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"SMART" Science

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Keywords: cellular respiration, energy, diffusion, circulation, respiration, digestion
Subject(s): Technology, Life Science
Grade 7
School: Oberon Middle School, Arvada, CO
Planned By: Erin Mayer
Original Author: Erin Mayer, Arvada
The permanent installation of a SMART board interactive whiteboard system in my classroom will enable me to incorporate the technology my students will encounter in both their current personal lives and their future professional lives into my classroom, thus keeping them engaged and motivated in their learning process. In addition, due to its’ hands-on, manipulative nature, this system will allow me to be more effective with both my traditional and non-traditional learners. Each year, an estimated 150 students will benefit from the use of this system. I expect to see the benefits of the SMART board system soon after its’ permanent installation in my classroom. These benefits include, but are not limited to:

• improvement in student understandings of essential science content
• improvement on unit assessment scores
• improvement in student confidence levels on difficult scientific concepts
• familiarity with current technology
• helping students become technologically literate in order for them to
meet the Colorado Department of Education’s Standards for Students
• increase in student level of engagement
• increase in student level of motivation

In the fall of 2008, I had the opportunity to represent my school at a 2-day SMART board training session. After completing this training, during a 10 week Energy unit I was able to use one of the two mobile SMART board systems available at my school for check-out to our staff of 46 teachers. I observed firsthand that the presence of this system both charged and changed my classroom almost immediately.

Integration of SMART board into the Classroom Curriculum

The following description of our 10 week Energy unit (Colorado Science Standard 3) in the life science curriculum demonstrates how I will integrate the SMART board system into my classroom and use it to engage, excite, motivate and challenge my students in order to help them learn and understand essential life science concepts.

Cellular Respiration: A Recipe for Life

The essential focus of the Energy unit is cellular respiration. It is critical that the students understand how and why their cells engage in cellular respiration in order for their bodies to function. This unit is designed around the 5E instructional model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate. The SMART board system is incorporated throughout the unit and allows the students to actively participate in their learning process.

Engage Phase

Using the interactive multimedia component of the SMART board, I created an introductory lesson on cellular respiration. In this lesson, cellular respiration is treated as a recipe from a human body “cookbook”. Students physically manipulate objects on the SMART board to gather sugar and oxygen, the “ingredients” for cellular respiration. As they manipulate the ingredients, they also answer interactive multimedia questions on the SMART board in order to review the body systems that collect sugar and oxygen. After the ingredients are gathered, the students manipulate and mix the ingredients on the SMART board and visually witness the production of energy by the cells. This SMART board lesson engages the students and allows me to address multiple student learning styles, in particular my tactile and visual learners. In addition, the auditory learners benefit as they hear and watch information being manipulated concurrently.

Explore/Explain Phase

After completing the cellular respiration recipe SMART board lesson, the students are engaged and excited to learn more. We move into the exploratory and explanation phase of the unit. Throughout this phase of the unit, the SMART board system supports “best practices” of instruction by appealing to multiple intelligences and allowing students to assume active roles in their learning process. An essential idea in the energy unit is the concept of diffusion. Using the SMART board, students physically manipulate sugar and oxygen molecules to visualize and reenact the process of diffusion in both the digestive and respiratory systems. As we move through the lesson, the engagement level of the students is very high. Students are eager to volunteer to approach the SMART board and manipulate objects, particularly eager are students who don’t feel comfortable or confident verbally answering questions and discussing ideas. At the end of the lesson, I use the SMART board to ask interactive questions that reinforce the key concepts of diffusion. Again, the enthusiasm from the students is significant. More importantly, as the following student quotes indicate, their learning is significant:

“It gave me a good visual on how the particles diffused and why.”

“You could clearly see how sugar travels from cell to cell.”


