Tag Archives: chemistry

A great way to introduce the concept of elements, compounds and mixtures

Last week marked the introduction of elements, compounds and mixtures.  I always like to begin the unit with an activity that will make my students pose questions and raise their level of curiosity.  One great activity that I came across by Flinn Scientific, Inc. is titled “Classifying Matter: A Nuts and Bolts Demonstration”. Click here for a copy:  Nuts and Bolts Activity What I like about this activity is that you are representing elements, compounds and mixtures with bolts, nuts and washers.  You provide the students with different scenarios such as: all bolts, or bolts with nuts attached or bolts with nuts attached and scattered washers.  Students are a little confused at first when you ask them to identify which ones represent elements, compounds or mixtures but they quickly pick up on the pattern and enjoy the activity.  After, I give them the short quiz, which is provided on the second page of the attached activity and have them work in teams to see who can correctly identify the most scenarios (this time using shapes).  For homework, since my class is flipped, I assign a video that defines elements and compounds and explains where they are located on the periodic table.  See my flipped video below for more information.

After watching the video, I want my students to become even more engaged with the periodic table.  The next lesson does just that utilizing the power of augmented reality.  Using DAQRI’s Elements 4D Blocks, students now have the ability to manipulate elements they could never see in a middle school science laboratory setting.  Today, my students scanned up to 36 different elements and discovered concepts such as location of the periodic table, color, state of matter and classification.  Click here for a copy of the lesson plans.  See the video below to watch this lesson in action!

Tomorrow we will be making pyrite!  Looks like an exciting unit in science. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!




Using augmented reality to make learning come alive!

As ISTE 2014 approaches, I begin to reflect on all of the amazing experiences I have had with my students this past year.  It was a little over a year ago when I took my practice to a whole new level with flipping and the incorporation of a lot more technology.  I attended my first Michigan Ed Tech conference (MACUL) in March 2013 and soon after, ISTE  in San Antonio.  This blog was one of the many things I created as a result of my experiences.

This year, I am not only attending ISTE in Atlanta, but I was also selected to present a poster session on using augmented reality to make learning come alive.  Augmented reality (AR) is the digital overlay of video on top of real-world images. I introduced my students to this “new-age” technology in the first-week of school during my introduction to laboratory safety and equipment.  Students used the app, Aurasma, to scan images that linked to a video describing the laboratory equipment and how to use it properly.  My trigger images were pictures of the equipment, rather than the actual equipment due to the irregularity of the light which did not work with Aurasma (images need to stay the same).  Students rotated from station to station and the beauty of this process was that each student heard the exact information.

Augmented trigger pictures for laboratory equipment

Augmented trigger pictures for laboratory equipment


Augmented trigger pictures for laboratory equipment
Augmented trigger pictures for laboratory equipment


Watch this video to see how it happened in the classroom.

The “bait was set” and my students could not get enough of AR.  I decided to implement an idea that I came up with during the summer of 2013.  “Why don’t I have the students create an augmented periodic table?”  This tied in nicely with a project I developed where students created a unique 3-D model of a specific element (see the gallery on this website for pictures) and an interactive Glog that informed the reader about specific information on the element.  Seeing how the students were already “experts” with their element, creating an informative video that was linked to a unique trigger square using Aurasma would be easy.

Trigger squares

Trigger squares


Wall with augmented cards arranged. Glogster posters hung around perimeter.

Each student was given a 4×4 card stock and instructed to create a unique image that included their elements symbol.  Duplicate element squares are shown due to the repeated elements in the different classes.  Aurasma instructed the students to link their videos to the image.  I learned that having all of the students upload their videos in to a common channel on Aurasma worked the best.  Click the video below to see this project in action.

The last augmented reality app that I incorporated into my curriculum was the Elements 4-D Blocks from DAQRI.  This app allows students to interact with elements on a whole new level while learning chemistry.  I ordered the wooden blocks off of DAQRI’s kickstarter project but you can download the app and print the paper cubes as well.

element blocks




There are six cubes with six different faces providing 36 naturally-occurring elements .  By scanning the iPad over the cubes, a 3-D cube appears revealing a sample of the element and other relevant facts.  I created an in-class assignment where the students investigated the different samples and how they interacted with other element blocks.  If two blocks interact, a new compound appears revealing the chemical equation.  Click here to see the PDF of the activity sheet.


