Tag Archives: Janet Pinto

Physics Resources for the Flipped Classroom

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki


Physics is not only interesting, but also helps us to understand how things work – whether it’s understanding kinetic energy in a looping roller coaster, or why your singing voice sounds so much better in the shower.

At Curriki, we have thousands of resources for teaching and learning physics. Here are a few of our favorites that can be used as part of the Flipped Classroom:

Coaster Creator
rollercoasterLearn the physics of roller coasters with this free, online game that allows students to explore kinetic and potential energy. Per Curriki Member Anna, “This is a great visual aid for students to understand potential and kinetic energy. In addition, it is engaging students to create a roller coaster on their own in order to experiment on what factors affect the change in energy.”

Full Physics Course from Sal Khan
You’ll find about 100 straightforward 10 – 15 minute tutorial videos comprised of simple graphics and personable narration, covering all topics in a complete high school or college course in Physics.

Physics Videos from STEMbite
stembiteThese short video clips are created by online science and math teacher, Andrew Vanden Heuvel, from Michigan, USA. Using Google Glass he makes  bite-sized videos highlighting the science in our everyday lives. The extensive Physics collection features such engaging topics as the physics involved in tennis, playrooms, and even singing in the shower!

The Physics of Sailing
sailingInspired by the America’s World Cup, Curriki just announced a new project-based learning (PBL) course that will be available shortly called The Physics of Sailing. Thanks to a grant from Oracle Corporation, the project will be developed by Curriki’s PBL team with contributions from sailing experts from Oracle Team USA.

Do us a favor please and share this with someone who’s interested in physics.

Pinterest: Ideas for Teachers

pinit2By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki


A popular site for teachers, Pinterest boasts over 500,000 education pins each day! It’s an easy and visual way to share and find creative new ideas for the classroom (sounds a lot like Curriki!).

We’re steadily growing our boards, and encourage you to follow Curriki on Pinterest , where you can find Boards ranging from Books Worth Reading and Favorite STEM Resources, to New Teacher Info and Project Based Learning.


But as we expand, we need your opinion!  Please take a moment to let us know what information is most valuable to you.

BYOD in the Classroom

janetpic_preferredBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Most elementary and secondary students are using mobile devices in their studies, either in the classroom or at home, according to a study by Pearson. The study polled more than 2,300 American students in grades 4 through 12 (aged 8 to 18) and found that almost one-third of students already own a tablet and 43 percent own a smartphone.

Pearson_2013 study

Pearson Student Mobile Study Device Survey 2013 Grades 4-12 Infographic 

In fact, the survey found that seven in ten students would like to use mobile devices more often in their classrooms. The rise of mobile devices in the classroom will be greatly aided by the ConnectED initiative’s planned E-Rate Reform in the U.S. which will help connect more students and provide faster access to Internet in schools, paving the way for digital learning resources.

Geometry Course Designed for Mobile Devices


This week, Curriki announced the Curriki Geometry website  where usability and page design for its innovative Project Based Learning (PBL) geometry curriculum is optimized for mobile devices.

Available for free, students and teachers now have access to a geometry curriculum that is designed to meet the needs of students born in a global, interactive, digitally-connected world.

Curriki Geometry is a set of six Common Core Aligned projects delivered in a mobile-optimized web environment with access points for students and teachers.


Teachers are provided with pacing guides, formative assessments, rubrics, guidance on managing a PBL project, tools to help teachers guide students as they learn to collaborate with each other, and reflection tools for both students and teachers.

Please share this new resource with friends and colleagues and let us know what you think!

Cool Careers in Science: Meet Dr. Becky Carlyle

Becky orienteering_web

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

If you’re a student studying the sciences, you may not know what you want to be “when you grow up.” Behind the Scientist provides an engaging, personal look at several working scientists and reveals “how real scientists looked when they were kids.” Recently, I had the honor of interviewing Dr. Becky Carlyle on what it’s like to be a scientist, as well as learning more about her passion for running, orienteering racing and adventure!

Describe your current job.

I am a Post Doctoral Researcher in Molecular Psychiatry at Yale University.  There are lots of different levels that you can study the brain – mine involves looking at how conditions inside the body (such as getting old) and outside the body (drug taking and stress) affect the molecules that are produced by your major brain cells – the neurons.  I study how the brain adapts to these conditions, and what might happen when these changes don’t go according to plan. 

What would you be doing if you weren’t in your current job?

Probably teaching of some kind, while spending the summers orienteering racing throughout Europe.  Orienteering is a kind of crazy sport where you race a route through the forest with the help of a map and compass, I’ve done it since I was born, pretty much!

What is your greatest accomplishment to date?

Running an almost elite marathon (3:15:26) and qualifying for an A Final at the orienteering World Cup.  I feel like the accomplishments of my career are yet to come, they don’t yet match up to that unique sporting high!

Becky (3rd from right) at the Genève Marathon.

What is the single most important issue in the world of science today?

This is a really difficult question.  Can I have two answers?  The biggest global issue for me is not just acceptance of Climate Change, but getting everyone to realize that unless we voluntarily change the way we live and run our societies now, then Climate Change will do that for us.  The first option is likely to be the better one for the human race.  

If I’m talking as a scientist wanting a career in science, then government investment in research is the most important issue.  Millions have been spent on training people exactly like me, but there are very few places that now have the money to support bright new ideas and people into the next stage of their careers.  At the end of the day, this all comes down to education – if you can convince people that what you do is vital, interesting and beneficial, then you’re halfway there.  I don’t think scientists as a whole do this particularly well at the moment, although awareness of our responsibility to the public is growing.

