This summer's assignment was at Georgia Tech's CEISMC (Center for Education Integrating, Science, Mathematics and Computing) office. I worked with Neva Rose with SECME (Science, Engineering, Communications Mathematics Enrichment). Neva has a set of learning modules that are designed to get children interested in science, mathematics and engineering. The modules are a teacher's guide on how to do specific activities as an after school program, but can easily be adapted for in-classroom projects.
My job was to review and modify the modules for physics, technology and general science content. Specifically, I analyzed and researched the scientific concepts and formulas in the modules for accuracy and clarity. This included rewriting or adding new sections of the modules on occasion. I set up four main types of publication: written, electronic document, editable electronic document and web pages. Some publications offered teacher and student editions. The written documents are for a notebook that is to be used in a seminar this fall. The electronic documents are Adobe Acrobat files (.pdf) that are downloadable and printable on any computer. Given the fact that teachers will want to adapt the student handouts to individual needs, I wrote an editable electronic version of student handouts that are available for download from the SECME web site. Versions of this type were MS-Word, MS-Works, WordPerfect, ClarisWorks, MS- Excel, MS-PowerPoint, et al. Some of the versions included hyperlinks to various sections within the documents and other web sites. The web publications incorporated the previous three methods and include interactivity and more references. The web site has "how to" pages with color photographs and QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) images (no special equipment needed). Other technologies I worked on included making a web based message board for teachers and students to share information and a password access for the teacher's web pages.
I will be using some of these modules in my classes. For instance, I plan to use the Mousetrap Car module in my physics class. It is a module that allows students to design and build a small car that is powered by a mousetrap. It is an opportunity for students to think through various problems like reducing friction and actually working through these problems with the scientific method. To incorporate technology into the curriculum, I will have my students make multimedia presentations (video, PowerPoint, web pages, etc.). Each student (or group of students) will make a QTVR image of the finished cars. There is even a chance for students to enter a competition at Georgia Tech. The physics students will use their cars throughout the year for future labs (acceleration, Newton's laws, energy, etc.). As I had never heard of the mousetrap car before starting this project, I had to actually build a mousetrap car. Using a digital camera, I took photos of the car, then used Adobe PhotoShop to manipulate the photos for use in the written work.
The technological aspects of this program can be used in the physical science classes (ninth grade) as well. Each semester the physical science students are involved in a project. I can utilize and teach the technology for students to use when making classroom presentations.
The completed mousetrap car project ended up taking the majority of the time spent at GIFT (6 weeks). It was over thirty pages long and had many supporting web pages. A reference book I used to help me with the project was 60 pages long, and it included many cartoons and artistic diagrams. I believe the length of the word content was about the same! It was simply amazing to have so much uninterrupted time to spend on a project; entire days were spent doing one task, like working through mathematical problems, learning CGI applications, photography, building the car, etc. Specifically I have learned and gained experience at: instructional writing and publishing; working with CGI scripting; creation and manipulation of electronic photography and design; extensive web page authoring; extensive long and short term lesson plans; researching specific educational resources; researching, ordering and procuring supplies; deeper understanding and working knowledge of Microsoft Word and Windows, including making older machines run more efficiently.