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Science Day Activities in Grade 4
Beata Jarosievitz Dr.
Ph.D. degree in Education, Educational advisor: Physics, Computing
SEK Budapest International School, Hungary
Different methods or types of activities and resources can be very useful to improve the main core competencies (researching, questioning, critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, and computational competencies) of our students . The use of micro: bit, “an open source hardware ARM-based embedded system designed by the BBC for use in computer education” , has increased yearly in the past few years. The Micro:Bit was designed to encourage students to get actively involved in writing software for computers, and building new things. After a successful roll-out of the micro:bit across the UK, since 2017 the BBC handed over the future of the BBC micro:bit, and it was adopted also in other parts of the world.
The micro:bit has quite a number of built-in sensors: light, temperature sensor, accelerometer, and a compass which gives an excellent opportunity for using the device even for a real science experiment. Writing a code and testing it in a science experiment brings us close to interdisciplinary methods and tasks, and to the use of ICT.
ICT, being a natural part of students’ everyday life, is a common tool in education, and has been introduced in the educational process in many schools.
We have many possibilities to use the technologies around us, but we should focus more on the question of how the new tools and new devices may be used for increasing students’ motivation .
Teaching methods used
The term “teaching method” comprises the principles and methods used by teachers to enable student learning. Our choice of teaching method depends on our educational philosophy, classroom demographic, subject areas, available laboratories or resources, subject curricula, and school mission statement.
The main teaching theories can be divided into two big categories: teacher-centred and student-centred learning. Each teacher can decide which method is more appropriate.
This paper presents an interactive method enriched with problem tasks and experiments.
The following implementation has been done with students from age 9 – 11.
Aim of the activity
The general goal was to learn certain facts of science based on gamification by performing experiments, which are also fun for the students.
The particular aim of this activity was to prove – or disprove – the validity of the hypothesis formulated in advance that “fruits, vegetables and human bodies conduct electricity”. The method used was coding a small microcomputer and making a small experiment.
Before starting this fun and exciting activity, we discussed the objectives of the project.
First, my students had to understand that this activity required more concentration, sharing of ideas, more communication and collaboration between each other than usual.
Students had to get acquainted with the new concepts and notions like conductors, isolators, and learn some of their properties. Also, they got familiar with the meaning of an open or closed electric circuit.
The picture below shows the moments during the class when we focused on understanding the open and closed circuit.
Students learned that a conductor can be any item that allows electricity to flow through it easily, and conductivity can be influenced by humidity and temperatures.
An insulator is any item that does not allow electricity to flow through it. Some examples are: masking tape, hot glue, paper, etc.
Motivated by the new terms learned, students got enthusiastic and excited. They were very curious to find out if fruits, vegetables, or even humans could conduct electricity.
To find out, we had to be creative and collect everything we needed to verify this hypothesis: Fruits, vegetables and humans conduct electricity.
For this activity, we needed some fruit, vegetables, a microcomputer device called micro:bit, and a few connecting wires. However, students already knew that the micro:bit alone cannot do anything; it can only be programmed! Therefore, we also needed computers with an Internet connection to write programmes.
In the beginning of the activity, students were divided into informal cooperative, heterogeneous, learning groups . Students worked in a team of two – four. As a first step, students collected the required tools then wrote, published, and shared the code on Google Classroom, after which they downloaded it into the micro:bit.
The program was not very complicated, as it was based only on the use of a logical IF function. They used only two of the PINS from the micro:bit, which was used as a sensor.
The idea was that if the electric current from the battery flows through PIN P0 of the device, the program shows us a shape, coded before (on the LED array of micro:bit).
If the circuit was open, then no current was flowing, so the micro:bit did not show any shape.
If we closed the circuit through a conductor (a banana or a human finger), we realised that a small current began to flow and the micro:bit detected it and showed the shape.
Inquiry-based learning involves the followings: developing questions, making observations, and creating predictions for future study .
During the activity, some students realised that they can form a conducting chain with each other. When the micro:bit was connected to an apple (or banana) and a student held one wire in one hand and another student’s hand in the other, forming a chain, they observed that the shape was showing in the LEDs of the micro:bit – indicating that an electric current was flowing. The “circuit” was closed.
