Bubble Construction Design Challenge

Check out this fun ‘Bubble Construction Design Challenge’ activity from Family Science & Engineering!

We have officially entered summer! Yippee! The summer solstice arrived officially at 8:31 PM (PT) on Sunday, June 20. (Check out some fun facts and folklore about the summer solstice.) Time for some fun, summer-related science & engineering activities!

When I think about summer, one of the first fun activities that comes to mind are bubbles! Try out the following design challenge adapted from our book, Family Science. This activity involves some prep, but it is so worth it — give it try!

You’ll need:

  • Scissors
  • Large plastic trash bag
  • Paper towels or several terry towels
  • Water
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Empty gallon milk jug (or similarly sized container)
  • Ruler
  • Corrugated cardboard box
  • Plastic bowl or tray
  • Copy of “Bubble Construction Chart
  • Tool construction supplies (string, chenille stems, foil, stiff paper, cardboard, recycled containers, straws, paper/plastic cups, etc.)
  • Pencil
  • Paper
Here’s what you do:
Prepare the Construction Site

  • Make a large table cover by cutting the side seams of a trash bag. Open it flat. Wipe the table with a damp paper towel, and then spread the cover over the damp area.
  • Mix a bubble solution by combining 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap with 1 cup of water. To make a larger amount, pour 2/3 cup of liquid dish soap into an empty gallon milk jug, and then fill with water. Mix the solution by stirring slowly. Try to keep bubbles and foam from forming on the surface.
  • Cut the cardboard box into sections about 6 by 8 inches (15 by 20 centimeters). Make one for each person. You will use the cardboard as squeegees to clear extra liquid away from the work area.
  • Have sheets of a roll of paper towels nearby to soak up spills or to blot an area dry. Plain vinegar also works well to break down the soap and help clean off the work surface.
  • Put supplies and tools in the center of the work area. Pour a small amount of bubble solution into a bowl or tray.

Bubble Production

  • Distribute one Bubble Construction Chart to each explorer or team. (Keep your chart on a separate, dry surface while you test your bubble production tools.)
  • Each individual or team then selects one of the bubble products to produce. Next, design a tool that will produce the bubble product, and then record their method for others to follow.
  • Choose the type of materials needed to construct the tool.
  • Assemble and test the tool until the tool produces consistent results. Remember, the goal is to produce a bubble product as described on the construction chart.
  • Once you have perfected your method, write step-by-step directions to explain how to produce your bubble product. Give the directions to someone else or another team. Do they get the same results?
  • Continue the design and production of the other bubble products. Fill in the chart while you work.

A Shocking Anniversary

According to fellow scientist, Joseph Priestly, Ben Franklin performed his famous kite experiment in June 1752. Franklin had been interested in “electric fire” for quite a while and had an on-going dialogue with other scientists of his day about the phenomenon. His famous key experiment established that lightning was a form of electricity.

There are a couple of myths about this famous experiment though. First, the kite experiment did not help Franklin “discover” electricity. Humans had known about electrical forces for more than a millennium. What it did do was establish the connection between electricity and lightning, and it ultimately led to Franklin’s refinement of the of the lightning rod. These devices are still used today on taller buildings to help channel the electric charge from a lightning bolt safely to the ground.

Also, neither Franklin nor the kite were actually struck by lightning. (He likely would have died if either had happened!) The wet hemp string that he attached to the kite was a good conductor of electricity, and they key attached to the string picked up electrical charge from the air in the active storm.

While we would not recommend that you replicate Franklin’s experiment, there are some easy ways to investigate static electricity at home and remember Franklin’s contributions to STEM.

Static Electricity Race

You’ll need: two aluminum cans, some masking tape, and two balloons.

Here’s what you do:

  • Using masking tape, mark a “start” and a “finish” line on the floor about 1 yard (1 meter) apart.
  • Place 2 empty soft drink cans on their sides on the starting line.
  • Inflate and tie-off 2 balloons. To charge the balloons, rub them rapidly back and forth on your clothing for a minute.
  • When you’re ready for the race, hold the balloons near the cans, without touching them to the cans, and have someone say “go.”
  • Each person tries to move his/her can across the finish line using only the static electricity of the balloon. Don’t touch the balloons to the cans!
  • After the race, ask participants what caused the balloons to move? (Static electricity – charged particles you rubbed off your clothes and onto the balloon.) Then ask if they can identify whether the part of the can nearest the balloon had similar or opposite charges. How could they tell? (Opposite charges attract. Like charges repel.)