Only about 1/4 of STEM jobs in the U.S. are filled by women. Why don’t more girls pursue STEM careers?

If we’re talking biology, which is the only field I really know about, then it’s not a case of lack of interest.  Even at my level of career, women outnumber men in my field.  But once you get to the next stage, that’s where the attrition starts.  It’s a combination of many things – lack of job security, lack of alternative options outside the traditional tenure track, balancing a family with work.  I’m lucky that right here in our department we have some excellent female role models – highly accomplished scientists with a rich family life and a wonderful sense of humor.  There is no doubt that walking past these women in the corridor and sharing small snippets of information with them about your life inspires you to keep working hard to get to the next stage.  If you’re interested in who they are, you can look for Marina Picciotto, Jane Taylor and Amy Arnsten.  

What can we do to encourage students to pursue STEM?

Make our teaching as accessible and interesting as possible.  Lots of real-world applications, problems to solve, and group work to make people realize that it takes a whole bunch of people with different skills to tackle a scientific problem.  We need positive role models, but most of all, we need to really value STEM careers within our society by improving working conditions, academic pay in the early years, and job opportunities.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a city called Bradford in the North of England.  In the Victorian Era it was a bustling town at the center of the wool trade; these days it has a lot of poverty and some deep racial tensions.

Favorite subject in high school and why?

physicsProbably chemistry.  I loved the mechanisms and the processes we learned about, and how apparently complex systems could be broken down into really neat, simple concepts.  I also had two incredible teachers, which helped a lot!

When you were growing up, when did you realize you wanted to be a scientist? What inspired you?

It took me a long time to realize I wanted to be a scientist.   As a strong student with plenty of good grades and not too many definite ideas, my school pushed me down the Medical Doctor route.  After three years of Medical School at Oxford, with plenty of exposure to the basic science behind many of our medical principles, I realized that I liked the science and the molecules more than being a clinician.  Luckily the structure in the U.K. is flexible enough that I graduated with a B.A. in Medical Sciences, not too much debt, and then moved on to a PhD program.  It was quite a shock at first, but definitely where I wanted to be!


If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?

The old chestnut – flying would be super cool.

Favorite band?

Too many to mention!  The National and Death Cab for Cutie are long standing favorites, but I am hooked on Wild Beasts and Mum right now.  I’m a bit of a music snob when it comes down to it, and I miss the U.K. Music scene.

What’s the first website you check every day?

Attackpoint  – a social network for orienteers and adventure racers.  It helps me keep in touch with my sporty friends from around the world.

What one piece of advice would you give to young, aspiring scientists?

 Make plenty of friends.  Unlike the common perception of scientists as geeky loners, scientists are interesting people with lots of opinions.  You’ll meet people from every culture, and from most countries in the world.  And the best science is almost always done by collaboration.  It’s amazing how something you mention in an offhand way, that your friend comments on during a lunch break can turn out to be something really important.

If you’re a young person (or not so young) who fancies a career in science, you can ask questions of Behind the Scientist (use option on the right) or email behindthescientist@gmail.com directly.

Don’t forget that Curriki offers thousands of high-quality science, and math learning resources for you to use, customize and share – all for free!

How to Make Curriki Your One-Stop Site for Free, High-Quality Classroom Resources

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer janetpic_preferred_cropped

Have you heard of Curriki, but not yet explored it to find or share K-12 classroom resources?

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day coming up, we decided to illustrate just how easy Curriki is to use. Here is teacher Greg Guy’s (Florida) experience when preparing a lesson to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“I decided to test the powers of Curriki by preparing for a lesson for Martin Luther King, Jr. It was November so I was certain the education community would be stumped and unprepared. I found numerous resources using only Dr. King’s initials in the search box. I compiled several resources from various plans and created an elaborate study of Dr. King’s speech which included visual stimuli, a tag cloud of his speech, the audio, and an extensive history of Dr. King’s life and the Civil Rights Movement. Four years later, I’m using this exact lesson plan with every class I teach. I now use Curriki resources in nearly all of my lessons”

Now it’s your turn…

The easiest way to find resources is to use the Advanced Search box:


Start by typing in a key word and check off any other criteria, such as a subject, grade level or rating, which you can access via the pull-down menus.  In this case, we’ll do what Greg Guy tried and type in “MLK.” A list of approximately 20 resources appear.


Curriki offers more than 50,000 learning resources, so I encourage you to explore the site.

mlk2As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on January 15, here is a collection you can start with to use, modify or share – all at your fingertips and all for free!

The Future of Energy: Student and Teacher Resources

Oil refinery and train tank carsBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officerjanetpic_preferred_cropped

A local California-based company, Silver Spring Networks, has created an educational program designed to educate teachers, students and their families on how the smart grid addresses our energy challenges. A Smart Energy Future is a curriculum-based program for students to learn about how technology is changing the future of energy and is being tested in California and Ohio schools.


The curriculum features lessons on energy concepts, interactive assignments and community-facing projects, as well as career exploration activities relating to the energy industry.

In unit one, students begin by taking an inventory of their household energy usage. For example, which activities used the most energy? During what times of day was the most energy used? During what times of year are your utility bills the highest? What sources of energy does your household use?

“Students really enjoy learning about energy sources since it is practical and relevant to every-day life. The household inventory is always an eye-opening experience for both students and parents.”

Students also learn about the advantages and disadvantages of various energy sources (solar, water, geothermal, nuclear, etc.) and learn ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

“My students now know what renewable and non-renewable energy is, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.”

Careers in Energyenergy_career

In unit two, students research existing jobs in the energy industry and create a career profile for a print or online energy career guide. The career profiles include information about career preparation, responsibilities, and actual work scenarios.