Thoughts on Chemland:
I spent quite a while investigating the units on Chemland (General Chemistry Interactive Simulations). I found being able to change variables, predict outcomes and then seeing the outcomes very helpful. If my prediction was wrong I could test and retest my theories to help me build a new understanding of the concept. Chemland was interesting but the curriculum is far beyond anything that is ever tackled in my grade 6-8 classroom.
Seeing the interactive simulations sent me on a quest. I wanted to see what other science and math concept simulations were available for my grade levels. I have to admit I totally nerded out and spent way too much time “playing” with these simulations. Although I investigated a few simulation sites the one I found to be the most comprehensive, interactive and helpful was the PhET Interactive Simulations created by the University of Boulder Colorado.
The website is https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulations/category/new is free and registering provides you with access to lessons and other teacher add-ons.
Thoughts on GEM and T-GEM
GEM (Generate, Evaluate, Modify) and T-GEM (which includes technology) is a cyclical approach to science education. The image below explains how T-GEM can be used in the science classroom.
I feel a valuable component of the T-GEM approach is that students are not given explicit information about a science topic and asked to regurgitate these facts, rather students are expected to compile information, and generate a statement about how factors are related. Students are then expected to test their ideas and discuss their findings with others and the teacher. Students test and retest their ideas to see if they were correct. Students are also able to change the parameters of the tests to see what would happen in any given scenario. Being able to change the parameters helps students solidify concepts in a new way. Khan 2007 states that Inquiry is associated with an array of positive student outcomes, such as growth in conceptual understanding, increased understanding of the nature of science, and development of research skills (Benford & Lawson, 2001; Marx et al., 2004; Metz, 2004; Roth, 1993; Wallace, Tsoi, Calkin, & Darley, 2004) (p 877).
Khan 2012 quotes the science teacher in the case study:
A lot of the kinds of things we do with computer simulation could be done with pieces of paper. The thing that’s better about the computer part of it is, you can do a lot more exploring, so [the computer simulation] gives [students] more control over what they’re going to look at, as opposed to if I give them a sheet of paper with numbers on it. It’s like I’m going to look at this information, I’m going to come to some conclusion, I’m going to look at some more information, an I’m going to test those conclusions…So when I throw up an overhead, I’m doing the exploring and they [the students] are explaining it. And that’s ok, but when it’s a simulation and they are choosing things, then they are doing the exploring much more (p 225-226).
This quote highlights how students can have control over their learning when using simulations and through the iterative process can dispel their own misconceptions about scientific concepts.
Challenging concept in your field: Light Snell’s Law, Reflection and Refraction
T-GEM Approach to a science unit on Light
One of the challenging science units I have taught is Light (including Snell’s Law, Reflection and Refraction).
I know that Light is a difficult unit for students because it involves both scientific and mathematical concepts. Students voice their difficulty with the concepts during lessons and experiments. Often traditional test scores have been quite low and finally, students are not able to talk about or demonstrate their understanding of the concepts with any degree of certainty.
Plan a 3-step T-GEM cycle for this challenging concept in your field. Use a visual to assist in showing the plan.
Select an appropriate digital technology that may work for this concept.
Below is a link to the simulation I chose to accompany this unit. Just click the button.
Khan, S. (2007). Model-based inquiries in chemistry. Science Education, 91(6), 877-905.
Khan, S. (2012). A Hidden GEM: A pedagogical approach to using technology to teach global warming. The Science Teacher, 79(8). This article was written about T-GEM with middle-schoolers.
Posted in B. T-GEM, e-folio on February 27, 2017 by catherine sverko. 4 Comments Edit