We finished up the Digestive System by having students write monologues as if they were a part of the digestive tract (accessory organs such as the liver, gall bladder, kidneys, etc. included). Here’s the finished product:
Students presented their monologues in groups of two or three (there are two classes worth on monologues posted) and wrote them on colored paper for the bulletin board. This would be a great activity for any age group. With homeschoolers, you could even have each child write a monologue for each part – a great way to reinforce the content!
I saw this photo gallery about NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race the other day and just had to share!
Students and other participants flock to Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama to race their Moonbuggies: vehicles they have designed to withstand the elements on the moon. Teams race their buggies around the course and compete for speed and design.
This would be a fantastic project for a high school or university engineering or physics course! Check out the Great Moonbuggy Race website for more information.
There was an article in one of the New York Times’ blogs recently on the plans to rebuild the Kosciuszko Bridge on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in New York City. There’s also a video that shows a virtual tour and test drive of the bridge and an opportunity to vote and comment on the final bridge design to be started in 2014.
What a great opportunity for an engineering design project. You could analyze the different design proposals and discuss the benefits of each. It’s also a great chance to talk about the aesthetics involved in design and debate their importance. Finally, kids could team up to build scale models of their favorite proposed design!
Last night we had a lecture on the importance of assigning projects as an assessment tool in a high school class. The following is part of our discussion:
- Projects give kids opportunities to perform other than tests which can be especially important for kids in demanding courses (such as Physics) since they may not perform well on their tests.
- Projects provided students a chance to learn at home or at school and in a different format than the normal lectures/activities/homework assignments.
- Projects are an easy way to incorporate literacy and creativity into learning and assessment.
- Projects can be flexible in nature, including individual or group work.
- Projects can be an optional assignment to help boost the test average of a student’s grade.
- Regularly assigning projects give kids a chance to do projects even if it’s not a project-based curriculum.
Then we talked about how plagiarism plays a role in projects and presentations:
- Having students present their projects makes it more difficult to plagiarize because they are forced to speak about what they’ve learned and not just copy and paste.
- Be clear and upfront about what plagiarism is and what it is not. Most high school students (especially 9th and 10th graders) are confused as to what it is and why it is important.
- My professor’s definition of plagiarism: “More than three words in a row that are not your own. Plagiarism is not acceptable.”
- My cooperating teacher’s schpeel to students writing research papers in science: “You can’t write a research paper without quoting other scientists. There’s no way you have the research experience to be an expert in the field you’re reporting on. You have to quote other people in your resources; just be sure to give them credit.”
Last thoughts on assigning projects:
- Rubrics!! It’s important to create a clear, usable rubric and teach kids how to read it. If applicable, add group work section to rubric.
- What is the end result? Do you want students to hand in an artifact or a presentation?
- When students have to present their work, students tend to take more pride in developing a better artifact.
- Always good to give kids tons of assessment opportunities.
While this student’s unit project on pendulums includes a lot of inside jokes from our class, it’s worth sharing because of his creativity in creating a story line about pendulums that flow easily with the intensity of the movie.
I’m still laughing…
Over the February break, my students had an end of unit project to work on. They were required to create a project that would clearly, creatively, and concisely communicate the essence of pendulums to someone who had never studied them within the context of Physics. I provided them with this rubric to guide but not hinder their creativity.
So far, of the few projects I’ve graded, these kids have worked really hard to turn in remarkable projects.
One student gave me permission to share his comic strip with you – it wasn’t part of his project, but he did it just for fun. It made me giggle so much that it needed to be shared.
You can see all of his pendulum cartoons here.