Thursday, November 6, 2014

What has Happened in Your Lifetime?

I first saw this activity on Richard Byrne's "Free Technology 4 Teachers" site, and decided to try it in my class. I was pleased with the results, and wanted to share what happened with you. You can access the site by clicking on the image.

I went through the site with the students as a group, showing them how to select their birthday and view content. There are drop down arrows on each of the information boxes, changing parameters of what is shown. Once I felt the students had a grasp on how to maneuver the site, I turned them loose.

One of the pieces of information
shown on the site.

Amid the claims of amazement and the facts that students started blurting out, the heart beat interactive was the most attention-getting information on the site. Above, you can see my heartbeat estimation compared to that of a Blue Whale.

I jumped on this opportunity to evaluate how much work a heart has to do to reach over a billion beats. When I felt the students were able to summarize how much work it went through in 42 years, I asked them what effect activities that damaged the heart would do in the span of 2 billion beats. I mentioned activities like smoking, drug use, and inactivity, asking what would happen to a heart over time if damaged. One student said it would wear out quickly.

I used the analogy of a knife (I have several hunters in both classes.) I appealed to those that cook and those that hunt, and asked what happened to a knife when it was used over and over. One student said "it dulls the knife." I explained that they could sharpen the knife, but if they did not take care of the of the knife it was useless after a while. I likened the sharpening of the knife to exercising for the heart. 

"Imagine taking that knife that is used often and banging it up against a hard tree, damaging it like smoke damages the lungs and heart. What do you think will happen to that knife?" I asked. Immediately, the students responded saying the knife would break. I encouraged the students to think about their heart, and activities that might weaken a heart that will have beat 2 billion times by age 42. I knew at that point I had them.

Check out this site, and think about the effects of your existence on the world. I showed students the endangered species information, and I told them that once the last member of that species is gone, it does not exist anymore. 

I am so thankful for Richard Byrne sharing this site!

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