13 June 2011

Sharing the best

For the last week of classes, I always stop formally teaching and have my students work on a research project.  The students are to select a science current event article and research an aspect of the science in the that article.  The research they do can be something very specific (hydraulics used in rollercoasters) or something much broader (stem cell research) depending on what in the article really interested them.  Then, the students create a presentation on the research they did to the class on the last day.  This project typically has a rough start, but always ends well because they students are entirely in control over the content.  They pick an article THEY are interested and then do research on something THEY found puzzling.  The bumpy beginning comes because my students have a hard time wrapping their brain around the idea that they get to choose how they want to do the project.  I only give them broad guidelines and a not so well designed rubric (sorry, rubrics are my weak point).

Last year, while I received some excellent posters (which were required so they couldn't just put together boring PowerPoints), I wasn't thrilled by the idea of watching 58 three minute presentations.  So, I put a twist into the presentation.  Rather than making a poster, I required all of them to make a one minute Animoto video about their research sort of as a 1 minute commercial of what they learned.  At first, there were a lot of "a whole minute?? How am I going to find enough to fill it?" which the next day turned into "You have to extend it to 2 minutes!  I have so many great things I don't want to cut out."  For many of the topics, the video idea failed.  The topics were too technical and the students didn't have a good focus for their research.  But, some of the kids really amazed me at what they put together.  I have included three of my favorites below.  I liked them mostly because of their cleverness:  the right music, the right background, the right combination of pictures and text.  I don't share student work often (which I will change next school year), but here is some of what my students put together.  Enjoy!

Landfills and Methane


Creating Meat in a Lab



Enhancing Food with Science