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TechQuest CEP 810

Description A. The Need Here’s a story that will send a chill down your spine. When I was at university, we had to build electric circuits in the lab. One warning our lab assistant had given us was to make sure the capacitor was connected properly since it was a polarized device and would explode otherwise. My lab peer didn’t take the matter seriously enough and plugged the capacitor inversely ‘to get a good laugh at what would happen’. I can tell you we did everything but laugh when the capacitor blew up sending shrapnels everywhere; and shrapnels I would call them because the capacitor was big enough to have the effect of a small bullet. My friend, well, he got slashes all over his face, which could have resluted in the loss of one eye or both. The reason I am telling you this story is because there are times when students are completely oblivious to the dangers they are exposed to in the electric, physics or chemistry lab. And the incident at the university was not as serious as the one I had witnessed earlier in high school when a student in my class was about to accidentally mix the wrong proportions of oxygen and hydrogen in order to get water, an assignment our teacher had given us. I still remember the teacher literally jumping at my friend and snatching the beaker away from him. After a while, the teacher made a tiny demonstration with extremely small doses of oxygen and hydrogen that resulted in a loud ‘boum’, simply to show us how close we had been to real danger. After these two incidents, and another that I read somewhere about a student who got intoxicated by smelling a toxic substance in the lab, I kept trying to figure out ways to keep students motivated in experimenting in a safe environment. Thanks to the online experiences that I took in CEP 811, I can think of an excellent way to use Online Simulations. And I quote: ” (These) are a web-based recreation of an authentic experience.” What I have in mind is using online simulations to teach students lab experiments that could endanger their lives when mishandled. I have no intention of substituting lab experiments with online simulations. Rather, I would use online simulations to demonstrate to students the consequences of underestimating the dangers of lab experiments. After they have built an awareness of those risks, they could go back to experimenting safely in the lab. Another reason I thought of online simulations is because teachers don’t always have access to the lab. So an online simulation would be a nice way to prepare students for what’s awaiting them in the lab.

Created by: Jean-Claude Aura

Date: April 2009

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TechQuest CEP 810

B. The Plan With online simulations, students are safe. They watch experiments while the teacher explains the process. Better, the teacher can show students mishandled experiments without exposing them to danger. These online simulations could be real but unfortunate incidents that happened to students experimenting in a lab, or they could be computer programmed. In either case, students will be learning in a safe environment how to avoid deadly mistakes in the lab. My plan only requires the necessary online simulation, which is by no means expensive (or at least that’s what I will try to find out in this project). I will try to find online resources that contain simulations about lab experiments. If I find none, then I will probably make my own simulations using guinea pigs:-) Come to think of it, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. I could have experts volunteer to record harmful experiments for the sake of drawing students’ attention to the effects of mishandled experiments.

C. Relevant Research Relevant Sites 1. http://www.virtlab.com/index.aspx:That’s a nice site that invites students to join a virtual lab where they can experiment safely with acids. 2. http://phet.colorado.edu/simulations/: This site provides an array of simulated experiments in maths, Physics, Chemistry, electricity, etc. 3. http://phet.colorado.edu/get_phet/simlauncher.php: Great site for all sorts of experiments. 4. http://phet.colorado.edu/teacher_ideas/browse.php: Here, you can find a wealth of contributions made by online simulation advocates. 5. http://www.kented.org.uk/ngfl/subjects/science/simulations.htm: A set of interesting simulations that help students interact with material basically they can’t have hands-on experience with.

Relevant Reports 1. http://k12wiki.wikispaces.com/Simulated+Laboratory+Resources+for+K-12+science: This site discusses Simulated Experiments vs. Hands-on Experiments. 2. http://www.stormingmedia.us/72/7260/A726044.html: A site that clearly justifies the need for and benefits of online simulations. 3. http://www.kented.org.uk/ngfl/software/simulations/: Read the top section. It clearly shows why online science simulations are necessary. 4. http://highered.blogspot.com/2009/02/alternatives-to-lecturing.html: This site discusses alternatives to traditional lecturing and suggests vodcasts, but the last part highlights the benefits of simulations.

Created by: Jean-Claude Aura

Date: April 2009

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TechQuest CEP 810

D. Connection to the four common places 1. The Teacher The teacher will have 2 roles: With the online simualation, he/she can provide straight forward instruction by playing the simulation and explaining the experiment while highlighting the risks involved. He/She can also play the role of the guide on the side and have students deduce the risks involved. As for the real lab experiment, the teacher will have to be extremely vigilent as to how the students conduct the experiment.