The whole class forms a conducting chain (see picture below).
Students concluded that it did not matter if we used a potato, banana, apple or orange, all of them were quite good conductors. They also learned by experiment that our body is also a good conductor, therefore, a little electric current from the battery can flow through us, if we are connected to the micro:bit. The LED array showed us the programmed shape.
This property of the human body is already used in data transmission. “Through a technology called Capacitive Coupling, our Connected Me solution can use your natural skin conductivity to transfer data from device to device” .
During the activity we followed the well-known waterfall project method.
Students learned coding, testing their programs, and were introduced to some scientific concepts.
We all were happy to teach a silly device to follow our instructions. Students were very motivated and enthusiastic.
References „Bring Your Own Device FOR SCHOOLS Technical advice for school leaders and IT administrators (2017),” [Online]. Available: http://www.eun.org/documents/411753/817341/BYOD_Technical_guide_full_v7.pdf.
 t. f. e. From Wikipedia, „Micro Bit,” [Online]. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro_Bit .
 B. Jarosievitz, „ICT use in science Education,” in Research, Reflections and Innovations in Integrating ICT in Education Vol. 1, Research, Reflections and Innovations in Integrating ICT in Education Vol. 1 , Editors: A. Méndez Vilas, A. Solano Martín, J. Mesa González, J. A. Mesa González, 2009.
 J. B. e. a. Cynthia, „Using cooperative learning groups effectively,” %1. kötetConference: Technological Ecosystems for Enhancing Multiculturality (TEEM14)At: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?, 2015.
 A. o. I. B. Learning, „IBL Video series,” [Online]. Available: http://www.inquirybasedlearning.org/ibl-video.
 E. -. C. Me. [Online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVKFPIwcbTQ.Read More
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“A famous author once wrote “People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” That author was Alan Alexander Milne, the creator of the “Bear of Very Little Brain”. A bear who would sit around all day, doing absolutely nothing but he enjoyed every second of it. So, if there was one thing I learned in the 2-year course that is IGCSE, it was that I needed to relax more, to take everything in my stride and to not worry so much about the little things. To take everything step-by-step, day-by-day, and before you know it, you’ll be running.
I remember in Year 9, when the concept of IGCSE was first introduced, everything became overwhelming. I found it tremendously difficult in the beginning. At first, I wasn’t able to grasp most of the concepts for certain subjects and I was very confused most of the time. I’d never say anything though because no-one in my class ever seemed like they were having trouble, so I assumed it was just me struggling. Thankfully I had my friends, parents and teachers to tell me otherwise. My previous idea of studying consisted of working all day at school, then coming home and doing the same thing. It took a lot to make me realise that this wasn’t going to work for me anymore.
So, by Year 10, I changed the way I studied. I stopped studying for long hours on end and began working for shorter periods of time with a little too many breaks. I found that I study better when I’m relaxed and not putting any pressure on myself. I study consistently through the year and study in moderation. In class, I told myself that I was going to start asking as many questions as it took for me to understand because understanding a concept makes remembering it easier. I’d try to make notes for my subjects in a separate book, to make them clear and orderly on paper hoping it would appear that way in head as well. I found the use of different highlighter colours made certain sections of information easier to recall during an exam because it had a colour associated to it. I tried my best in class to understand the concept first before I made notes on it so that when I did, all I had to do was solidify the ideas onto paper. My dad would make fun of my highlighters saying , “At school all I had was a pen, one that wrote if I was lucky.” But I’d like to think that it was the highlighters and the stacks of cue cards with equations that helped me retain the information better. I realised it was also very important to take care of myself first before my schoolwork, through staying healthy and remembering that school is not all there is to focus on. For me , staying relaxed, calm and enjoying my childhood would be my top priority. Getting all A’s was unexpected , my goal is simply to do the best I can.
“The forest through the trees” is something my parents would have me repeat to myself. It reminded me to look at the bigger picture and focus on the important things. Stressing about the small tests and assignments wasn’t going to do anything except burn me out before the race was even over.
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Mrs. Kiki Stergiou
Grade 3 Teacher