Apps for the Science Classroom

chemistry
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The way society is progressing, technology is becoming an crucial part of the classroom. Technology has opened so many more doors that were closed, if not non-existent, prior to these technological advancements. As Heidi-Hayes Jacobs had stated,

Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event”

So, this thought had really motivated me to do a little digging and find some useful apps/websites I can use in my science lessons in the future. Here is the list I came up with:

 

1. Science360– this is a great website that has tons of interesting videos that teach different lessons in science. There is a bunch of topics and can be used for just about any lesson.

2. iCell App– this app is a great resource for teaching about cells (go figure…) which is sometimes a difficult topic to cover as its hard to grasp concepts you can’t see. The reason this may work better than the previous method, which was usually the teacher drawing on the board, is because not all teachers are great at drawing and just makes it more confusing at times.

3. Virtual Frog Dissection– although this is a $3.00 app, this app is a lot cheaper than an actual frog to dissect. This app is a great alternative for students who don’t feel comfortable dissecting something that was actually living- I know the smell a lone is sometimes strong enough to make me queasy.

4. Human Body App– this is another $3.00 app but is a great visual aide when teaching about the human body. It is impossible to actually show the inside of a human body (which I would not want to see anyways), the only other option is the pictures in the textbook or on posters, so this app provides as a beneficial resource.

5. GoSkyWatch Planetarium App– this is a free app that allows students to interactively look for constellations as well as stars and planet. From my experience, students always learn best when they’re able to learn while interacting. This app allows students to take control of their learning and focus on the things topics that interest them the most.

6. Project Noah App– this is a nature-lovers and biology app. This app is free and allows people to take pictures of wildlife that then identifies its species and information regarding that animal. This is a fun, interactive app that makes biology and teaching about the animal kingdom more interesting.

7. Gene Screen App– this is a free app for an Apple device. Genes is a topic I found a little more challenging in high school because its a topic that’s not addressed in previous classes. Because of this, this app would be so beneficial to help learn these concepts.

8. 3D Brain App– this is a free app for any device for both Android and Apple. This is a great app for identifying parts of the brain, where they’re located, and further information about it. Not only will visual learners benefit, but the entire class will because its an interactive app that’s easier to learn from then a picture in the textbook.

9. Biology for Kids-microorganisms– as I’ve stated before, interactive learning is extremely beneficial to encourage learning and interest students to science. I’ve used this website when teaching microorganisms and helped me better understand these concepts.

10. Science for Kids– this is a fun website to play around with for young students. There are interesting facts, games, and many different topics this website covers. I would plan to introduce this website to my class and allow time for them to investigate it and spend their time in whatever topic that interests them. By doing this, I would hope to motivate and initiate inquiry regarding these science topics which will transfer over to other classes.

 

All of these apps/websites could be easily be integrated into the classroom. A lot of concepts in science are things that can’t be seen visually without the use of technology (cells, atoms, genes, etc), so, with technology, these concepts can be taught interactively and much more easier than other methods.

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Khan- the great resource for education

 

After watching this video, I was left feeling further inspired to use technology in my classroom. I have watched this guy at least 20 times, but the time I had watched was when he was explaining concepts to me. Salman Khan, as I’ve said in a previous blog post, created a Youtube channel called Khan Academy. During this TED talks, Khan explained the importance of using video in education for a number of reasons. Firstly, because students are able to work from an environment that they feel comfortable. Secondly, and one of the most important, students can learn at their own pace. By this, I mean students can pause and replay whatever segment they are struggling with and learn at unique paces. Thirdly, Khan had noted that watching video on Youtube allowed students to not feel embarrassed about asking questions or needing a review because they can watch video on their own time and on whatever they are needing extra help with. Khan is a promoter of free education which is why he had posted his videos online. I know, just from Khan’s Youtube videos alone, I have been able to learn concepts I had missed in class from both high school as well as university (such as organic chemistry which was very challenging for me). The downside of these videos is that it mostly applies to visual learners; however, all learners can benefit as they are freely able to take breaks as often as they need. As a future educator, I feel the need to not only introduce Youtube and Khan’s videos to students as a resource, but use them in my classroom as well. During my grade 12 year in high school, my class was being taught a very difficult to grasp topic about cells and cell division. The lecture was very confusing to the entire class, but when our teacher had shown us the Khan video it had clicked in for a lot of people. My classroom will definitely use technology, but the real important factor is that I will teach topics in a variety of ways to allow all students to learn.

