“Technology supports science and science makes new technology possible” (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 334). Working from this premise, every conceivable hardware and software technology can play a role in the science classroom and laboratory. This blog, however, addresses a number of scientific-specific hardware and software issues.
Roblyer & Doering (pp.345-350) describe a range of strategies for science and engineering. Scientific inquiry and investigations using authentic online resources and projects are discussed as strategies to engage students and develop an appreciation for the scientific process; three such projects indicated are GLOBE, Project FeederWatch and Journey North. Another approach discussed is the use of robotics to engage students about engineering; robotics camps and competitions are sponsored by companies, universities and professional organisations. Robotics classes and events are very popular with Chinese students. Roblyer & Doering (p.344) note that hands-on-minds-on science remains a major instructional strategy but also note conflicting evidence regarding the merits thereof versus virtual, simulated experiments (Arkpan & Strayer, 2010) and the need for more research into the question. There is a role for virtual, simulated experiments in the science classroom but I agree with the National Science Teachers Association (2007) and the American Chemical Society (2008), both cited in Roblyer & Doering (pp.344-345) that authentic science learning requires experience “doing” hands-on science in laboratories. Hands-on, working scientifically skills are also included in Stage 6 science learning outcomes (BoS, 2013).
I note that concept of technology in the science laboratory is not limited to information and communication hardware and software. Roblyer & Doering mention data loggers, calculator based laboratories and robotics but there is a wide range analytical equipment that can be used in the science laboratory: e.g. pH meters, electrical measurement devices, chromatographs and spectrometers. These devices can be used to support open-ended projects such as monitoring environmental variables and contribute to science as a rich and varied learning experience.
Board of Studies New South Wales. (2013). Chemistry Stage 6 Syllabus: October 2002. Retrieved, May 25, 2016 from http://boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_hsc/pdf_doc/chemistry-st6-syl.pdf
Roblyer, M., & Doering, A.H. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching: Sixth Edition. Essex, UK: Pearson Education.