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Teaching With Technology: Seeing Science with New Eyes

Helping children observe the world around them more closely makes science learning a real adventure!

  • Grades: Early Childhood, PreK–K, 1–2

FINE-TUNING OBSERVATION SKILLS LIES AT THE VERY core of any early childhood science curriculum. There are a multitude of tools-from tried-and-true magnifying glasses, to the new generation of digital cameras and projectors-that can help children take an in-depth look at their amazing world.

New technology, including computer microscopes, helps to magnify not only objects, but also new levels of understanding for young children. Through the lens of a microscope, an ant is transformed into a monster. A scrap of carpet becomes a dense forest, and grains of sand look like boulders. There's lots of learning in store for the young children in your classroom when you take advantage of teaching tools that range from low- to high-tech. Here are some ideas:

Low-Tech

A Search for Life: The Specimen-Bag Field Trip Materials: plastic bags, magnifying glasses. Give each child (or pair of children) a small, empty plastic bag, and take them outside to a park, playground, or parking lot. Ask them to collect any evidence of life that can fit in the bag. Examples might include a butterfly wing, the feather from a bird, a leaf, a lost button or penny, and so on. Return to the classroom and allow children to explore the contents of their bags with magnifying glasses. (Later, as children further explore their finds, you can study them with a computer microscope, described at right.)

High-Tech

Exploring the Human Body. Amy Betz, at the Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood, says, "We have used computer microscopes for a variety of activities, including the study of the human body. Children have taken pictures of their hair, teeth, and fingers; examined them with the microscopes; and made comparisons to those of their classmates and examples from the software My Amazing Human Body [Dorling Kindersley]. The images can also be printed and laminated. Children were able to recall what the images were (one child's leopard-print leggings) three and six months later!"

Web Exploration

Want to Grow Some Mold? Anyone can grow mold, and it is a no-fail way to give children a firsthand look at how things decompose over time. http://sci.mus.mn.us/sln/tf/b/bread/bread.html

What Do Bugs Eat? You can find recipes for bug food at the University of Kentucky department of entomology's Web site: www.uky.edu/Agriculture/Entomology/ythfacts

Optical Illusions at the Exploratorium: http://exploratorium.edu

  • Subjects:
    Early Science, Observation, Communication and the Internet, Teaching with Technology
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