I finally finished Stranger Things on Netflix over the weekend and I highly recommend it to any child or the 80's. It's a mix between classic Stephen Spielberg and Stephen King. One of my favorite laugh out loud moments involved the kids' science teacher. Here is an exchange between one of the kids and his science teacher Mr. Clarke.
Mr. Clarke: Hello?
Dustin Henderson: Mr Clarke, it's Dustin.
Mr. Clarke: Dustin? Is everything okay?
Dustin Henderson: Ye-yeah, I just, I, I have a... science question.
Mr. Clarke: It's ten o'clock on Saturday. Why don't we pick this up on...
Dustin Henderson: Do you know anything about sensory deprivation tanks? Specifically how to build one?
Mr. Clarke: Sensory deprivation...? Wh-what is this for?
Dustin Henderson: Fun.
Mr. Clarke: Okay. Well. Why don't we talk about it Monday, after school. Okay?...
Dustin Henderson: You always say we should never stop being curious, to always open any curiosity door we find.
Mr. Clarke: Dustin...
Dustin Henderson: Why are you keeping this curiosity door locked?
In a survey I gave the first day of school, a majority of my students stated the reason they were taking physics was because they needed a science credit. Only about 5 percent knew what "physics" meant. That's pretty good data to motivate me to make my course more than just another science credit. I really want to make what we do in class meaningful to them. That is easier said then done, though.
This summer I read the book LAUNCH: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student by A.J. Juliani and John Spencer. I've already discussed the book in previous posts and was excited to implement the idea of "Wonder Days" to promote student questioning. On the second day of class I decreed it as a Wonder Day.
What is a Wonder Day? It's a day where student ask an "I wonder..." question, do some research to find the answer, and share that answer. The key to this was making the question wide open. The question did not have to be physics or even science related. The goal is to promote the opening of curiosity doors. You can read more about them here on John Spencer's blog. Basically, I asked the student to open any curiosity door of their choosing.
Since we have blocks around 90 minutes, I wanted them to complete the whole process by the end of class. So, these are not intended to be questions student had to conduct experimental research for. I gave a brief introduction to the idea and let them loose. In order to share their findings, I had students create a short video using Adobe Spark. I told them to keep the video around 1 minute. I didn't want the video to be a barrier to sharing. Adobe Spark is a very basic video animation platform. I gave students a 5 minute tutorial with the program and they were good.
Ultimately, the process took a day and a half. This worked out nicely because in-between the two days, I learned that videos could be downloaded from Spark in their Chromebooks and then uploaded directly to YouTube. This will allow students to easily add the videos to their portfolios and share the videos with a public audience. It's been fun to see some of the questions students have and the personality they were able to put into this little assignment.
I hope to do at least two more Wonder Days before the end of term 2.