Archive | April 2012

Earth Day Resources for Schools and Companies

Earth Day is today but next week our school is celebrating it all week long!  Here are some great ideas for your work or school.

We want to spread awareness about the environmental concerns and get students to start thinking green and making decisions that are better for the Earth.  Why not try some of these ideas in your school or company to help keep things green!

Batteries for Baked Goods – will allow students to trade in dead batteries for baked desserts and treats.  Having batteries go into a landfill will result in heavy metals leaking into the soil and water.  You can bring batteries to many stores like Ikea and Staples for recycling.

Eco-Pads – beside the photocopiers we keep a good on one side paper bin.  If someone copies something wrong or only wants single sided copying they can use the paper from this bin.  We have had a large collection of this paper so started to create notepads from this to recycle.  Try putting out a bin by your copiers at work to promote similar initiative.

These Come From Trees – Stickers have been up all around the school to save paper.  This was seen at U of T / OISE and we emailed the company to get on board.  Since then, all our paper towel dispensers, toilet paper dispensers, copiers and printers have this sticker on them to remind people to use less paper.  Why not get your company on board http://thesecomefromtrees.com

Toxic Taxi E-Waste Pick Up – With technology always becoming out-dated the moment you bring it home, we have such a high turn over of electronic waste.  Computer monitors, computers, printers, fax machines, TVs, all pile up in landfills leaking harmful chemicals into the ground.  See Toxic Taxi http://www.toronto.ca/garbage/hhw.htm#a002a for info.

Story of Stuff – Why not screen these animated movies.  Story of Stuff, Story of Electronics and Story of Bottled Water are all amazing short movies on our addiction to consuming at the cost of the environment.  Check out these great movies.  http://www.storyofstuff.org/

HotDocs and H2Oil Screening – We applied to host a HotDocs screening and will be showing H2Oil, a great documentary about the Oil (Tar) Sands in Alberta.  It is important to see the damage created in Alberta from our addiction to oil and its by-products.  See http://h2oildoc.com/home/ for more information and trailers.

Cell Phone Recycling Toronto Zoo – Phone Apes is a great program that you can put in your own company.  Request a box and they will send one out ASAP.  Collection of used cell phones is important to recycle but also to re-use the metals in the phone that are mined in Africa.  The metal is found in the rain forests of the Congo, which are destroyed to get out this for our phone needs.  Request a box today! http://www.torontozoo.com/conservation/PhoneApes.asp

For more tips see our schools Eco Clubs website http://ecocare.wikispaces.com/

ICT Mobile Netbooks Great Addition To Circuit Lesson For Engaging Learners In Science

Today we had a great lesson with using circuits.  Having just learned the symbols and how to create circuit diagrams, we moved onto circuit construction with series and parallel circuits.  One of the best free resources out there for electricity comes from University of Colorado, PhET (phet.colorado.edu) using the circuit construction kit the students were able to make their drawings into online circuits, then use the equipment to make the physical circuit.

Having the mobile cart of netbooks was a great addition to this lab.  We were able to bring a laptop to each work station and have students connect the diagrams, simulations and physical circuits.  The students were incredibly engaged and started testing out their own circuit ideas.  This allowed another level as well as a chance to practice computer skills.  It is also beneficial, as many companies will use simulations to test before making costly prototypes.

The lesson started out with learning the basics and having students build simple series and parallel circuits, but quickly turned into challenges and problems that students needed to use their knowledge and critical thinking skills to solved.  Students were told they were hired by a brand new game show that required contestants to flip switches to light up their answers.  They had to figure out how to wire it, test it as a simulation and then physically build it.

Netbooks/Laptops have been an amazing part of my science lessons as it gives students an opportunity to become more engaged in science.   It is preparing them to meet the needs of higher education and employers who use technology with science hand in hand.

 

Learning and Creating Science with Technology

Our school has been involved in a lot of pilots and demonstration classrooms.  I love working with technology where I can and especially sharing it with the students.  We have been asked to document some of the technology and computer software that we use to enrich the science experience in our classes.  Instead of listing a bunch of software we decided to demonstrate it being used for science.

Two problems exist when introducing new technology into a school.  You need staff to buy into it, and also invest time in to not just learning it but to effectively integrate it into curriculum and the classroom.  The novelty and experience should not be about the particular software/hardware itself but the learning experience of the subject.  No one now brags about email or how they can type a word document.  That is just a common tool like paper and pencil.  These new technologies should fluidly be integrated where the students appreciate it but what they learn is the skill of that tool and the content.  This allows them to apply this new skill to other applications, for both school and personal use.

A simple example, let’s look at a Prezi presentation.  The students are the creators, not just consumers, where they can creatively communicate knowledge.  Students can research an environmental issue and see how it affects certain groups of individuals.  They then can use Prezi in other classes and for fun projects.  The issue is when the teacher gets too caught up with Prezi itself and does not know how to pair it with a lesson.  A teacher normally make brochures and just transfer the project from a paper to digital medium.  This is a good first step, but sometimes the learning is more focused on the technology itself and not the content.

With the newest technology we need to move from consumer to creator.  Instead of simple viewing of material we want technology to allow us to manipulate variables, allow for changes and publishing student ideas.  Hope you enjoy the video and it gives you some ideas to apply technology in your classroom or workplace.  It features 2 other teachers from our school as well.