Category: Science

3rd Grade Environment Posters

Third graders at Varina Elementary are learning about human influences on the environment (SOL3.10), so today students in Ms. Galvin’s class created environment posters using several different webtools. First, we discussed ways that humans impact the environment either positively or negatively and related it to the current wildfires happening in Australia. Some humans are fighting the fires and protecting the animals, while other humans are causing the fires to spread. I recorded their ideas on the board and instructed students to choose one for their poster. Next, each student did a Google image search for a background image and downloaded it to their Chromebook. Then, we took a selfie using Pixect with an expression showing how we were feeling about the background image. I like Pixect for taking selfies because it’s easy to use, it has a timer, and it features some cool effects. Since we wanted our background image to be the one we downloaded earlier, we removed the background with RemoveBG. If you’ve never tried that tool, it’s really amazing. It automatically detects the background in a photo and deletes it in a matter of seconds! Finally, we combined the background image with our selfie using a tool called ToonyTool. With ToonyTool, you can add a background, a character (our selfie), and speech bubbles and text. The posters turned out great! You can see them all here. UPDATE: With Ms. Lanham’s class we added elapsed time to the posters (SOL3.9b) and added them to the document.

3rd Grade Moon Phases with Scratch

Third graders at Varina Elementary have been learning about the four major phases of the moon (SOL4.6c), so today students in Ms. Goode’s class used coding and Scratch to create a moon phases activity. First we reviewed the phases of the moon with PBSLearningMedia, NASA, EarthSpaceLab, Moon Phase Simulator, and we even got to see which phase of the moon is showing tonight in Richmond. Next, we logged into Scratch, and the students added a space background. Then I showed them how to add their own “sprite” as a drawing. We drew a circle shape for the moon and filled it in with the paint bucket. This would represent the full moon. Then we duplicated it three times and added shading to represent the first quarter, third quarter, and the new moon. In the code for the moon, we programmed it to switch costumes every three seconds. The last step was to add another “sprite,” or character and code it to say the correct phase every three seconds. We tested our programs to make sure they worked, then we published them and shared the links in Schoology. You can take a look at some of the projects here.


5th Grade Light & Sound Animations

Fifth graders at Laburnum Elementary have been studying light (SOL5.6) and sound (SOL5.5) and their various wave frequencies, so today students in Ms. Johnson’s class showed what they have learned by making animations. First we reviewed light and sound waves and their appearance so we could illustrate them correctly. We looked at a virtual oscilloscope, generated our own wave frequencies with Wave on a String, and explored different visualizations with Seeing Music. We even explored a 3-D model of the human ear to see how we hear sound waves. Although we didn’t get to explore light (a good site for experimenting with the light spectrum is Physics Classroom), I did remind them that colors on the red end of the spectrum have lower frequencies, and colors on the violet side of the spectrum have higher frequencies. It was now time to create our animations. We went to BrushNinja, and the students drew a creature or an object that made sound. Then they decided if it produced low frequency or high frequency sounds, and they illustrated the sound waves. If they had time, they illustrated the light waves as well. Some students even identified the angles in their drawing as acute, right or obtuse since they are learning about angles in Math (SOL5.12). They downloaded their animations as GIF files and posted them to Schoology with a description. You can check out some of their animations and descriptions here.

2nd Grade Animal Habitat Animations

Second graders at Holladay Elementary are learning about animal habitats in Science (SOL2.5), so today students in Mr. Reams’ and Mr. Gunter’s classes created animal animated GIFs with sound. Usually GIFs don’t have audio, but we attempted a workaround. First, we reviewed different habitats (woodlands, rainforest, grasslands, desert, arctic, ocean, freshwater, etc) and the animals that live in each. Then, we went to BrushNinja and added a background image of the habitat. Some students chose to draw their own background while others used the built-in photo search. Next, they used the drawing tools to draw an animal that lives in that habitat. I showed them how to duplicate the frame at the bottom and make slight changes in their animal drawings to make it appear like it’s moving. I pointed out that their animal will be speaking so they need to animate the mouth. We discussed different ways to draw the mouth in each frame so it looked like it was talking: an 0 shape, a straight line –, with teeth showing, with the tongue sticking out, etc. When they finished their animations, they exported them as animated GIFs and uploaded them to a Schoology discussion. To add the audio, I showed them how to reply to their own post in Schoology and click the microphone button to record. I later combined the audio with the animations in WeVideo. You can see their finished projects here: Mr. Gunter & Mr. Reams.

Kindergarten States of Matter

Kindergarten students at Holladay Elementary are learning how to write their names and other words (SOL K.10), and they are studying the states of matter in Science (SOL K.4). Today, students in Ms. Edelblut’s class drew pictures of solids, liquids, and gasses and they typed the words. First, we went to ABCYa! Storymaker and typed our names. I showed them how to use Shift to make a capital letter. Then we discussed different examples of solids, liquids, and gasses. I taught them how to use the paint brush tool to draw each of the three states of matter and how to use the text tool to type the words. Finally we clicked the lines in the top right corner and chose the save icon to download a PDF of our creations. You can look at some student examples here.

