Mary Mwangi

Author's details

Name: Mary Mwangi
Date registered: May 31, 2012


Dr. Mwangi is an educator with a passion for technology, innovation, diversity and education. She believes in making connections that works.

Latest posts

  1. Test Prep — September 24, 2015
  2. Demystifying STEM at home – 1/1 — June 4, 2014
  3. Demystifying STEM: Using what you already have — March 12, 2014
  4. 21st century class essentials part 1: Cyber-boards — August 18, 2013
  5. Digital Storytelling is for all — June 1, 2013

Author's posts listings

Sep 24 2015

Test Prep

Test prep: SAT and ACT








Do you have questions of what your student(s) should be taking and how he or she (they) should prepare?  Several articles from verified authors are available online with detailed information that clarifies the difference between the two tests.  Which test should your students take? Both test, why not? They are different in what they measure, scoring and content.  Give your students an opportunity to experience both tests, get informed about the tests and get involved in test preparation. It doesn’t take long, it takes practice and persistence, and an empowered adult on the side of a determined student.  According to Princeton review, students’ performance differ, they may excel in ACT/SAT than SAT/ACT.  The following charts depicts the major difference between the two tests.  There are free test prep materials and affordable tutoring and mentoring opportunities all around you just check out your local listing or visit .

The SAT vs the ACT: The Princeton Review


1. ACT questions tend to be more straightforward.

ACT questions are often easier to understand on a first read. On the SAT, you may need to spend time figuring out what you’re being asked before you can start solving the problem. For example, here are sample questions from the SAT essay and the ACT writing test (their name for the essay):


SAT: What is your view of the claim that something unsuccessful can still have some value?

ACT: In your view, should high schools become more tolerant of cheating?

2. The SAT has a stronger emphasis on vocabulary.

If you’re an ardent wordsmith, you’ll love the SAT. If words aren’t your thing, you may do better on the ACT.


3. The ACT has a Science section, while the SAT does not.

You don’t need to know anything about amoebas or chemical reactions for the ACT Science section. It is meant to test your reading and reasoning skills based upon a given set of facts. But if you’re a true science-phobe, the SAT might be a better fit.


4. The ACT tests more advanced math concepts.

In addition to basic arithmetic, algebra I and II, and geometry, the ACT tests your knowledge of trigonometry, too. That said, the ACT Math section is not necessarily harder, since many students find the questions to be more straightforward than those on the SAT.


5. The ACT Writing Test is optional on test day, but required by many schools.

The 25-minute SAT essay is required and is factored into your writing score. The 40-minute ACT writing test is optional. If you choose to take it, it is not included in your composite score — schools will see it listed separately. Many colleges require the writing section of the ACT, so be sure to check with the schools where you are applying before opting out.


6. The SAT is broken up into more sections.

On the ACT, you tackle each content area (English, Math, Reading and Science) in one big chunk, with the optional writing test at the end. On the SAT, the content areas (Critical Reading, Math and Writing) are broken up into 10 sections, with the required essay at the beginning. You do a little math, a little writing, a little critical reading, a little more math, etc. When choosing between the SAT and ACT, ask yourself if moving back and forth between content areas confuse you or keep you energized?


7. The ACT is more of a “big picture” exam.

College admissions officers care about how you did on each section of the SAT. On the ACT, they’re most concerned with your composite score. So if you’re weak in one content area but strong in others, you could still end up with a very good ACT score and thus make a strong impression with the admissions committee.