2. The Learner The learners are none but students with a certain sense of maturity and knowledge of how to navigate the web in order to play the online simulation.

3. The Subject Matter (Content) The content could be related to physics, chemistry, electronics, or any other field that exposes students to danger when working in the lab.

4. The Context Depending on the subject matter at hand, the teacher will explain to the students the need for online simulations and the implications behind them. The students wil be aware that these online simulations will prepare them for real lab experiments. Note: Although I am an English language teacher, I can always make use of these online science simulations. I can ask students to watch a simulation and describe the risks involved, the way it’s conducted, summarize its benefits, and much more. Appropriateness: This project is not intended for funding because existing online simulations are quasifree, and making online simulations necessitates a video camera and a couple of volunteers. This project is basically for fellow educators, especially lab and workshop technicians and engineers. The project aims to convince fellow teachers by: 1. Showing them the need for online simulations (safety, opportunity to learn from trial and error …) 2. Showing them how simple and affordable they are (free of charge, easily accessible, easy to make …) 3. Showing them the pedagogical impact on students (assuming responsibility, bigger audience …)

Created by: Jean-Claude Aura

Date: April 2009

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TechQuest CEP 810

Implementation Transcript 1

Transcript 2

Project-Implementation1

Project-Implementation2

Samples of online science simulations: The following videos are online simulations involving students.

1. Salts & Solubility: sims.php?sim=Salts_and_Solubility

2. Radio Waves & Electromagnetism: http://phet.colorado.edu/simulations/sims.php?sim=Radio_Waves_and_Electromagnetic_Fields

Created by: Jean-Claude Aura

Date: April 2009

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TechQuest CEP 810 3. Parachute Man Simulation: http://puzzling.caret.cam.ac.uk/game.php?game=parachute

4. Reduction-Oxidation Reactions: http://www.teachers.tv/video/110

Evaluation My TechQuest on Online Science Simulations turned out better than expected, at least in comparison with the plan I had in mind when I first got started. I thought I was delving into a far-fetched subject, and that there was no point in carrying on as I wouldn’t come across many people with safety issues with lab experiments. I couldn’t have been further from reality. A couple of tips for those out there willing to take on a similar quest:

Created by: Jean-Claude Aura

Date: April 2009

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TechQuest CEP 810 1. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POTENTIAL OF TECHNOLOGY. Used properly, it can take you places nowhere thought of with traditional methods. Students can:  Go to places so far away that it would be realistically impossible to get there.  Manipulate items that would otherwise be dangerous for rookies in real life.  Experiment while making intentional mistakes with the purpose of learning more and faster. 2. ALWAYS INVOLVE STUDENTS. I wasn’t planning on filming my students in the lab; but when my professor suggested I should, I gave it a try and bingo! My students’ enthusiasm brought about a level of seriousness needed for other students to really grasp the message behind the simulation. 3. TAKE FEEDBACK SERIOUSLY. When people comment on your design, they’re usually honest about it, or else why would they bother. Sometimes, people on the outside see things from a different perspective, or at least have a different angle on things. There’s no harm in trying out others’ suggestions. 4. BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU DO. Yes, it does matter how you undertake your quest. Your state of mind can have a dramatic effect on the final outcome. Your students would always sense your attitude. If I were to redo the TechQuest, I would attempt the following: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Make a better vodcast of the simulation so both the picture and sound be clear. Involve more students in the simulation vodcast. Make a podcast/vodcast with the students’ feedback on the simulation. Distribute a survey to the teachers for their opinion of and suggestions for bettering both the use and making of online simulations. This would help me assess the success of my project. You can find the survey at the baddress below:

Survey on Online Simulations My next TechQuest would probably be on E-porfolios and their impact on education. I would have students create their own portfolios (after initiating them of course) and ask them to prepare a list of all the educational benefits E-portfolios bring along that they can think about. I will also have them suggest the content of the E-portfolio and the rationale they used for their decision making. This way, they will have personally contributed to a piece of work that concerns them more than anyone else. Maybe later on, they can make a podcast or videocast and publish it at school for others to learn from.

Created by: Jean-Claude Aura

Date: April 2009

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TechQuest  

This document explains the design of my TechQuest.

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