If you are like me as a science teacher, you simultaneously live the acronym "STEM" and are exhausted by its overuse in nearly every blog, set of state standards, or professional development seminar that comes to town (Full disclosure: I often facilitate those seminars).
That being said, the more I dive into the world of Robotics (second year as an FRC Mentor and long time Summer Science Camp facilitator), the more potential I see in leveraging that which we often write off as "trendy, and that which we hold dear.
Tools common to enrichment programs (MakeyMakey, Arduino, MicroBit etc.) can potentially be powerful tools in my/our Biology and Chemistry classes during the school year, while also engaging students in a disciplines they would not normally see embedded in traditional physical and life science courses.
Below are links 5 activities I have done, or plan to do, that merge coding/electronics and biology/chemistry. Enjoy!
#1: MakeyMakey Interactive Eukaryotic Cell
#2: Lego Mindstorm Natural Selection Simulation
#3: Modeling States of Matter with the MicroBit
#4: Drop Counter Hack with MakeyMakey
#5: Arduino Conductivity Probe
Inserting a picture directly from the webcam of your computer into a Google Document is a, IMO, freaking powerfully simple strategy in the classroom. It was gone, but NOW IT'S BACK! YES! This feature embodies the kind of classroom technology I love: simple, efficient, and purposeful. Below are just a few of the many ways I have used this technique in my classroom:
Yes. I know what you are thinking. This entire post is mute given the functionality of Google Classroom or the myriad of other scripts. However when I want to quickly share a Google Doc template with students or teachers whom I am working with for a short period of time (workshop, science camp, etc.), this process works great. Below is the logic and video tutorial.
Creating a template from a Google Doc is extremely useful when you want to streamline the way students gather data, or engage in a unified activity. When the ridiculously long Google Doc URL template is created (see below video for method), writing a short version, customized URL on the board is very efficient. By customizing the link students do not confused "1" for an "l" an "O" for an "0", etc.
One of the most powerful ways to spark Involuntary Curiosity in students is to strategically trim a video clip to either remove content or present an unresolved representation of the content. Both of these techniques leave students with questions as to what information was missing, or what the final result will be.
Because internet speed and access to YouTube varies in schools, downloading the desired clip from YouTube, then strategically trimming the video to be played locally is a powerful technique. I often have a trimmed clip playing on repeat loop in Quicktime as students enter the room in an attempt to grab their attention and spark their curiosity immediately.
Below is a short video outlining how I download and trim video for curiosity using technology I use savefrom.net & Quicktime. In this video I am downloading a clip from the movie Fight Club in an attempt to spark student questioning around Acid-Base Chemistry.
Last year a new feature was added to Google Forms which allows users to submit a file (picture,
video, document, etc.) when completing a form. Today in class I leveraged this feature to facilitate
the curation of a student generated study guide for an upcoming chemistry assessment. Because
chemistry assessments usually involve the production of a handwritten graph, diagram or chemical structure, I had students submit a question in text, then upload a written answer using the file
upload feature. Click here to see the live form. Below is a screenshot of the form.
When all groups completed their question and answer an associated, organized spreadsheet was
created that, when made available to students, contains a question and link to a clear, handwritten answer from each group. Students used their phones to capture the image, and either accessed the form directly from their phone and uploaded via the photo library, or emailed the image to their
computer to be uploaded. Click here to see the live form. Below is a screenshot of the form and a submitted picture.
If you are planning on implementing this, or a similar activity, please play close attention to the
sharing settings in the folder that collects uploaded documents.
If you do not adjust the settings to "public" in the folder (that is automatically created when you
publish a form with a file upload feature) students will not be able to access the links generated
that point to this folder. In the case of the activity described, the ability to access the files is
necessary for students to view the document. Additionally, the "file upload" feature does not work unless the user submitting the form is part of the same domain.