This week is National Science Week in Australia and to celebrate I am sharing several blog posts dedicated to how I have used popular technology tools to enrich science learning. In today's post, I share how a simple thematic connection between Lego We Do and the Year 5 STEM unit resulted in an afternoon of fun, problem solving and cooperative learning.
While browsing the IOS app, I happened upon one of the investigative units, Plants and Pollinators, which made a nice thematic connection with the Year 5 STEM unit this term. Students are using the alarming decline in bee populations around the globe as a lens for problem-based learning. During the unit students study the anatomy of bees and flowers and the important role bees play in producing the food we eat. It is more than honey! Without bees a variety of fruits and vegetables would no longer be produced. Students watch Vanishing of the Bees and several other documentaries to discover the threats to bee populations. Colony collapse disorder, Varroa Mites, diseases, pollution, habitat destruction and agricultural pesticides are all contributing factors.
Last year, the Year 5 students decided to make bee homes for native bees in the area. This year, students are developing pollinator gardens to support the native bee hives on our collage campus. Raising awareness is also a major part of what the children wish to do and so they are hosting a special "Bee Aware Day" at school.
The greatest benefit to the students in relation to this project was the cooperative learning and problem solving the build presented to them. It was a tricky one to complete (intermediate level) and students worked in pairs to accomplish the task. The interpretation and visualisation of the build, as well as the construction, challenged students. Perseverance was essential. The students were totally absorbed and had so much fun with the task. Further learning opportunities suggest then having students innovate on the design, create alternative pollinator models or expand the model to demonstrate cross pollination.
The lessons on the Lego Education Website have some great ways to link with not only Science, but also other STEM subjects. As well as being great tools for facilitating the instruction of coding and design, sets are flexible and are only limited by your (or the student's) imaginations.
How have you used Lego WeDo at your school? Please share below in the comments!
This week is National Science Week in Australia and to celebrate I am sharing a blog posts dedicated to how I have used popular technology tools to enrich science learning. In today's post, I share a series of lessons exploring how popular robots, Ozobots, were used to explore the moon's orbit around Earth and how eclipses occur. Read on to learn more...
Lately I have been interested in finding ways technology tools can connect with and enhance classroom curriculum. With an increasingly crowded national curriculum, developing rich learning experiences that address several objectives at once is a way classroom teachers can work smarter. Utilising engaging technology tools and layering up skills and knowledge produce highly effective learning experiences for students. A recent mini unit with Year 3 students made use of Ozobots, a tool that I have historically reserved for teaching coding. I cannot take credit for this concept at all. The lessons were based on educator resources found on the Ozobot website. I highly recommend you check them out. As teachers, we do not always have to reinvent the wheel (as the saying goes), but it is always good to innovate on it and adapt it to your context....and that is what I did.
In the end, a very small unit of a couple of lessons had a big impact on students. The video below was a culminating project of sorts.
Connecting with Classroom Content
Lesson 1: Learning to use Ozobot Colour Codes
Lesson 2: Exploring Lunar and Solar Eclipses
The Celestial Mechanics lesson on the Ozobot website provided the resources and inspiration for the lesson. We blacked out the track for the "moon" and programmed the earth to spin on the spot using the suggested code. We used torch light as the rays of the sun which created a shadow, beautifully simulating how eclipses occur. Students were also able to identify the difference between solar and lunar eclipses from this activity. They captured video of the model for later use.
Lesson 3: Learning about gravity and orbital momentum using Ozocodes
Teaching Year 3 students about angular momentum seems to be pitching a little high, but students understood it easily with our second task. We actually spun a student on a chair in the classroom, getting them hold their arms close and further away, illustrating how the speed of the spin changed. This kind of exercise was very relatable to students and from this we were able to simplify that the moon moves faster in its orbit when it is closer to Earth and slows down as it moves further away. Students then used basic Ozocodes to program the moon's elliptical orbit to represent this. An example is shared below.
Lesson 4: Sharing our Learning
Read all about my thoughts on teaching in the 21st Century, my experiences with technology in the classroom, running a Maker Space, launching STEAM and Design Thinking with students, coding, robotics and much more!
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