Life Science Unit - Digestion: Where Do I Get My Energy From

02/20/2001
Activity Overview: 

Students and a partner submit a written proposal for their experimental design and present their design to the class for peer response. Students then submit a revised final proposal and conduct their experiment. They determine the equipment needs for their experiments and collect them for use in class. Students prepare technology and calibrate the probes they use to collect data. They conduct their experiment, submit a written report following a guideline of requirements, and present an oral presentation based on their results.

PURPOSE:   
Students will:
-be introduced to basic concepts of digestion; structure and function of the alimentary canal and accessory organs, process of ingestion, digestion, cellular respiration, absorption, diffusion, enzymes and the role they play in digestion, reactants, products.
-use a variety of modes to construct their knowledge in Digestion including, internet searches around specific terms, class lab experiments, class discussions and specific interactive educational sites on digestion found on the internet.
-continue to ask good questions, researching pertinentbackground information using a variety of resources (library and Internet, experts in the community, their science books and teacher handouts).
-design and carry out investigations that they design based on their own questions that are centered around a driving question and sub-questions for the unit we study that are real-life situated.
-continue to develop sound predictions based on their research that supports their predictions based on the background information they construct.
-continue to appreciate the need to care for and calibrate the technology tools they will use to collect data during their student designed experiment.
-continue to use a variety of data collection and analysistechniques (data tables, graphs) and learn the importance of creating a procedure that controls variables and carefully addresses the question to be studied.
-continue to develop in drawing conclusions after logical and critical reflection of all the information they collect that may answer their question.
-share this information with each other throughout the process and present their findings at the end of the investigation as oral presentations based on their formal written experimental labs or multimedia presentations. 
-model that this process is a collaborative process but includes individual components as well.
-be involved in the peer editing process to learn to value the contributions each of us can make to enhance student experimental designs and increase our potential for growth.    -learn that the process of inquiry often leads tonew questions.
-use these science process skills to analyze the data they collect during their student designed experiments.
-use the technology tools and probes to collect accurate real time data therefore enhancing and aiding in the development of student designed experiments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION:  
In the video taped activity the following activities were observed.          

-       Students and partner submit a written proposal for their experimental design and present their design to the class for peer response.

-       Students submit a revised final proposal and conduct their experiment.

-       Students determine the equipment needs for their experiments and collect them for use in class.  Students prepare technology and calibrate the probes they use to collect data.

-       Students conduct their experiment.

-       Students submit a written report following a guideline of requirements and present an oral presentation based on their results.

In the activity the ** cells show objectives that were taped.

ACTIVITIES:
(Note:  This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the following activities/standards will appear in the video clips used.)

  Procedures:

 

 

Curriculum 
Standards

http://www.intime.uni.edu/model/content/cont.html

 

 

National 
Educational 
Technology Standards (NETS) 
Performance Indicators http://cnets.iste.org/sfors.htm

Students use a variety of resources to construct their knowledge in basic Digestion concepts that include; internet searches around specific terms, class lab experiments, class discussions and specific interactive educational sites on digestion found on the internet.

Science: Grades 5-8: A1, A2, C1, E1, F1, G2

 

Science: Grades 9-12: A1, A2

Grades 5-8: 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

 

Grades 9-12: 6, 7, 8, 9

Students continue to ask good questions, researching pertinentbackground informationusing a variety of resources (library and Internet, experts in the community, their science books and teacher handouts).

Science: Grades 5-8: A1, A2, C1, E1, F1, G2

 

Science: Grades 9-12: A1, A2

Grades 5-8: 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

 

Grades 9-12: 6, 7, 8, 9

**Students determine the equipment needs for their experiments and collect them for use in class.

 

Students and partner submit a written proposal for their experimental design and present their design to the class for peer response

Science: Grades 5-8: A1, A2, E2, G2, C1, F1, F4

 

Science: Grades 9-12: A1, A2, B3, E1, E2

Grades 5-8: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

 

Grades 9-12: 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10

**Studentsconduct their experiment. Many needed to calibrate equipment such as the pH probe to collect data.

Science: Grades 5-8: A1, A2

 

Science: Grades 9-12: A1, A2, E1, E2

Grades 5-8: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

 

Grades 9-12: 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10

**Students submit a written report following a guideline of requirements and present

an oral presentation based on their results.

