Magazine article Teach

Digital Cameras and Your Science Class

Magazine article Teach

Digital Cameras and Your Science Class

Article excerpt

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[Graph Not Transcribed]

As educators, ask your-selves the following questions: Would you like your students to show their parents exactly what can be cultured from their musical instruments? Do you want your students to have photographic observations from labs and field studies? Would you like to excite your classes with new technologies in your science curriculum?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above, then perhaps you should consider using a digital camera in your science class. Images from digital cameras can be used in a myriad of ways, and there are cameras for all budgets that are simple to use and require very little extra time to incorporate into your lessons.

Any activity in class can be made more exciting with a camera because everyone likes to take and look at pictures. Petri dishes growing coloured bacteria colonies cultured from kitchen cloths, toothbrushes, or dust can be accurately recorded with photographs. Cells from tomatoes and fat, viewed through a microscope, can be imaged with a digital camera. Complicated lab set-ups or procedures lend themselves to digital imaging, proving that the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" is really true. Students can add labels to parts of photographed set-ups using common drawing software.

A photograph of several labelled test tubes with wide-range pH indicators and test liquids showing a rainbow of colours is a great way to display observations in a lab report. Imagine a report from a field study with photographs of plants, trees, or small organisms imbedded right in with the text. If your students are building cars for a motion unit - balloon cars, mousetrap cars, or cars designed to save an egg's life - photographing the cars being built in various stages would be an excellent addition to a written report.

Computer slideshows are a great way to show a class the results of an independent project, and images from a digital camera can be directly incorporated into such a project. Power Point and Corel Presentation are two common slideshows that easily allow students to meld text, images, and sound. Any project that has a sequence of steps, a device that is made, or that demonstrates visible changes, will lend itself to photographic recording and slideshow presentation. Be sure to keep a copy of the presentations after students have shown them to the class - these presentations can be linked one to another, and then played as a continuous slideshow to parents at an open house to demonstrate what your students have learned in class.

Here is another nifty thing that you can do: with your collection of photographs of students working in class and on their experiments, you can create a musical "Photojam" of your science class activities. Shockwave's free down-loadable program Photojam creates animated slideshows such as music videos and kaleidoscopes from folders of digital images. Since it plays all images in a folder automatically (no linking of images is required), you can create a slideshow of 100 images in minutes. This is also great for an open house, but remember that you may need to get parent / student permission to use the photographs before presenting them in public.

Digital cameras come in all shapes, sizes, and costs. They are usually advertised by the amount of resolution (detail) that they can record per image. Cameras that take 1 MP photographs can store 1 million pixels (dots) of colour per image. Those that are 2 MP store 2 million pixels of colour per image. Larger resolutions allow you to create bigger and sharper images. Cameras of 1 MP - 2 MP have enough resolution to make very good prints up to 4-in. [Symbol Not Transcribed] [times] 6-in. in size, which is great for school. On a computer screen that spreads out the pixels, the images can be up to 16-in. [Symbol Not Transcribed] [times] 21-in.. These cameras can be bought for as little as $300, and many companies will give schools a business discount towards purchasing cameras and equipment. …

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