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TeachNet: Pedestrian Safety

Project URL: http://teachnet-lab.org/ps171/safety/New_Folder/index.htm

How it works:
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, "Pedestrian injury is second only to cancer as the leading cause of death in children between five and nine years of age. A study in New Haven, Connecticut, however, reveals that many childhood pedestrian injuries can be prevented. The Science of Safety starts as a "simple" science unit on force and motion as a way to help students understand velocity and thus understand how to cross streets safely. It is transformed into an amazing, wonderful, and relevant journey because of two things: the enthusiasm of the students and the power of the Internet. As a teacher, you are able to communicate directly via e-mail with professors of physics and chemistry, surgeons, and directors of national programs. When the responses from these experts pour in and are shared with your students, it is both exciting and empowering. Everyone knows that there are safety concerns in the school community, but students don't realize they can do something that will make a difference. The students improve their academic skills, learn new programs on the computer, and make their neighborhood a little safer. Here is that rare chance to bring the "real world" into the classroom.

Standards addressed:
Students understand the nature of scientific knowledge and inquiry, as well as the general nature and uses of mathematics; use basic and advanced procedures while performing the processes of computation; and apply basic properties of the concepts of measurement. They also use the general skills and strategies of the writing process, and gather and use information for research purposes.

Materials used:
A computer lab equipped with iMacs is used, along with a printer, scanner, digital camera, and disposable cameras. The word processing, spreadsheet, and painting features of AppleWorks are also used; this project is easily replicable with a pc lab.

The students:
The Science of Safety was developed with a fifth grade class in a school with homogeneous groupings. This very large "top" class (32 students) had a large range of abilities. There were students who immediately became engaged in this unit and others who became enthusiastic after a period of time. Students need to use the Internet to gather information. Basic skills in writing and math are a must.

Overall value:
There is something for everyone in this unit. The students are fascinated with the material on the Internet because it is so relevant, and they love the lesson on spreadsheets. One very bright student who had often done only satisfactory work became totally engaged. Her work on this unit was not only thorough and thoughtful, but showed wonderful creativity. About halfway through this unit, she said, "This stuff is REAL!"  

Tips: 
There is a tremendous amount of information on childhood safety available on the Internet.  Provide sites for your students and keep them focused.  

About the teacher:
For the past ten years, Jill Williams has been developing a computer
program in her elementary school in New York City. She tries to provide students with meaningful projects that address the curriculum areas and challenge their creativity. Her goal is to teach students to use the Internet and other tools of technology, and to apply these skills in exciting and interesting ways.   

E-mail:
JWms530@aol.com

Subject Areas: 
Science
Mathematics
Technology

Grade Levels: 
3-12

 

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