Knowing what we know about technology, educators have a choice. This is something that all of us, surely, have thought about, and spent time grappling with. Technology! Phones, tablets, iPads, SMARTBoards! There is a daunting amount of ‘stuff’ out there. Stuff that is reaching out to our learners every waking moment. I don’t have to tell anyone that students seamlessly respond to new technologies. Math problems on paper. Boring. Math problems with an iPad, exciting! Learners love what they can do with devices and intuitively understand how to work with any lit screen they may encounter. Students use what they know about technology and apply it to new devices. They press buttons without fear! They make mistakes, and try again. Eventually they get it right! Talk about inquiry-based learning!
Here at VINS and with NiR, we are surrounded by technologies every day as well. We, too, have computers and iPads. We have radio telemetry for our education birds that fly. We make regular updates on our Facebook page to communicate to our community. Powerpoints and AppleTV sometimes take center stage during presentations, lessons and meetings. There is no denying what a pivotal role technology plays given the work we do each day.
NiR embraces technology in its many forms. Recently, NiR presented at the Wellborn Ecology Fund's conference on place-based ecology learning. We were thrilled to share some of our favorite resources with participants at the conference. Each day we learn more about ways we can connect EE with technology. Today, we are very excited to share with you some of our favorite apps (most free or with a small fee), resources, and ideas that make these connections fun, kid-friendly, and enhance place-based education. Take a look and try some out! We’d love to hear how you fit them into your classroom!
- Explore symmetry using ‘mirror’. Ask- where is the axis of symmetry? Why is is difficult to find exact symmetry?
- Use the heat option to look at areas outside that are warmer vs colder. Why are some areas cooler for longer portions of the day? Why are living things warmer than non living things. While talking about living and nonliving, you can teach about abiotic and biotic aspects of the area. How do abiotic and biotic phenomenon depend on each other?
- Use every photo option (squeeze, swirl, kaleidoscope, etc..) but stay in one place. Do this throughout the seasons using the same place. What stays the same? What changes? Why?
- Compass - Discuss the cardinal directions, mapping, & why it may be important and useful to use a compass
- Protractor- Go outside and measure the angles of branches, shadows. Create a scavenger hunt using angles and your school playground, garden, or forest. You’ll be amazed at how much students enjoy hunting outside for measurement!
- Ruler- You can do many of the same thing as listed above. Measure shadows throughout the day, a plant as it grows in the garden, the new growth of a white pine in the spring.
- Magnifying Glass- Look closely at the world! How does grass look up close? Snow? A leaf?
- Hannah Putnam (our director of environmental education here at VINS) loves this app! For good, reason too! It is incredibly versatile and fun for students to use. The possibilities are almost endless when it comes to recording ideas and observations and synthesizing learning.
- Explain everything includes video, notes, voice, camera and more!
- Make your thinking come alive with the use of this app!
- Biointeractive is a source that is created with support from Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Their resources are well-designed and incredible rich. Many are geared toward upper elementary, middle, and high school students, but with teacher support, we feel they can be useful across all grade levels. It is well worth your time to get to know some of the resources offered on this page!
- Click & Learns
- Virtual Labs
- Many other free resources for science education
- An inexpensive microscope that truly is ‘mobile’.
- We love this piece of technology here at VINS, and cannot wait to bring it into classrooms!
- The microscope is super light weight and attaches easily to many mobile devices. Students can take pictures and video of their subject and save it to use later.
- There is no wifi needed to use this microscope- so feel free to take it out to the field, forest, stream or garden.