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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Integrating technology into a science lesson

Integrating technology into a science lesson

Science Lesson

Objective: To enhance critical thinking and problem solving ability.

Target: Middle to high-school science students. This could be adapted to health, biology, introduction to Epidemiology, etcetra. In this case, it will be used for a high school Introduction to Epidemiology course.

Rationale: According to the National Health Standards Project, four characteristics were identified as essential to health literacy: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Ability, Responsive and Productive Citizenry, Self-directed learning, and Effective Communication skills.

Despite research indicating students learn in a variety of methods with preferred learning styles, classrooms have traditionally used a teacher centered lecture format that emphasizes memorization over analysis of information. Technology is uniquely situated to enhance learning while accommodating various learning styles. One method is the use of "goal based scenarios".

Using "The Big Six" approach, the following lesson is designed to increase students analytic skills and knowledge of basic principles of epidemiology.


Students will begin by going to The Mystery Spot ( ), an Access in Excellence Activities Exchange site. Student may then select "Artica", "Food Forensics: A Case of Mistaken Identity", or "Who Dirtied the Water" depending on their area of interest. Each mystery involves an investigative "who done it" approach. Clues are given which students may refer back to before selecting an answer. Each case involves basic health related information that must be applied in an analytic process to correctly solve the mystery in a fun…game type activity.

After students have "played" awhile, they are to develop a "map" describing how they arrived at their answer, what rationale they used, why, and "sand-traps" that confused them. The teacher will hand-out a rubric stating which processes must be included in the mini-mystery project and which elements may or may not be used. This can be adjusted depending upon the level of involvement, time, and depth desired. A complete evaluation guide will also be included. Then they will use The Big Six Approach as well. Students will design their own mini-mystery by answering the following questions:

1. What is the outbreak?

2. What information is needed to solve the problem?

3. What possible sources can the information be found in?

4. What is the most helpful source of information? Next most helpful? Least helpful?

5. Provide hints/clue sources for the player. These can be copies of newspaper clippings, articles, story hints, objects, statistics, or even an event.

6. Create a mini-mystery for other student(s). It can be written, pictures, treasure hunt, on-line, or a combination of several.

7. Make sure to use several sources of information available to solve the problem.

8. Identify the critical investigative elements needed to correctly solve the outbreak. A complete description of the process should be included in the "answer key".

Skills Used

Students will be using plain navigational skills, typing and searching, research skills, selection and discrimination, analysis and application of knowledge. Students would be encouraged to be creative, use pre-selected guidelines and criteria, include benchmarks related to investigative procedure, and effectively communicate understanding of principles. A multitude of learning styles is supported by this assignment, with the primary objective being analysis and application of abstract information.


Evaluation would be tailored to the degree of involvement desired but clearly defined criteria would be established and distributed before beginning the mini-mystery project. The depth of understanding could be gauged by the inclusion of advanced process factors and/or subtle hints in their final project with minimal criteria covering basic principles. Research will be evaluated on the number and quality of sources. Creativity would include the variety, interest, impact, and relevance to the overall project. Communication will include several methods; written, audio, kinetic, and visual.



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