ACT vs SAT: Key differences between the ACT and SAT




Reasoning test Type of Test Content-based test
Critical Reading: 2, 25-min sections and 1, 20-min section; Math: 2, 25-min sections and 1, 20-min section; Writing: 1, 25-min essay, 1, 25-min section, and 1, 10-min section Test Format English: 1, 45-min section; Math: 1, 60-min section; Reading: 1, 35-min section; Science: 1, 35-min section; Writing: 1, 40-min essay (optional)
reading, vocabulary, grammar & usage, writing, and math Content Covered grammar & usage, math, reading, science reasoning, and writing (optional)
tricky, questions can be phrased in ways that make them difficult to decipher Test Style straightforward, questions may be long but are usually less difficult to decipher
Math, Critical Reading, and Writing scores will each range between a 200-800; total SAT score ranges between 600-2400 Scoring English, Math, Reading, and Science scores will each range between 1-36.  Composite ACT score is the average of your scores on the four sections; ranges between 1-36
yes – you lose ¼ of a point for incorrect answers (except on the grid-in math questions) Penalty for Wrong Answers? no – you do not lose points for incorrect answers
yes – you can choose which set(s) of SAT scores to submit to colleges Score Choice? yes – you can choose which set(s) of ACT scores to submit to colleges
questions increase in difficulty level as you move through that question type in a section (except reading passage questions, which progress chronologically through the passage) Difficulty Levels difficulty level of the questions is random
arithmetic, data analysis, algebra I and II, functions, geometry; formulas are provided in the test booklet Math Levels arithmetic, algebra I and II, functions, geometry, trigonometry; no formulas are provided
with private schools and schools on the east and west coasts; however, every four-year college in the US accepts SAT scores Tends to be more popular? with public schools and schools in the Midwest and south; however, every four-year college in the US accepts ACT scores
seven times per year: January, March or April, May, June, October, November, December Offered when? six times per year: February, April, June, September, October, December (note that some states offer the ACT as part of their state testing requirements; these tests are not administered on the national test dates)
typically about four weeks before the test date Registration deadline? typically about five to six weeks before the test date More Information



The SAT vs. the ACT:

ACT vs SAT: Key differences between the ACT and SAT:


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Jun 04 2014

Demystifying STEM at home – 1/1

Summer break is here and children have 24 hours to use (apply) the concepts learned or loose (forget) it.  Adults at home, daycare, summer camps have a great opportunity of prompting students to think and apply concepts in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  As students apply the concepts allow them to use their Language Arts- writing skills, Reading, research and Arts.

Example, talk about food:


Ask a question: (Give students opportunity to think, write a sentence or two and draw).

1. What happens when you eat food?

From their answers you can come up with more questions:

2. What is the role of water and acids in the stomach?

3. What do you take when you have upset stomach or acidity?

Perform a simple experiment using what you have (materials like water,  lemon juice (for acid), bowls, and kitchen timer) to investigate the reaction of Antacid with water  (normal condition) and with acid (when you have acidity).

Sample experiment and lab reports at home completed by two girls, 10 and 8 year old.

Digestion materials 6-3-14

Lab 1: (Prompted by student’s comment)

During the lab preparation the 8 year old suggested that food shrink when you drink water.

This prompted a side lab where they measured the length, width and height of a piece of bread then placed in a ziploc bag, poured 15ml of water on it and took measurements again after 3 minutes.

Before=4 x 2.5 x 0.5

After= 5 x 3 x 0.75

After the lab the child had the Aha! moment that food expand.

It was also an opportunity for discussing the surface area.



Lab 2: Which solution react faster with antacid?




Insert an antacid in each of the solution (water, lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide-10 year old suggestion)

Use a kitchen or cell phone timer to measure how long it will take for the antacid tablet to dissolve in each solution.

Give students opportunity to discuss their observation and write it down.  Students are also encouraged to write a conclusion based on their observation.
















Teachable moment:

Use simple terms to explain the role of water and acid in digestion.

What is digestion?

Digestion is the process of breaking down the food you consume into molecules that can be absorbed into or pass through the body. The body uses these broken-down molecules to make new cells and provide energy. Several parts make up the digestive system, including the teeth and stomach, but stomach acid — or gastric juice — does the bulk of the work.

Acid and digestion

Hydrochloric acid is the primary digestive acid and has several roles in digestion. The acid prevents harmful bacteria from entering your system by sterilizing it. Another function of hydrochloric acid is to trigger the release of pepsin. You need hydrochloric acid to absorb minerals like magnesium, sodium and iron. Gastric acid is so strong that it could digest the stomach if not for a mucus lining protecting the organ.

Water Aids in Digestion

Digestion starts with saliva, the basis of which is water. Digestion relies on enzymes that are found in saliva to help break down food and liquid and to dissolve minerals and other nutrients. Proper digestion makes minerals and nutrients more accessible to the body. Water is also necessary to help you digest soluble fiber. With the help of water, this fiber dissolves easily and benefits your bowel health by making well-formed, soft stools that are easy to pass.

(Teachable concepts depending on the age: digestion, solution, measurement, material, acid, neutral, time, expansion/enlarge, contraction/shrink

 STEM concept are applicable where you are and with what you have.

For more activities at school, center, summer camp, check out “Demystifying STEM: Using what you already have.”

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Mar 12 2014

Demystifying STEM: Using what you already have

Slide1What is S.T.E.M.?

