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Using digital tools to support preschool science learning
This article uses a simulation to demonstrate how preschoolers can explore plant growth (which ordinarily would take a long time to observe, investigate and quantify) to practice making predictions, observing, and recording data in order to make decisions on how to modify predictions and test new thinking (p. 41). Because a simulation is used, students gain the added benefit of using technology as a vehicle to scaffold the learning process. According to the authors of a Science and Children journal article titled, “Science Notebooks for the 21st Century”, technology becomes something students learn with and not from (Fulton, Pack, and Taoka, 2017, p. 55). The children also used digital journals to illustrate changes in plant growth over time and to demonstrate their understanding of the phenomenon.
The three activities highlighted in this article are: A Wonder Farm App; Bean Seeds and Plant Parts Activity; and Class Garden Compare and Contrast Activity. An assessment of learning chart is included with a set of discussion questions sorted by activity. The Science and Engineering Practices highlighted are: observing and describing as part of “Planning and Carrying Out Investigations; comparing and contrasting as part of “Analyzing and Interpreting Data”; and documenting observations and data collections as part of “Analyzing and Interpreting Data”. The digital tools used in these lessons, enhanced the learning process and augmented traditional hands-on activities by providing a way for children to experiment with and discuss scientific phenomena digitally (p. 47).
Carolyn Mohr (Buffalo Grove, IL)
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