The students who will work on this project are predominately African-American urban youth living in the New Haven area. The students come from families of low socio-economic levels and have little interaction with computers. They are in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh grade at the Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School. Barnard is a school that services approximately 600 Pre-K through eighth grade students. The school's magnet focus is on environmental studies; therefore, it has a strong emphasis on integrated science education.
Since many of the students have little computer experience, this lesson utilizes computers connected to the Internet. The computers will allow the students to access current information on human and animal brain research. This unit reaches objectives from the New Haven Public School's science curriculum.
I am a technology teacher who teaches grades K-8. I see most classes every other week and work on interdisciplinary projects with the students. My school is an environmental studies magnet school. This magnet theme encourages me to integrate environmental studies into everything that I teach. Studying about the brains of different animals and how they affect their survival and adaptation is a direct connection to environmental studies. As a technology teacher, I use various computer resources to facilitate student research and design activities. For example, I encourage the students to use both kid-friendly search engines and online encyclopedias to obtain information for projects and classroom assignments. I also use multiple computer programs that allow students to create unique presentation materials; these include slideshow presentations, paper brochures, posters, graphic organizers, and many others. I understand that not all teachers work in such a school or in such a position. It is my goal to connect this unit with regular education classroom teachers who have specific constraints in their classrooms and schools. This integrated unit should complement such settings whether it is used as a whole single project or separate lessons scattered throughout a curriculum.