Saturday, September 3, 2022

"Dot or Not" Dot Day Project

Dot Day 2021 found me pushing into 18 different classrooms on a cart. I wanted to plan something for Dot Day, but I wasn't sure where to begin given my situation at the time. What we came up with is something I think is worth sharing - even if it has taken me almost a year to do so! The theme I used was "The Little Things are the Big Things."

First, I partnered with the research team at my school. We are a K-12 school, and they have a truly state of the art facility in the high school building. While many of the elementary classes toured the lab during the year, it was going to be hard to take all of my  elementary classes during the first couple of weeks of September. So after talking about types of microscopes with my students, we took a virtual tour of the Owls Imaging Lab. This was a huge hit! With one-to-one devices, I was able to let my students explore the virtual experience independently. They loved that they got to choose what to look at first.

After viewing the lab, I read Do Not Lick This Book to my classes. This book was popular with students of all ages. We talked a lot about the difference between macro and micro images. I emphasized how things can look quite different when magnified. Most of the images in the book were taken with imaging tools. I introduced the idea of macro and micro photos of the same items.

Then it was time to start the project. I told the students that the art teacher and I had picked a few items from her room. We were wondering what they would look like under a microscope. With Dot Day coming up, that led us to ask the question, "Dot or Not?" 

Each student chose an art supply and predicted whether they thought the images the imaging lab took would contain a dot. I recorded the names and each hypothesis on a spreadsheet like this one. I made a big show about how these items were going to be imaged in the actual lab that we had virtually visited. 

The next week, I shared the image folder. The research team used the best tools for each item, so not all items were viewed with all tools. There was great excitement. 

I did this project with K-5, so different grade levels shared their results in different ways. I worked with the art teacher to have each student make a large dot with the words DOT on one side and NOT on the other. We used these to record green screen videos to share whether or not the micro image had a DOT for Dot Day.

(My then-kindergartener)

(My then-4th grader)

My younger students used Seesaw to tell about their project. They completed most of it themselves, and I added our green screen videos after they turned in the assignment.

My older students first used Google Slides to share their results. I found out as we were working on this that using Adobe Spark (now Adobe Express) was an option for the local science fair. To show that you can share information multiple ways, the upper grades also created an Adobe presentation with the information. They LOVE this presentation tool.

(Adobe Express Presentation)

This project ended up going into November, but it reinforced a lot of the tech skills I wanted to go over with my students.

(Photo taken right before Halloween)

We were also creating things as we went along and dealing with quarantined classes. I expect this could be recreated in a multitude of ways and not so drawn out.

Dot or Not Spreadsheet Template (Force copy link to spreadsheet I used with my students)

The Owls Imaging Lab research team has put together the watermarked photos in a folder and gave me the okay to share them. I'm excited to see what others come up with using these tools!