Kathryn Desrochers ~ Grade 5 Math/Science Student Teacher University of Lethbridge
Engineering. As part of her Master’s research, Emily has gone around to various schools conducting a set of electricity modules for project based learning. This turned out to be a wonderful partnership, in which Emily could conduct her research with 100 willing students and our school community benefited from her expertise, enthusiasm and hands on approach.
All of the modules were well thought out and aimed at building understanding of concepts related to electricity through hands on exploration. Emily used STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math with a focus on helping students understand what Engineers really do. Students were engaged in various learning experiences with curricular links extending beyond science and into technology, art and social studies and language arts.
Through the use of everyday items and natural materials students had the opportunity to learn about voltage and conductivity. Students tested various fruits and vegetables, as well as different liquids such as lemon juice and maple syrup. Valuable lessons were learned about the importance of having a complete, closed circuit, as well as the use of conductors and insulators.
Students also learned about the history of electricity, and then were challenged to recreate the light bulb. Given proper supplies students had to test different types of wires to see which conducted electricity sufficiently for use as a light source.
The everyday application of electricity, circuits and engineering was presented to students in the form of “Learning to Speak Binary”. Students learned about how computers communicate, and how this relates to electricity and our understanding of circuits. This activity was a great hands-on experience that allowed students to make a very real world connection between what they are learning about and something we use every single day – computers.
We finished off the week with electric art projects! This was a fun way for students to demonstrate their knowledge of circuits, conductors, insulators, switches and everything else we have learned about in the past two weeks. Students were given a plethora of supplies to use – from conductive paint and play dough to Popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners and glitter glue. The task was to create a circuit on paper that could light an LED light bulb (or two). Not all students experienced success in getting the light bulbs to light and that is perfectly all right! Engineers often learn the most from the problem solving and trouble shooting process. This was a valuable lesson to our students about perseverance. This activity was an excellent lead up to the design and building projects students began after the break. It supplied them with background knowledge and skills they need to successfully build a mechanism that uses electricity.