Monday, September 29, 2014

Science, Literacy and Technology at the Columbus Zoo!

Last May, we took our 3rd graders to the Columbus Zoo on a field trip. We have a great zoo in Columbus so it s always a great trip. But last year, the educators at the zoo created a new program. Our kids would have the opportunity to observe animals and collect data using iPads.  We were excited about the program and knew that it tied in with our science curriculum.  When we got back to school last spring, we realized that this would be a great fall trip. That the program would be a great kick off for learning around scientific observation, using technology to collect data, life science and more.  So we booked this year's trip in September and our classes went to the zoo on Friday. Not only was it a great day but we learned a lot that I know will carry into our learning thoughout the year.

The trip was great. The educators at the zoo kicked off our day with a half-hour session for the whole group. We learned about animal observation. We learned about the 4 elephants at the Columbus Zoo. We learned their names, how to tell them apart, a bit about their personalities, etc. Then we learned the codes for each thing an elephant might be doing--moving, socializing, eating, etc.  We learned a bit about why it is important to tell where the elephant is for each observation-which area of the habitat.

Then, each class had the opportunity to use iPads to track one elephant's behavior for 30 minutes.  The app is set up specifically for these observations and kids got a chance to see what this type of animal observation at the zoo was like.  (The iPads were not working for our class's session so we asked questions and learned lots about the animals, as Kelly answered our questions about the elephants.

September was a great time for this trip.  It impacted the ways that our students think about science and observation. They understand that scientific observation happens all the time at the zoo right in our city. They know that the observations we take tell a story of the animal.  And they learned that technology is one way to keep track of observations.

I read 2 books this week that set the stage for our day at the Zoo. One was Elephant by Suzi Eszterhas.  This book tells the story of a baby elephant and how he grows.  Her Eye on the Wild series is a great series for middle grades and this made for a good read aloud.  The other book that we read was Tiger Math:  Learning Graphing From a Baby Tiger and they begged me to read this one each day. This is the story of a baby tiger who refuses to eat.  The book chronicles the first months of the tiger's life and the work the zookeepers did to keep him alive, help him grow and monitor his progress. There are graphs throughout the book that the scientists share to help tell the story of Tiger. I love that the authors of this book talk about the story that graphs tell. Kids loved this and they learned math and scientific observation.  There are several books in this series so I am going to try to get them all for the classroom as kids were fascinated by the ways math and science worked together for animal observations.  I think they'll enjoy them even more now that we've been to the zoo.

We are lucky to have the Columbus Zoo right here in our city!

1 comment:

  1. My first thought was "3rd graders and iPads! Eeek!" When I read that they weren't working, I just sighed. We've had so many issues with technology not working, slow wifi, etc. that I am a bit concerned about online testing later in the year. Doesn't look all that good right now!


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