Edpuzzle Blog

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In this week’s #remotelearningdiaries, math and physics teacher Dan Carey discusses how he made his online physics labs more interactive for his students. Read more and get tips on how to recreate the lesson for your class!

As a high school math teacher, I’ve been a huge fan of Edpuzzle for the past few years. I love how it takes student engagement to new heights.

When I also started teaching physics, I saw the opportunity to flip lessons more and more, so that our class time could be filled with all of that super exciting and engaging stuff – labs, demos, more demos, another lab, and that jaw-dropping demo for good measure!

And then, before many of us could even think to plan for it, remote learning began, and I had a growing concern within me. How could I engage my class to an even greater degree?

It wasn’t that I was uneased by the thought of producing at-home lessons for my students. Isn’t that what we do a lot of times with Edpuzzle anyway?

The question was how could I provide that true in-class experience for my students. I didn’t want class to turn into content-spilling videos and practice problems to supplement.

Bringing the lab to students’ homes

So that’s when I decided to create demonstration videos using typical around-the-house items and allow students to do the same. We were going to do our best to continue the lab experience at home and Edpuzzle was going to help us do it.

When the remote learning adventure began, I was starting the Electric Charge and Force unit. It’s one of my favorite units to teach because I use a lot of demonstrations to show concepts that almost appear to be magic in the eyes of students.

My worry was not being able to give the students this same experience from home. Many units in physics involving electricity are typically not easy for students to grasp conceptually at first.

That’s why I knew I had to overcome the challenge of being able to supply demos and labs from a distance and keep my students intrigued and connected to their learning!

Planning stages

I took it upon myself to create an at-home electroscope using a glass jar, copper wire, and aluminum foil leaves. For those of you who are unfamiliar with an electroscope, it’s essentially an easy-to-make instrument used to detect the presence of electric charge.

Unfortunately, my at-home electroscope didn’t quite work to the same degree as the electroscopes in the lab. I decided instead to find another electroscope lab demonstration online, upload it to Edpuzzle, and use the awesome voiceover feature to explain certain concepts.

I was also able to add open ended questions (one of my favorite formative assessment features) so that students could elaborate on several concepts we had covered in class conferences and notes slides, now that they had seen those concepts “coming to life” in the demonstration. And just like that, it was almost as if the classroom environment wasn’t really remote at all!

Dan Carey Image 1

So I had fixed my problem momentarily. I had provided a demo assignment thanks to Edpuzzle that the students could take part in. But what about all those other cool labs I had planned for them?

I decided to put together a Google Form with a list of various materials that could be used for static electricity experiments so that students could indicate what they had around the house. I used their feedback to create a list of different experiments students could complete at home.

This was only to give them ideas. They didn’t have to choose an experiment off of this list. My students then had to film themselves performing their at-home lab and share the video file through Google Drive.

Letting the physics take action!

After viewing my initial Edpuzzle demo during our class conference and having a class discussion about it, I assigned the static electricity at-home lab as homework. Here are some of the experiments students took part in:

  • Repelling Styrofoam paper plates
  • Attracting cut up pieces of paper with a Styrofoam plate or plastic object
  • Using PVC pipe to roll an empty soda can without contact
  • Bending water running from a faucet using a charged balloon
  • Using charged plastic objects to make plastic bags float in mid-air
  • Spinning a straw on top of a bottle cap with your finger without contact
  • Separating salt and pepper on a paper plate with a charged balloon

Again, I didn't want to limit my students to these exact experiments, but it gave them an idea and avenue to get the ball rolling. The videos started to be shared with me and I was so thrilled at the content being delivered.

Sure, these were experiments I’d seen and done many times before. But there was something about the students completing these experiments at home with objects around the house, coupled with the “That’s so cool!” reactions that came from students, that had me excited. It was like I was seeing it for the first time too!

I used a program called Clideo to clip all of their videos together, uploaded this new video to Edpuzzle, and shared it with the class. They were now able to view all of the other great experiments their classmates took part in and answer conceptual questions embedded in the Edpuzzle about each specific lab.

Dan Carey Image 2

Seeing learning take place

My students truly loved the at-home lab experience. Many of them commented how they appreciated the fact that they could use materials from around the house to create this experience and that it made learning the lesson fun.

After watching the initial demonstration on Edpuzzle, students really felt like they were able to apply the concepts they had been learning in a more visual experience.

I saw big improvement with students’ responses after assigning the student video compilation on Edpuzzle. Open-ended responses went from regurgitating notes from slides or textbooks, to in-depth analysis relating observations in the videos with principles discussed in our class conferences.

Sure, I could have still assigned this at-home lab and pieced together the clips without putting it in Edpuzzle, but Edpuzzle’s all-in-one features allowed for the most enhanced remote learning experience for the class.

Embracing new opportunities

It’s more important than ever for us to be able to connect with our classroom communities during remote learning. I absolutely plan to implement these at-home labs again if remote learning, or some type of hybrid learning model, is required this coming school year.

Try creating your own videos with a screen-recording tool to give students the opportunity to hear your voice and make interactive learning from home more relatable and easily accessible.

Embrace this opportunity to explore new ideas for lessons in your classes. As someone who had used a flipped classroom approach with Edpuzzle before, I never would have thought I could implement a lab lesson such as this one from home.

Even though we are teaching at a distance, using Edpuzzle can help us stay connected with our students and allow for that in-class experience to still feel possible.

Use this time to explore the ways that video lessons can be uniquely put into action and you may just create a more dynamic classroom for you and your students in the future.

Want more excellent teacher tips? Check out #remotelearningdiaries on Twitter for great Edpuzzle lesson plans!

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Dan Carey

High School Math and Physics Teacher at Montville Township High School

Dan has been teaching high school math for four years and physics for the past two years, after becoming dual certified. Dan received both his undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Masters of Education degree from Rutgers University. Integrating technology in the math and physics classroom has always been a priority for Dan. He loves incorporating the use of Google products, Edpuzzle, and math activity sites such as Desmos into every day instruction. He believes that making content relevant, interactive, and relatable is important for motivating students and making the classroom experience an unforgettable one. When Dan isn’t busy solving math and physics problems, you can most likely find him on a football field or baseball diamond.