Science: Grades 5-8: A1, A2, E1, E2, F1, F5

 

Science: Grades 9-12: A1, A2, E1, E2

Grades 5-8: 4, 5, 6, 7

 

Grades 9-12: 5, 7, 10

TOOLS & RESOURCES:

Software:
eProbe Calibrate.  Apple.  Available: http://www.apple.com

eProbe.  Apple.  Available: http://www.apple.com

Model-It software version 3.0 developed by the University of Michigan

Microsoft Word. Microsoft Corp. Available: http://www.microsoft.com

Excel.  Microsoft Corp.  Available: http://www.microsoft.com

Netscape Communicator to construct web pages.  Netscape. Available: http://www.netscape.com

Sound Edit 16 version 2.  Macromedia.  Available: http://www.macromedia.com/software/sound/

Hardware:

5 Olympus Camedia Digital Cameras.  Olympus. Available: http://www.olympusamerica.com

8 eMates.  Apple. Available: http://www.apple.com

8 iMacs in our classroom.  Apple.  Available: http://www.apple.com

8 sets of Vernier Probes.  Vernier.  Available: http://www.vernier.com

Our middle school science classrooms are also wired for direct Internet access.

Web Sites:

Merit.  Available: http://mtn.merit.edu/about/fullrecord.html

Merit.  Available: http://mtn.merit.edu/about/searchresultspage.html

Student Online Learning Center. Available:

http://www.mhhe.com/biosci/genbio/maderhuman6/student/olc/chap08tips.html

Artemis.  Available: http://www.webartemis.com

Google Search Engine. Available: http://www.google.com/search

HotBot.  Available: http://www.hotbot.com

Explore Science.Com.  Available: http://www.explorescience.com/

Teacher Workroom.  Available: http://www.hi-ce.org/teacherworkroom/software/modelit

On our Greenhills School web site,www.greenhillsschool.org, students can click on Library and go to the listing of search engines that the Librarian has research and found most effective for the searches our students do.  There are listings of General Search Engines, Meta Search Engines and General Directories of Internet Sources.

Text Book:

Morrison, E. S. & Moore, A., (1993). Science Plus. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc. and University of New Brunswick, Orlando, Florida.

ASSESSMENT:

We use a variety of methods to assess student’s progress. 

1. We have students take a pre-test to determine their initial knowledge of the content we will be learning.  In the case of digestion, we ask the students to fill out a diagram of the human digestive system by labeling the digestive structures and to give the function of each. We have a post-test and have the students compare their results. This often results in many laughs and affirms the student’s progress. 

2. All of our students have a quadrille composition notebook.  They date and record notes from class discussions and class Internet searches. Students also record mini-class lab write-ups.  Each class lab write-up need to include; Question, Prediction, Data, Analysis and conclusion. -For the Internet search, the level of engagement in the class discussion allows me to determine if students have been actively involved in the pre-search process.  

3. Students are also given tests to assess assimilation of content knowledge. 

4. As students prepare to present their proposal for an experimental design before the class, they complete a proposal. (Sample is included)  Before partners come together to prepare presentation of proposal for peer review, each partner prepares an experimental design.  This is to ensure that each partner is invested in the design of the experiment. We check before class begins to be sure that each student has filled out their proposal.  We hope to develop each student’s responsibility and commitment to the collaborative process and interaction with their partners. 

5. During student-designed experiments, students are assessed based on their class engagement during class.  Are students working with their partners or are they concerned with other experiments?

6. Each student-designed experiment requires a written report that follows guidelines. (Students are given a handout with specific expectations for completing this exercise. A sample is included) Each of these student designed experimental write-ups contains specific expectations for components that are group generated and individual generated.

