Teaching With Technology:Tech Makes Science Sizzle
- Grades: Early Childhood, PreK–K, 1–2
TOUCHING, TASTING, OBSERVING, listening, sorting, classifying-- these are the cornerstones of a good science curriculum for young children. So how can technology help? Here are some ideas, from low- to high-tech, to use in your own program:
Guess That Sound
Take your classroom tape recorder on a walk around the school and record various sounds. Ask the children for ideas as to what to record (make sure to incorporate their ideas). The next day, sharpen their auditory skills by listening to the tape and asking what they think they hear. TIP: Many shorter "sound bites" work better; followed by a verbal "answer" to confirm the guess. Put the tape in the listening center to extend the activity.
Learning Goes Digital!
"The best form of technology for the early childhood classroom we have used is the digital camera. I think when it comes to science, the digital camera could be extremely useful," says Susan Griebling of Hamilton County Head Start. "We document nature walks to revisit them and discuss the trips with the children. We use photos of objects to predict sink-and-float properties and develop graphs with those pictures. We photograph the growth of the bean plant daily so children can observe, remember and discuss changes." Griebling recommends the book Picture This: Digital and Instant Photography Activities for Early Childhood Learning by Susan Entz and Sheri Lyn Galarza (Corwin, 1999; $32.95).
Yvonne Bowman of Computertots uses technology to bring nature indoors with an Intel QX3 Computer Microscope. "We take the students on a nature walk to collect items of interest to them. We then hook up the QX3 Intel Microscope to a computer and begin examining the bugs, leaves, and branches at the different magnifications." [Note that Intel has taken this item off the market; however, you can still find them for sale at prices ranging from $40 to $100. This activity also works just fine with an "old fashioned" magnifying glass, however] Bowman goes on to report, "The kids are fascinated by what they can see. We even had a few of the children collect a milk weed leaf that, when put under the microscope, showed little white bugs that were so small we couldn't see more than a white spec with the naked eye. They get this wonderful 'I figured it out!' look in their eyes as they really begin to understand both the science of nature and the science of magnification."
Search the Web
The Internet is the best answer to a child's question. When I was teaching, one of the children found a mysterious, beautiful, and very dead moth on the playground. We had no idea what kind of butterfly she had found, and had to wait until I could make it to the library (which I never did get to). Today, it is easy to visit any search engine and type in "butterfly" quickly and easily find out what kind of butterfly you have. The best search sites? Ask Jeeves for Kids (www.ajkids.com) or Yahooligans (www.yahooligans.com). You can also use a more powerful search engine such as Google (www.google.com), but make sure the parental filter is active, just in case.