Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the Merge EDU Platform and how our hands-on digital teaching aids and interactive simulations can help you explain science concepts more effectively, it’s time to combine these elements into a science lesson for your students.
In this article we will introduce the main steps to create a science lesson using Merge EDU:
- Align to Standards
- Find Simulations
- Review Activity Plans
- Prepare Teaching Aids
- Teach a Lesson with AR
Step 1 - Align to Science Standards
The standards-aligned science simulations in Merge Explorer align to NGSS as well as individual state standards for all 50 US states, and several international standards as well.
To choose the best science simulation for your lesson, you’ll want to search through the standards alignment document for your region, and for the learning objective you need to cover. The article below will show you how to search through the documents for a particular standard.
For this example lesson, we searched for NGSS standard “3-LS1-1” which is “develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.” The topic card “A Frog’s Life” will help to teach this standard.
Step 2 - Find Science Simulations
Now that we know what science simulation we’re looking for, it’s easy to find the page on the Merge Dashboard! Simply go to the Dashboard (https://dashboard.mergeedu.com) and sign into your Merge EDU Account.
Next, navigate to the “Science Simulations” tab and select the topic card you’ve chosen - in this case, “A Frog’s Life”. These pages in the Merge Dashboard will give you a brief introduction to the topic card, and by tapping on the thumbnails for the activities, you can find more information about each. This is also where you can find the “Share Options” for the topic card.
Note: “A Frog’s Life” is a premium topic card. If you don’t currently have an active Merge EDU Account, we recommend starting a free trial to follow along with the rest of the example and to get access to the Activity Plans.
Step 3 - Review Activity Plans
The science simulation page from the above step also has a quick link to the Activity Plan for that topic card. Simply tap on the “Activity Plans” button on the right to find it. Merge Activity Plans are separated into grade-bands for K-2nd grade, 3rd-5th grade, and 6th-8th grade.
For this example, we’re going to use the 3rd-5th grade activity plan for “A Frog’s Life”, which aligns with the “3-LS1-1” learning objective.
Our easy-to-follow activity plans lead students through in-depth learning and should be completed alongside the corresponding topic cards inside Merge Explorer.
All Merge Activity Plans have “Essential Questions” that students will respond to in their science notebook, “Assessment” recommendations for a video recording or to complete one of our interactive quizzes, and “Extension Ideas”. We recommend reading through the entire Activity Plan and selecting which assignments your students will be completing.
In our example, the learning objective is about life cycles, so the class may be assigned to just go over the first simulation in the topic card “Life Cycle of a Frog”. We can look at the activity plan and see that they will only need to complete steps 1-4 to finish that simulation. We also might only cover the first three essential questions:
- What is a life cycle?
- What is the life cycle of a frog?
- How is a frog’s life cycle similar to other organisms’ life cycles?
We will want our students to complete the Video Recording assessment prompt: “Record a video of yourself talking through the various stages of the Frog’s Life Cycle, and how it is similar to another organism’s life cycle. Compare it to a butterfly, beetle, human, or other animal” - as it relates directly to the learning objective.
We could also assign the first “Extension Idea” - “Draw or build a model for each stage of a frog’s life cycle using the 3D models in Activity One for reference. Be sure to label each of the stages, as well as the important external anatomy for each stage, as displayed in the activity. Use color and texture to finish your model or drawing - try to be creative!”. You could alternately assign the extension for homework.
Step 4 - Prepare Digital Teaching Aids
Merge provides a large library of true-to-life digital teaching aids that are organized into collections which will fit nicely into your lessons, and are just as effective as traditional teaching aids for learning.
Once you have identified the simulation and corresponding activity plan you will use, and have decided which assignments your students should complete, it’s time to look through the digital teaching aids to find object collections that align to the topic.
In our example, our learning objective is to “develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.”
Since the science simulation “A Frog’s Life” only covers a frog’s life cycle, we can use our digital teaching aids to find another life cycle to compare it to.
By navigating to “Teaching Aids” in the Merge Dashboard, you can browse through all of the collections in Object Viewer, or search for keywords to help find other life cycles. Along with the teaching aid version of the Life Cycle of a Frog (KVJ89J), Object Viewer also contains:
- Butterflies & Their Life-Cycle (2VM9V4)
- Development of a Chicken (NVGPYM)
- Honey Bees (6RPEV9)
- Life Cycle of a Silk Moth (MY5VNJ)
- Human Development (8EXLXR)
You might choose to share a specific collection with students, or let them choose which life cycle they would like to investigate. You may also want to create your own custom collection of just the objects you would like them to examine.
Students can also place the objects side by side to compare and contrast. In this scenario, students may use the “Place in World” tool to put the different stages of a frog’s life cycle directly beside the different stages of a butterfly life cycle, then record themselves explaining the similarities and differences.
Step 5 - Teach a Science Lesson with AR
Once your lesson is planned, it’s time to share it with your class! How you present the lesson depends on the number of compatible devices available to your students, and whether they’re learning in the classroom or remote learning from home.
In Class vs. Remote Learning
Merge activity plans, science simulations, and digital teaching aids are designed to be used in virtual learning and/or in the classroom.
When using Merge EDU at school: Students can work individually, in pairs, small groups, or as a whole class. The activities can be teacher led or student led. Each student can have a printed out activity plan to write on, or you can make a class set and students can write the answers in their science notebooks.
When using Merge EDU for remote learning: Whether students have their own devices or are relying on a live or pre-recorded presentation from their teacher, Merge EDU makes it easy to share resources with students and present live AR lessons online. Merge also has resources available specifically for students who are remote-learning, such as the Merge Paper Cube.
We hope this article was helpful to show how you can plan your next science lesson with Merge EDU! Be sure to read through our other help articles to dive deeper into step-by-step instructions and other helpful information.