Examples

Technology and Design

DiScoro writes about inquiry-based learning, digital resources, and ways to encourage higher-order thinking. We focus on STEM education and the use of technology.

This time we write about Technology & Design as a school subject or project for students (grade 6 to 10). In several countries Technology and Design has become a school subject.
Most commonly students work on a task during more than one hour. The tasks are interdisciplinary and require many different skills: planning, sketching, creativity, safety, use of tools, research , construction, experimentation etc.
Technology is not limited to the use of digital technology. Technology & Design tasks have a strong practical component and aim at problem solving skills. By nature the tasks are often low floor-high ceiling tasks. This implies that it is clearly understandable what the goal is, all students are able to get started (low floor). At the same time the tasks offer enough challenges and opportunities to dive deeper both in creativity as well as in complexity (high ceiling).

To make a plan is usually a step in the process. It is up to the teacher to ask for a report of the process or not. This can be written, visual, oral, with the use of multi-media (photos, video) or a combination.

Topics that could be part of Technology & Design are

    • design and create a rocking horse for children age 2-3
    • make a piece of household furniture using recycled materials
    • make a gripper stick for waste picking, or for elderly people at their homes
  • engineering (using concepts from chemistry and physics)

Technology and Design will certainly focus on the new economy where circular design and production, and no or minimal waste, are the ultimate challenges and goals.

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Lux Meter App

DiScoro writes about inquiry-based learning, digital resources, and ways to encourage higher-order thinking. We focus on STEM education and the use of technology.

A phone with a camera has an built-in light sensor. This makes it possible to use your camera as a Lux meter. Lux meters on smartphones are an easy, accessible and cheap way to measure illumination.

Galactica is a lux meter that can measure light in to modes: direct and reflected. You can save measurements as photos and add a note.

Is a Lux meter on your smartphone reliable? Read the following blog Luxmeter App vs measuring device on research carried out with different smartphones and with different software. The conclusion is that for accurate and consistent measurements you need professional equipment and software.

However, to get an idea about light intensity the lux meters function well. The reflection mode offers the opportunity to see how the colour of a surface reflects or absorbs light. An interesting experiment is with a static lamp shining on a tabletop. Put paper sheets of different colours on the table and measure the light that is reflected by each colour. The results are quite remarkable.

Hardware and software with sensors for light, noise and temperature designed specifically for educational purposes is  €Sense. This package offers activities/lessons in which the sensors are used. Read more about €Sense (Euro Sense).

There are many lux meters available for iOS as well as for Android.

 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  iPhone, iPad
 Requirements  iOS 6  or higher

Noise Exposure

DiScoro writes about inquiry-based learning, digital resources, and ways to encourage higher-order thinking. We focus on STEM education and the use of technology.

We wrote about a Decibel meter App which measures noise level in decibel before. Noise Exposure is another App that measures the noise level in decibel. Noise Exposure has a simpler user interface than Decibel meter thus can easily be used with primary school pupils. An advantage is that you can save and share measurements. This makes it easier to register and compare measurements.

 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  iPhone, iPad
 Requirements  iOS 8 or higher

Video Science

DiScoro writes about inquiry-based learning, digital resources, and ways to encourage higher-order thinking. We focus on STEM education and the use of technology.

Video Science produced by by Science House offers a large number of short videos on experiments. The videos focus mainly on chemistry, but some videos are about phenomena from physics or other science areas.
Students can watch the video’s or carry out the experiments themselves., although some experiments require substances or equipment that will not be readily available. For you as a teacher the videos may inspire you to let show students the experiments. Of course it is even more more interesting and instructive if the students carry out experiments themselves in class.

The future for industry and society lies in recycling, and even a step further ahead in cyclic production, and cradle-to-cradle production. Particularly interesting are therefore experiments such as “Green plastic” and “Recycling paper”.

The latest App (version 4.0) is designed for iOS 6. Unfortunately the App does not work on iOS 11. Hopefully this will be solved soon.

 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  iPhone, iPad
 Requirements  iOS 6  (not working on iOS11 !)

Train your Phrases Verbs

DiScoro writes about inquiry-based learning, digital resources, and ways to encourage higher-order thinking. We focus on STEM education and the use of technology.

This time we write about an App that may be useful for learners of English as a second language. The App The Phrasal Verbs Machine (Cambridge University Press) enables non-native speakers to learn and train the use of Phrasal verbs. Phrasal verbs are two part verbs. They consist of a verb + an article and or preposition. The article/preposition often changes the meaning of the verb. Read more on the Brititsh Council website and on wikipedia.
The latest version supports 17 different languages, which means that the phrase is translated and the explanation is given in that particular language. The App has a strong visual component with a short animation showing the meaning of the phrasal verb. A disadvantage is that more advanced students of the English language will quickly master all the 100 phrasal verbs.

Examples:

  • run into
  • look after
  • dress down
  • hand in
  • look forward to

Screendump of the viewing part
 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  iPhone, iPad, Android tablet and smartphone
 Requirements  iOS 6 or higher version,  Android 2.2 or higher

What weighs most/least?

Using a balance scale

An activity within DaVinci Kindergarten for children age 4 to 8. In this activity children work with a balance scale. They experiment with the objects and the balance scale.
For example tasks like:

  • Place one item in one of the scales (containers) and find out how you can get the scale in balance.
  • Find out how many woorden blocks (or any other available unit of measurement) you need an item.
  • You get three items. Place them in order from lightest to heaviest.  (They may use the blocks, but they can also work it out without using the unit of measurement.)

Concepts
measuring, weight, the use of scales, creating your own units of measurement, volume, quantity, counting.

Vocabulary
balance, in balance, out of balance, scale, the same weight, more, less, heavier, heaviest, lighter, lightest in weight, equal in weight.

Remarks
It is important that children get experience through hands-on measuring and weighing tasks. This way they will be able to cope with tasks like Balancing Act at an older age (10-12).
The activity was challenging and accessible for four an five year old kids. It turned out that the activity required a lot of counting (the blocks), but this posed no problem.

Make sure you test the weight of the items you use before the activity. We chose an apple, a banana, and an onion and tested if they could be measured using the wooden blocks. Make sure your unit of measurement does not exceed the counting ability of your pupils.
One kindergarten turned out to have small plastic bears in three sizes that could be used as a more precise unit of measurement than the wooden blocks.

DaVinci Kindergarten

DaVinci Kindergarten is a pilot project in which we design, develop and try-out inquiry-based activities for children in the age 4-8. We have worked with children age 4-5 at two kindergartens in Norway. The activities focus on concepts from science, and technology and foster mathematical thinking.

We present some of the activities that have been developped. Contact us if you wish a complete description of the activity.

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  1. Show-box– sight lines and mirroring.
  2. How big is the panther? – measuring, human-based measuring units e.g. foot, thumb(=duym/inch), span (=fathom), step.
  3. How do you get the light on? – electricity, battery, light, lightbulb, lamp, electrical wire, curcuit.
  4. What weighs most/least? – experimenting with balance scales and different materials with the same volume and different weight.
  5. Discover more about your toys. What kind of materials are they made of? – Categorise, recognise, examine the different materials and discover their characteristics.
  6. Bee-bot – programming a robot.