3rd Grade Water Cycle Animations

Third graders at Holladay Elementary have been learning about the water cycle (SOL3.7), so today, students in Ms. Szyperski’s class used BrushNinja to create animations illustrating the water cycle. First, we discussed each step in the cycle: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and runoff. We also talked about different ways to illustrate each one creatively. I showed them how to use the text tool in BrushNinja to label each step and how to copy the frames at the bottom to save time. When they were finished, they exported their projects as animated GIFs and posted them on Schoology to share with their classmates. They turned out great! You can see some student examples here.

3rd Grade Moon Phases Animations

Third graders at Trevvett Elementary have been studying the movements and phases of the moon (SOL4.6c), so today students in Ms. Hufnell’s class used BrushNinja to create animations of the four main phases: new moon, first quarter, full moon, and last quarter. I started off by telling the students that today they will see a side of the moon they’ve never seen before, and they will get to actually look around the moon as if they were standing right there! First, to see the far side of the moon, we went to Google maps, clicked Satellite view (bottom left corner), turned on 3D (bottom right corner), and zoomed all the way out. When you zoom all the way out, you see the Earth, but over on the left side a panel should open up with the moon and planets. We clicked the moon and now we could click and drag it around to see the phases and the back side. Since the same side of the moon is always facing the Earth, this is a side we never see. We also looked at the top and bottom of the moon. Next, to look around on the surface of the moon we explored this panoramic photo from China’s Chang’e Lunar Mission. I asked the students if they knew what phase of the moon it was in right now. How could they find out? We went to NASA’s “Moon In Motion” website, which not only tells the current phase, but also has some great images, videos, and interactive diagrams. After reviewing the phases of the moon, we were ready to design our own moon phases animations. We went to BrushNinja and got a space background by clicking the background button at the bottom and either searching for a space background or choosing a solid black color and drawing small white dots for stars. Then we used the shapes tool to draw a grey circle for the moon. They could decorate it with craters, if they wanted. We also used the text tool to type “New Moon.” The students then duplicated this image three times (using the bottom button that looks like two sheets of paper), and used white paint to illustrate the different phases. For the full moon, I suggested that they make a new white circle the same size as the grey circle, instead of trying to fill it in with white paint. When they finished their animations, they exported them as GIF files and shared them on Schoology. In the comments, they typed questions about the moon for their classmates to answer. You can see their animations and questions here.

5th Grade Figurative Language & Force Animations

Fifth graders at Varina Elementary have been learning about figurative language (SOL5.4d) and force and motion (SOL5.3). Today, students in Ms. Messer’s class created animations with BrushNinja to illustrate different types of force and motion. Their animations showed pushing, pulling, speed, collisions, kinetic energy, and the effects of friction. They exported their creations as animated GIFs, then uploaded them to Schoology to share with their classmates. Along with their post, I encouraged them to type a sentence about their animation that included figurative language such as exaggeration (hyperbole), personification, similes, or metaphors. Later, I compiled their animations and sentences into a Google slideshow that you can see here.

Kindergarten Categorizing Matter by Weight

Kindergarteners at Holladay Elementary have been learning how to classify objects and represent data (SOLK.1c). They have also been studying the physical properties matter, such as the relative weights of objects (SOLK.3). Today, students in Ms. Whitfield’s class used ABCYa! Paint to group different objects by weight. First, I showed them how to use the paint brush tool to draw a line down the middle of their paper. Then they drew an “L” for “light” and an “H” for “heavy” on either side of the line. Clicking and dragging to draw and write is a challenging task for small kindergarten hands, but they did it! Next, I instructed them to click on the stickers and choose a few to drag onto their paper. We discussed the difference between real and imaginary objects. Since we can’t really weigh imaginary objects, we concluded that we should use stickers representing real objects for this activity. They put heavy objects on the “H” side (like trucks and big animals) and light objects on the “L” side (like foods and small animals). Finally, we saved our work by downloading it as an image file. You can see some student examples here.

5th Grade Vertebrates and Invertebrates Videos

Fifth graders at Holladay Elementary have been studying vertebrates and invertebrates in Science (SOL5.5), and they have been learning how to conduct research (SOL5.9), so today, students in Ms. Haislip’s class chose an animal to research and made movies about their animal using Adobe Spark. First, we brainstormed many different types of vertebrates and invertebrates, including insects and ocean creatures. Then I encouraged students go beyond the first few animals they recalled. I demonstrated how to use the internet to find unique animals that they had never heard of before. They could ask Google, “What are the most interesting animals?” or “What are the most poisonous animals?” or “What animals have superpowers?” After about five minutes of research, the students chose their animals and jotted down a few facts. They also downloaded one or two photos of their animal. Next, we went to Adobe Spark to start creating our videos. The students made a title screen and then recorded themselves introducing their animal. I explained that they need to speak with enthusiasm, like their favorite YouTuber. Then they added the photos and recorded a voiceover to give facts about their animal. Finally we added music, adjusted the volume so it wasn’t too loud, and published our videos. Students shared their videos with each other on Schoology, and you can see some of them here. (As you can see, they discovered some very unique creatures!)