7. Presentations are expected to be dynamic and engage the audience with the results of their experiment.

Very little of the student grade is based on tests.  Most of the grade is based on class work that stresses the process we hope each of our students internalizes.  This begins with a driving question, supported by the construction of background information.  This process continues with a project design and is supported by the collection of data, facts and ends in a final presentation to the class so we can all be enriched.  This activity has empowered our students to go beyond the content presented in class and at the same time enlightening us all.

CREDITS:

Chris Gleason, Greenhills School, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Cgleason@greenhillsschool.org

Ann Novak, Greenhills School, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Anovak@greenhillsschool.org

TIMELINE & COURSE OUTLINE: 
Our Digestion Unit is one of five units we cover in the 8thgrade science curriculum.  The others are Weather, Photosynthesis, Sound and Electricity.
Table 4: Examples of 8th grade curriculum with embedded technology

8th GRADE DRIVING QUESTIONS

TECHNOLOGY/
PROBES USED

 

EXAMPLE
 INVESTIGATIONS

 

 

“How accurately can you predict the weather?”

 

 

Temperature, Barometric Pressure, Relative Humidity, Internet

Students analyze how various physical phenomenon interact to give us our weather by using probes to collect data and compare it to the internet weather reports.

 

“Where do plants get their energy?”

 

D.O., CO2 Pressure,      Temperature

Students determine if the D.O. production changes when plants are placed in light vs no light.

 

“Where do you get all your energy?”

pH

Students design experiments to determine the affect antacids have on gastric juices.

" How is it possible that when I speak, you can hear my voice?"

Use of sound meters, Computers using Sound Edit Pro software

Students design experiments to determine what material absorbs sound the best?

"Why do your lights go on when I flip the switch?"

Use of computers, voltage probes

Students research and test how do you light a bulb without a commercial battery?

 This is the basic outline: 
-         introduce basic concepts of digestion; structure and function of the alimentary canal and accessory organs, process of ingestion, digestion, cellular respiration, absorption, diffusion, enzymes and the role they play in digestion, reactants, products.  
-         For students to brainstorm and decide on a question of their own interest. 
-         For students to utilize a variety of resources to construct background information which addresses their question. Students peer edit each others background information.  
-         Students and partner submit a written proposal for their experimental design and present their design to the class for peer response.  This process enhances the student-designed experiment.  
-         Students submit a revised final proposal and conduct their experiment.  
-         Students determine the equipment needs for their experiments and collect them for use in class. Students calibrate technology tools used to collect data.  
-         Students conduct their experiment.  
-         Students submit a written report following a guideline of requirements and present an oral presentation based on their results.

This activity was reenacted.  The taping involved showing the presentation of a proposal and student critique.  Out of 4 weeks we take for the unit, this was the process involved in the last 2 weeks.  From there, a variety of experiments were in process. Students were analyzing data as they collected it and determining if the probes or testing solutions were working.  If not they corrected the problem demonstrating problem solving on the spot. We also taped one of the presentations.  This activity tried to demonstrate what was involved in gaining approval for their design through the presentation.  The items that were not filmed were the learning of basic content material, the brainstorming activities, pre-search and the background information search.

COMMENTS:

During my 27 years of teaching science I have always looked to make changes in my approaches in an effort to engage my students more completely. But none have been more dramatic or more meaningful and fulfilling to both my students and myself then the last 6 years have been. Initially as I taught high school Biology and later in middle school, textbooks always provide laboratory experiments for the hands on experience, but there was very little time once you have completed these labs to answer the marvelous “What if” questions our students would ask us. How do you help students develop science concepts through the process of inquiry?  How can students engage in authentic investigations that make science meaningful and interesting?  What role can the teacher play to help foster students’ understanding of science concepts and process?  How can incorporating new technology tools enhance student learning?  How can we develop collaborative and time management skills in our students since all of the work is done in class?  As we looked at our program we knew that we had to address these issues.  We found that by engaging our students more completely, we empower them to be partners in their education.  The results of student-designed investigations are powerful! The Dear Mrs. Gleason letters at the end of the units told us that laying down basic concepts in a unit were enough to give students the tools to ask their own questions and design experiences to find answers.    

