Elementary Students Learn Electricity Unit Through Computer Science Experiences

STEM and computer science integrations took place recently through an electricity unit with Dinwiddie Elementary’s 4th grade classrooms in collaboration with ITTIP staff.  

MakeyMakey hooked to a potato and a tortilla.
Students test objects for conductivity while hooking up their MakeyMakey.

The electricity unit started off with learning how to use the MakeyMakey as a game controller to control pre-made, online games in Scratch. Students got to choose from a variety of games, then find conductive materials to connect to the controllers to connect their games. This served as an introduction to open and closed circuits, as well as conductive and non-conductive materials (i.e. insulators).

Other lessons followed up on previous learning, but increased student knowledge and experience with electricity in relationship to parallel and series circuits.  Students were challenged to create a step-by-step guide of a  Play-Doh object using Squishy Circuits.  Students then had to describe and record their creation on Flipgrid with their partner. 

Students explore energy with inputs and outputs using littleBits.

In order to cover SOL content to include transformed energy, littleBits was used as a culminating hands-on activity for the electricity unit.  A final activity included a live Q&A session with a Biology Engineer from Califorina working on making conductive plastics. 

These learning experiences are part of a research initiative in computer science.  Data analysis and findings should conclude in the summer and be ready for dissemination in the Fall 2019, when computer science standards in Virginia will be expected to be implemented across K-12.