. Young players will also learn to take turns, follow instructions, and win or lose graciously.        
  • The I Spy Memory Game (Briarpatch) promotes visual, memory and reading skills. Appropriate for kids as young as four, it also offers advanced modes of play for older players.
  • Word Whiz (Learning Resources) contains electronic flash cards that challenge kids to build as many three, four, and five letter words as they can in 60 seconds.
  • Computer Cool School (Fisher Price) contains five learning centers with skill-building activities in reading, writing, math, science, art and music, and includes a tablet with an attached stylus for writing and drawing.
  • Magic School Bus Science Kits (The Young Scientists Clubs) are a fun, hands-on way to introduce kids ages 5 and up to the exciting world of science as they grow bacteria and fungi, test antibiotics, use yeast to inflate balloons, and more stimulating experiments.

Grades 3 to 6:

Older kids will benefit from play products that challenge and excite them – from in-depth science experiments to fun-filled ways to expand their knowledge in subjects like history or math. Games targeted to older kids will also feature components that encourage critical-thinking and creativity.

  • Madeline at the White House Game (Briarpatch) teaches kids about Washington, DC, the White House and other famous landmarks through competitive or cooperative play, while Name that State Game (Educational Insights) helps kids ages eight and older brush up on their American geography.
  • Math Dice (ThinkFun) (and its counterpart for younger kids, Math Dice Jr.) is a 3D math game that makes different equations using addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and powers lots of fun. More than 100 Science and Energy Kits (Thames & Kosmos) teach kids about alternative energy sources, biology, technology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, earth science and construction sciences and inspire innovation, problem-solving and discovery.
  • PathWords (ThinkFun) expands the vocabulary skills of kids ages 12 and up by combining the best of Tetris and Word Search.
These are just a few examples of the many playthings that will help kids get into the swing of things before packing their book bags for the new school year. For more toy trends and tips, visit TIA’s website ToyInfo.org, a year-round resource for toys and play.

About the Toy Industry Association (TIA)
TIA is the not-for-profit trade association for producers and importers of toys and youth entertainment products sold in North America, representing more than 550 companies who account for approximately 85% of domestic toy sales.  For more information, please visit http://www.toyassociation.org/ or http://www.toyinfo.org/.

Who is Ponder? What Does Ponder Do?

Ponder is that cute little guy who lives inside the pages of Spigot Science Magazine for Kids and Classrooms. What does Ponder do, you ask?  Well…in his off time he dreams, imagines, speculates, and wonders. And…in his on time he thinks scientifically.

You see, Ponder is a thinker. He loves to …more

Valeria B. Girandola
MSEd, Publisher, Editor in Chief
Spigot Science Magazine

Herbs - Plants for all Seasons

Herbs are wonderfully smelling, wonderfully tasting flowering plants that have been around since ancient times. They have many uses. Planted in the spring, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme are excellent for a kitchen garden.  They add flavors to everything from salads to desserts. Then there’s chamomile for tea as well as mint and lemon verbena.

For healing herbs, marjoram, mint, and oregano are said to help with digestion...read more 

Check out all of Spigot Science's back issues by clicking the specific picture below or visit; http://spigotsciencemag.com/

"The Green Magicians" - Spigot Science


Plants are amazing green magicians.  They are energy transformers that are the first step of our food chain, transferring energy that they receive from sunlight. The story starts 93 million miles away on the star that fuels our solar system, the Sun. The Sun is a huge, fiery mass of hydrogen, helium and other gases. It sends its radiated heat and light energy to the Earth....read more

Check This Out - Plant's Issue

Only at Spigot Science Magazine - Click for link

Science Kits are a growing vehicle of choice in many elementary and middle school districts.  They provide a ready-made themed unit, complete with measuring and other tools, models, hands-on experiments and activities, workbooks, charts and graphs to fill out, and collaborative student work groups.  Extending the lesson is, of course, left up to the teacher.  Enter Spigot Science Magazine for Kids and Classrooms.    
Spigot supports the theme with online activities, thought-provoking articles, ideas to do-it-yourself and questions to ponder. Send a Spigot page home, or better yet, have students access it online in school and/or at home, where they can strengthen their technology skills with follow-up homework.

And speaking of collaboration—Spigot’s great Table of Contents in every issue lends itself to team discussion and planning across the curriculum. Imagine an aspect of say…Simple Machines… being taught in science class, math class, language arts, social studies, the arts, and even health classes!  As they say in Project 2061, “Concepts are learned best when they are encountered in a variety of contexts and expressed in a variety of ways, for that ensures that there are more opportunities for them to become imbedded in a student’s knowledge system.”     

Find all this and more in each of Spigot’s publications: WATER, TREES THE UNIVERSE, SIMPLE MACHINES, PATTERNS, ENERGY, ECOSYSTEMS, CHANGING EARTH, TELESCOPES, DESIGN, BUGS, ROCKS and MINERALS, SOUND and PLANTS - Click on Magazine pic below to check out our back issues.
Science is all around us! 

Valeria B. GirandolaMSEd, Publisher, Editor in Chief
Spigot Science Magazine

Turning on the Spigot

What do two educators in the same writing group talk about? Think about? Write about?  Teaching, of course.  And that’s how Spigot Science Magazine for Kids and Classrooms came into being.

Drawing on our teaching experience, we decided there was a need for a specially focused classroom magazine that showed how science can be integrated in all school subjects.  It would be on one concept only, and could be used in all subject areas across the curriculum, like a mini-textbook. We designed our all-important TOC (Table of Contents) to be the backbone of our targeted articles, and also to ensure that we write for all the classes across the elementary and middle school curriculum.  Since science is all around us, we reasoned that science could and should be talked about in geography, math, language arts, social studies, health, and the arts. Our TOC is called Connections Across the Curriculum

Our Library Connection reviews illustrated books on each theme. These reviews describe the selections along with offering teaching ideas—a must for the language-rich classroom.

We checked out the Science Content Standards and, because of that, Think Like a Scientist, Scientists Are People Too, and the Health Connection became regular features.

Our very first issue WATER, January 2008, started it off and an adventure was born. Since then we have created thirteen Spigots covering TREES, THE UNIVERSE, SIMPLE MACHINES, PATTERNS, ENERGY, ECOSYSTEMS, CHANGING EARTH, TELESCOPES, DESIGN, BUGS, ROCKS and MINERALS, SOUND and PLANTS (click below on magazine covers to check out these awesome back issues).

We started our fourth year of publication with our SOUND issue in January of 2011.  We are now introducing a monthly newsletter, Science in the News, and other activities to extend learning.

Our mission, “to help children understand how and why the world works…” translates into promoting reading, research, critical thinking and writing skills, along with science process and inquiry skills.  In other words, we are dedicated to the idea of science literacy for each child—thinking, analyzing, discussing, applying, and writing science—understanding that science is all around us, and appreciating that science truly does make the world go ‘round.

By; Valeria B. GirandolaMSEd, Publisher, Editor in Chief
Spigot Science Magazine