Here at the Lawrence Hall of Science, we are committed to equitable access to science and knowledge. That is why the Hall created the BEETLES Project (Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning & Expertise Sharing), a team of dedicated science educators to enhance the quality of outdoor science education. BEETLES has developed a platform of highly accessible and free outdoor science resources for program leaders, field instructors, classroom teachers to advance environmental education. Grounded in research about how people learn, the lessons are focused on engaging students in critical-thinking discussions while directly interacting with nature.
Now, the Hall’s BEETLES team, with support from Google, has created educational activities for Google’s Science Journal. Google Science Journal is a science notebooking app that uses the sensors and capabilities of smart phones and tablets as tools for measuring and documenting science phenomena, conducting experiments, and recording results. The app uses technology as a means of encouraging you to make your own discoveries about the natural world around you.
In one of the sessions, Science Journal app users can employ the precision of a light sensor to record variations in the amount of ambient light in an area, and then use that info (along with a thermometer) to map out the area. From there, students are encouraged to question what organisms can actually inhabit the immediate surroundings. While many students have a standardized definition of environmental factors, our lesson allows students to learn the concept in context, connecting it to concrete observations found directly in their surroundings—or wherever they may be.
The activities were specifically piloted with a group of third graders, resulting in overwhelming success as students excitedly pieced together the puzzles and patterns of the world around them. The Hall’s collaboration with the Google Science Journal is an exciting way for learners to transform a technological device into a pocket size bridge to discoveries in our backyards, local parks, and other natural areas.
Interested in outdoor education? Visit the Hall’s BEETLES program to learn more.