Back in the Saddle
Life has been very interesting for the past 18 months. Did I say interesting? I meant challenging. With a global pandemic in force, how does education adapt? In my area, students had several months of online only learning, followed by online four days a week, then 3 days a week. Some students had full-time school, but they did only 2 classes a day. One class for the entire morning and one in the afternoon. New classes roughly every 10 weeks. How do you teach under these conditions? How do you teach science under these conditions? How do students learn under these conditions?
This blog won’t focus on that though. We are back at full time regular school (albeit with masks) for the first time since March of 2019. The focus is how do we reengage students? How do we bring back that sense of wonder and amazement of the world around them? For me, the answer is almost always the same; do hands on work. Experimentation is science and that is where the magic happens.
Once the dust settled of courses being filled, I knew I need students doing lab work. I couldn’t wait too long. It didn’t need to be anything complicated or deep, I just needed them to be hooked. Enter my PASCO Spark, the MatchGraph app and some Smart Carts.
Just bringing out the equipment got the students excited. “What are those?” I heard more than once. “Do we get to use them?” We did a quick run through and started on the first graph. The energy in the room was off the charts. There was so much buzz; arguments on who could do it better, what were they doing right, what were they doing wrong. This is what a classroom should be and such a simple way to get it.
Soon students were mastering the first linear graph and were looking very proud of themselves. I then told them there were more graphs. Deflation, curiosity and excited sped across their faces (at least their eyes) and they quickly started trying them. Carts were flying across the tabletops. 45 minutes passed in a blink and when I told them class was coming to an end and the equipment needed to be put away there were actual groans. They wanted to keep going! More than one student asked if we were going to use the equipment again. My answer was simple: tomorrow.
The students are hooked. They are excited to be learning. All it took was a little bit of learning play with my Smart carts and PASCO MatchGraph.