When we tuned in to EEC’s blog, we we were shocked to learn that Jennifer Edstrom, Principal Consultant of EEC, had broken down and purchased an iPad, after much skepticism on her part. In today’s episode, we will learn about one of her favorite apps for the iPad so far.
I promised you earlier that I would begin examining how I plan to use the iPad as a classroom teacher. One of the first apps I purchased is one that I wish I had been able to use when I was a fourth grade classroom teacher.
I will back up and explain. In our fourth grade curriculum, we taught a science unit on the Solar System. Perhaps you do too? It is a wonderful unit of study. There was just one problem. School happens during the day. So any time I wanted to explain anything in context to the nighttime sky, I was met with blank stares. It was also hard to have student’s make observations about the nighttime sky and provide meaningful instruction as part of a homework assignment.
So imagine my delight when I found the “Star Walk” app for iPad. I will admit, there is a huge “WOW” factor involved with this my beginning with this one. Here is the premise:
Star Walk reads your location using GPS (I will ignore the creepy Big Brother aspects of this). When you first open the screen you find about sun and moon rise and set times.
On this screen alone, you have all sorts of amazing astronomy lessons including but not limited to:
- Rotation vs. Revolution
- Moon Phases
- Relative position in the solar system
Once you click out of this screen, you begin the interactive part of the app. When you hold your iPad in any direction, it uses satellite positioning to determine what stars, constellations, planets are in front of you. So if you lie on your back and hold it over your head, you are seeing a depiction of the nighttime sky.
You can also click on the individual heavenly bodies to learn more about what it is actually are.
Here is what I like about it:
- A student learns about the solar system/galaxy from a egocentric place. Children like to know where they fit into the world/universe around them. They literally believe that the universe is centered around them. This helps put the learning into their own context which immediately makes it more meaningful!
- This app allows for inter-curricular teaching. Imagine starting with the constellations and a discussion about the milky way, however after a student sees the amazing depictions of the constellations, a mythology lesson emerges. Now, students could use the iPad to research who Cassiopeia was and why a constellation might have been named after her. Then, using the iPad, they could create their own constellation, name it with the actual star names, decide which mythological character to name it after and do creative writing around it…ALL on the iPad.
This is truly a remarkable app and worth every penny of the $4.99 cost. Which brings me to a question for you educators out there…how do you plan to pay for your app costs? Will you write grants? Use classroom set-up funds? So curious how you think it will work for you…
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- Take A Stroll With Star Walk For The iPad (wired.com)
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