As part of teaching, it is often important to extend what you teach beyond the grade level you work with most. In science, this is especially important because it helps develop science literacy, and if the activities are designed well, it can encourage students to say “Science is fun!” instead of “Science is to hard.” or “Science is boring.” This lead me to create a series of activities that would take students 20-30 minutes to complete.
This activity focused on using modified Makey Makey’s to teach students how to follow the scientific method, so that they could determine how to control text input on a computer. This input was then used to navigate a maze using math (www.the-frozen-tundra.com/maze).
Any student in physics, especially gifted students, needs to be exposed to creative design in addition to standard learning techniques. To do this, in physics, second semester students are required to complete a wiring project. They are given a standard size shelf (approx. 2ft by 1ft) where they have to build a scene using cardboard, basic art supplies, and basic electronics including switches, LED’s, light bulbs, diodes, and motors. As part of the scene, students must wire in both series and parallel circuits, build a bridge rectifier, and make independent circuits that are controlled by switches. Each project is required to have a consistent theme, and be constructed from approved materials.
Some of the best projects integrate multiple subjects. By taking a small microcontroller (an ATTiny 45), a custom PC board, some solder, and a bit of ingenuity it is possible to bridge many subjects. After a short soldering task is completed, students are able to learn some basic programming to enable them to create unique blinking patterns on a device they built themselves. The fun part is after completing the soldering, they are able to upload more complex code that can help them to send secret messages in the form of a series of binary blinks. Students are taught to decrypt and read these messages, giving them the ability to learn to solder, program, do binary math, and read ASCII code!