Technology Resources:

One of our goals as teachers was to incorporate technology into our project-based curriculum. Because we had a water quality curriculum in place, our project-based approach, had a stream behind our school and wanted to incorporate technology into our curriculum, we were very fortunate to have been invited to participate in a National Science Foundation grant that the Concord Consortium, in Concord Massachusetts and the University of Michigan received. The SLiC grant (Science Learning in Context) provided us with the opportunity to allow our 7th grade students to study and learn about water quality at the stream.  Our 8thgraders are able to collect weather data and compare it with the data gathered by professionals and reported on the web, as well as design better student designed experiments now that they have equipment to collect data in real time.  It allows us to study science where the science is and in a similar manner that it is conducted.  As a result of this grant we received, eMates and a variety of Vernier probes (dissolved, oxygen, pH, conductivity, light, barometric pressure and temperature).  In addition our two middle school science classrooms are networked together and we each have our own 16 port hubs that tap into our schools T1 line for Internet access.  

We work hard to ensure that our equipment remains in good working order.  Our students are careful when handling the equipment, however as the equipment ages we are faced with replacement issues.  As a result, we try to keep informed of new learning technologies, which would allow our students to enjoy the benefits that our current technology has afforded them. We do this by attending conferences and talking with people in education and in technology that are aware of new learning technologies. Currently we are in such a position and as we search for equipment to replace our current portable technology, we will consider price, durability, dependability and versatility among other criteria. 

Technology Support:

Joe Krajcik, Professor of Education at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Krajcik@umich.edu

Elliott Soloway, Professor of Engineering, Technology at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 

Soloway@umich.edu

Bob Tinker, President of Concord Consortium (Educational Technology Lab) Concord,

Massachusetts 

Bob@concord.org 

Teaching Strategy:

As students gain experience in the process of inquiry there is a transition from mainly teacher-designed investigations to a combination of teacher- and student-designed investigations.  By the end of 7th grade students are comfortable and confident with science inquiry which includes a combination of teacher-designed activities, labs and direct instruction, as well as student-designed long-term investigations, all of which center around a driving question.  They also are introduced to several technological tools used for data collection and analysis, written reports with tables and graphs, concept development, and presentation purposes. 

The 8th grade program builds on the 7th grade program expanding upon many of the science concepts and using the same general approach.  However, expectations for 8th graders are higher.  Students improve their ability to conduct background research and design and carry out investigations, while working collaboratively and efficiently.  Data collection techniques also are expanded. Greater emphasis is placed on helping students to look forpatterns and relationships as they analyze data.  Just as with 7th grade, the 8th grade program includes several units that are centered around driving questions which are investigated through a combination of teacher designed activities, labs and direct instruction and student designed long term investigations. 

As mentioned in a previous section, science textbooks always provide laboratory experiments for the hands on experience, but there was very little time left over once you have completed these labs and covered the content material to answer the marvelous “What if” questions our students would ask us.  How do you help students develop science concepts through the process of inquiry?  How can students engage in authentic investigations that make science meaningful and interesting?  What role can the teacher play to help foster students’ understanding of science concepts and process?  How can incorporating new technology tools enhance student learning?  How can we develop collaborative and time management skills in our students since all of the work is done in class?  As we looked at our program we knew that we had to address these issues and found that by engaging our students more completely, we empower them to be partners in their education.

Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model Components Highlighted in This Activity http://www.intime.uni.edu/model/modelimage.html

(Note:  This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the elements from the Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model that are described below will appear in the video clips used.)

Our curriculum and the video highlight most of the components of Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model.  If you refer to the section above I discuss why I choose to use this particular teaching strategy, the following components are highlighted.