Tech Task #10: Everything is a Remix

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    This series “Everything is a Remix” Parts (1),(2),(3),(4) was very captivating and interesting to listen to. It was great to see someone take the stance that creativity is just the progression of different ideas already established. In part 2 of the series, the author had even stated “creativity requires influence”. It was very interesting to see how new and popular films and music had either directly used a portion of already created material or remixes of such material. In part 2, it had even given the statistic that 78/100 of today’s top selling film productions were knockoffs of already created films. The reason I found this series so interesting and relevant is because it had emphasized that some of the best inventions, songs, films, and ideas are knockoffs or remixes of already existing material. This really challenges the concept of plagiarism and copyright. While the series was not encouraging plagiarism, it was challenging the idea that there is no such thing as a completely unique idea. Another of the interesting comments the author of the series made was that “copying is how we learn”. He emphasized the point by providing the idea of taking notes- you copy your notes and study them until you’re educated and comfortable enough to go off and make your own valid statements about the topics. The creator of the series had also stated if he had tried to create this series 10 years ago he would have failed… but because of the work other people have done, he had the resources to use and create this series. One of the main points of the videos I liked was that it brought a new viewpoint towards creativity. The 3 elements of creativity that the series had stated was copy, transform, and combine. With this, it shows that to implement creativity, you first have to use and transform others’ previous work. This whole concept brings forth the question about copyright… is it really their unique idea that wasn’t also copied off others? and isn’t it best when collaboration takes places where ideas can be transformed to be better and suit our needs more completely? Some interesting things to think about…

Using technology to collaborate: Google

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There’s no doubt that today’s technology gives more opportunities to connect and communicate with others- not only with people you know but with people around the world. The limits of collaborating and communicating with people have literally been removed. And, although technology has its negatives, the opportunities it presents is much greater. Specifically, collaboration in the past has been a struggle of finding appropriate times, finding a location to meet, and emailing back and forth with edits to projects. In today’s decade, all of these problems have been solved. There are apps for people to vote on times that work best, video conferencing (Google Hangouts), and Google docs to collaborate right online instead of emailing back and forth.

In fact, Google and Google Plus are the ultimate tool for collaboration and connecting. Google has created one place where they can complete any project of any dimension. This tool includes multi person editing and revision history which is critical for collaboration. This is probably my favorite resource after taking ECMP 355. Collaboration, and group work is half the stress level it was before because of the convenience of working online. I am now a Google and Google Plus advocate just because I have worked with different programs and this was the one that was high above the rest for efficiency. Google has created the perfect platform, where you don’t need to worry about saving, and don’t need to worry about the stress of collaboration!

Tech Task #9: Youtube- more than just Cat videos

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Youtube is well known for being the best place to watch hilarious cat videos that will instantly make you smile. Although this is one of the reasons I love it, it is just one of the many. I probably use it half the time for entertainment purposes and half the time for educational purposes. Youtube has statistics many companies would dream for: having 24 hours of video time every minute, 2 billion views per day, and that Google had purchased Youtube in 2006 for $1.65 billion. With these kind of numbers backing it up, its not hard to believe how useful of a resource this could be for teachers. Probably half of all my lesson plans contain Youtube clips that help students learn the concepts in a different way. I’ve used it teaching microscopes, decimals/percents, and as brain breaks.

Not only are they great for getting concepts across for younger students, I still use Youtube in University today to understand some of the difficult chemistry topics. There is many professors who post videos explaining almost every topic . These are nice because you are able to pause the video and learn at a slower pace if needed. Although you have to keep in mind, some of the content of videos isn’t monitored and therefore may not be 100% accurate, if you look at the number of views (higher views=usually more reliable) and take everything with a grain of salt it can be used as a strong resource. One of the best channels, which I have used in both high school and university, is the Khan Academy. Khan academy is a non-profit organization that provides free education for over 50 subjects; furthermore, the founder Salman Khan is a graduate MIT and Harvard Business School and has even talked on TED talks. All of the Khan Academy’s videos are posted on Youtube and my first choice of resource for then I need help understanding things.

