Ripper's Chatter

D. Ripollone is a STAR member of the Discovery Educator Network

Ripper's Chatter

A month later… and never busier!

September 29th, 2012 · No Comments · Discovery, Labs, NASA, NASA explorers school, STEM

Its like the title states, a month later and I’m totally busy. Wouldn’t have it any other way though. Ton’s of fun these last couple of weeks. They actually make me appreciate my job even more. Teaching has become a love….no a passion lately. The summer has just infused so much energy in my lessons. Sounds corny I know, but I’m just having tons of fun in the classroom and my administration has just been awesome with support. And so I will try to explain the last few weeks as briefly as possible.

Our first activity was a Density lab, instead of the usual mass and volume given , I had student’s figure out the density of different liquids and then make a density column. The original experiment was a demonstration which I obtained from Discovery Education. But instead of making it a demonstration I changed it to a type of inquiry lab. I had student’s plan out how they would figure out the density of each liquid. After that they were to create a density column. Below is an example of one their density columns:

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Students then whiteboarded their results and explained what they did to figure out the densities. So I gave them a problem and they designed an experiment to solve the problem. They did a good job and I’ve already planed other activities to do with this format. Our department goal for this year is to incorporate more inquiry and PBL labs. So this was good start to the year for PBL’s. 

After starting the year with team building we moved forward in our curriculum. The next activity was a GPS activity. I integrated some Discovery information (thank you Kyle Schutt) and some NASA explorer schools information together in a lesson.  I placed various geocaches in locations around the school grounds. Inside the plastic containers I had QR codes, clues to their questions on their lab sheets. When scanned by the phone, the QR codes were located a webpage on the internet. Every clue pointed to a satellite page and it’s mission.  Below is an example of the QR code:

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This code is for the Calipso satellite, students had to summarize the satellites mission.  The QR codes were made with Google Chrome. The student’s loved it and after a formative assessment I found out that they understood  GPS a little better.  Many were frustrated at first because they couldn’t figure out how to use their GPS instruments. We did use Labquest 2 from Veriner and Garmin instruments. Students also used their iphone but they were having a difficult time with the iphones and the GPS on it. Overall student’s preferred the Labquest 2, it was the easiest to use and they actually would track the movements of students. When students were asked if they understood GPS better, the overall answer was yes. With the materials from my summer experience and some information from a Discovery workshop, I created a lesson that student’s were excited to complete and could actually learn about satellites. The activity did a good job of integrating technology, student’s learnt how to use GPS instruments.  The tough part about this activity was the clues. You need to make sure they are secure. I think instead of having student’s take a clue I would have them bring something to me and I would hand them the clue. Overall this activity could really be expanded and my student’s want to do others. So….we will probably do that.

In forensics we just completed our hair and fiber unit. Student’s used various hairs; people, rodents, dogs and cats to compare their medullas and cuticles. What a fantastic time, they used compound microscopes to compare their crime scene evidence to the various hairs supplied by the teacher.

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Students’ did the same thing for fibers. They distinguished fibers and cloths with different weave patterns. These classes did a really good job on their drawings for their lab reports. The fun part of this was gathering the samples, thanks to all the faculty who helped me out! LOL.

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The above pictures are fibers (left is nylon rope and right is cotton fiber)  we looked at under compound microscopes. Our next chapter is fingerprints. The fibers were obtained from Ward’s Science suppliers. Our next chapter is fingerprints can’t wait for them to test their crime scene evidence. We will be doing super glue fuming, which should be fun. The class is going well I think, I’m going fast due to it being only a semester. But I’m making it mostly hands on. At the end we will do our big CSI with the drama department. Keep checking back on our progress through course.

Look for the next entry and our team appearance at the Catholic Conference in NC.

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