Yum! Projects!

Delicious cell project created by a 7th grade science student.

My son's The Scarlet Letter Project. It was all I could do to keep him from making an F on this one because it looked and smelled so good. 

As yummy as both projects look do they really teach others about cells or Nathaniel Hawthorne's literary masterpiece?

It is getting close to the end of the term and that usually means project time. This morning the 7th grade students from one team were bringing in all kinds of ways to show parts of cells for their science class. There were models, poster boards, and even some delicious looking cells (see the photo above).

This brought me back to something I have been thinking of over the past few week, should students create computer programs for projects? One group of students are creating an interactive cell using Scratch for their final project in my class. The thought first occurred to me when I observed students doing their Scratch during the semester. Last week I mentioned to a science teacher that one group of students was creating an interactive cell program and her eyes grew big. It seems to me that teachers would like to see something new. Not only that but something that would actually be useful in teaching something to other students.

Lately I have been requiring my students show value in what their projects can offer. Part of this would mean creating projects that may do more than demonstrate what the creator knows about the topic. What can that project offer to other people to increase their knowledge of that topic. Is that not what the creation and distribution of information is all about? When my 6th grade students started creating video commercials for library books I told them they would be used by our media specialist during the morning school news show. The students thought I was joking until they started seeing what their classmates had turned in on the Promethean boards of their first period classes. This realization motivated those who had not finished their videos to start taking their work more seriously. 

If students realize that what they do will actually be used by teachers or other school personnel for a purpose they will work harder to make sure their work is correct. For now on I can tell students that any project they complete may show up in places they have never dreamed of before.

Here is an example of a Scratch program that teaches about cells that was created by a team from my Computer Technology 7 class. Not bad for four days of work.