After my students discover how the respiratory and digestive systems collect the ingredients for cellular respiration, we move on to the elaborate phase of the Energy unit. Our focus during this stage turns to the circulatory system and its' role in cellular respiration. The SMART board system allows me to effectively blend a variety of instructional strategies in order to meet the wide range of my students’ needs. We begin with an anticipatory set where the students play an interactive game on the SMART board to review the anatomy of the circulatory system. After playing this game, we move on to the details of blood flow in the circulatory system. I project a large cross section of a human heart onto the SMART board. Student volunteers use SMART board markers to draw arrows on the heart to demonstrate how blood flows in and out of the heart. They are also able to draw pictures on the SMART board in order to visualize what happens to blood before and after it is pumped through the heart. We review the key ideas of blood flow multiple times over the course of 2 weeks; each time students are able to interactively demonstrate blood flow on the SMART board. Using the SMART board, I also include relevant video clips throughout this phase of the unit that reinforce the concepts the students are discovering and becoming experts on.


The final phase of the unit is the evaluate phase. As the unit progresses, I evaluate the students’ learning using interactive multimedia in daily warm-ups. I grade and record these warm-ups on a regular basis. I also visually project answers and information on the SMART board in addition to orally discussing the information in class. This is very beneficial to my learning disabled students who have IEP’s and my visual learners. In addition, I review human anatomy on a consistent basis. During this phase, my students bring together the multitude of ideas from this unit and unite them into one essential learning idea. We return to the original “cookbook” recipe for cellular respiration. Using their newfound knowledge, my students are now able to describe and explain how all of the ingredients for cellular respiration are collected by our body systems, how they are transported to our cells and combined to create energy, why this energy is critical for our bodies and finally, how our body systems dispose of the waste products from this process.

I have taught the concept of energy production and use for eight years. Due to its’ complexity, it is a difficult concept for many seventh graders to grasp. My students benefited tremendously from the opportunity to use the mobile SMART board system during the Energy unit. Based on anecdotal data and assessment scores, the level of understanding was significantly higher this year than it has been in the past. Additionally, the confidence level of many of my students regarding the difficult science concepts infused throughout the unit has increased due, in large part, to the integration of the SMART board system into my lessons.

One final benefit of the SMART board system is its’ ability to engage and motivate my non-traditional learners. My science classroom is active, hands-on and inquiry based however, there are always students who lack confidence in science oftentimes because they lack the skills and/or ability to demonstrate their understandings on paper or in words. These students really shine when in the presence of the SMART board system. Technology has the power to open up new doors for students who struggle to communicate their thoughts and ideas in traditional ways. Take for instance, the case of Student A. Student A is a quiet boy who has been on an IEP for many years. He struggles to articulate his thoughts both on paper and in words. Before the mobile SMART board came to my room, he never participated in class, was lacking in confidence and struggled to maintain his grade. However, after the arrival of the SMART board, he began to enthusiastically volunteer to manipulate objects on the SMART board and answer interactive questions when given the opportunity. His confidence has soared and this increase in confidence has translated into his work. The presence of and consistent use of the SMART board has had a dramatic impact on Student A. I have many other students who have realized similar benefits due to the interactive, manipulative, visual nature of the SMART board system.
The permanent installation of a SMART board system in my classroom will allow me to integrate manipulative, hands-on SMART lessons in addition to lessons that include multimedia components on a consistent basis throughout each school year. The opportunity for my students to use the SMART board system as a tool for their learning in addition to its’ inherent nature to engage, excite and motivate my students is exciting to me as a science teacher.
Materials: Whiteboards, Portable
Other Items: 1 77" diaganol SMARTBoard, $1139.00 each, total of $1139.00
1 SMARTBoard Bluetooth wireless to labtop, $259.00 each, total of $259.00
1 Proxima A 1200 DLP Projector, $527.00 each, total of $527.00
1 DVD/VHS Recorder with TV tuner, $207.00 each, total of $207.00
1 Extron PVS 400 with VoiceLift Microphone, $2198.00 each, total of $2198.00
1 Installation Costs, $1100.00 each, total of $1100.00
Associated File: 3216.kid