Although Youtube, as a resource, risks validity, the benefits of using it in the classroom much outweigh this small risk. So long as teachers are watching the video before they play it for the class, that risk is lessened. Giving students the opportunity to see and visualize things they normally wouldn’t have been able to see is a great benefit to using Youtube in the classroom. There are tons of lists on Google about how teachers can use Youtube in their classroom which only further proves how useful it is. I would even argue it is a better resource for learning than Twitter is… :O

Quizlet- Tech Task #8

Quizlet– An online program that helps teach vocabulary in a more interactive way!

What this program offers is step-directed ways of learning vocabulary. The steps that it includes is online flashcards, learn (a section that helps practice the meaning and the word), speller (an auditory spelling test of the vocabulary words), a practice test (including written questions, multiple choice, matching, and true/false), scatter (a page that has the definitions and words that you drag and connect to its partner), and a race (this lets the definitions scroll by on the screen in which you are supposed to text the vocabulary word before it disappears). Something really cool about the race game is that if you get it wrong it makes you copy out the answers twice for you to learn from the mistake.

This program has sets of words and categories already made, or, you can create your own for your class to use or for your own purposes.

This is a free-program that allows students to have different platforms for learning and practicing. You can choose to include images for extra support as well.

Home page:                                                                                    Flashcards:

Home page    flashcards

Test:                                                                                   Scatter:

quizlet3  scatter

Race:

race

Overall: I would definitely use this in my classroom when I’m teaching my students the foundational chemistry vocabulary. This is a much better approach then having them simply memorize the vocabulary. This tool is much more interactive and interesting then more traditional methods of teaching definitions. Students are able to learn at their own pace and with their preferred approach to learning, whether that be the race, spelling test, or scatter, they are still getting the same information taught to them as everyone else.

Are people addicted to having their phone in their hand like smokers are hooked to having a cigarette in their hand?

hand with cigarette
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Are people addicted to having their phone in their hand like smokers are hooked to having a cigarette in their hand?

I was walking from the parking lot, and instantly thought to grab my phone from my pocket and look through some of my apps…. I had just looked through my apps (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest) already before I left my house… This had surfaced the idea that it is just getting to be my instinct that whenever I am not physically doing something, I rely on my phone to pass time. Although this is sometimes a good idea, it just so happened to be a one of the first beautiful days in which I would have liked just enjoying being outside and not freezing. This thought rather bothered me. It sounds cliche, but the beauty around me was being ignored for the reason of finding out one of my old friends “is happy that the snow is melting”- this is crazy!! I could have been enjoying this pleasant weather myself but instead decided to read how one of my friends was. This really made me wonder what else I have missed because of the “need” to have my phone in my hand and be pointlessly spending time on it.

After really thinking about this I felt curious to do a little further research. There was a ton of articles about phone addictions- “Your cell phone is not a part of your body- you can let it go“, “Are you addicted to your Cellphone?”. In the first article mentioned, I read an sentence that really connected well with me, it had stated we need to take control back of our minds and stop compulsively checking our phone. It had also given some startling statistics, such as, the average person checks there phone 150 times…a day!, and that about 28% of today’s car accidents are a result of texting, calling, and using your phone in general! These are both insane high numbers.  The thing to also consider is that cellphone use is increasing with the newer generations. When I walk in the hallways and don’t use my phone approximately 3/5 people walking by me are on their phone. There is even a lot of Youtube videos about people being so absorbed by their smart phone that they run into things while walking. The numbers of increasing cell-phone pedestrian injuries are growing exponentially and a news report was even done on this epidemic.

This is getting to be an increasing problem and motivated me to make a new goal for this semester- to be more conscience about the amount of time I am using on my cellphone and to work on not reaching for my cellphone just to pass time. I completely agree that cellphones are beneficial to learning; however, my fear is that people will get so caught up on their phone that they’ll miss the real-life things happening right in front of them. Smokers who are trying to quit often struggle with not having something in their hand, I think this addiction is very similar to the new generation with having a cellphone in their hand, or at least on them. As I said before, I believe technology is essential for teaching; however, there comes a point where I wonder where the line is drawn on when technology is actually becoming overpowering more than useful.