In today's society it is really important that we, as teachers, introduce our children to the use of technology all around us. They are going to be growing up in a world where their future jobs will more than likely require them using technology. Technology has also increased the amount of learning that can be done in a given amount of time. Today's children are learning things faster and better than when we were growing up.
This week, as a part of our science unit we explored the appearance of the Earth and the Moon. We focused on the 3rd grade Core standard 1, objective 1, a through c. Using the computer program Celestia, students needed to find answers to the following questions: What is the shape of the Earth and the Moon? What are their sources of light? What are their physical properties? (i.e. what do they look like?)
Students were broken up into groups of two or three and were assigned to work on computers. First, they made predictions to the questions asked. Then, using the program Celestia, they observed and collected data to answer the research questions given. As a group, they were to collect evidence that confirmed or denied their original predictions. Their findings were recorded in their science logs. After returning to the classroom, we discussed and analyzed the data. These were some of their findings:
"It is blue, because it has a lot of water on the surface." (Luke)
"The Moon is also a sphere." (Meghan)
"It is gray and white. You can see its craters." (Ben)
Using hands-on technology, students were able to do the work of learning. They were able to make observations from the appearances of the Earth, Moon, and Sun in relation to each other from outside our own atmosphere. Rather than looking simply at pictures they were able to look at them from different perspectives and angles. This stimulated the learning process and gave students the chance to really get engaged in the material! Overall, the use of the technology Celestia enhanced the learning of the students by making it an interactive activity. It is difficult to come up with ideas to help make the study of space a fun and interesting activity. If students are able to do the work themselves and see real photos the amount of learning will be increased in a shortened amount of time.