Have fun!

Be sure to check out more from Family Science & Engineering guidebook for more ideas to inspire engineering exploration!


Call for School Leaders to Reward Educators & Push for Being Better

In a video recorded interview, Pedro Martinez, superintendent of the San Antonio Independent School District, told Jan Morrison, founder of TIES, that it’s not just enough to “go back” to school and that it’s time to “be better.”

Martinez, who is also chair of the Chiefs for Change, offered broad comments about the role of ecosystems in improving schools, how rewarding and paying teachers a decent wage is a matter of social justice and how children are ready for learning and challenges.

The conversation with Morrison and Martinez was a follow-up to the Spring 2020 STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice convening held in San Antonio where Martinez spoke in-person and challenged Ecosystem leaders to better engage their students.

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Position Opening

10-12th Grade EAST/CS Educator Position Opening

Pottsville High School is accepting applications for an EAST/CS educator for grades 10-12. Applications will be accepted Thursday, June 10, 2021 12:00 AM – Thursday, July 15, 2021 11:59 PM (Central Standard Time).

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Position Opening

Educator Position Openings | Hope High School

Hope High School in Hope, Arkansas has several teacher positions open. Please contact the principal, Bill Hoglund, at or 870-777-3451 ext 60.

There are also the following full-time educator positions available:

Please bear in mind that our previous announcement for a 1/2 Business, 1/2 Computer Science educator has been filled.

Position Opening

Heber Springs CS Educator Position Opening

Heber Springs High School in Heber Springs, Arkansas has a 9-12 Computer Science teacher position available. For more information about open positions, please visit the school’s district position opening webpage here.


Computers ARe Fun Video Series | ADE Office of Computer Science

The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) Office of Computer Science is pleased to announce the launch of the “Computers ARe Fun” video series. This series of videos, which will be released throughout the Summer of 2021, are intended for younger viewers, typically Pre-K – 5th grade, and will help children understand the basics of computers, including introductory computer literacy, some coding, low level hardware discussions, and appropriate cybersecurity and internet security topics. In addition, the series will share information about computer science and computing careers in a fun way.

Videos within the series will be posted to the ADE YouTube page in the “Computers ARe Fun” playlist as they are made available at

Episode 1, “What is a computer?” has been posted and is available today!

While the first episode is more of an introduction to the series, subsequent episodes will delve into various computer science and computing topics. Some of the content shared will be accessible online, but much of it will focus on unplugged activities that children can explore with their family without the use of computing devices.

If you have any questions, comments, or want to get involved in the creation of a “Computers ARe Fun” video for this summer, please reach out to


Congratulations to Winners of the State Coding Competition & CS Educator of the Year!

Gov. Hutchinson Announces Winners of State Coding Competition
2021 Arkansas Computer Science Educator of the Year Also Announced

Little Rock — Gov. Asa Hutchinson is pleased to announce the winners of the Fifth Annual Governor’s All-State Coding Competition, which was held this past weekend at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Donaghey Student Center. Students at the Don Tyson School of Innovation in Springdale received the first-place prize, students at Rogers New Technology High School in Rogers received second place, and a team from eStem High School in Little Rock received the third place honor.

“For the fifth straight year, this competition has inspired impressive solutions from Arkansas’ top computer science students,” Hutchinson said. “Their work reinforces my confidence that these students will be more than well prepared to take the reins of leadership. When you consider the caliber of the five teachers we recognized, it’s no surprise that we are seeing this excellence in our computer science students.”

The winning team from the Don Tyson School of Innovation (Lucas Kellar, Luke Lyons, and Drake Mayes) each received a 529 college savings plan prize worth $2,000. Students at Rogers New Technology High School (Joshua Willard, Aldan Garner, and David Daniel) each received a 529 college savings plan prize worth $1,000, and students at eStem High School (Elijah Keen, Spencer Knight, and Sergio Markin) each received a 529 college savings plan prize worth $500. In addition to the individual awards, winning schools received $10,000, $6,000, and $4,000 respectively to support their computer science programs.

