Bringing science to life with ICTApril 9, 2011
The most memorable Science lessons I can remember, both as a child and teacher, have involved being active. Whilst some subjects lend themselves to textbooks and writing, Science is at its most interesting and engaging when pupils are given the chance to participate. Using ICT in Science is a great way to stimulate children’s interests, provide activities and plan lessons that get children involved and using the technology around them.
A simple way to use ICT in the classroom is to capture children’s imagination using audio, pictures and video. Here are a few of our favourite sites with everything from picture based discussion starters to videos with inspiring experiments:
If you use a VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) then you’re free to move away from just using these at the front of the class. Instead you could encourage children to take ownership of their learning and work independently, exploring the virtual learning environment to find the pictures and videos of subjects that they want to learn about.
Interactive games and activities
There’s plenty of games and activities all over the web which can get children actively engaged in topics. A great example is The Adventures of Captain Chemo which combines an interactive comic strip and quiz to teach children the facts about cancer. BBC’s Digger and the Gang is another example of interactive learning which gives pupils the chance to actually apply their scientific knowledge in different stories and settings. The Science Museum also provide a fantastic selection of science themed games which are suitable for older children. Once again, If you use a VLE then you could easily upload a selection of activities relating to your class’ chosen science topic so learners can explore resources and expand their knowledge with only a little guidance from the teacher.
Making data logging fun
Sometimes data logging can seem like the boring part of Science. Using a graph maker or similar application can make this process a lot easier and allows pupils to focus on the results of experiments. This can benefit teachers too as activities for lower ability groups can be planned without having to worry about factoring in time for the process of actually drawing up graphs and tables. Whilst there are some which have to be bought, it’s always worth searching out a free alternative like the NCEE Kids’ Zone graph creator.
Using new media
Just remember that in the classroom, ICT doesn’t just have to mean using computers on their own. There’s plenty of technology around many schools which could be put to good use. Lifecycles are taught in Foundation Stage, KS1, KS2 and KS3. To break away from the standard lesson plans you could make use of the school webcam or digital camera. Drawing a diagram of eggs transforming into butterflies is the traditional approach, but you could try something different such as recording the process for the class to look at each week. This is an idea that we’ve seen put to good use by the The Downs CE Primary School in Kent. The end result could be narrated by the class or even separated into stills so children can make a storyboard or diary of the process. Don’t worry if your camera can’t take videos, there’s plenty of free software out there for pupils to make a stop-motion video using the photos. Give sites like Jellycam or Samanimation a go and see how simple the process can be. This doesn’t need to be limited to life cycles either. From recording the positioning of shadows in sunlight to testing which materials conduct electricity in a circuit, there’s opportunities in most Science units to use animation or video.