Showing posts with label Lab. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lab. Show all posts

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Developing Unique Solutions to Open-Ended Problems

The ability to develop solutions to open-ended problems is an important skill in a knowledge-based economy. Our Grade 9 Science students had an opportunity to gain practice with this skill through the culminating project in the Electricity unit.
Using knowledge developed in the unit, students had to design and build an electrical gadget. This gadget had to include an energy source (battery), conducting wires, and multiple loads (lights, motors, etc.) Students also had to use ammeters and voltmeters to measure their gadget’s current and voltage, and predict how much energy the gadget would use over a 24 hour-period.

Very few initial designs produced the desired result. Consequently, students were forced to continually re-think their initial assumptions and try another approach, which is a key element of effective problem solving. This process also enabled students to demonstrate perseverance and engage in meaningful teamwork, another essential element of problem solving.
Overall, this project enabled students to take risks in thinking and creating, which will be immensely helpful as they move forward with their learning at Greenwood and beyond.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Understanding Urban Sustainability

Our Grade 11 and 12 Green Industries program offers students a great opportunity to think critically about issues related to sustainability in urban environments. Recently, students in the Grade 11 class worked in small teams to plan and build sustainable farms.

This activity built on prior learning in which students looked at the components of soil. As part of this study, students learned how to use food scraps, newspaper and worms to maintain vermicomposters. This device produces “black gold,” a nutrient-dense soil additive.

Students then worked to design and build their sustainable farms; these farms include important real-life elements as seeds, aeration, and irrigation, as well as the aforementioned “black gold” soil additive. Having to develop a marketing plan for the promotion of their farm prototype adds another authentic learning dimension to the activity.

Students in this program have many opportunities for the kind of hands-on learning described in this entry. Besides engaging them fully, this approach also helps students learn to be adaptive problem solvers.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

A Mission to Mars: Gamifying the Science Classroom

Teams have to complete a number of theoretical and hands-on tasks to win colonists
in this gamified approach to learning about structures.

It’s the year 2040, and you’re part of an intrepid group of colonists bound for Mars’ Jezero Crater to establish a landing site for future colonists. But there’s a problem: the damage to your Cryo sleep has affected your memory, and you’ve forgotten everything you know about structures

If you’re going to build the foundation for a new civilization, you need to re-learn the fundamentals - and fast.

In the Senior Science Lab on the third floor, Grade 7 students have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into this narrative. Working in teams, they have only one focus: to build the colony that can support the greatest number of colonists.

To do that, they’ll need to complete a number of theoretical and hands-on tasks that will teach them all about structures along the way. Science teachers Michael Schmidt and Samantha Moser have developed the “game” such that students can earn colonists by completing activities linked to their learning:

  • Each Theory Lesson earns one food/water token 
  • Each “Check For Understanding” earns 1 building token (these checks allow teachers to assess student learning in real time and redirect if necessary)
  • Building Activities earn one or two colonists, depending on difficulty

Teams need to have one food/water token for each colonist they support. The team with the most colonists at the end of the game wins!

A team conducts a "check for understanding" with Mr. Schmidt. These checks allow
teachers to assess student learning in real time and redirect if necessary.

How does the science lab support this activity?

The space is made up of a large classroom and an attached state-of-the-art lab. Students have plenty of room to rearrange the furniture for their group theory work and to consult with teachers, and the lab provides a quiet venue for conducting experiments. 

Today, one team is in the lab investigating forces such as torque and tension using sponges. Another is meeting with Ms. Moser at the back of the room, completing a check for understanding. A third team is trying out different bridge designs, determining which will support the largest load, while several other groups complete theory lessons at their desks. Though there’s lots of activity in the room, each group is able to complete their work without disruption from others.

It’s clear that students are enthusiastic about this “gamified” approach to structures - and that they like being in the larger space. “I love working on group activities in the big lab,” one student says. “It’s a really fun way to learn a lot of science.”

Another student loves the hands-on nature of the activity. “I like that we get to do lots of different activities, but that we first learn everything we need to back up those activities,” he says. “I can see how what we’re learning would be important for jobs like engineering.”