According to the Oxford dictionaries:

Science is the study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

Technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes

Engineering is the branch of science and technology concerned with the design, building, and use of engines, machines, and structures.

Mathematics is the abstract science of number, quantity, and space. Mathematics may be studied in its own right (pure mathematics), or as it is applied to other disciplines such as physics and engineering (applied mathematics).

The definition of the four content indicates inter-relatedness especially with science.

It’s not a syllabus

S.T.E.M. is NOT a syllabus but a term used to indicate integration of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics contents in learning activities or experiences.  STEM education efforts seek to increase student curiosity in and engagement with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It is a fact that science, math, technology, and engineering interrelate with each other all the time.  It is difficult to teach one without involving one or more of the others. STEM is a popular topic among government and business leaders whose main concern about STEM is the need to educate students so that they will possess the knowledge and skills to compete in a global economy.

STEM activities are not bound to a sequence; science lesson can integrate technology, math and engineering. Technology lesson can integrate science, math and engineering and so on.   For instance, Computer Science (technology) inculcate science, engineering and mathematics concepts by transcending theory and involving students in application and transfer of knowledge and skills to the real world through project based learning.  Teaching mathematical concepts like number sense and measurements using a pedometer, exposes learner’s to technology (using pedometer), engineering (mechanism and design of the pedometer) and biology (calories burned per kilometer walked).  Simple Engineering activities like building a balance scale with K’nex integrate force and motion concepts (science), balancing equations (mathematics) and application of a simple machine-lever to solve a problem (technology).

Observation from 17 years of experience teaching high school mathematics and physics, pre-kindergarten, elementary and middle school science afterschool, and middle school Earth and Physical science and STEM connections have revealed that:

  • Integration of STEM contents can be intentional or accidental, you are already doing it.
  • Integration of STEM contents is best accomplished in project-based learning experiences.
  • Integration of all STEM contents does not have to occur in all activities or experiences.
  • Integration of STEM contents makes learning meaningful. The world is S.T.E.M.
  • Integration of STEM contents is not expensive; running on the spot with a pedometer integrates STEM concepts.

More on how to facilitate learning STEM contents using food, toys, sports and home activities...

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Aug 18 2013

21st century class essentials part 1: Cyber-boards

Cyber-board is an online page with capability of hosting a variety of media.  Cyber-boards are gaining fame as the traditional classroom/hallway notice board fades away.  Why? Location, location, location, is not only paramount in the real estate business but essential in the education world.  As an instructor I want to find all resources that I need on one page and also access them wherever and whenever I need them.  Most of the boards have mobile apps and this makes it more accessible to our students.

  • Cyber-boards serves multiple purposes:
  • Assist in organization-assemble all the resources needed for each lesson/presentation  on one board
  • Differentiating instruction-Send students to particular activities on the board.
  • Review- capability of hosting quizzes and games.
  • One stop shop for all important links-save time on research by saving links on one site.
  • Share knowledge-Present straight from the board anywhere and anytime.  No headache when a flash drive is lost or a personal device is acting up.

Favorite boards
























Plan board–






Try a board and share your experience.

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Jun 01 2013

Digital Storytelling is for all


We all like storytelling!  Don’t we? Regardless of the theme of our story, adding media enhances it and make it more memorable.  Digital storytelling or photo story is the art of building a short movie by compiling digital media and narrative using a computer.  The story can be shared online or saved and viewed offline.  In education digital storytelling has several benefits that include:

  1. Giving students a voice
  2. Enriching learning
  3. Helping students to make connections
  4. Encouraging students to research
  5. Encouraging creativity
  6. Fostering critical thinking skills
  7. Encouraging students to write more and improve writing
  8. Enhancing retention of new knowledge and skills
  9. Encouraging effective communication
  10. Inspiring life-long and in-depth learning

For beginners, start by:

  1. Finding and mapping a story
  2. Integrating emotions
  3. Using your own voice
  4. Using appropriate images and background sound
  5. Being clear and precise
  6. Telling the story and capturing the audience attention.

Some of the common software that are used to create, save and share a digital story are:

Step by step instructions (Google Drive)

Download Photo story 3 (free)

How To Create a Digital Story

Digital story telling



Google story builder

Comic creator

Comic strip:

Read, think and read:


Chogger comic creator:

Comeek–Comic strip from your photos:

Create comic strip with pictures from flickr:

Toon Doo –create cartoons:

Comix-make belief comic strip:



4W’s and H of Digital Storytelling



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