Since the contest’s 2016 inaugural year, Verizon has provided $225,000 in financial support for the competition. More than 100 teams from across the state participated in this year’s digital regional competition. The top 16 teams from that regional event along with a team from last year’s first-place school received invitations to compete in the 2021 competition.

2021 Computer Science Educator of the Year Named

In addition to the announcing the contest winners at the event, Ashley Kincannon, a teacher at Lake Hamilton Junior High School in the Lake Hamilton School District, was named the 2021 Arkansas Computer Science Educator of the Year. In addition to receiving a $2,500 award when named a finalist, Kincannon received an additional $12,500 award from the Arkansas Department of Education’s Office of Computer Science.

Hutchinson also recognized the other four finalists at the event:

  • Carl Frank – Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts
  • Kimberly Raup – Conway High School (Conway School District)
  • Stacy Reynolds – McGehee High School (McGehee School District)
  • Lauren Taylor – Dardanelle High School (Dardanelle School District)

We appreciate the service of all the computer science educators in the state of Arkansas, the sponsors who made this year’s competition possible, and we appreciate and congratulate all the participants and winners for such a successful event!

Original Source Here

Announcements Position Opening

Computer Science Teacher Position Opening

Conway Public Schools as well as Crossett High School is currently in search of a Computer Science Teacher. If you or someone you know has the 528 certification, is enthusiastic about Computer Science, and has an interest in or willingness to learn Programming and Networking/Hardware, we encourage you to apply. Please help build the Computer Science Program for the continuation of computer science education for students!

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Innovation in Computer Science School Grant Program

The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) Office of Computer Science announced in December the continuation of the Computer Science Innovation Grant opportunity for Arkansas public K-12 schools. This opportunity includes up to $250,000.00 in total reimbursement funding that has been allocated for the purchase of curriculum, software licenses, non-fundamental equipment, professional development, student incentives, and other approved expenses that directly support the instruction of the ADE K-12 Computer Science and Computing Standards.

This is a multi-stage competitive grant process; each proposal will be judged by a committee. Chosen proposals will be invited and required to complete and submit an ADE required grant application, based on the proposal, for full approval before funding is awarded and released. ADE expects to award approximately three $25,000.00 grants, five $20,000.00 grants, and ten $7,500.00 grants; however, ADE may elect not to award all grants or full grant amounts if the quality of the proposals do not warrant award. ADE maintains the discretion to award, not award, and/or modify award amounts of any or all grants under this program. Prior receipt of funding under previous Computer Science Innovation Grant programs does not disqualify proposals.

The proposal submission system can be accessed at:

Proposals will be evaluated on the level of innovation and potential effectiveness in regards to:

  • Broadening student participation in computer science courses with an additional emphasis placed on programs that broaden participation within underserved populations
  • Increasing computer science teacher capacity within the school and understanding of computer science for involved educators
  • Increasing community understanding and local industry support of local computer science initiatives/programs
  • Number of, and the impact on, students, teachers, and/or community members reached by the proposal
    Follow up components and/or outreach/marketing components

The proposal process is open and will close at 11:45 p.m. CST on 04/30/2021; award decisions will be released by 05/28/2021.

Grant proposals must include a proposed budget that includes a summary of all costs, and lists any outside funding expected. Spending of awarded grant funds may deviate up to 10% within each category without additional approval; however, no additional funds will be granted for programs that exceed awarded amounts. Programs will be forward funded up to 50% of the projected grant award amount; the remaining 50% will be funded once the first half is fully and appropriately expensed. Organizations may contract with curriculum / professional development providers to provide training to educators as needed.

Selected schools will be required to submit an official ADE grant application, budget and budget narrative, and other documentation and reports throughout the grant process.

The grant performance period will be July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022; initial funding will not be distributed until after July 15, 2021.

The funding for these one-time grants is being provided by the ADE Office of Computer Science, and is subject to the availability of funds appropriated by legislative act.