Student using app "Elements 4D" for a discovery lesson.

Student using app “Elements 4D” for a discovery lesson.

Example of Gold(I) Iodide

Example of Gold (I) Iodide

Click here to see DAQRI’s augmented chemistry blocks in action.

The great thing about this activity is that students can now see more dangerous reactions happen.  They are excited about manipulating the blocks and learning more about chemistry than my middle school lab can accomodate.

I, as well as my students, have had a great time discovering the “magic” of augmented reality.  AR can really take your curriculum to the “next level”.

Thanks for reading!



Augmented Reality in the Science Classroom

Check out this VIDEO of Augmented Reality in the Science Classroom!

I just finished week one of the new school year.  What an exciting four days!

Thanks to the ISTE Conference and a series of new connections, this summer was an inspiration.   Armed with too many new ideas to implement and a slew of new technologies, I jumped in, iPad first.  My new eighth-graders had never used iPads in the classroom, but based on their enthusiasm for technology, I knew anything I threw at them would be a huge hit!   I decided to go big and introduced them to augmented reality right from the start.  To say they were “impressed” is an understatement!

If you haven’t heard about the augmented reality app Aurasma, get ready because it will blow your mind.  Aurasma uses augmented reality to make 2 dimensional images come to life.  This simple-to-use app allows users to create “auras” or video overlays.  Pass a device like an iPad, smartphone, or android tablet over the still image you have “augmented” and video springs to life.

Click here for link

Click here for link

APPLICATION: Week 1 every year is spent teaching students about laboratory safety procedures and equipment.  I typically spend a full day talking about the exit procedures, fire extinguishers, calling for help, chemical safety and laboratory equipment/uses.  I repeat this 4 times throughout the day!  This year, I decided to put Aurasma to the test and augment the whole lesson.

Augmenting the process proved to be simple.  First, I created short videos about each piece of lab equipment, and dress code and emergency procedures.   Because the transfer process was easier, I stored the videos on my iPad.  To launch the videos, I initially tried to set the “trigger image” as the 3D piece of lab equipment but quickly realized that this didn’t work.  Instead, I printed and posted 2D pictures in front of the 3D objects.  Students could then scan the 2D more reliably.

A student uses the iPad to scan an image that brings an informational video to life.

A student uses the iPad to scan an image that brings an informational video to life.

On the day that I rolled out the new lesson,  the students were so excited.  I prepared them to bring ear buds knowing that each student would be on a different video and the noise would be hard for them to concentrate.  You could hear a pin drop as the students made their way around my room, taking notes on the equipment at their own pace.  The augmented photos and equipment remained out for the rest of the week to aid students who did not finish or wanted to hear the information a second time prior to the quiz.

Augmented trigger pictures were placed next to the physical equipment throughout the room.

Augmented trigger pictures were placed next to the physical equipment throughout the room.

PROCESS: While the process was smooth overall, here are a few valuable lessons I learned along the way.

  1. All of your students iPads must be following your Aurasma channel or they will not be able to pick up the Auras.
  2. Your “triggers” should be a picture or something 2-D that can not be altered. 3D lab equipment and people’s faces did not work reliably.  The 2D pictures that I printed and posted in front of the equipment were much more reliable.
  3. Limit video length.  Aurasma does not like videos over 4 minutes in length.  To make note taking easier on students, keep the videos concise.  Unless you change the setting, videos are typically played in a loop.
  4. Moving the iPad away from the target object will stop the video making note-taking near impossible.  Trick:  Once the target object triggers the video, double tap the screen to lock the video in place.  The iPad can be repositioned and/or set down while still playing the video .

RESULT: I was very pleased with the lesson and Aurasma.  Students picked up the content quickly and at their own pace.  Students were so enamored, many have inquired as to how they can make their own auras at home.

Based on the initial success and engagement, I plan on augmenting the periodic table as well as other things in the classroom this year!