Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Steven Elwood: DIY Science Videos

Steven Elwood, an 8th grade teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in Monticello, Indiana, has a surefire teaching tool for his science classroom: videos he makes himself. Cara Bafile reports in Education World that Elwood had used video before to present classroom activities, so when he had an opportunity to make a science program for the Twin Lakes School Corporation, he jumped at the chance.

"I ha[d] wanted to implode a large barrel for several years," said Elwood, "I had only one barrel, so I knew that I would have to videotape it so I could show it to everyone. This sounded like a good opportunity." Elwood taped the implosion in his classroom with tripods and 2 digital cameras, edited the footage on a laptop, then posted the video online. It was a hit with students and their parents:
"I used the video in my classroom to demonstrate the power of air pressure, and my students really enjoyed and understood the concept," reported Elwood. "The video made in our science classroom and posted on the Internet made the topic more interesting. Several parents have since come up to me around town to tell me that their sons and daughters dragged them to the computer to watch the video. They have enjoyed it too."
Elwood is a teacher who believes that students retain information better if they are also entertained. In addition to videos, he uses toys to show advanced concepts like Newton's Laws. At the end of the year, students get to keep a small collection of toys to help them remember the concepts from class.

For those who want to make their own videos, Elwood advises teachers to make sure they "have good editing software" and "try to keep the final video down to around five minutes in length. Most of the time, a longer video takes too much time to download, especially for people with a dial-up connection."

If you don't have the time or equipment to make your own science videos, or homeschool or just want some enrichment for your own middle schooler, you can check out the links at MiddleWeb Science, a roundup of websites, profiles, lessons, reports and related resources for middle school science. The page also lists science fairs and links devoted to biology, the environment, and outer space. Also take a look at Brain Pop, which offers animated videos explaining science concepts.

SOURCE: "Students Tune In to Science Online: Starring: Steven Elwood" 01/26/07
photo courtesy of jurvetson, used under this Creative Commons license

(Note: There is no current link to Elwood's video.)

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