Principles of Learning:

Students are Actively Involved in what they are doing.  In this video the setting is in the classroom and students are first presenting their initial student-designed experiment proposal for our Digestion unit.  Second the setting is a classroom with 8 different experiments running at the same time, all centered on our digestion unit and their groups driving question.  During this time students are collecting data, problem solving equipment issues and analyzing their data.  Others that are further along are busy preparing tables and graphs of their data using Microsoft Word and Excel. Third students are presenting their experimental results to the class and handing their individual reports.  The guidelines for these laboratory write-ups are included in this unit.

Depending on the unit and the activities the students are engaged in, you can find students outside the rooms and the school on many occasions.  All settings are relaxed, informal yet very productive.  An important component in the process of student- designed experiments is that they receive Frequent Feedback both from their peers and us as teaches.  When students initially ask their questions they present a design proposal, which they present to the class. We set clear guidelines for this forum and in a non-threatening and kind manner, students affirm and offer suggestions for improvement.  This allows students to re-evaluate their design and consider options they did not initially consider.  All exchanges are positive and empowering for all participants.  Students are excited about the experiments their peers design.  Students also peer-edit each other's background information.  The ground rules are for each student to have their partner and one other student check their background information.  They determine if enough information exists for them to evaluate the data they hope to collect.   Another opportunity for feedback comes as students collect data.  Together with their partners students reflect and make judgements to determine the accuracy of the data and try to determine what are the possible activities that could lead to the results they gathered.  Students are encouraged to look for patterns as they analyze their data. This process encourages students to make connections and reference their background information for support. What could be a more compelling, motivating experience than to be empowered to ask your own question that is real life situated and then design and carry out the experiment to answer it?

Information Processing:

At the start of each unit we take a look at what concepts would be most important for our students to learn.  Then we engage the students through various homework assignments and class lab activities, to develop an appreciation for the content they are learning.  Students are actively involved in presenting material and analyzing information during our class discussions.  This approach gives students anAppreciation for what they are studying because they have been involved in constructing background information that also allows students to evaluate their data in a more meaningful and accurate manner.  As students collect their data they Interpret their findings based on the background information they have constructed from class notes and from the research they have conducted.  Therefore it is very important that students are given time to Search for information regarding their questions and then time to design their experiment.  The Presearch and Searchprocesses are important and taking the time to do so, results in a more thorough experimental design.  When the experiments are complete, students prepare presentations to share their results with the class.  Students are given guidelines for a written report or multimedia presentation and are assessed on both the group and individual components of the report.  Self-reflection is important in the conclusion of their reports. Students are asked to explain what went well and what would they change if they were to do the same experiment again. It is exciting when students are lead to ask other questions as a result of their search process and/or experimental designs.  Sometimes it is hard for them to decide what question they want to address.

**Communication continues as students construct web pages.  You are able to connect and view them by connecting to www.greenhillsschool.org and follow the link to academics that will allow you to link to the middleschool science page and view our students work.

Content Standards:

We address many of the Content Standards.  Refer to the table at the beginning of this lesson plan.

Democracy:

Our students demonstrate Tolerance in a variety of ways. They Tolerate equipment problems that occur and do not get frustrated, working to solve them instead.  This could be due to hardware or software problems that could cause inaccurate data readings. They accept collaborating with their partners, demonstrating how they work together toCritically Think about their work.  Together they Make Decisions to either accept their data or retake it.   Together they look for information and clues that would validate the data they collect. If students determine there is a problem with either their experimental design or with the technology tools they are using, they decide what actions to take to make the appropriate adjustments.  Our students don’t give up instead they embrace the challenges students designed experiments can present.  Learning takes place regardless if an experiment is successful or if students encounter problems.

Because our students work collaboratively with partners, it is important that they feel the responsibility to be actively involved in the entire process.   All of our students are called on to be responsible in their data collection techniques so that they collect the most accurate data they can and share it.  When student’s partners are absent, the data collection continues and partners need to be sure that all the collected information is shared with them upon their return.  This is possible because students have collaborated with their partners on the experimental design.

