I don’t know about you, but my activity levels have definitely decreased this past year. I find that I’m spending more time in front of my PC for work and recreation (video chatting with family and friends, going on virtual tours, streaming channels for shows and movies, etc.). With many children in remote or hybrid learning situations, their activity levels are also decreasing as it has become easier to move from one place to sit to another place to sit (i.e. chair to sofa). Besides allowing for more physical activity during breaks (run outside for 15 minutes, 5-minute stretches every hour, 60-minute lunch and recreation break sans devices), learning should also incorporate more movement. In addition, with the push for more hands-on STEM integration, students having to school at home need a viable option for STEM learning besides online games and interactive worksheets.
I’ve recently come across a great STEM lesson that combines inquiry-based learning and physical activity using a handy mini science lab called Labdisc. The Labdisc portable STEM lab is a wireless, battery-operated compact data logger with 15 built-in calibrated sensors. It is a great exploration tool for conducting experiments anywhere, including outside of the classroom. The Labdisc comes with a library of standards-driven lessons for all grade levels, including one called ‘Right on Target’ where heart rate is recorded before and after exercise to determine target heart rate. What I especially liked about the lesson is the thorough explanation of exercise intensity and how it relates to target heart rate. Not only will teachers have a standards-aligned lesson complete with background information and purpose, but it can also be facilitated live as a synchronous lesson or as an assigned, asynchronous activity.
If facilitated as a live lesson, the teacher can proceed through the key points and vocabulary with students. The simplest way to do this is through a KWL (Know-Want to Know-Want to Learn diagram) to gauge what students already know about the topic and think about their own learning goals. Whether in-class or via video conferencing, have students work in breakout rooms to complete the diagram then share as a larger group. If the lesson is assigned, provide students with a KWL doc and have them complete and post to the class LMS. Assign groups so students can post feedback on one another’s diagrams.
For the Experiment Procedure, the teacher may need to model how to use the ear/finger clip to measure heart rate and possibly one or two of the activities listed in the lesson doc. Then the Labdisc can be assigned to students* to go through the physical activities. The experiment should be repeated a few times throughout an extended period to better measure activity level progress. What is especially helpful about Labdisc is that all data recorded can be transferred from the mini (unit) to the GlobiLab software to create graphs. Each student’s data is easily collected and can be analysed right away.
Of course, there is always room for creativity with these experiments! Have students add an activity such as jumping rope, lifting light weights, or a common household activity such as vacuuming or mopping the floor (I can imagine this will be a favorite at home!). Students can also video record themselves performing the activity using the Labdisc and post to the class LMS, share at the next synchronous lesson, or email to the teacher as evidence of activity completion. Have students complete a survey using an application like Google Forms by modifying some of the questions in the Questions & Observations section of the lesson (for example, change #2 – “Which activity produced the greatest heart rate?” into a multiple-choice question) then share survey results with the class. A once “less-than-exciting” lesson or activity, can be modified and enhanced in any number of ways and Labdisc is certainly a dynamic tool to do this.
Let’s get moving! The winter doesn’t have to hinder increased activity or STEM integration. Nor does a remote or hybrid learning environment have to prevent anyone from doing hands-on, inquiry-based activities. While there is an opportunity, try something different with a tool that makes that easier to do.
We’d love to hear how you have used Labdisc in your classroom. Please comment below.
For more information on the Labdisc portable STEM lab, go to global.boxlight.com/Labdisc-portable-STEM-lab. To read how Labdisc has been used in different educational settings, go to mimio.boxlight.com/case-studies-white-papers.
*Follow established disinfection and sanitization guidelines to protect the health and safety of students.