View Lessons by Subject > Science > STEAM
This year in science we had to make up a mammal and it could be anything we wanted it to be. This project was not a very big project-- it was only a short assignment that we worked on for a couple of days. This mini-project related to the lesson of light, and infrared and how we can’t see certain waves of light. I liked this project because we got to be creative and think of something that has never before been thought of. I think that it is fun when we get to use our creative side when we work on projects, like presenting skits or drawing pictures. Pictures also help me learn the lessons better because I like to visualize things rather than just listen to them being taught to me. I like it when we learn lessons and it has a story to go with it or a picture, something that I can take away from because it helps me imagine it better and therefore remember it. I am understanding this unit in science a lot better now that we did this project.
(Environmental): In AP Environmental Science, my teacher assigned us to create a video on population growth in various countries. I chose Senegal and spent a week researching the country’s demographics, economy, and environmental degradation. I enjoyed this project because it was different than the usual lecture that I was accustomed to. The assignment allowed me to be creative and have fun, rather than making me write an essay and dread it. In my video, I had the opportunity to include images and footage from Senegalese broadcasts. Using multimedia enabled me to understand the effects of population growth on Senegalese society. After working on the video, I realized that I enjoy projects more than tests and essays. The project also gave me the opportunity to try documentary production, a job that never interested me before but that I now strongly consider as a career path.
(Physics): Senior year physics has been an influential class for me. The unit on electronics done in the first semester was quite enjoyable because it was interactive and I felt I was learning a lot. At first, I didn’t really understand the material or how to set up the bread board circuit in the right way. In pairs of two, each table used one of the circuit boards, some IC chips, LEDs and plenty of jumper wires to follow the circuit diagram on the lab sheet. My partner and I worked well together and that was part of the fun I had during the unit. We were able to joke about our mistakes and come up with new solutions. Once I was taught the proper way to use the jumper wires I was able to make great strides in my understanding. The atmosphere of the room was casual with each table working on their own board… our teacher was always available to help and make sure there were no large problems/things we were missing. By the end of the unit, I was able to set up the circuit with very little help from the instructor. I not only understood what the lesson was about on paper, but I had a bit of real life experience to go along with it.
The project I have chosen is the egg drop in fifth grade. What we had to do is make an egg carrier that would be dropped from the ceiling, with only a limited amount of supplies. It was fun because we got to work as a team and share ideas with each other. You had to drop it twice the first time was with a small plastic cup, and the second time was without. Some of the supplies were a glove, cotton balls, paper, paper towels, and string. My group succeeded by putting the egg in the glove then in the cup. Next we used the string to make a parachute with the paper. Our egg survived! Next we had to do it without the cup. We made the glove full of cotton balls and mad a hole in the middle. Then we put more on top. We closed the glove with a piece of string, and we still had the parachutes. We dropped our egg and it still survived. We watched as other groups dropped, and their eggs didn't survive. The next thing we had to do was make a commercial. We made our commercial like a woman going to the therapist because her eggs broke. Then we brought out the “Egg Protector 2000” and now everything was better. We ended the commercial with a catchy theme song, and that was also the end of our project.
(Biology): When teaching students about protists1 and the characteristics of different protists groups in AP Biology, I would present the material and then would ask them to write personal ads that would describe and highlight the characteristics that made each group different. They would have to synthesize the material and express it in a form that was unique and interesting to them. I gave them examples from a lesson that focused on describing different insect larvae phyla. We would go over the material together as a class and students would evaluate each other’s on the criteria of creativity as well as their ability to know which group of protists they were in.
(Biology): In my 10th grade Biology class, the students participate in a Genetics Role Play Project after we have completed our unit on genetics. It involves groups of students taking on the roles of a genetic counselor, a doctor and a parent. Each group is given a particular scenario that includes a problem that needs to be solved or a question that needs to be answered. For instance, one group might be given a scenario in which a couple has lost their first child to the genetic disorder Tay Sachs and they are trying to decide whether or not they should have more children. Included in the scenario is the couple’s annual income and whether or not they have health insurance and, if so, how much. I find this project to be particularly effective in that it allows the students to use their knowledge of genetics and inheritance and apply it to a “real-life” problem. In addition, I find that this project generates more student discussion not only with each other but with their parents than any other project that I do in 10th grade. It can include some very eye-opening discussions about what level of income defines “rich” or “poor”; how much health insurance coverage is “good” or “bad”; or whether or not it’s a good idea to get pregnant if your child has a 50% chance of suffering from a disorder. It seems that the moral, ethical and personal aspects of the scenarios really hit home with the students in a way that traditional teaching of the subject of Biology does not.
(Physics): The girls use previously acquired knowledge of the acoustics of open and closed pipes to construct an instrument from test tubes. They must mathematically determine the appropriate tube length to produce the frequencies in a diatonic major scale. After performing the calculations, they use water to adjust the pipes to the proper lengths. When the instrument is finished each group learns a song to perform. I accompany them on guitar. Often the groups will perform for other classes. The girls really enjoy the activity and I feel this helps them learn the physics principles involved.
An effective practice that I have employed is the use of art in a non-art class setting. We discussed the work of Jackson Pollock and then proceeded to drop paint of many colors onto canvases. We did this from different heights and made some remarkable images. However, along the way we learned about gravity. The nature of this force is not easy. We also used our paintings to discuss velocity, speed, distance, and time. When the masterpieces were dry we hung them in our room. This is kind of crazy but it got the students interested in some concepts that were not very interesting in the abstract text in the book. The other thing is that each student got to throw her colors on to the canvas and there was some class pride and unity in the final product.
(Physics): Last year in my physics class I had one experience that was very memorable. We spent many weeks building a large wind chime for the school auction. We spent these weeks measuring the pipes, figuring out where the pipes needed to be struck and how long they had to be in order for the sound to resonate well. This activity was not only fun but also very educational. We used the pipes and computer programs to see what different sound waves looked like and the differences between them. This activity was very effective in teaching us about sound waves, showing and hearing. It also showed us how physics relates to the real world, which I love to see in a class.

1In the interest of others, who like us, had no idea what these were: “Protists are a large and diverse group of eukaryotic microorganisms, which belong to the kingdom Protista.”