Concept Exploration & Concept Mapping for the Science Classroom - Erin Hopkins

           One of the projects students complete in my chemistry class is a challenge to design a device that would help improve our environment. In doing so, students choose between three themes: air quality, water quality, and food production. Last year, students had to create a model of their device and present it to the class. With Robot Diaries, students could design a robot that improves the air quality, water quality, or food production. Their robot could serve as a model of what the actual device would look like and how it would perform a desired task.  This design challenge would force students to problem solve while learning about the chemicals that pollute our air and water and the factors that influence food production. This project would be cross-curricular because students would be required to study chemistry, biology, English, and technology.  Students would need to conduct research to learn about the chemicals that are polluting our air/water or the chemicals involved in food production. Students would also need to figure out how those chemicals impact our environment. Finally, students will use technology to design and build a model to demonstrate their design for a device that will improve the air quality, water quality, or food production.


            Another project students complete in my chemistry course is a timeline of the scientists who were the major contributors to the discovery of the atom and the invention of the periodic table of elements. Each student in the class is assigned a different scientist and must teach the class about that scientist and his or her contributions to the discovery of the atom or the invention of the periodic table of elements. Students present in chronological order and place a picture of their scientist on a timeline hanging on a wall in the classroom. With the help of Robot Diaries, students could design a robot of the scientists they are researching and have the robot tell speak to the class as if they were the scientist assigned to the student. This project would provide students with an interesting way of learning about the scientists that shaped the study of chemistry. Robot Diaries will also provide a cross-curricular project involving chemistry, history, English, and technology.


            In my biology class, students will study human organ systems, so students could create a robot that demonstrates how one of those systems functions. For example, if a student was assigned the digestive system, the student could design and create a model of the digestive system that illustrates all of the organs and their function using Robot Diaries. This task would require a lot of research and creativity and would offer a new, more exciting way to learn about the human body. In order to create a model of an organ system, students would need to research their assigned organ system and understand how each organ interacts with the other organs in the organ system. In doing so, students will need to study anatomy, biology, chemistry, and technology. This project will not only inspire students to become more involved in their learning but it would provide a more accurate, 3D representation of how the organ system looks and functions.


            In chemistry, students will be learning about the gas laws, so they could use the Robot Diaries to design a robotic device that illustrates one of the gas laws. Usually students work with online simulations to observe the gas laws, but this project could offer a 3 dimensional representation of each gas law that will require an in-depth understanding of a gas law in order for the student to present their model to the class and illustrate how one of the gas laws can be illustrated in real life situations. Students would need to research the gas laws and apply that knowledge of their assigned gas law to design and create a robotic device that would explain a phenomenon that occurs in real life as a result of one of the gas laws. This project will be cross-curricular because it will involve the study of chemistry, technology, and physics concepts. Students will benefit from this project because it will require scientific application of chemistry concepts to real-life situations in a hands-on experience.


            In chemistry, students learn about the periodic table of elements as a tool to scientists. In doing so, students completed a projected where they were asked to choose an element from the periodic table and explain who discovered the element, its atomic structure, and its uses. This project could be adapted using Robot Diaries by asking students to create a robotic model of an element’s atomic structure. Students could illustrate the element at the atomic level, showing the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons and where they appear in the atom. This project would provide students with an in-depth understanding of the structure of an atom and how to use the periodic table to deduce the atomic structure of a particular element. This cross-curricular assignment would involve the following subject matter: chemistry, history, and physics.


Post by Erin Hopkins