Monday, February 15, 2010

Start of the Digital Lab

The digital science lab
Seventh Grade Science has begun the second semester with a four week mini unit titled Soil and Rice: How to Feed a Hungry Planet. The focus of the unit is to explore the issues of global equity and access to food, and the role that science plays in developing ways to grow more food on a finite amount of land.
The students have been given the challenge to find a technique that will cause rice seeds to germinate and begin to grow at a faster rate. Each group independently indentified and tested different independent variables against a standardized control pot containing eight rice seeds planted in potting soil.
Some of the variables students researched and tested included: florescent lighting, loamy clay, concentrated levels of CO2, yeast, and competition with other plant species (bean plant).
With a previous class, the final product was a written report including data charts with results and a conclusion. This year, I wanted to students to make real world connections by giving them a more authentic role as a research scientist making a recommendation to a genuine audience of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
By taking digital pictures of the materials, the lab set up, and the rice growth observations, students were able to document their lab. For the final production, the photographs were loaded onto Photostory3 and became the framework for their recommendation.
A story board was used to assist students as they developed strategies to report their findings and make their recommendation. When asked to reflect on how scientists communicate their findings, students effortlessly created outlines for their recommendation that very closely matched each step of the scientific method.

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