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11 Tech-Friendly Cross-Curricular Science Ideas

11 Tech-Friendly Cross-Curricular Science Ideas

By Kelly Bielefeld

Hold students accountable for independent reading with Whooo's ReadingThe 2013 Next Generation Science Standards integrate all subject areas.

The standards themselves are so cross-curricular that sometimes they read as a writing prompt for language arts class or as a math story problem.

This is ideal for teaching in a project-based learning environment in which the goal is to synthesize curricular topics into one global learning experience.

Here are some, hopefully easy, ways to go about integrating the science concepts into other disciplines and visa versa.

1. Plant Growth (K-LS1-1)

Kindergarten students are expected to learn and understand what plants need to survive (K-LS1-1). The easiest way to teach this is to show them.

The Technology

While students can grow a plant in the window of the classroom, you can add a creative angle to it, by taking time-lapse photos with a classroom document camera or using a time-lapse photo app like Lapse It. With the time lapse finished, students can replay the growth (or death) of the plant and then draw or describe the effect that the water, sun or lack of nutrition had on the plant.

2. Ecological Standards (4-ESS3-1)

For some of the ecological standards (4-ESS3-1), the trick isn’t as much the cross-curricular process as much as finding appropriate resources for them to read. This can be a great exposure to both author’s purpose and to primary sources.

The Technology

Use data from the EPA’s website about air quality or emissions to raise the text complexity along with exposure to great content-rich vocabulary (RI.4.4). In the world of climate change literature, vetting the sources is a critical component to getting accurate information, which aligns nicely with the common core standards in reading (RI.4.8).

3. Astronomy (ESS1)

In the astronomy standards in 1st and 5th grades (ESS1), students learn about the Earth’s place in the universe.

The Technology

Students can use the Sky Walk app to show you what they’re looking at in their night sky. Teachers can help students to create physical models of the celestial objects that they found or are studying.

For first grade, this can be a good introduction to measurements in units such as miles or kilometers (1.MD.a.1). In 5th grade, these models can be built to scale to incorporate how we use fractions in a real world setting (5.NF.B.7a – c).

4. Earth (ESS1)

The Earth itself is the topic in 2nd and 4th grade with volcanoes, erosion, shells, fossils, and earthquakes (ESS1). These standards should rightly be connected to the history and science behind them.

The Technology

The Geology by KIDS DISCOVER app highlights these principles through an interactive tour of the rock cycle. This allows students to take virtual field trip to Stonehenge and learn how fossils form.

5. Using Senses to Process Information

The NextGen standard about using senses to process information folds nicely into descriptive student writing using figurative language (L.4.5). The rich and robust words that bring student writing to life are the same types of words that truly demonstrate the activity of our brain processing information from our senses.

The Technology

Create a lab experiment in which students smell different mystery items and describe them. The systems that transfer the information about the smell can be vividly described through strong vocabulary words, possibly even in a format that is unique like poetry or song using an app such as the Acrostic Poem app or Instant Poetry 2.

6. Matter and Its Interactions (5-PS1-3)

To allow fifth grade students to develop a narrative piece of writing along with the opinion, the “mystery solution” standard allows students to be creative while mastering the standard (5-PS1-3).

The Technology

Have students develop a backstory to where this mystery solution originated and predict what will happen to it if it gets into the wrong hands. Have the students record these stories using a a recording app like Smart Voice Recorder or the classroom camera and then play the stories for the entire class.

7. Force and Motion (4-PS3-3)

One of the 4th grade force and motion standards (4-PS3-3) is all about objects colliding, which makes it a fun standard to integrate. One of the main concepts students will learn is how the speed of the objects affects the energy and motion.

The Technology

Have students make predictions and observations about the collisions. To make it more than just a bunch of balls bouncing around, write numbers 0-9 on ping-pong/tennis/golf/racket balls.

Students work in teams to make the balls collide, and after each collision students call out the product of the two numbers colliding. They can also virtually test the laws of motion and force in the Simple Physics App, which allows students to build structures and test them with various forces.

8. Waves and Information Transfers (4-PS4-3)

Humans have used patterns to transfer information for many years (4-PS4-3). Fortunately this concept connects to many state’s social studies standards about geography and history, so it makes for a great history-science connection.

The Technology

This concept is much more abstract when it comes to current uses like how binary code is used within computers, television, or movies. Going back in time may allow for students to understand the science concept better.

Morse code that was used over a telegraph is an easier concept to teach and a good way to connect it to US history. Students can create Morse using a number of free apps, like Morse It, that are Morse code generators and readers.

9. Matter and Its Interactions (5-PS1-1)

The creation of models for structure and properties of matter (5-PS1-1) should be followed up by the next standard, which includes measuring and graphing the same quantities that are created in the models.

The Technology

To put it all together, 5th grade students can use their math skills to learn to measure weight and volume (5.MD.C.3). Once the models have been created, the students can measure and chart the data from the volume calculations in a Google Doc, or better yet, a Google Sheet.

The increase in weight from the creation of the solutions, such as dissolving sugar in a liquid, supports the original concept that particles have been added but are too small to be seen.

10. Energy (5-PS3-1)

Students creating models of photosynthesis or the food cycle (5-PS3-1) can do so with many different apps or tech tools.

The Technology

For formative assessment purposes, during centers or whole group instruction, the interactive white board can be used to “drag and drop” different parts of the food cycle into the diagram.

When it time for a more independent or summative assessment, something like a PicCollage, would be an easy way for students to demonstrate understanding. If more time allows, a claymation could be a fun and engaging way to understand the idea.

11. Support an Argument

Any of the NextGen standards that start with “support an argument” should at some point allow the students to do so. It’s logical to use a format similar to what is used in the classroom for any kind of opinion/argument piece.

Although the ELA standards don’t change until 6th grade, from opinion to argument, 5th graders are surely capable of incorporating one of the key 6th grade conceptual shifts. One that the standard specifically refers to is the idea that “plants get the materials they need from the soil.”

The Technology

Since students are supposed to understand that growth comes from air and water, not soil, it’s a great opportunity to focus on the idea of a “counterargument” to see it from another perspective. Use achievethecore to find student examples of how opinion/argument pieces look at each grade level.

These ideas just scratch the surface of how the NextGen Science standards can be used in a cross-curricular format. Teaching across curricular areas is an essential time saver to create more efficient, higher-level lessons.

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11 Tech-Friendly Cross-Curricular Science Ideas

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