Technology:

When we look at our curriculum we see that the all of the technology competencies are addressed with the exception of Video Conferencing and Adaptive Assistive
Devices
.   In this activity we addressed Operating Computer Systems, Equipment Operation, Trouble-Shooting, Equipment Operation, WWW Information Sources, and Instructional Software. It is always expected that students use the equipment and sources or information in a responsible manner.

Teacher Knowledge and Teacher Behavior:

I LOVE TEACHING!  I can’t imagine another career that would be more rewarding.  I have an undergraduate degree in Biology with a Chemistry/General Science minor.  This degree has provided me with a wonderful knowledge base from which I continue to read and learn all that I can about the various fields of science.  I am confident in my abilities as a scientist and I impart to my students the love and joy of teaching them science. My Masters is in Learning Disabilities. This degree has helped me identify students that are bright, motivated and those that have great potential but have a different learning style, or see no reason for learning.  Because there are a variety of learning styles in our classes, I am always searching for ways to develop the talents of all of my students.  I look for ways to develop their appreciation for the importance of studying science and its pertinence in their lives, as well as learning that science is empowering and great fun! I have been teaching for 27 years. During this time I reflect daily on my teaching to determine what worked, what didn’t and improve on both.  I am a risk taker.  I always look for opportunities to learn something new and improve what I am doing.  I am a life long learner and want my students to understand and appreciate the benefits of not only learning science but also becoming life long learners themselves.  I am aware of the talents my students bring to class.  I know that our curriculum brings out the best in our students and allows them to be successful.  I also know that our program is challenges and empowers our students to be at the center of their learning.

I feel that my love for teaching, my desire to learn and grow and my experiences over the past 27 years allows me to understand and address my students and their needs.

Student Characteristics:

Our students are terrific.  They are motivated, curious and conscientious learners.  Because our students are risk takers it is so easy to introduce new ideas and challenges into the curriculum.  Because they are risk takers we have engaged in studies with the University of Michigan to test and be involved in the revision of the software program Model-It. Our students have effective in testing the software experiencing the challenges of wishing that the program would allow them to perform a variety of tasks, and then seeing that programmers have rewritten the program so that their wishes were incorporated.  This is very motivating and empowering.  Our students understood that they were helping to make this program better so that other students could use it more easily.   Because of this I need to say that our students are patient.  Working with technology as a tool to advance student learning is wonderful but it does present some challenges.  It is because of their commitment that they took look at these challenges as opportunities to problem solve and help to effect change for the better to benefit others.   Their wonderful natural abilities make it easy for us to look for opportunities to challenge them and ourselves.  Together we engage in activities that enhance our student’s learning.  We acknowledge that there are a variety of learning styles within our motivated and talented group of students.  Because of the hand on approach to our curriculum we are successful at providing opportunities for students where they can develop their strengths. For some students that might be experimental design centered around their own real-life-situated questions.  For others it is working with the technology to collect and analyze data. Still others are able to create representations of their knowledge in written lab reports and construction of models, which represent their understanding of the cause and effect relationships of the concepts we study.

Evolution of the Activity:

We have always looked to make changes in our approaches to teaching in an effort to engage our students more completely. But none have been more dramatic or more meaningful and fulfilling to both my students and myself then the last 6 years have been. How do you help students develop science concepts through the process of inquiry? How can students engage in authentic investigations that make science meaningful and interesting?  What role can the teacher play to help foster students’ understanding of science concepts and process?  How can incorporating new technology tools enhance student learning?   How can we develop collaborative and time management skills in our students since all of the work is completed during class time?

Six years ago we began to develop a project-based approach and attended project-based institutes at The University of Michigan.  We continued to attend work sessions during the next several years.  We worked with Professors Joe Krajcik and Ron Marx from the School of Education.  As teachers, Ann and I collaborate closely to develop curriculum and to enhance our curriculum by incorporating technology tools where appropriate.

