Discovery Education and Scotch have partnered to provide a new, free website for students, teachers, and parents: Science Fair Central.
On this website, you will find a clear pathway to help students develop and present successful projects. In the spirit of “begin with the end in mind,” you will also find plenty of example project ideas and some models for students to review. In addition, you will find virtual labs that will help students practice science investigation before they develop their own investigations. Finally, you will find suggestions on how to make outstanding presentations as well as how to set up and run a science fair.
My daughter and I are participating in Project BudBurst. First, I downloaded the Project BudBurst Activity Guide. We then used the provided map to select a plant that we hoped to find in the lot across the street. We needed to find a specimen that hadn’t budded yet, or at least not bloomed. After printing a field guide and locating our plant, we determined the latitude and longitude of the plant. We recorded our observation with a photo, a description of the weather, and the phenological stage of the plant (first bud burst, first leafing, first flower, and seed or fruit dispersal). We will record our observations each day, studying the timing of the life cycle events. The data that we report online will be compared to historical records to document the effects of climate change.
During Spring Break, my family traveled to Dallas, Texas to visit my husband’s sister and her family. We enjoyed touring the city’s World Aquarium. My daughter’s “assignment” was to select one animal from the aquarium to bring home to Missouri. She had to choose an animal based on its ability to survive in our habitat, as opposed to one she liked. No, the animals aren’t available for checkout. I was just once again using her as a guinea pig while preparing for my first digital storytelling workshop. Another part of her inquiry lesson was to collect video footage and provide narration. Below is our first digital story. Click the big triangle play button to stream the video, or right-click on the Download link and choose “Save target as” or “Save link as” to download the video.
The technicalities: Using Windows Movie Maker, we captured and cut the video. Then imported some images from our digital camera, and a few downloaded public domain images. After recording the narration, I added in some creative commons licensed music. The title and transition features polished off the project. Then I saved the project as “video for broadband (340 kbps)” in a Windows Media Video (wmv) format. I uploaded the wmv file to archive.org, where it was automatically converted into other formats and various file sizes (flash, mpeg4). I chose archive.org because it is free, and not blocked by our District’s filter. The flash version was the fastest to load, but too blocky for my daughter’s standards. The wmv file is the best quality, but a large file (better to download and not stream). It is the one I used for this blog post. But I’m guessing since this is a wmv file, it won’t play on all computers. Next we will publish a Voicethread version, and a then Photostory version. Please leave your recommendations, comments, or suggestions.