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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Launch Grant 2012-2013: iPads in the LS Science Classroom

The best laid plans....

At the start of the Launch project, my goal was to use iPads in order to create a portfolio of QR (Quick Response) Codes that contained extension science activities and games for kids to use during choice time or as enrichment. In theory it was a good idea. QR codes are easy to generate. The basic premise is you take a web address enter it into a QR code generator program, and an image like the one below is generated that contains a link to that website, video, or any other digital data.



Young kids, instead of having to type long web addresses, can scan the code (with a QR code scanner app) in order to get to the place or video. It is a great idea and particularly useful for younger students who are still practicing literacy skills, never mind keyboarding!

There are a myriad of free QR code generators including:
GOQR.ME http://goqr.me/
KAYWA http://qrcode.kaywa.com/
SNAPMAZE http://www.snapmaze.com/
And QR scanners (from the APP store – free):
SCAN
QR BARCODE SCANNER
QR READER for iPAD

While in theory this was a good idea, and is a concept worth implementing for next year, I found that I did not have enough time in the science classroom to apply QR code use. Instead, I decided to use the iPad as a tool for the kids to express ideas, and demonstrate the knowledge they gained at particular instances during the year. I used the iPads during three targeted units at each grade level I teach: K, 1 and 4.

Fourth graders used the app Explain Everything which is a screen casting application to keep track of the work they were doing during the construction of the solar cars. They also made a movie for next year’s fourth grade with tips on how to solve some of the most common problems that come up during the design and construction of the solar cars. Below is one of the videos made.

To demonstrate their understanding of the mealworm lifecycle, first graders drew pictures of each of the stages of a mealworm’s growth and animated them with and app called Animator Free. Enjoy the movie below...

As the culminating activity of the motion unit, kindergartners designed and created marble coasters. Part of their responsibility included making sure they got a picture with their coaster. Once the picture was obtained, the kindergartners reviewed the path that the marble took on their track, as they animated their picture using the app called Animator Free. Take a look below!

The moral of the story is...you have to go with the flow with technology! While the original goal of my project changed half way through it, I was surprised to learn what a great tool for the science classroom the iPad is. To quote from the EdTech Teacher folks iPads really did “help make (my...) science classroom a site of active learning and critical thinking, furthering student inquiry and connections with the materials.”
Movie 1

-Maria Elena Derrien

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