The goal of our 7th and 8th grade science program focuses on facilitating students to develop in-depth and integrated understandings of fundamental science concepts and science process skills within the context of inquiry. Using a project-based approach, several units are explored each year that incorporate science across several science disciplines. We structure our classrooms so that students ask important and meaningful questions and use technology tools to investigate these questions.  Each unit begins with a driving question that provides students with a real life context. Our students engage in inquiry through activities that investigate this and related sub-questions.  Learners find solutions to these questions through engagement in long-term investigations and collaboration with others.  In the process they develop in-depth and integrated understanding of science concepts and process skills.   By this we mean our students see relationships among ideas, to find underlying reasons for these relationships, to use these ideas to explain and predict phenomena, and to apply their understandings to new situations.  We also believe our students become better thinkers and problem-solvers. This approach is consistent with the National Science Education Standards (1996) and with the American Association for the Advancement of Science benchmarks (1993).

Our program is based on inquiry.  However, getting our students to be scientists initially takes much support from us.  This is the first time most of our students are exposed to extended inquiry where they will collect and synthesize data over time.  We needed to incorporate time to help our students develop the skills to research and write background information using a variety of resources (library and Internet, experts in the community, their science books and teacher handouts).  This information will be used as they reflect to analyze the data they collect.  With this in mind we developed a very successful revision process that continues through the first semester of 7th grade.  Students learn what critical information is needed in order to design an experiment to answer their own questions.  We help our students learn the process of inquiry through teacher-designed investigations and activities that model the process. They learn to look for patterns and relationships in their data and gain experience in drawing conclusions after logical and critical reflection of all the information important to providing an answer to their question. They share this information with each other throughout the process and present their findings at the end of the investigation. This peer response process is very important and has provided invaluable learning experiences for all of our students. We teach our students how to use hyperstudio and power point to present their experiments. They learn that the process of inquiry often leads to new questions.

Another one of our goals as teachers was to incorporate technology into our project-based curriculum. Six years ago, my partner and I ran a telephone wire across the hall and split the wires into two additional rooms so that students can hook up to a computer. Two years later because we had a water quality curriculum in place, our project-based approach, had a stream behind our school and wanted to incorporate technology into our curriculum, we were very fortunate to have been invited to participate in a National Science Foundation grant that the Concord Consortium, in Concord Massachusetts and the University of Michigan received.  The SLiC grant (Science Learning in Context) provided us with the opportunity to allow our students to study and learn about water quality at the stream.   It allows us to study science where the science is. This is a very powerful experience for our students and for us as teachers. As a result of this grant we received, eMates and a variety of Vernier probes (dissolved, oxygen, pH, conductivity, light, barometric pressure and temperature). In addition our two middle school science classrooms are networked together and we each have our own 16 port hubs that taps into our schools T1 line for Internet access. 

Since we incorporated technology into our curriculum we made a commitment to work hard to ensure that our equipment remains in good working order.  Our students are careful when handling the equipment, however as the equipment ages we are faced with replacement issues.  As a result, we try to keep informed of new learning technologies, which would allow our students to enjoy the benefits that our current technology has afforded them. We do this by attending conferences and talking with people in education and in technology that are aware of new learning technologies.  As we search for equipment we will consider price, durability, dependability and versatility among other criteria.  We are constantly looking for new ideas and ways to enhance our curriculum for our students.  I feel that our commitment to use technology helped our school realize that we as a school were ready to use technology as a tool to enhance student learning.  Our school the efforts of all teachers in this area.

Since we began this process, we as teachers have revised and developed techniques that ensure that the experiments that students design are scientific investigations.  We have developed clear guidelines of expectations and development in scientific reporting and reflection of data.

(Learning activity format adapted from National Educational Technology Standards for Students Connecting Curriculum & Technology http://cnets.iste.org/students)