Habitat Tracker was designed to help fourth and fifth grade elementary students master the “scientific inquiry and nature of science” benchmarks advocated by national science education reform efforts and mandated by Florida’s Next Generation Sunshine State Standards for Science.
The program is centered on a field trip to a local wildlife center – the Tallahassee Museum. Although the museum visit is a key component of the program, lessons and associated inquiry activities that take place before and after the visit help students develop knowledge of the nature of science and scientific inquiry, and allow students to gain experience planning and conducting scientific investigations.
During this process, students will use the Habitat Tracker website to research the museum wildlife, collaborate with students from other schools to generate research questions, and determine what data they will need to answer their questions. At the museum, students conduct their investigation using mobile learning technologies (iPad and Habitat Tracker application) to record observations while making appropriate inferences about wildlife behaviors and animal habitats in a shared database and in digital journals accessible to other students online. Back in the classroom, driven by their research questions, students will analyze data from essential parts of their museum inquiry experience. They will use their data to support their findings, which they will share with other “researchers,” their peers, in the form of a presentation or poster session. It is during this process that students will conduct peer reviews by discussing observations, inferences, and conclusions with other students. The entire Habitat Tracker experience culminates with activities that allow students to connect the nature of science and science inquiry concepts together to recognize that science works in various empirically-based ways, not just through a single scientific method.
But first, let us take you on a tour of what your students will experience using the Habitat Tracker iPad application and associated website.