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.

Show-box and Sight lines

This time we write about inquiry-based science and math activities we tried out in kindergarten, but this is definitely suitable for first and second grade as well. The first activity is about experimenting with sight lines using a show-box.

Concepts: sight lines, mirror, reflection.

Vocabulary: in sight, out of sight, hidden, position, sight line, eye, straight line, corner, behind, in front of, next to, around the bend …

The children worked in groups of three or four children (age 4 and 5) on one show-box. First, the children are presented with an empty show-box with four spy-holes. They are asked to furnish the room and place some dolls/animals using items they have in class. Thereafter we ask them explore what they see and what not and reason about it. We ask them to look through their spy-hole and tell each other what they see. We ask them why they do not see the same items.

There are many questions to ask that require experimenting, thinking and reasoning.
For example:

  • Can you place an item so that this can only be seen from one spy-hole?
  • Can you position an item that can be viewed from just two, three, or from all the four spy-holes?
  • Can you place an item in such a way that it cannot be viewed by anyone?
  • Build a half wall and place an item behind the wall. Choose a hole from which you cannot see the item. Now use the mirror so that you can see what is behind the wall.
  • One child take a picture though one of the holes while the other turn their back. Show the picture ans ask from which hole it was taken and why they thinks so.

Decibel meter App

decibel-icon-appHow loud is the noise? Whether sound or noise is considered (too) loud or not is often subjective. The App Decibel enables one to measure the noise level and make it objective. It is a sensor that shows the results in three different ways: digital, analogue and in a graphical. There are many Decibel Apps but some show the results of the measurement only anlogue, and some analogue + digital but not graphical. When using this App in class students should be aware of how they measure, what to pay attention to so that results can be compared. Factors influencing the measurement could be: the distance to the source, the direction of the sensor/phone, pitch of the sound, background noise etc.

Combining the use of the App with the screenprint function of the device makes it possible to record, store and present the measurements at a later stage.

Students could plot their own measured sounds on a scale: unplugged musical instruments, birds, voices, traffic etc. There are plenty charts on the internet that show which levels are dangerous and damaging.sound-levels

 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  iPhone, iPad
 Requirements  iOS 8+  (similar Apps are available for Android and on Google Play)

Curious App

curious1curious-iconThe Curious App combines life-long learning with personalised learning. Thus aiming at adults. You get a daily learning workout with facts and information presented through texts, videos, pictures, stories etc. Before you start, your profile is created based on what interests you, on what you wish to learn and on how much time you wish to spend daily.

You can try out the App 7 days for free, thereafter you have to pay. This gives you a good idea about what to expect when you buy the App for use during a longer period. It is claimed that with the daily workouts, you grow your CQ, Curiosity Quotient. Curious is supported by Prof. Carol Dweck known for research on the importance of a Growth Mindset for success in learning.

The Curious App reminded me of the Who, What, Why books I read as a child. Facts and information on whatever topic you can think of.

Curious areas of interest

Curious areas of interest

 Purchase  $ 9.99 (a months !)
 Hardware  iPhone, iPad
 Requirements  iOS 9.0 or higher

Simulation game: Fishbanks

overfishing_500Fishbanks – a Renewable Resource Management Game is a simulation program and management game from MIT. The game targets the dilemmas surrounding the exploitation of natural resources, such as fish, clean water, fresh air. These resources are not owned by anybody, yet can easily be depleted by some big industries. This is also know as The Tragedy of the Commons.

The game is about subject areas such as: economy, management, resource management, and environmental studies.

You can try out and viw part of the Fishbanks simulation program without registration. Educational institutes can use the simulation for free after registration (administrator).

Below a introductory video of the previous version of the game on The Tradegy of the Commons.

The game is suitable for higher education classes and possibly in grade 11 and 12.

 Purchase  Free for educational institutes
 Hardware  PC
 Requirements  browser

Concept Cartoons-3

Every month DiScoro writes about (digital) resources that can be used in schools. In addition you will find issues that may inspire you. See Services for workshops, training etc.

Two more concept cartoons that can be used in class. Use pictures of characters with the speech balloons that fit your situation . See also earlier posts Concept Cartoons and Concept Cartoons-2. Many Brainpower problems can also be introduced with the Concept Cartoon format.

I discussed the first problem with grade 5 and grade 6 pupils. The were perfectly able to reason what would happen, even though they we never instructed on Archimedes’ Law. You can also use the concept cartoon in grade 8 or 9 after students have learned about Archimedes’ Law. Do not be disappointed if the students are confused.

Problem: We take a glass basin and place a plastic net with marbles and korks in it. We make sure that the net with the marbles and korks floats in the water. There is nothing that sticks out above the water and the net does not toach the bottom of the basin.

You can also bring the materials in class and let pupils fill the net so that it floats in the water. Discuss and finally cut the net. The answer requires reasoning about why this happens, but there are so many factors that these should come from the students and do not fit into the speech clouds.

What will happen to the water level if we cut the net open?


The second concept cartoon is suitable for a younger age group (grade 2 or 3).

How can you go down faster on your sledge?

During the discussion words and concepts like speed, acceleration, friction (both with the surface as well as air friction), weight, size may be used.

Climate change simulations

On October 4th 2016 the EU has signed the  global Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C.

Climate change and clean energy transition are complex challenges. The simulations of Climate Interactive enable you to simulate the many factors and see the result of policies. It is quite reveling and insightfull to see how much reducation in CO2 emmissions is required to minimize the temperature change to 2 degrees Celcius.
C-Learn simulation

C-Learn, C-Roads and EN-Roads are three simulations from Climate Interactive organization, based on systems dynamics modeling from MIT.

The simulations enable teachers, lecturers and students and people in general to see connections, play out scenarios, and see what works to address the biggest challenges we face: climate change and clean energy.

The simulations enable you to set up and compare many What if scenarios. The Climate Interactive website offers tutorial videos on how to use the tools.

  • C-Learn is the simple version of C-Roads and available online
  • C-Roads is the Climate simulation which has to be downloaded
  • EN-Roards is the simulation on Energy transition and climate goals

Target group: policy makers, lecturers, university students.
C-Learn can definitely be used at higher secondary level.

 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  iPad, PC
 Requirements  browser
Note: the downloads give security warnings.