As an education technology integrator, I am more than happy to have the opportunity to teach my students online, even though I didn’t like the circumstances that led us to online learning – the Coronavirus.
The crisis hit us in the 4th-grade curriculum on animal sorting. A topic that the students and I love very much. Despite the Coronavirus, it was important for me to continue and promote scientific activities to my students. Due to the situation, I looked for more interesting tools for my students to be involved in the learning process.
I asked my students to observe. They took a deep look into their very close surroundings: shared with some information about their pets with their friends, searched for insects in their homes, listened to animals outside, took photos, etc.
The information gathered from the students was accompanied by watching various nature videos to define and characterize each species. Still, we lacked much information and examples to encompass all the material required by the curriculum.
I have accessed great sources of free information on the web from the “real world”: museums and zoos around the globe that are open for virtual visits.
The activity aimed at 6th-grade students at Leo Baeck school in honor of the STEM Discovery Week celebrating 70 years for the state of Israel.
During the activity, the students learned about the important connection between science and technology and the process of problem-solving.
The students were presented with an invention, about which they’re supposed to research and to explore additional uses.
The activity is about 4 Israeli inventions and deals with a diverse content range, including subjects of science, mathematics, technology, architecture, Hebrew, English, geography, and environmental protection and sustainability.
It employs digital tools and is in the format of the Escape Room, using “Escape Boxes” that I built by reusing materials.
The activity had several stages: First, the students were told to help each other to the best of their abilities, as minimal help would be provided. The students entered the classroom and naturally split into groups. On one of the tables, there was a box containing several keys, with a mathematics exercise written on each one
There were 4 possible solutions and the students organised themselves into groups based on the answers. After everyone sat in groups, two locked boxes were placed on each table. The flag of Israel was printed on these boxes, in order to hint the students the subject of the activity. The students were instructed to enter a code – the solution to the mathematics exercise – to unlock one of the boxes.
When the box was opened, it contained two different kinds of items: The first being a page with the word “Invention” written on it in braille, and to its side, the flag of Israel, and a Braille-to-Hebrew translation table. The students were supposed to understand that the subject is Israeli inventions.
The second box included items or pictures that gave a hint on the specific invention. For example: One box contained a picture of Mars, a house, and a rosy-cheeked smile-emoticon, referring to project Bubble Face – a project dealing with the development of a structure suitable to be built on the surface of Mars, led by Helen Vaxsler.
Another box contained iron ore and a Jewish hat, referring to the Israeli Iron Dome Defence System. In yet another box, there were items hinting at the invention of the Solar Water Heater.
The last box contained items hinting at the invention of the extension of shelf life of the cherry tomato. The second part of the box contained cards with pictures and names connected to the invention, which had to be organised. After organising those, the students had to solve mathematics problems in order to get the code for the next box. On the cards were printed subjects such as metal-processing methods, renewable and non-renewable sources of energy, methods of sorting fruits and vegetables.
At the second stage, the students were required to learn about the invention. Each group received a QR code leading to educational texts and videos about that invention. Afterward, the groups were asked to enter the Padlet collaborative board and write about their invention and the scientific principle which it is based on. For example, the production of cherry tomatoes is possible because of botanic crossbreeding.
After completing their task, each group was asked to use another digital tool – myHistro, and use it to write on a collaborative timeline the following details: The date of the invention publication, the name of the invention, and mark the location of the invention publication on a map.
Next, the students were asked to answer questions about the subject of solving technological issues – definition of the issue, the solution’s minimum requirements, goals, and environmental repercussions, in addition to mathematics problems and Hebrew vocabulary exercises. The students were led to the next code.
At this stage, the students were to offer improvements to an existing invention or even a new invention, to plan a model and to build it, photograph it and upload it to the collaborative board. The cherry-tomato group had to plan out an experiment, including its different stages, and to carry it out.
In the final stage, each group was required to present their model, and to tell the classroom what they’ve learned about the invention and the scientific principle associated with it. The cherry-tomato group presented their model, and continued the experiment, updating over the next few weeks about their advancements and findings.
Each group that completed all the tasks will be taught 3D printing in group lessons, plan a 3D model and print it out – courtesy of the Israel National Museum of Science, Technology and Space, one of our neighbors at a walking distance.
Link to some photos and files from the activities.