Just a thought….teaching Science in the middle years can be a bit of a challenge at times. The kids push and shove each other as they enter the lab, slam their books onto the desk then slouch back in their chairs with that “science sucks” look on their faces. OK….let’s say we’re having a lesson on the classification of insects….yawn. To look at they have 50 year old, shriveled up specimens (sounds like their teacher) in bottles, two dimensional photos in the text books and some standard slides to put under the microscope.
Their interest levels pick up a bit after the standard slides are done and they start to look at hairs pulled from their partners head, fluff from their pockets, something from the floor etc. After a while you start hearing them saying “ohhh..that’s gross, disgusting, I’m going to be sick” etc, etc. I don’t mind that, at least it’s some form of engagement. They do enjoy themselves more, when they find something of their own choosing, to look at under the microscope. Unfortunately microscopes are expensive and can be damaged easily, but they are one of the best tools to stimulate students of any age.
I found this insect happily munching on my indoor plant one day when I was cleaning the house. I grabbed my point and shoot digital camera, changed the setting to macro and ended up with this detailed image that went straight onto my computer. It went up into the cloud to flickr then came back again into my blog for all of you to see. I bet you’ve never looked a grasshopper in the eye before.
Anyway, the point of this post is to articulate my thoughts about using digital technology more in junior and middle school science pracs. With basic digital cameras I could send my kids outside to take some pics of insects. Back in the lab they can load them onto their computers to zoom and crop for amazing detail. They can see the unseen without a microscope, discuss the characteristics of their insects, keep their own magnified work and share it with others.
Now I have to think about how to create virtual explosions…..every year the kids ask about blowing up the science lab.